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Reprod Domest Anim. 2010 Dec;45(6):975-82. doi: 10.1111/j.1439-0531.2009.01470.x.

Pup growth rates and breeding female weight changes in two populations of captive bred degus (Octodon degus), a precocial caviomorph rodent.

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  • 1University of Loughborough, Loughborough, UK.


Caviomorph rodents are renowned for comparatively long gestations and producing relatively precocious offspring. The degu (Octodon degus) is one such caviomorph, originating in central Chile and providing communal pup care within wild groups. Reported are pup growth data for two populations of captive bred degus in Britain and Chile (representing wild populations), for the first time analysing pup development over the postpartum and weaning period in detail. Pups in both colonies were found to be similarly precocial at birth as assessed by open eyes and presence of full body hair. Degu pups in the British colonies put on weight at a rate of 2-3 g/day, while pups in the Chilean colonies put on weight at a rate of 1-2 g/day over the first 14 days. At birth, individual neonates weighed 5 ± 1% of maternal mass for the British sample and 6 ± 0.5% for the Chilean sample. Sexual dimorphism occurred in the weight and growth rates of pups in both samples, despite the lack of sexual dimorphism in adults of the species. Data for breeding female weight changes were also analysed, providing the first reported observations for this crucial period. Pregnant female weight gain was found to vary over the course of gestation, and post partum weight changes varied significantly between breeding females in accordance with litter size.

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