Octodon degus -Heidelberg Zoo, Germany-8a
Degu (Octodon degus)
Scientific Classification
Kingdom Animalia
Phylum Chordata
Class Mammalia
Order Rodentia
Family Octodontidae

Octodontidae or octodontids, is a family of rodents restricted to southwestern South America. Thirteen species of octodontid are recognised, arranged in nine genera. The best known species is the degu (Octodon degus).

Octodontids are medium sized rodents, ranging from 12 to 20 cm (4.7 to 7.9 in) in body length. They have long, silky, fur, which is typically brownish in color, and often paler on the underside. The name 'octodont' derives from the wear pattern of their teeth, which resembles a figure 8. Most are nocturnal, social, burrowing animals, though the degu is largely diurnal. They are herbivorous, eating tubers, bulbs, and cactuses.

Some authors have suggested that the octodontids should be reclassified in the order Lagomorpha, but this has not been supported by further analyses (e.g. Opazo, 2005). Older literature includes the tuco-tucos in the family, as the subfamily Ctenomyinae, but these animals are normally now treated as a separate family, Ctenomyidae. Two of the genera now included in this family, Salinoctomys and Pipanacoctomys, have only recently been described. There is some evidence that evolution within the family may have resulted from polyploidy. The Plains viscacha rat (Tympanoctomys barrerae), is tetraploid, with 102 chromosomes, and the recently described Golden viscacha rat (Pipanacoctomys aureus) has 92.

Members of the genus Aconaemys are referred to as rock rats, and members of genus Octodon are all called degus, though the name degu on its own implies Octodon degu. The single member of Spalacopus, is called the Coruro (Spalacopus cyanus). Members of the other genera are called viscacha rats: note, however, that viscachas are not octodontids - they are members of the chinchilla family Chinchillidae.


Genus: Aconaemys (Andean rock rats)
 Chilean Rock Rat (Waterhouse, 1842) (Aconaemys fuscus)
 Porter's Rock Rat (Thomas, 1917) (Aconaemys porteri)
 Sage's Rock Rat (Pearson, 1984) (Aconaemys sagei)
Genus: Octodon (Degus)
 Degu (Molina, 1782) (Octodon degus)
 Bridges' Degu (Waterhouse, 1845) (Octodon bridgesi)
 Moon-toothed Degu (Osgood, 1943) (Octodon lunatus)
 Pacific Degu (R. Hutterer, 1994) (Octodon pacificus)
Genus: Octodontomys
 Mountain Degu (Gervais & d'Orbigny, 1844) (Octodontomys gliroides)
Genus: Octomys
 Viscacha Rat (Thomas, 1920) (Octomys mimax)
Genus: Pipanacoctomys
 Golden Vizcacha Rat (Mares, Braun, Barquez, and Díaz, 2000) (Pipanacoctomys aureus)
Genus: Salinoctomys
 Chalchalero Vizcacha Rat (Mares, Braun, Barquez & Diaz, 2000) (Salinoctomys loschalchalerosorum)
Genus: Spalacopus
 Coruro (Wagler, 1832) (Spalacopus cyanus)
Genus: Tympanoctomys
 Plains Viscacha Rat (B. Lawrence, 1941) (Tympanoctomys barrerae)
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