Members of the family are diverse in terms of ecology and morphology. All species construct burrow systems under either shrubs or rocks, and coruros and rock rats are the most modified for a subterranean lifestyle. Degus of the genus Octodon are terrestrial, but are capable of climbing low-lying trees and shrubs. Most species prefer scrub habitat occurring in coastal, montane, and desert regions. This habitat varies in elevation from sea level to Andean regions ranging in elevation 9,840-16,400 ft (3,000-5,000 m). Most areas where species occur have shrub and grasses that are patchily distributed and intermixed with some rocks. The genera Tym-panoctomys, Salinoctomys, and Pipanacoctomys are restricted to arid regions in Argentina characterized by desert plants with high salt content. Some species of rock rats occur in Nothofa-gus and Araucaria forests.

Degu (Octodon degus) live in rock piles near Reserva Nacional Las Chinchillas, Chile. (Photo by Fletcher & Baylis/Photo Researchers, Inc. Reproduced by permission.)
A degu (Octodon degus) among family members showing social behavior of fur scratching. (Photo by Animals Animals ©Robert Maier. Reproduced by permission.)
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