For a long time, it was not noticed that degus dig extensively. However, they can only do this with the right bedding.
In the wild, the burrow is the center of degu life. The young animals are born in it and it offers protection from enemies. Degus in human care also want to create a den according to their natural behavior. However, they can only live up to this need if they are offered a sufficiently thick layer of bedding. The bedding should be at least 15 cm high in the degu enclosure, whereby the following applies: the higher the bedding, the better! But it’s not just the amount of bedding that counts. The condition is also important so that the degus can dig at all.
Which litter is the right one? The litter for small animals (wood shavings) offered in the pet trade is certainly used most frequently. It is inexpensive, does not weigh too much, and can be composted. Unfortunately, the passages and caves laid out in small animal litter are not stable and keep collapsing. This shortcoming can be compensated for by adding hay, which is also a main component of the degu diet. Since the usual small animal litter contains a very high proportion of dust, allergy sufferers can also use dust-free litter for horses, which is otherwise comparable to normal small animal litter. The hemp litter also available in pet shops is completely unsuitable for digging. Although it is completely dust-free and therefore also suitable for allergy sufferers, it lacks stability. The latter also applies to straw pellets and beech wood granules, which is why they are unsuitable as sole bedding. Mixed with the litter for small animals, however, a litter is created in which corridors and caves remain stable. Cotton-based litter, which is now available in specialist shops, is very suitable for degus. It is absolutely dust-free and therefore also suitable for allergy sufferers. As the fibers become matted together, they also allow for the stable creation of aisles. The odor binding of the cotton fibers is also excellent so the significantly higher price is definitely justified. In addition, it binds emerging odors extremely effectively. These advantages clearly outweigh the disadvantage of the higher price.
BuddelkisteIf your degu cage does not have a sufficiently high floor pan, you can use a digger box to enable your degus to have fun digging. It is best to use a smaller aquarium for this, which you can place in the degus’ enclosure. This is then filled with a mixture of sand and peat, which is slightly moistened to keep the tunnels in it stable and dust-free. Bark mulch can also be put in the digging box, with the larger pieces of bark contained in the mulch providing a good incentive for the degus’ incisors. Another alternative is unfertilized potting soil. This should also be slightly damp, otherwise, the dust exposure is very high. If you are afraid of germs in soil or sand, we recommend the use of coconut bricks used by terrorists. They are sterilized and sold in a dried, compactly pressed form. After adding water, there will be a larger amount of soil. It is up to you whether you leave your digging box in the enclosure permanently or only offer it to your degus from time to time. It is cheaper for the animals because it is more species-appropriate, but it is permanent access to the digging pit.
Nesting material Many, but by no means all, degus use appropriate padding material to pad their sleeping caves. Hay is ideal for this. It is always available since it is also an important source of food and can therefore also be used as a snack. The quality of the hay is important here. It has to smell fresh because musty-smelling hay has usually gotten wet and harbors the risk of mold infections. Unfortunately, it can also happen that parts of plastic bags, screws, or the like are contained in the hay. You should therefore check the hay for such unwanted “inclusions” before bringing it into the degu home. Other suitable nesting materials are toilet paper and/or kitchen paper. However, it should be unprinted, not colored, and not perfumed. Under no circumstances should you offer hamster cotton as nesting material, as there is always a risk that the degus will strangle their limbs in the cotton.