Many new owners get the degu cage setup wrong.
They either forget something degus need to be happy and healthy, or they add something that can cause harm.
The truth is: degus don’t need much in their cage. But they do need the basics.
And they need a friend.
Degus are not solitary creatures. The most important thing a degu needs in its cage is other degus.
Apart from that, most of the other things degus need in their cage are common sense. But not all.
Keep reading for a step-by-step guide to setting up the perfect degu cage, to ensure your new pet lives a happy and healthy life.
- 1 Degu Cage Setup
- 1.1 Step 1: Choose The Right Enclosure
- 1.2 Step 2: Add The Substrate
- 1.3 Step 3: Attach A Drinking Bottle To The Cage
- 1.4 Step 4: Create A Feeding Area In The Cage
- 1.5 Step 5: Add Toys, Chews, And Hideouts
- 1.6 Step 6: Provide A Safe And Optimum Environment
- 1.7 Step 7: Provide A Dust Bath
- 1.8 Step 8: Clean The Cage Regularly
- 2 Setting Up A Degu Cage: Final Thoughts
Degu Cage Setup
Degus need companions and are best housed in small groups or pairs. They need sturdy cages with multiple levels to climb. The cage floor should be solid and have a safe substrate for degus to dig in.
Pet degus also need plenty of toys, chews, hideouts, caves, and perches. They need a place to nest and hide. A running wheel is also important for degus to exercise.
Setting up a degu cage is not hard, as long as you know exactly what to do. To that end, here is a step-by-step degu cage setup guide that shows you exactly how to set up a degu cage and avoid the major blunders beginning degu owners often make.
Step 1: Choose The Right Enclosure
Just like chinchillas, degus need plenty of space to climb, jump, run, and move about. Therefore, it is important to invest in the right cage.
Furthermore, you should always house degus in small groups or pairs. Never keep a solitary degu, because it can get extremely depressed without the company of its own kind.
Assuming that you are keeping a pair of degus, you need a cage with a floor space of at least 25 by 25 inches with a minimum of 2 to 3 levels for your pets to climb.
Ensure that the cage is sturdy and cannot be chewed through. Degus chew up everything so, ideally, the cage should be made of metal or glass.
Also, the cage floor should be solid, since you will be adding substrate to it for your pets to dig. If you are using a metal cage, you need to cover the floor with plexiglass.
If you need some good recommendations, this article on the best chinchilla cages is applicable to degus as well.
Step 2: Add The Substrate
Degus do not like running on bare metal or glass floor. They also need something they can dig burrows and tunnels in, because that is exactly what they do in their natural habitats.
The best substrates for degus are aspen wood shavings, non-toxic wood pulp, and paper-based pelleted substrates. This article compares the best substrates for chinchillas, which is the same as for degus (the aspen shavings, not the fleece). Add at least 2 to 3 inches of substrate in the cage.
Step 3: Attach A Drinking Bottle To The Cage
Degus need an unlimited supply of fresh and clean drinking water. Generally, two degus drink about 1 liter of water per month. A water bottle with a stopper like this one is easy to attach to the cage walls for your pets to drink from when they need it.
It is best to use water bottles instead of water bowls, since open water bowls can get dirty. Degus can get urine or feces in them and contaminate the water. There is also a risk of your degu falling into the water and getting its coat wet, which can be harmful to it.
Step 4: Create A Feeding Area In The Cage
Degus need an unlimited supply of fresh Timothy hay, orchard grass, alfalfa, or meadow hay in their cage. You can attach a feeder containing hay in their cage, preferably over a sturdy and non-toxic wooden plank on one side
This article recommends the best hay and hay feeders for chinchillas. They are also the best for degus. And remember, these rodents need at least 80% of their diet to be hay.
Make sure you source your hay from a farm supply store or a pet store. Discard moldy or pink hay right away, because it can make your pet sick. Also, avoid green hay. It can lead to bloat.
Your degus also need about 10% of fresh produce daily in the form of leafy vegetables. You can see a list of healthy vegetables for degus in our article on what degus eat here.
About 5% of your degus’ diet should constitute commercial pellets (or nuggets) for rodents. You can also feed your degus an occasional treat, like a piece of fruit, about once a month.
Step 5: Add Toys, Chews, And Hideouts
Degus are highly intelligent creatures that need constant mental stimulation. You can provide them with fun toys to entertain them and alleviate boredom.
- You can attach a solid running wheel made of sturdy metal to the cage floor. This will provide your degus with daily exercise and help them burn those calories.
- Also place rope toys, hammocks, metal tubes, cardboard boxes, and non-toxic wooden chew toys in the cage.
- Provide several nesting and hiding areas for your degus to unwind and relax. PVC pipes and sturdy cardboard boxes make excellent nesting areas.
Step 6: Provide A Safe And Optimum Environment
Degus are diurnal creatures: they sleep at night and are active during the day. For this, they need natural daylight. But their cage should not be in direct sunlight.
Degus are extremely sensitive to heat and could suffer heat strokes if they get overheated. They need a temperature range between 68° and 70° F. They are at risk of overheating at temperatures above 72° F.
Mount a thermometer in your degus’ cage to maintain this optimum range.
Do not place your degu cage near a heating vent, radiator, or other heat sources. You must especially avoid placing it in direct sunlight or in drafty areas.
Step 7: Provide A Dust Bath
Another important thing to provide your degus is a dust bath. Many owners like to keep this in the cage. However, prefer to give them their dust baths outside the cage. It’s just cleaner and easier.
You can create a bath house using a sturdy wooden bowl or square wooden box (at least 6 x 6 x 9 inches) and fill it up with chinchilla dust.
Or you can just buy a bath house. This article covers the best ones. We also have an article on the best dust for chinchillas here. Degus use the same dust. This dust is made of volcanic ash, pumice, clay, etc.
Allow your pet to roll and play in its dust bath for 15 to 20 minutes, two or three times a week. This is especially important for your pet’s hygiene, because the dust eliminates excess oils and moisture in its coat and eliminates parasites too.
You can reuse the dust, but make sure to replace it every few weeks. Do so sooner, if it becomes clumpy or moldy, or if it has degu droppings in it.
Step 8: Clean The Cage Regularly
Cleanliness is particularly important for your degus’ health and wellbeing. Here are some daily, weekly, and monthly cleaning action items you should take care of.
- Daily: clean and refill all water bottles and food bowls. Use warm water and soap for cleaning, because this helps eliminate bacteria. You also need to spot-clean the cage daily by removing degu droppings.
- Weekly: wash your degus’ toys with mild soap and warm water. Discard or replace broken toys right away. Replace the bathing dust if you place the dust bath inside the cage (it’s better to give the a bath outside the cage, though).
- Monthly: deep clean the cage thoroughly. Remove and discard all moist bedding and wash the cage with warm water and soap. Dry it thoroughly before adding new bedding.
Setting Up A Degu Cage: Final Thoughts
Degu cage setup is not rocket science. But it is easy to forget something important. Or to add something that can cause harm. Hopefully our step-by-step guide has helped you figure out exactly how to get that cage ready for your new degus.
Again the most important addition to any degu cage is more degus. These social creatures easily become depressed on their own, so you should have at least two of them. But ideally more than two.