Degu Fun

Safe Wood for Degus

Degus love to jump and climb about all over branches left in their cage. Recreating the natural habitat will provide hours of fun and games, as well as providing materials for them to build nests and establish who is dominant. However, some woods can be harmful and irritable to your little friends. Here is a list of known safe and unsafe woods. Before using any, please read the warning at the bottom of the page. Also, in order to qualify as a safe wood, the wood needs to be:

 

Organic

Contain no pesticides

Must not be chemically treated

A non-manufactured wood (e.g. not bits glued together like plywood, it needs to be straight off the tree)

Free from disease, mold and fungi

Clean and dried

 

Safe Woods

 

Apple3 Chincare (2010) Safe wood vs. toxic [www document]. (Accessed 31 August, 2010).

Hazelnut3 Chincare (2010) Safe wood vs. toxic [www document]. (Accessed 31 August, 2010).

Kiln - dried Pine3 Chincare (2010) Safe wood vs. toxic [www document]. (Accessed 31 August, 2010).

Pear3 Chincare (2010) Safe wood vs. toxic [www document]. (Accessed 31 August, 2010).

Ash3 Chincare (2010) Safe wood vs. toxic [www document]. (Accessed 31 August, 2010).

Grape3 Chincare (2010) Safe wood vs. toxic [www document]. (Accessed 31 August, 2010).

Loquat3 Chincare (2010) Safe wood vs. toxic [www document]. (Accessed 31 August, 2010).

Medlar3 Chincare (2010) Safe wood vs. toxic [www document]. (Accessed 31 August, 2010).

Strawberry3 Chincare (2010) Safe wood vs. toxic [www document]. (Accessed 31 August, 2010).

Hawthorn3 Chincare (2010) Safe wood vs. toxic [www document]. (Accessed 31 August, 2010).

Rowanberry3 Chincare (2010) Safe wood vs. toxic [www document]. (Accessed 31 August, 2010).

Rose hip3 Chincare (2010) Safe wood vs. toxic [www document]. (Accessed 31 August, 2010).

Blackberries3 Chincare (2010) Safe wood vs. toxic [www document]. (Accessed 31 August, 2010).

Willow (except white)3 Chincare (2010) Safe wood vs. toxic [www document]. (Accessed 31 August, 2010).

Pecan3 Chincare (2010) Safe wood vs. toxic [www document]. (Accessed 31 August, 2010).

Elm (ensure it is untreated)3 Chincare (2010) Safe wood vs. toxic [www document]. (Accessed 31 August, 2010).

Ribbon wood3 Chincare (2010) Safe wood vs. toxic [www document]. (Accessed 31 August, 2010).

Mulberry3 Chincare (2010) Safe wood vs. toxic [www document]. (Accessed 31 August, 2010).

Sycamore3 Chincare (2010) Safe wood vs. toxic [www document]. (Accessed 31 August, 2010).

Bamboo3 Chincare (2010) Safe wood vs. toxic [www document]. (Accessed 31 August, 2010).

Unsafe Woods

 

Air - dried Pine3 Chincare (2010) Safe wood vs. toxic [www document]. (Accessed 31 August, 2010).

Elm2 Woods, B. and Calnan, C. (1976) 'Toxic woods.' British Journal of Dermatology, 94 (13): 1-97.

Horse-chestnut3 Chincare (2010) Safe wood vs. toxic [www document]. (Accessed 31 August, 2010).

Oak3 Chincare (2010) Safe wood vs. toxic [www document]. (Accessed 31 August, 2010).

Yew2 Woods, B. and Calnan, C. (1976) 'Toxic woods.' British Journal of Dermatology, 94 (13): 1-97.

Laurel3 Chincare (2010) Safe wood vs. toxic [www document]. (Accessed 31 August, 2010).

Cedar3 Chincare (2010) Safe wood vs. toxic [www document]. (Accessed 31 August, 2010).

Beech2 Woods, B. and Calnan, C. (1976) 'Toxic woods.' British Journal of Dermatology, 94 (13): 1-97.

Birch2 Woods, B. and Calnan, C. (1976) 'Toxic woods.' British Journal of Dermatology, 94 (13): 1-97.

