A suitable environment for degus
Every degu deserves a good home where they can be healthy and happy. Here are our top tips for creating a great home for your pet degus.
Your degus' housing needs:
- A solid roof - as a prey species, degus can get frightened of movements above them (their main predators in the wild are birds of prey). A solid roof can help them to feel safe and secure.
- Plenty of vertical space to allow them to climb. In the wild, degus naturally climb onto the branches of shrubs and small trees. Give them branches made from safe wood (such as pear, apple or beech) and platforms at different levels so they can climb or jump from one to another. A stable rock formation can also offer a great opportunity for climbing.
- Space to be active - their housing should be large enough for them to run, jump, climb, chew, dust bathe, dig and nest, as well as eat, drink and toilet.
- Toys - such as wooden, rope and cardboard toys. Avoid toys made from plastic and any wood that may be toxic, such as cedar.
- Exercise wheels and tunnels - to keep your degus busy. Degus are very active and need plenty of opportunities to exercise.
- A dust bath - this should be a shallow, heavy bowl filled with suitable sand (chinchilla sand is ideal for this). The bowl should be big enough for them to roll around in and the dust should be around 4cm deep. However, they should only have access to this two or three times a week for about 20 minutes.
- Bedding - degus need a deep layer of bedding material so they can dig and burrow. The bottom of the enclosure should be solid, with a deep layer of material such as hay, shredded paper and paper tissues; non-toxic wood shavings can also be used.
- Nest boxes - your degus should have constant access to hay-filled nest boxes to rest and sleep in.
Keeping your degus' home comfortable
Make sure your degus' home (and anywhere else they're left) is always comfortable for
them by remembering to make sure it's:
- Safe, secure and hazard-free - check their enclosure regularly for any signs of damage that could hurt your degus or allow them to escape, and also check anything inside the enclosure for damage and replace as necessary.
- Placed at waist height - placing their enclosures at waist height on a shelf or table helps degus feel more secure.
- Well ventilated and draught-free - degus housed in fish tanks or glass vivariums can suffer from respiratory problems, as they don't allow enough air to circulate in and out.
- The right temperature - to stop your degus overheating, the temperature in their enclosure should be no higher than 20°C. Put their enclosure in a cool area of the house, away from any radiators or other heat sources. If you notice your degus lying still, flat on their stomach, this could mean they're overheating and you should speak to your vet immediately for further advice.
- Predictably lit - degus are naturally active during the day, so house them in a room where they have light throughout the day and darkness during the night. The lights should go on and off at more or less the same time each day.
- Cleaned regularly - clean your degus' home regularly so urine and droppings don't accumulate.
- Clean their toilet and feeding areas every day and the rest of their enclosure at least once a week.
- After cleaning, put some used but unsoiled nesting and bedding material back into the enclosure to help keep familiar scents and reduce the stress associated with cleaning.
- Always remove any hoarded food that's going mouldy.