IN their native Chile they are generally found foraging for the dry grasses or seeds which make up their typical diet.
But for one lost little degu it seems life in Scotland has left it with more refined tastes – after it was spotted running around a crowded beer garden.
All eyes were on the unusual domestic rodent after he made two surprise visits to The Horseshoe in Gorgie, where he ran around the beer garden before trying to get invited into the conservatory.
The Scottish SPCA was called to rescue the pet degu after customers and staff spotted him scurrying about the cobbled yard on Monday.
Manager Brian Fleming, 53, said the degu appeared for the first time just after 4pm.
“It was running around the beer garden and coming right up to people and letting them stroke the back of its neck. There’s a lot of works getting done on the Water of Leith at the moment and at first we weren’t sure if it was some kind of water rat. The fact it was tame put ourselves off that idea, but we still weren’t sure what it was.
“It ran about for about an hour then disappeared, and we thought that was the end of it.
“But then it turned up at 8pm, so we decided to catch it and put it in a box and phone the Scottish SPCA, because it was obviously somebody’s pet. It had actually come right to the conservatory doors and was trying to get in.”
He added: “When the Scottish SPCA told us what it was, we were just bewildered. I had never heard of a degu, to be honest. It put a lot of minds at rest because some of the locals were thinking if it was a new kind of rat, then we are in trouble – it was slightly smaller than a rabbit.”
Now recovering from his adventure at the Edinburgh and Lothians Animal Rescue and Rehoming Centre in Balerno, the degu has been named Bud by staff.
Inspector Sarah Gregory said: “I was called to rescue Bud at around 9.30pm on Monday. Staff had seen a furry creature running around the yard earlier in the day and thought it was possibly a baby squirrel or chinchilla, but it was too fast for them to catch.
“However, he appeared again later that evening and staff were able to catch and contain him in a box.
“They’d given him some bread and water and he was none the worse after his day at the pub.
“We’re not sure how this degu came to be outside. He may have escaped or he may have been abandoned.
“If no-one comes forward to reclaim Bud then we’ll be looking to find him a new home.”
Degus are native to northern and central Chile and have become popular pets in recent years. They are active, intelligent and sociable creatures that enjoy living in pairs or small groups.
Anyone who recognises Bud should call the Scottish SPCA on 03000 999 999.