Rose2Woods, B. and Calnan, C. (1976) 'Toxic woods.' British Journal of Dermatology, 94 (13): 1-97.

Plum4Parrot Island, Inc. (2004) Harmful Foods and Plants [www doc]. -http://parrotisland.mainsecureserver.com/catalog/article_info.php?articles_id=55- (accessed 21 April, 2010).

Maple2 Woods, B. and Calnan, C. (1976) 'Toxic woods.' British Journal of Dermatology, 94 (13): 1-97.

Cherry4Parrot Island, Inc. (2004) Harmful Foods and Plants [www doc]. -http://parrotisland.mainsecureserver.com/catalog/article_info.php?articles_id=55- (accessed 21 April, 2010).

Apricot4Parrot Island, Inc. (2004) Harmful Foods and Plants [www doc]. -http://parrotisland.mainsecureserver.com/catalog/article_info.php?articles_id=55- (accessed 21 April, 2010).

Peach4Parrot Island, Inc. (2004) Harmful Foods and Plants [www doc]. -http://parrotisland.mainsecureserver.com/catalog/article_info.php?articles_id=55- (accessed 21 April, 2010).

Almond3 Chincare (2010) Safe wood vs. toxic [www document]. (Accessed 31 August, 2010).

White Willow2 Woods, B. and Calnan, C. (1976) 'Toxic woods.' British Journal of Dermatology, 94 (13): 1-97.

Cashew2 Woods, B. and Calnan, C. (1976) 'Toxic woods.' British Journal of Dermatology, 94 (13): 1-97.

Lemon4Parrot Island, Inc. (2004) Harmful Foods and Plants [www doc]. -http://parrotisland.mainsecureserver.com/catalog/article_info.php?articles_id=55- (accessed 21 April, 2010).

Orange4Parrot Island, Inc. (2004) Harmful Foods and Plants [www doc]. -http://parrotisland.mainsecureserver.com/catalog/article_info.php?articles_id=55- (accessed 21 April, 2010).

Lime4Parrot Island, Inc. (2004) Harmful Foods and Plants [www doc]. -http://parrotisland.mainsecureserver.com/catalog/article_info.php?articles_id=55- (accessed 21 April, 2010).

Grapefruit4Parrot Island, Inc. (2004) Harmful Foods and Plants [www doc]. -http://parrotisland.mainsecureserver.com/catalog/article_info.php?articles_id=55- (accessed 21 April, 2010).

Walnut4Parrot Island, Inc. (2004) Harmful Foods and Plants [www doc]. -http://parrotisland.mainsecureserver.com/catalog/article_info.php?articles_id=55- (accessed 21 April, 2010).

Black Lotus2 Woods, B. and Calnan, C. (1976) 'Toxic woods.' British Journal of Dermatology, 94 (13): 1-97.

Mahogany2 Woods, B. and Calnan, C. (1976) 'Toxic woods.' British Journal of Dermatology, 94 (13): 1-97.

Balsam Fir2 Woods, B. and Calnan, C. (1976) 'Toxic woods.' British Journal of Dermatology, 94 (13): 1-97.

Beech2 Woods, B. and Calnan, C. (1976) 'Toxic woods.' British Journal of Dermatology, 94 (13): 1-97.

Cedar4Parrot Island, Inc. (2004) Harmful Foods and Plants [www doc]. -http://parrotisland.mainsecureserver.com/catalog/article_info.php?articles_id=55- (accessed 21 April, 2010).

Ebony2 Woods, B. and Calnan, C. (1976) 'Toxic woods.' British Journal of Dermatology, 94 (13): 1-97.

Eucalyptus4Parrot Island, Inc. (2004) Harmful Foods and Plants [www doc]. -http://parrotisland.mainsecureserver.com/catalog/article_info.php?articles_id=55- (accessed 21 April, 2010).

Prune4Parrot Island, Inc. (2004) Harmful Foods and Plants [www doc]. -http://parrotisland.mainsecureserver.com/catalog/article_info.php?articles_id=55- (accessed 21 April, 2010).

