Choosing The Right Accessories for Your Degu Cage
Degus are active and curious creatures that love to play and run. In captivity, you’ll need to provide your degus with enough activity to prevent obesity. A lot of pet rodents suffer from obesity because they get fed a high-calorie diet and don’t get enough activity. So, you’ll need to provide exercise wheels and plenty of interesting accessories for your degu cage to get them active.
Degus are also smart creatures that seek an intellectual challenge. There are toys and accessories you can add to your degu cage to provide this intellectual stimulus. If they don’t get this stimulus they might get bored and stressed, which is never good.
In this article, you’ll learn everything about degu cage accessories. You’ll learn what kind of accessories there are and which are suitable for degus. At the end of this article, you’ll know exactly what kind of accessories you should get for your degus.
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What Kind of Cage Accessories Do Degus Need?
A good degu cage needs different types of accessories:
- activity toys
- chew toys
- sleeping areas
- intellectually stimulating toys
To place all of these accessories in your degu cage you’ll need a large enough cage that has multiple levels. If you need more information about a suitable cage size you can check out our article about degu cages.
Degus in the wild will get a lot of activity from foraging. You can mimic this activity by placing an exercise wheel in the cage. Degus love running in an exercise wheel and can run a few miles in it. It’s probably the best way to prevent obesity in degus. Exercise wheels are a must-have accessory for your degus and they will need to have access to it each day.
Tips and tricks for getting an exercise wheel:
- get a wheel with a diameter of at least 12 inches (30 cm)
- the width of the running surface should be at least 4 inches (10 cm)
- don’t get an exercise wheel with bars/rungs but a solid one, which is safer for your degus
- it’s best to get a separate exercise wheel for each degu
Although degus are crepuscular in nature and mostly diurnal in captivity, their sleeping behavior can change. Access to an exercise wheel all day and all night sometimes changes these sleeping habits. Your degus might run during the night and sleep more during the day. If you find this to be a problem, you can take away the exercise wheel during the night.
Saucer disks basically work around the same concept as exercise wheels, except the bit that spins is directly below your degu when they run on it. They’re basically exercise wheels that are on their side. Unlike exercise wheels, saucer disks are generally open, so you will be able to see your degu run from the top or from all sides.
Since the disk itself is flat, your degu’s tails and fur should be safe from being caught on the wheel. There’s also no fear of them outgrowing it since saucer disks aren’t as limiting on the size of the rodent as exercise wheels are. They’re also very easy to clean.
These types of exercise toys are suspended across the length of your cage, allowing your degu to climb or run across it like an acrobat. These exercise toys can be made from simple ropes, where degu can dangle, climb or balance themselves on, or actual rope bridges with rungs like a ladder. Some might have platforms on them where your degu can balance themselves and rest high above the cage floor if they so choose.
These accessories should be suspended high enough that they have to work to get there, but not too high that they might get injured if they accidentally fall. Multiple access points should also be provided.
Platforms are elevated areas where your degu can spend time to rest or survey their little domain. These platforms can stand on their own or can be attached to the side of your cage. You can put more than one platform inside a cage and put them close enough together so that your degu can jump to one platform to another, acting like a miniature obstacle course.
Branches and logs
Branches and logs are an excellent way to provide an activity for your degus. It’s also a natural play toy. Here it’s easy to see that you’ll need a large enough cage to place branches and logs. If you don’t have a large cage it will be harder to put in the branches.
You don’t need to buy the branches and logs in a store but can find them yourself in nature or in your own backyard. However, it’s important that you use wood that’s safe for your degus since they’ll want to chew on the branches and logs.
Even when you get branches or logs from a safe wood, you’ll need to make sure that the branches are untreated and are not sprayed with chemicals.
Degus are capable of climbing ropes but they’re not expert climbers, contrary to what some degus might think. Most degus will enjoy playing and chewing on the ropes you place in their cage. Use thick cotton or sisal ropes that are untreated and contain no – or non-toxic – dye. Since a vertical climb can be a bit challenging, place the rope in a certain angle.
