I think Degus are alot like gerbils, IMO at least.
Both like to chew, though i find Degus like to chew harder things more, a peice of cardbord dosn't seem to be much fun for them.
Both like to explore and run about. Though I do find my Degus to want to be around me more during this time, as most gerbils could care less if u were around or not (though some do, just not many).
I'm not a big fan of the spraying urine thing to mark territory, though i find my males do it alot more then the females, this is a behaviour gerbils don't do. And well Degus are a bit more smelly then Gerbils, but less them a hamster.
All my gerbils climb into my hand for attention, all my degus climb into my hands and straight up my arms when they want attention. The degus let me pet them more then the gerbils would, and both love their wheels.
So though they have some qualities that are the same (like their super cuteness) they are still each different in other ways.
If you are interested I would say research some more and then see if u can find anyone who owns them so that you can meet their goos, and/or see if you can foster a pair. Fostering is a GREAT way to learn hands on with an animal who's in need and if things don't work out you don't have an obligation to adopt them.
I find my Degus to be very loving, and I can say i love to get up in the morning to go see them, they definetly seem to appreciate me (even give me kisses