MDF3 Chincare (2010) Safe wood vs. toxic [www document]. (Accessed 31 August, 2010).

Balsa3 Chincare (2010) Safe wood vs. toxic [www document]. (Accessed 31 August, 2010).

Plywood3 Chincare (2010) Safe wood vs. toxic [www document]. (Accessed 31 August, 2010).



Sources:

Chincare (2010) Safe wood vs. toxic [www document]. (Accessed 31 August, 2010).

Woods, B. and Calnan, C. (1976) 'Toxic woods.' British Journal of Dermatology, 94 (13): 1-97.

Parrot Island, Inc. (2004) Harmful Foods and Plants [www doc]. -http://parrotisland.mainsecureserver.com/catalog/article_info.php?articles_id=55- (accessed 21 April, 2010).

Please note:

As more research is made into the effect of different woods, species may change from list to another. We will try to stay updated with this, although if you are aware of any woods stated incorrectly please contact us at webmaster@deguworld.com and we will strive to provide the most correct information possible. Please also submit any additions. We would also like to point out that, although it is inevitable due to unknown effects, we are strictly against animal testing and clinical trials, and would like to remind all readers not to take the risk of placing an unknown wood into your Degus cage, leave the research to the professionals. Thank you.

Health and Disease Guide

Your Degu is as susceptible to disease as you are, and at first sight of any disease it is recommended you separate the Degu from any others (you are keeping more than one Degu, aren't you?) and seek professional advice. This page is designed to shed light on some common problems Degus may encounter, and although every effort is made to ensure the content is as factual as possible, you should always visit your vet at the first sign of any problems. We are not vets, and do not pretend to be like most other sites.

 

Diabetes

Description: A disease which is nearly always fatal for Degus, they are unable to digest sugars correctly as they have a resistance or lack of insulin, causing them to become diabetic.
Causes: Sugary snacks and food, wrong staple diet
Symptoms: overweight, early death, excessive water drinking, cataracts in the eyes
Treatment: visit the vet immediately,  although there is often little they can do to help. If your pet is showing signs of being overweight, reduce the amount of food you are giving them so your Degu is mainly eating timothy hay.
Prevention: Provide your pet with Degu specific food and treats, limiting to just one or two treats a week.

 

Bumble Foot (Pododermatitis)

Description: Bumble foot is an extremely painful problem where by the Degu experiences red swelling and sores to the bottom of the feet.
Causes: Constant walking on wired surfaces
Symptoms: Difficulty walking, cries of pain, swollen feet, sores, cut sores on the feet.
Treatment: Symptoms may fade with time, Vet visit is essential.
Prevention: Provide plenty of ledges and solid bases for your Degus to stand on to get off the wire from day 1.

 

Parasites

Description: Small annoying animals like mites, ticks and fleas living and breeding in the Degu's fur.
Causes: spreading from interaction with other pets/ people
Symptoms: Constant itching, scratching and biting themselves
Treatment: Visit the vet for suitable medicine
Prevention: These are caught 90% of the time while in the pet shop. While selecting your Degu take time to observe if the Degu is displaying any of the symptoms. other sources are other pets (keep interaction at a minimum as your Degu will be scared of other animals) and yourself (you know if you have fleas and ticks, keep interaction to a minimum during this time).

 

Mouth Disease

Description: Diseases of the mouth or teeth
Causes: unclean water bottles, not enough items to gnaw on.
Symptoms: problems eating, constant grooming of the mouth, long teeth, drooling, crying.
Treatment: Visit the vet immediately
Prevention: clean water bottles, providing gnawing items (items designed to be gnawed on e.g. with a treat hidden inside are best to make sure your Degus destroy them and not the expensive home and shelves you just bought them!)

 

Liver Disease

Description: Problems with the liver
Causes: Eating too many fatty foods
Symptoms: Excessive weight loss, Drinking lots of water, symptoms similar to Diabetes
Treatment: Visit Vet immediately
Prevention: Give your Degu suitable treats. you can find these on our treats article.

