You must buy the correct size cage for your degus, and this will depend on how many you are looking to buy. You will need to get at least two degus, however they can live in small family groups too. So the more you get, the bigger your cage will need to be. A cage for two degus will need to be at least 100cm long x 60cm wide x 60cm high — chinchilla cages are suitable if you cannot get hold of one specifically designed for degus. A wire cage with different platforms for them to climb on is ideal, as this allows them to move around with ease. You must ensure that the cage has a solid base and solid platforms so that their paws don't get caught and injured.
When choosing your wire cage, check that that spacing between the wires is small enough so that your degus can't escape. If their head can fit through the gap, then they will definitely be able to squeeze their bodies through too.
You will need to think about a suitable location for your degu cage – they aren't the smallest of cages so you'll need to be sure that you have the space for it. The cage will also need to be kept out of direct sunlight and away from anything that may cause rapid changes of temperature such as radiators or draughts. Degus don't like high temperatures and do not have the ability to sweat so they can't be kept in an overly warm room. The temperature should never exceed 20°C. For this reason, degus should also never be housed outside; unlike guinea pigs or rabbits, degus are indoor-only pets.
Toys and platforms
The cage will need to have platforms at different levels so that your degus can climb and jump from one to the other. They will also need a nesting box (approximately 20cm long x 15cm wide x 15 high) which should be filled with hay or shredded paper for them to sleep in.
You can also give them clean branches and/or cuttlebone for them to perch and chew on — apple, pear, ash, beech and oak are all fine to use, just make sure they are washed well and free of any insecticides before you place them in the cage. Other toys are also advised so that your degus have some varied entertainment while they are in their cage such as solid rock formations to climb, solid tunnels and an exercise wheel so that they can stretch their legs — these must be solid plastic to prevent them from getting their paws and tails trapped.
Parrot toys are usually great entertainment for degus — especially if they're wooden and chewable — be sure to keep an eye on the toys so that they don't become dangerous and splinter.
A dust bath will need to be provided a few days a week so that your degus can clean themselves and have some fun rolling around and digging in the sand. Make sure you cover the bottom of the dust bath with chinchilla sand — and watch them have some fun! Terracotta plant pots offer your degus a cooler place to lay or hideout in the summer months, and they wont get destroyed by all the chewing. You will need to cover the floor of the cage with dust extracted bedding, bark chippings or peat to allow your degus to dig burrows.
Scatter their food around the cage and hide treats so that they have to hunt for food — this will keep your degus entertained and they can carry out natural foraging behaviour.
Time outside of the cage
Your degus will need some time outside of their cage. A pet playpen will keep them safe and secure but provide them with plenty of space to run around and get some much needed exercise. They must be supervised at all times as they can run very quickly and of course, they love to chew! Keep them out of kitchens and bathrooms as these are rooms which are full of potential hazards such as electrical cables that they could chew. Let them out once or twice a day, in the morning and evening. This way, they will get the most out of their playtimes as this is when they are at their most active.
The cage will need to be thoroughly cleaned out once a week, replace any soiled bedding materials and clean all the toys, water bottles and food bowls with a pet-friendly disinfectant. You can also do some spot cleaning throughout the week and clear away any droppings and uneaten foods. Degus aren't dirty pets so cleaning should be an easy task.