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WHAT WILL A DEGU CALL HOME?
I began keeping my Degus in a two-foot aquarium that I had bought from a local garden centre. It had two shelves at either end and meant there was added space to move about and to go to different heights. Since a Degu feels safer the higher it can go, this was a good move!
Following an accident while cleaning out the tank, I adapted a four-foot aquarium by adding the glass shelves to it. The larger tank was much appreciated by my Degus, as they had more room to move about. During the winter months however, I noticed that condensation would often form on the inside of the tank, and that the tank was often very cold. (You can see this tank on the behaviour page with the added divides).
Following further investigation, I bought a medium sized chinchilla cage. These are wire, and therefore allow much more ventilation. The cage had a metal base, vital to prevent escapees! And two layers above. In the UK, such a cage is about £60.
The first, and most important change to the cage was to remove the wire grid that was in the base. This was to allow the Degus somewhere to go to be off the wire if they decided to. If a Degu is not able to go off the wire flooring at any time, he will develop a nasty complaint known as Bumble Foot. This leads to painful walking and in severe cases the foot will need to be amputated!
It is easy to adapt cages to suit your own needs. This cage was against a wall, and we had been playing with Gromit and Marmalade through the bars. By using the base we had removed, we added a door for just .40p!(the cost of the spring to hold it shut!) Getting carried away, there is a second door in the bottom section of the cage, you can see it in the above picture. Both doors open down so they can walk out onto the door and still feel safe.
Next stop was to acquire some pieces of wood. In my cage I use "Bog wood", as it is very dense and hard to chew meaning its good for keeping teeth short, and it is easy to come by from any garden centre with and aquatics section. The importance of wood stems from an instinct that Degus have in the wild.-
MY PILE'S BIGGER THAN YOUR PILE!
In the wild, a Degu lives in a large family group of up to 100 individuals. So it is therefore important to decide at an early stage just who is in charge of whom! The Degu is a creature that will avoid fights if it can, so they have developed a cunning little strategy. Imagine for one moment that you are a Degu in this clan.
So by putting pieces of wood into the cage, your little family of Degus can decide who is boss. This is why "bog wood" is the best type of wood for this, its lumpy and is bought is varying sized pieces to suit your needs! You will see too, which of your Degus is boss, as the most dominant Degu will spend the most amount of time on the highest perch they can find!
As mentioned earlier, the Degu is VERY destructive. It is vital that if your Degu is in an aquarium, that the lid is securely fastened. (I used two heavy stones to stop them moving the lid!) Also, the drink bottle should be outside the cage to limit how often it has to be replaced!
If you have a cage, it needs to be metal and not plastic. This includes the base. It only takes one night for your Degu to chew his way out!
Your Degu will need things in the cage to occupy him when he cant interact with you. Anything plastic will frequently be destroyed. I added a wheel because I wanted one where they couldnít get feet or tail caught in the bars. This was eaten in about a week!
I bought a large plastic tube designed for rats (you need it for the size!) that was hanging in the cage. Until Charlie arrived they hadnít really tried to chew it, preferring to run through it or sit inside. When Charlie arrived, the tube was soon destroyed!
If you look at the picture at the top right hand side of the page (click on it and enlarge it to see better) the current set up is for the summer. They were too hot in a bed box, so for the summer the cage is left more open. The ramp is back so they can get to the higher levels, and there is now a wooden bamboo tunnel hanging in the cage. This tunnel we WANT them to chew!!!!