 

Tooth Problems

Description: Problems with teeth such as partial or full white colouring of the front teeth
Causes: Vitamin and nutrition deficiency
Symptoms: white teeth
Treatment: Improve diet (as long as there are other signs of ill health)
Prevention: Give you Degu the correct diet, including fresh vegetables occasionally for the right intake

 

Heat Stroke

Description: Overheating
Causes: Being placed in a hot room, cage with no ventilation, in direct sunlight.
Symptoms: appearing dead, immobile, hot to the touch.
Treatment: slowly immerse in cold water and visit vet immediately
Prevention: Well ventilated cage, away from direct sunlight and sources of heat, fresh water supply.

 

Cateracts

Description: white areas in the eye, fully or partially
Causes: Diabetes, excessive feeding of sugary foods, genetic
Symptoms: Eyes have a white glaze over the pupil, can cause loss of sight
Treatment: No known treatment at this time
Prevention: Correct diet

 

PLEASE NOTE: The information on this page is given as an indication of the problems you Degu could face. Do not use it as a tool for diagnoses of illness in yu pet. At the first signs of a problem, ALWAYS visit your local Vet.

Toys and Exercise Guide

Degu Degus need toys to keep them occupied, as tied up in a cage for most their lives there needs to be some entertainment! the most important thing to think about when buying toys is that they are for your pets benefit, not yours, i.e. they may be pretty colours and have fancy bridges and swings, but is your pet actually going to use them, or indeed are they actually usable?

Degus also need plenty of exercise, usually in the form of an exercise wheel or ball to run around a room. This is essential to keep your pets fit and healthy, and usually the bigger the better, to provide plenty of flat running surface for your pets to enjoy. Wheels have to be solid, with no gaps, in order to prevent injury.

 

Degu Toys

Degus love to climb. Aside from a wheel and gnawing blocks, this will provide most of the entertainment in their cage. Degus are natural explorers, so providing areas at different heights to others will give constant entertainment, as well as providing areas for your pets to hide from each other when quarrelling or protecting treats. It can also be used to hide treats for your Degus to find around the cage. My pets like to use them as extra steps as opposed to using the ramp, preferring to jump from one level of the cage to another using the toys in-between. An essential cage must have.

If you look at the picture of my cage on the earlier page, you will see I have replaced most of the metal with items like these, and not only does it look better, but more importantly, my Degus love the it instead of the grated metal on their feet.

Image forCrazy Climber by Supreme Pet

This Ladder with toys hanging off it is perfect for your Degus cage, providing climbing space and bits to hang off and nibble on. More details here

Image forCargo Net by Boredom Breaker

This Pet Supermarket Cargo net provides a lot of climbing and hiding opportunity, and could also become an extra level on your cage.  More details here

Image forSmall Pet Hammock by Savic

This Pet Supermarket hammock provides a comfy place for your pet to climb and rest on. More details here

Suspension bridge

This suspension bridge by ZooPlus is perfect for climbing, nibbling and playing. More details here

Burrow

This burrow tunnel is cheap, big and perfect for your pet to play in. Degus naturally dig in the wild, so this stimulates that behaviour. In addition, treats could be hid inside for your pet to find. More details here

Hanging Bridge

This hanging platform from ZooPlus is a perfect getaway, fun to climb and swing on, and the hut can be used to hide treats (too small to enter). More details here

Degu Exercise

Exercise Wheel

Silent SpinnerAll Degus should have an exercise wheel in their cage. It will provide the most of your Degus exercise during its life. If your Degus are seen fighting over who gets to use it, buy two. Most are cheap, attach easily to the side of your cage, or use a stand and sit on your cages floor.

The wheel should be solid rather than a metal wired one so your Degus don't hurt there feet or fall through and break their legs, and, if affordable, a silent wheel will pay for itself in the extra sleep at night. It needs to be at least 10" in diameter for your pet to run comfortably.

I use a Giant Silent Spinner in my cage, as it allows my pets to run side by side stopping any arguing, and is quieter than most I have used before. It is easily attached and unattached to the side of the cage using a built in screw device. It is also thick plastic, so after a while my Degus realised biting at it was getting them nowhere and so stopped. It is deep enough for both of them to run on it at the same time without any safety concerns.

