Providing a proper home environment for your pet is almost as exciting as bringing the degu into your family. The highly intelligent degu requires plenty of mental stimulation and exercise. Your pet’s home should meet these needs and be furnished with a variety of items that will maintain its interest and comfort.
Home Materials and Size
The preferred homes for a degus are wire cages, which provide an open environment with good air circulation. The minimum home size for a single pet is 24 x 18 x 24 inches. Plastic and wood enclosures will be quickly destroyed by the degu’s relentless chewing habit.
Multi-level wire housing units made for ferrets and chinchillas make perfect degu homes. The extra height is ideally suited for climbing areas, branches, and much-needed hiding places where your pet degu can escape for some “quiet time.” These larger enclosures offer your pet lots of room to run and will easily accommodate additions to the degu family. Floors and ramps should be made of thick wire rather than a thin mesh that’ll hurt your degu’s feet.
Site Selection and Temperature
Degus need a fairly consistent temperature, so the home should be placed away from direct sunlight, electric heating units, furnace vents, air conditioners, damp areas, and drafts.
The optimum room temperature is 69°F to 73°F. A thermometer near their living quarters is suggested. Like most animals, the degu will enjoy sunbathing, but their home should have a shaded area where they can cool off. Degus are social animals and enjoy being close to the household activities, so don’t shut them off in a secluded area of your home.
Floors should be solid and covered with an absorbent material suitable for burrowing and safe if ingested. Appropriate substrates include recycled paper materials, shredded plain paper, corn cob, or finely chopped straw. Soft wood shavings can also be used. Aspen is a popular wood material. Pine shavings can be used if they are kiln dried.
Do not use cedar wood chips or sawdust. Cedar is highly toxic when ingested, and the fine particles in sawdust often cause respiratory problems. Never use wood pellets or paper pellet-type cat litter. These pellets are designed to swell on contact with moisture and can cause a potentially fatal rupture of the stomach if swallowed.
Bedrooms and Bedding
Nesting boxes work well for a degu’s bed and can normally be found in the bird section of your local pet store. These are roomy, easy to clean, and attach to the degu enclosure. Use metal nesting boxes, as wood ones will be quickly chewed up.
Nest building is an activity degus spend hours working on. Many of the materials used as bedding are also those used for flooring. There are many bedding alternatives on the market, including recycled paper and cardboard, corn cob, and chopped wheat straw. Safe nesting materials specifically made for degus, mice, hamsters, gerbils, and rats are available in most pet stores.
Call it the degu’s den, if you like, but your pet should have a secluded place where they can go and relax. These hiding places help reduce stress and will make the degu feel secure. Nesting boxes can be used, but tunnels or tubes are excellent for this purpose.
To maintain cage hygiene, a litter substrate must be used to absorb moisture. Flooring materials previously listed are all excellent choices. Again, do not use cedar chips or cat litter. Aspen wood shavings and corn-cob bedding both work well. Degus can be litter trained. Litter pans placed in one corner of your pet’s home are easy to remove, cut down on odors, and reduce the overall time and cost of maintenance.
Use a dust bath instead of water to clean your degu. A degu’s fur is thick and difficult to dry, which can lead to hypothermia problems. To remove the excess natural oils and moisture from the degu’s coat, a chinchilla dust bowl and chinchilla dust is recommended for their bathing needs.
Kitchen Pantry and Dining Area
Heavy ceramic dishes are a good choice for feeding since they won’t be destroyed by the degu’s incessant chewing. Water bottles with a sipper tube are ideal, but you may need to get a chew guard for the water bottle. With their dry diet, degus must have clean, fresh water available at all times for proper digestion.
General Living Area and Furnishings
Tree branches like pear, apple, ash, beech, and oak will nicely furnish the degu home and are great for climbing and chewing. Clay piping can provide a fun tunneling system for your pet. Degus love to dig, so a digging box using organic soil and sand is a good asset to your pet’s home. If you don’t have a box, a deep layer of substrate works well.
The Exercise Room
Hanging platforms, ledges, ladders, tunnels, tubing, and bridges all make good obstacles and distractions for the degu. Thick branches offer exercise and chewing options. Heavy cotton ropes can also be used as climbing toys. Willow balls, rabbit toys, sisal and corn curios, and wood or woven playthings made from natural materials are always welcomed by the degu.
Equip the degu home with a large wheel for exercise. Plastic wheels work, but are easily chewed and won’t last long. Wire wheels are good as long as the spaces in the bottom are small enough that the degus feet won’t fall through. Add a variety of wood blocks and chew toys and your degu’s exercise area is complete.
Building and furnishing a good home for your degu goes beyond giving it proper shelter. It’s knowing that you’ve provided a home environment in which your pet can comfortably enjoy being part of your family.