Buying a Degu cage from a pet store can be very expensive, and you are limited to the sizes they provide meaning that perfect are you had marked out for your pets may not be right for what's available. Building your own can be cheaper, better suited to your pet and be your own design and dimensions, fitting into your home perfectly. This guide goes into some detail on how to build a cage, what you need and how to design it.
The Cage Structure: Design and Building
Your cage should be designed to give the most space you practically can for your pet, while being optimally shaped to fit where you want it to in your home. for the purposes of this guide, I shall be placing the cage in a gap between a wall and an old disused fireplace outcrop. The gap is 72cm/ 28.5inches wide (not including skirting boards) so to fit comfortably my cage will be 27inches wide, 17inches deep.
Now, the height of the cage will depend on what you want to include, you could have any of the following:
- A basic, multi-tier cage for your pets, sitting onto of another item
- A multi-tier cage including an extra basement level for digging, recreating the natural environment, sitting on top of another item.
- A cage and basement level, as well as the stand and shelves for placing your Degus food etc. on.
I will be making the last one, but any of them would be worthwhile builds, especially if you already have a set of drawers of something similar for your cage to sit on.
Before finalising the design, we need to consider what materials we are going to make the cage out of. There will be 2 main materials needed, one to make the structure of the cage, the base, sides and back, and then the front of the cage that needs to be see through (otherwise you might as well keep your pet in box!). For the roof, I will be using wire mesh to allow the maximum amount of air circulation and light into the cage.
For the main body of the cage, I would always recommend wood. It is easy to work with, strong, easy to clean. The best type to use would be Pine, last 1/2inch thick. It needs to be smooth, free from splinters or defects, unpainted/unvarnished and solid. Using a 'man-made' wood like chipboard or plywood would easily damage your Degus health due to the glue used to create it.
Now some of you may be getting confused as Degus can chew through wood quite easily, but in order for them to do that, there needs to be a place for them to get their teeth around. Degus can not chew a flat surface, and so as long as the cage is built correctly, nibbling should not be a problem. I know many owners and breeders who have built wooden cages and not had any escapes due to nibbling through the walls.
For the front of the cage, the options available to you include, but or not limited to, wire mesh, glass or plexi-glass.
|Opacity||Bars can be obtrusive||Clear until Scratched||Clear until Scratched|
|Cleanliness||Slight build up of residue||Become Dirty Easily||Become Scratched and Dirty Easily|
I personally recommend wire mesh, it provides interaction with your pets without having to open the cage, plenty of air circulation and ventilation, and is cheap. However, the other 2 can also be perfectly fine substitutes. When buying your wire mesh, ensure it is galvanised, without any paint or coating so your pets don't nibble off bits of plastic and upset their system.
So, for the cage I am building, I will need:
- Pine wood for the walls, base and frame
- Wire mesh for the doors and roof
- locks to keep the doors shut
- hinges for the doors
- extra wood for the shelves
- nails/screws and glue to build the cage
Following my plan, I came up with the following design based upon what I wanted.
If you are D.I.Y. literate, constructing the cage should be a doddle. If not, try to get someone to help to to hold pieces in place while gluing and nailing into place.
On the base of every level of your cage should be some sawdust to absorb any mess.
Populating your Cage
- Food/ Treat Bowls - Place these as and where you like, trying not to put them under ledges to stop sawdust falling in.
- Water Bottles - They can be hung mesh of the cage door
- Shelves - Use nails to rest shelves on in corners and across the back, a few taps with a hammer and you can easily move the position of the shelves.
- Wheel - Use the base which comes with most wheels to stand your wheel in the cage
- Hanging Toys - Screw eyelets into the wood to hang toys off or use the top mesh vent
- Branches - Position to provide a ladder from one level to another
Overall the wood gives a range of possibilities to position items in your pets cage.
Try to have as many flat areas as possible for your pets to climb to and from. The more space used, the more room for your pets.
I hope this guide has given you some ideas on how to design and build your own cage. Fitting it for your own purpose will allow you to create a stunning looking cage, but more importantly, a great home for your pet.