This Pet Supermarket silent spinner is perfect for your cage. The picture is of the small size, but you will need the 12" size (white and purple) which attaches securely to the side of the cage and can be removed easily for those sleepless nights. More details here

As an example of the wrong type of wheel, I found this video on YouTube showing Degus in a pet shop on the wrong wheel and so hurting themselves. somehow the sad person recording it found it funny: Video Link

 

Degu Exercise ballExercise Ball

Exercise balls provide your Degus with a safe way to explore with a reduced risk of escape. Even the most tamed of Degus can make a break for freedom at any time, so keeping them in a large plastic ball, letting them explore without being able to escape into small holes and gaps, is highly favourable. They also provide a lot of exercise, and somewhere for your Degus to go while cleaning out the cage to keep them occupied. Be wary with plastic wheels that your Degu cant bite through the tabs keeping them closed in minutes, so keep a close eye and listen out for any nibbling. Maybe some extra protection like cello tape would be needed to keep the ball's swivel door closed. Unfortunately, until an alternative is created (don't think metal balls would work somehow) this is the best Degu ball there is to offer. In a perfect world your pet should be trained and allowed to explore an open space unrestricted, but exercise balls are the next best option.

This range of roller balls at Pet Supermarket include a Giant 32cm Ball, perfect for your Degu. More details here

Food and Treats Guide

Degu eating In order to be happy, healthy and active, Degus need a specific diet of Degu-specific nuggets, Timothy hay, alfalfa bales, fresh clean water and one or two fresh vegetable pieces a day to get all the nutrition they need. Below we go into more detail about which ones, and give suggestions on where and what to buy. Remember that giving the right food in the right quantities is vital, as in a caged environment, they can not seek out their own food, and can not shout you when they are hungry. Buying your pet was the easy part, building the cage was simple, now the next 5-10 years of feeding, preparing, cleaning and looking after is where you start demonstrating why you are responsible enough to own one of these magnificent animals

Degu Nuggets - The Staple Diet

Degu FoodWherever possible you should provide your Degu with specially designed Degu food.  Degus have an intolerance for sugar, the slightest over-feeding could lead them to diabetes and make them gravely ill, so attention must be paid to the labels to check sugar content. Food should be fed twice a day, during the morning and after the sleep in the late evening. Guinea Pig pellets are suitable if nothing specific to Degus are available, as they help provide some of the vitamin C Degus can not produce, but every effort should be made to have the correct food, which is very easy with the internet and home delivery options of most pet stores (after all, how are you reading this page?). Chinchilla food should be avoided, and all others should not be given. If your Degu becomes overweight, give them less pellets and more hay. Food should be kept in a ceramic or metal dish, as they are heavier than plastic and nibble proof (and so Degu safe), and to some extent will not tip over.

It is recommended and a lot easier and kinder for your pet for you to purchase these nuggets from the online store than to give other mixes intended for chinchillas, guinea pigs and other animals. This food is designed specifically for Degus by the leading breeders, and with constant offers on prices and delivery, you can not go wrong.

This Degu mix by JR Farm is advertised as the complete Degu diet, and has some raving reviews on Zoo Plus, more details can be found here

Timothy Hay - Your Pets Fibre

Timothy HayDegus need Timothy hay in thier diet to provide fibre. Timothy Hay is the only hay you should feed your Degu, which is available in small cubes, or, as I recommend, you attach a small cage to side of your hamsters home (a rectangular bird feeder cage with 1cm mesh is not only cheap but good) and fill it with the hay. Hay is a very important part of the Degus diet and a fresh, plentiful supply needs to be ensured at all times. This should be supplemented by Alfalfa hay, roughly once or twice a week. This hay provides a lot of the Degu's fibre, which is vital for the normal operation of the Degu's digestive system, and is seen by many breeders as more important to get right than the staple food.

In my cage I have hay in 2 positions, one at the top of the cage, where I  sometimes add treats like pumpkin seeds and nuts to help attract the Degus to it, and one at the bottom of the cage next to the nest box so not only can they eat then sleep without having to jump around to get to it, but it also doubles up as extra bedding during the cold nights, where my Degus will pull out and drag any extra bedding they want into the nest box. My hay holders are rectangular metal cages designedto hold cake for birds that were around £1 each from the local d.i.y store.