Degus live in burrows and create tunnels in nature. Why not let them play in tunnels in their cage? You can use a hollowed-out log to create tunnels and you can also buy wooden or cardboard tunnels online or in stores. These kinds of tunnels are safe to use in the cage.
Another kind of tunnel is the plastic (bendy) tunnel that you can use outside the cage. You should only use this kind of tunnel under supervision. If you don’t, your degus might chew on the plastic and get sick.
Degus are rodents, and like rodents, their teeth are constantly growing. This is why they love to gnaw on items, so as to keep their incisors in check. If degus don’t have a way to keep their teeth short, they can develop eating problems.
Chewing toys need to be made from a strong material. They also need to be safe for ingestion, in case a piece breaks off and your pet swallows it by accident. Materials such as wood and untreated cloth are just some of the best ones for this purpose.
Gnawing blocks are blocks made of wood or even stone that your degu can safely gnaw on. Depending on the material, they will need to be replaced every couple of months, depending on how much your degu uses it.
Much like other rodents, degus love chasing small objects around. Gnawing balls give degus a bit of exercise by chasing them around, and can safely be chewed on if necessary. They’re usually made of tightly wound rope or wood.
Chewing sticks are basically just short pieces of wood that your degu can chew on. They can vary in size and shape a lot. Degus and rodents, in general, love these as they can easily hold it in their paws while they chew on them. Make sure that you use chewing stocks of safe wood.
Although they’ll be spending most of their time inside their cages indoors, degus will still appreciate a place where they can get a bit of privacy. Degu instinct dictates that they need a place to stay in that’s not exposed where they can rest and relax. Too much time out in the open is not good for a degu’s mental health, as it makes them feel vulnerable.
Hideaways are one of the more simpler shelters you can give your degu, but they are also the most effective at their job. They’re usually opaque, in order to let as little light in as possible, and are thick enough that it can insulate your degu from the cold. Examples of hideaways are hollowed-out logs, stick arches, small wooden houses, and even pots that have been cut in half.
Hammocks are basically beds that are suspended inside the degu’s cage. They range in material from cloth to whicker. While it doesn’t offer protection the same way a hideaway would, they do provide a place where your degu can rest. Make sure to use wire to suspend your hammock and not a regular string, since strings tend to twist up when your degu is using it.
Nesting boxes are a place where your degus can rest. They’re filled with bedding or nesting material that provides warmth and a soft floor. Provide enough bedding material for your degus to create an ideal nesting box.
Intellectually Stimulating Toys
Degus are curious and smart pets that not only need activity but also mental stimulation. Most degu toys are aimed at the activity part and don’t offer a lot of mental stimulation. To prevent your degus from getting bored or stressed, you can place one of the following cage accessories that will let your degus explore their smarts.
Treat dispensing toys
These kinds of toys are not really toys but feeding dispensers. You put food or treats in the toys and your degu will have to figure out how to open them and get access to the food. Since degus in captivity don’t need to forage, these kinds of toys mimic this foraging skill in captivity. Your degus will also need to use fine motor skills to get the reward in the end.
Mazes are typically used for guinea pigs and hamsters, but you can also use them for degus if they’re large enough. You can’t use them inside the cage but will need to attach it to the cage. This way your degus can move between the maze and cage. You can also put your degu inside the maze to play for a while.
Place treats in different parts of the maze and let your degus find them. Mazes can stimulate the foraging behavior of the degu. If your degu doesn’t seem to be interested in the maze, try putting the treat closer to their starting point. This will encourage them to look for it while still making it easy.
Where to Buy Degu Cage Accessories?
Most pet stores have everything you’ll need. If your local pet store doesn’t have a lot of supplies you don’t need to worry, you can also buy the necessary accessories online on sites like Amazon or online stores that specialize in degus and rodents.
To give you a head start, here are some sites that sell the accessories you’ll need:
Although these sites and others can give you competitive prices you might also find really good deals at pet stores. It all depends on the region you’re in.