#321 Mocha Island Degu

Critically Endangered

This degu is also known as the Pacific Degu. They are from the Mocha Island, Chile. Unfortunately they have not been seen since 1994. Their habitat has been mostly destroyed for logging and other uses such as vegetation collection. The most recent surveys did not search the high elevation forests, so there is a possibility that a small population remains there, but even those forests are at risk of logging. I did not see any pictures of thse, but descriptions said they were a darker brown with a tail significantly less tufted than other species. I also saw descriptions of degu in general that said they had a range of sizes, up to about a foot. It did not specify if that was total length, or not including the tail. So, I am making assumptions that this is the full length of the animal, and as these are the largest they would be at the foot long range. There are no conservation efforts in place for them that I am able to find.

We took Mother's Day presents to my mother-in-law and mom yesterday. Because my parents live at the beach and it is such a long day even if we just drive straight to each of the houses, ditch stuff, wave and speed off, we cannot leave the dogs home if we all go. We have never before taken the dogs to the farm my in-laws live on. They have their own dog, and it isn't fair to take our anti-social one there, but we had to yesterday. The dogs enjoyed exploring the area around the house but the anti-social one was very anxious when she saw my kids go into the house and she heard my in-laws dog barking because she wasn't able to protect them and did not know if the strange dog was behaving. When we get to the beach, of course we need to let the dogs walk on the beach. We saw a couple of these sand crabs, or Pacific Mole crab that were upside-down and seemed to be struggling. I grabbed them and set them in sand that was much wetter than they'd been in, and both of them instantly dug their way back under the surface. They actually dig backwards because they need their face to be near the surface. They are very vulnerable if they are on top of the sand because other things find them tasty. They also need an area that will have water wash over them so they can get food. It is always so nice to see the dogs able to run around. The blind dog used to love spending time getting splashed in the water and made a beeline straight for the water even though he couldn't see it. The other dog hates water, hates people, hates dogs, but loves her family and spending time with us so the beach is still one of her favourite places to go. The two of them got so much exercise and had so much fun that in spite of being terrified of car rides, the blind one was able to relax and rest on the way home. I would say it was a successful day's outing!

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