 

Alfalfa Bales

Hay Needs a Place to be kept to keep it clean and where your Degus will find it. This Hay Ball from Pet supermarket not only provides a holder, but also a toy and enrichement. Obviously, being made of plastic, your pets would need to be supervised while playing with it.

  Alfalfa Bales Supplement a Degus diet and are believed to be necessary by many. I give mine these mini cubes, snapped in half and given to each Degu once a week. More details here

 

Water

We Recommend you have one bottle of water with a long metal sipping tube hanging to the outside of your cage on each level. Water bowls should not be used as they can be easily tipped and are more prone to bacterial infection via contact with urine and cage rubbish e.g. bedding. Your bottles should be cleaned out and provided with fresh water preferable once a day, although once a week is not too bad. If possible the water should have added vitamin C, but only from a pet specific source e.g. pet water drops. Do not add your own additives as they are not designed for animals and may have an adverse effect due to the concentration or amount per drop.

You could buy cheap £2 water bottles, but if your Degus get into the habit of chewing what they can get at, you'll be replacing them every week, even if they are outside the cage. it is much easier and cost efficient to give them glass bottles, or if you are D.I.Y. literate, create an enclosure out of mesh to keep them out of it.

Degu Treats

Home Ingredient Treats

 

Degus love treats, as do we all, although there are some rules that need to be applied in order to keep your Degus healthy and happy.

Treats must contain as little sugar as possible to prevent diabetes and other health problems.

Any fruit and vegetables must be completely dried until no moisture remains, with a few exceptions.

All must not be chemically treated

You should give your Degu no more than one treat a day, to prevent over digestion of sugar, and putting them off their staple diet of Degu nuggets and hay which is vital for growth and wellbeing. (imagine giving a baby chocolate for a day then trying get then to eat bland tasting processed baby food, same rules apply)

The treat should be no bigger than the size off your thumb nail

Hiding treats in various areas around your cage will not only be fun for Degus but will also help them live out the scavenging behaviours they would normally demonstrate in the wild.

Safe Treats

(all completely dried)


Fruits and Vegetables

Carrot
Carrot Wood Roll
Apple
Banana
Potato
Parsnip
Courgette
Leek
Peas
Corn

Petals and Leaves

Rose petals and buds
Sunflower petals
Dandelion Leaves
Green Oat Leaves
Nettle Leaves
Hawthorn Leaves
Strawberry Leaves
Raspberry Leaves
Plantain Leaves
Hay cubes
Fennel

 

Cereals and Toasts

 

Plain Porridge Oats
Shredded wheat
Weatabix
Cornflakes
Wholemeal toasted bread
Ryvita
Crisp breads
Melba Toast
Cracker

 

Other

 

Pasta
Alfalfa biscuits
Carrot biscuits
Locus beans

 

Nuts and Seeds

 

Peanut
Sunflower Seed
Pumpkin Seed
Hazelnut
Walnut
Brazil Nut

 

Nuts can be given whole, in the shell, to provide entertainment for your pets as they break through to the treat within. I have found on occasion with walnuts and hazelnuts that you need to make a small break to start them off in order to give something to hold on to and let them know a treat awaits inside.

 

Shop Bought Treats

 

Where possible provide your Degu with treats designed specifically for there dietary requirements. Unlike other rodents, Degus can only tolerate most fruit and vegetables in tiny amounts due to there sugar intolerance.

Zoo Plus currently have the JR Farm Range and Pet Supermarket have the Naturals range in full of treats designed for Degus. Listed below are a few of the possibilities, which are my Degu's favourites and are often on good offers.

For the few times iv been online there has been new treats and old treats gone, so if you find a link not working please let me know and ill replace it.

 


The Best Offer Available, the JR Farms Value Pack, including 2x 200g JR Farm Small Pet's Dream, 1x 500gr JR Farm Green Oats, 1x 500gr JR Farm Nut Specialities and 1x 100gr JR Farm Nibble Ears

 

Naturals Nature Salad
Naturals Nature Salad



Naturals Herbal Garden
Naturals Herbal Garden



JR Farm Degu Snacks
JR Farms Degu Snack



JR Farms Herbs
JR Farms Field Herbs


Please note:

As more research is made into the effect of different foods, treats may no longer be considered safe. We will try to stay updated with this, although if you are aware of any treats stated incorrectly please contact us at webmaster@deguworld.com and we will strive to provide the most correct information possible. Please also submit and additions. We would also like to point out that, although it is inevitable due to unknown effects, we are strictly against animal testing and clinical trials, and would like to remind all readers not to take the risk of feeding an unknown treat to your Degus, leave the research to the professionals. Thank you.

Cage and Housing Guide

My Degus Cage Your Degus cage needs a lot of attention to be perfect, and needs to be set up before you buy/ adopt your Degus, as any kind of cardboard or plastic carry case you take them home in will not hold them for long. Below is what you need, along with some suggestions of where you can get them. Your Degus cage is your Degus home, it needs to contain all the vital necessities to keep them happy and healthy, as well as being clean.

As you can see by my cage on the left, there is a lot going on to keep my Degus not only entertained but also fit and healthy. This is an optimum set up for Degus, containing a nest box, food and treats bowls, hay cages, plenty of shelves and platforms, an exercise wheel, hanging and fixed toys, branches and hideaways.

When building your pets new home for next 6-8 years, you need to consider what budget you have, where you are going to keep it, how easy it is going to be for you to maintain compared with how much time you have to maintain it with, and how much stimulus its going to provide your pet when you are not available to play with it. For example, if you are keeping your pet in a bedroom or close to a bed, will you need an exercise wheel which is easily detachable to let you sleep, or will you have one that requires screws to keep it permanently in place? Simple questions that are easily overlooked in favour for the cheapest, easiest to obtain cage furniture.

Getting the right Cage for your Degu

a degu cageDepending on the amount of Degus you intend to keep, we recommend a cage with a base of at least 25" x 15", with at least 2 levels to provide plenty of room for the Degus to explore. The base of the cage needs to be solid metal to prevent bumble foot, with the sides being wire, with the wire leaving no more than a 2cmx2cm gap to prevent chances of escape for young Degus. Cages cannot be plastic or wood as Degus teeth can break through in less than one night and you will never see your pets again. A glass aquarium style cage is only suitable as a base as there need to be plenty of air circulation and room to climb and explore. The base of the cage should be covered in wood shavings to provide comfort and absorbance. The cage should be placed in a calm area, away from temperature fluctuations like extreme heat and cold, as this will make your Degus ill.

The cage on the right from Pet Supermarket is perfect for your pets (2-3), is similar to mine, cheap and has a solid metal base. Click here for more details

Maintaining your Degu Cage

cage cleanerYour cage, base, and any metal, glass, wooden, plastic and ceramic surface should be cleaned and disinfected with a pet-safe cleaner, at least once a week. Any broken or badly worn items which make them unsafe should be removed immediately and suitable replacements found. Areas where your Degu excrements and urinates should be spot cleaned regularly to prevent smells and bacteria.

Any pet safe cleaner would be suitable. It has been reported that some Degus can become allergic to these disinfectants, which if they do, stop using them. The owners of this site has not come across this problem, and as there are many things that can become allergens do not get scare mongered into being 'over the top' safe until you see some sort of allergic reaction.

Shelves and Branches in your Cage

Sand-blasted branchIf your cage consists mainly of meshed floors, it is essential to place shelves inside your cage to provide somewhere for your Degus to stand when there feet are sore. These can be basic pieces of wood (prepared properly and sanded from the safe wood list, preferably untreated pine around 2cm thick) screwed to the side of the cage or rested on.

Alternatively you can use branches for your pets, as these will cause more naturalistic and give more exploration for your Degus as well as something for your pets to nibble on. These must be brought from a reputable pet shop to ensure they are Degu safe or picked from our safe wood page. You could use branches from trees as long as they conform to the details on the safe wood page, including the wood type, being completely natural i.e. contain no pesticides and completely cleaned and baked to kill any wildlife/ lavae.

This sand-blasted branch from Zooplus is perfect, comes in 2 sizes, and is never the same shape so keeps your pet amused. I currently have a 'F' shaped branch and its perfect for my pet to climb from one level to the next. More details here

 
Perch with ropes Y-shaped perch Wooden Perch
ZooPlus also sell these 3 other very cheap yet very suitable perches, the Y-shaped perch, a perch with ropes dangling off, and thin wooden perches that are dependent on the size of your cage. 2 of these feature in my cage a few times and are perfect for steps and places to relax for your pets. Click on each one to find out more details.

Your Degus Bedroom - the Nest Box

degu cabinsDegus need a nest box to sleep in, providing warmth, shelter and shade. a wooden nest box is recommended, ensure it is not varnished in any thing that could be harmful towards your pet. For bedding, small animal bedding from your local stores are fine, including wood shavings and hay. The size of the box will depend on how many Degu you intend to keep, although you must remember they grow to around 15cm long plus tail, so imagine the size you would need to accommodate. Typically, A nest box designed for a chinchilla will the most suitable in most pet stores. If your nest does not have a base like the one in the picture, place a shelf underneath so your pet is not sleeping on wire. I placed a cold tile underneath mine so my pets stayed cool during the summer months.

These Degu Shelters are perfect to provide a nice, warm, dark place to sleep and snuggle up. More information can be found here

House House House
These 3 huts are examples of hiding places for your Degus, all cheap and from ZooPlus. As a bonus, they are all made of natural wood so you do not need to worry about our pet chewing on them. Click on each image for a detailed description

 

degu beddingBedding

Your pet will need suitable bedding in there nest box in order to stay warm and cosy during the night. Our Degus favourite, and recommendation is the white shredded paper type bedding (not actual shredded newspaper though, see the image), as others such as the vegetable fibre /cotton wool type bedding can be suffocating and harmful if swallowed, and the sawdust/wood shavings can cause allergies as it contains dust. The paper type can be bought in most pet stores, supermarkets and high street stores such as Wilkinsons, as well as online.

As an example, here is some from Pet Supermarket

Looking after your Degus Health

Degu's are as susceptible to health problems and diseases as you and I, here we go through the prevention of these problems, far better than trying to cure them.

degu sand bathDust Baths

As a Degu's fur and skin are intolerant of water, Degus need dust baths to help remove the grease and other build up off there fur and skin.

Degus love dust baths, which are metal or ceramic tubs filled with with a 4cm layer of specialised dust bath dust (also known as chinchilla dust, chinchilla sand and chinchilla clay, but never use normal sand or dust as this would be extremely harmful to your pet) left inside the cage for 30 minutes a day. Any longer and your Degu could bathe too much which can cause the fur to become too dry and brittle.

degu sandDegus will often spin around in the tub and flick the dust about, so prepare for a mess!

Instead of the metal baths that are sold by most pet shops, I use a ceramic salt holder which has a flat base, is around 15 cm tall, round and completely contained apart from a large circular opening at the front, allowing my Degus easy access in and out.

The bath on the left is a rectangular version of mine, but would need to be supervised when in use as it is made of plastic and would be easily destroyed. An alternative would be a metal one here from Zoo Plus but it is rather large as its designed for chinchillas

The JR Farm Chinchilla Sand from ZooPlus on the right is great for your pet

willow sticksTeeth

Degus teeth are forever growing. If grown too long, they can hurt the Degus gums, mouth, and cut into skin. This is why Degus need wooden gnawing blocks to bite on, which will help erode away teeth, keeping them at the ideal length, and provide entertainment. Degus like to bite anything and everything in there cage, regardless of what material it is (metal, wood, plastic and cardboard). This is perfectly natural behavior and is nothing to worry about, apart from the costs of replacing the items!

If you notice excessive bleeding from your Degus teeth, we recommend you take the Degu to the vet immediately, and remove the offending gnawing item (identified by the blood covered bite marks) from the cage to prevent the same thing happening to your other Degus in the meantime.

These Willow play sticks from Pet Supermarket are great for Degus to nibble on.

Degu Related Offers

 

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