Like most small pets, Degus need some sort of bedding or litter in their cage to absorb urine. A trip to the pet store gives lots of options but many of them aren’t actually safe for use with your pet goos. This article breaks down the different types of litter that are safe for your degu’s cage and the ones you must avoid at all costs.
What Does Degu Bedding Do?
Some type of bedding or substrate is necessary in your degus’ cage to help maintain a level of “cleanliness” to insure proper hygiene for your pet. This is mainly through the litter absorbing moisture from urine. One of the nice side effects of this absorption is a reduction in odor in your degu’s cage. It will also help keep your degus healthier because they aren’t exposed to soiled surfaces.
Best Degu Bedding
Carefresh Degu Bedding
This staple of the small animal aisle at the pet store is an easy-to-buy substrate option that is safe for degus. This paper-based bedding is made from recycled wood, pulp, and paper. It’s highly absorbent and good at masking odors, however, it may need to be changed more frequently than other litter options. It’s also quite expensive. But if you need something that you can pick up quickly from the pet store, it’s always there.
I generally recommend avoiding varieties with scents or dyes for small animal use.
Available Sizes: 10 L, 14 L, 23 L, 30 L, 50 L, 60 L
Small Pet Select Degu Paper Bedding
A more affordable paper bedding for degus if you don’t mind ordering online is Small Pet Seelct’s Soft Brown Paper Bedding. Made from virgin fiber (meaning no recycled materials so your goos won’t be exposed to any chemicals), this substrate is soft and absorbent. The absorbency helps to reduce odors in your cage. It’s also 100% compostible.
Finacard and Repticard Cardboard Bedding
For UK based Degu owners, Finacard and Repticard make cardboard-based bedding that is safe for Degu cages. Corrugated cardboard is shredded into small pieces that can be spread in the bottom of a cage or dig box. This bedding is highly absorbant and does a good job of masking odors.
If you’re looking for a sustainable or reusable bedding option for degus, fleece is a good one to consider. You can basically buy any non-piling fleece and cut it to fit your cage and line the shelves. It’s easy to vacuum poos off the fleece liner and if you have multiple sets they are quick the change.
The downside with fleece is it doesn’t provide great absorbency and the odor retention isn’t good as well. So your fleece liners will need to be changed frequently, probably several times a week depending on how many degus you have in your cage. But cleaning them is easy because you can shake off any poo and hay and then toss them in the washing machine.
Kiln Dried Pine Shavings
There is some disagreement between degu owners on whether wood shavings make good cage bedding. Wood shavings are easy to buy and usually cheap compared to other commercial litter options. They are absorbant and good at retaining urine smells.
The big problem comes from the fact that some degus have wood dust allergies that will be irritated by wood shavings. It’s also a very light weight bedding, which means that your goos can easily kick it out of the cage and make a mess on the floor.
If you’re going to try wood shavings as a substrate, look for kiln dried pine shavings. You can frequently find this marketed as chicken bedding, but you must make sure it is kiln dried or heat treated. Make sure it is shavings and not compressed pellets which are dangerous for degus.
Degu Substrates to Avoid
These bedding options, while widely available, should be avoided in your degu’s cage. Many are unsafe and could cause health issues for your pet. Others just don’t work well as a litter for degus.
It’s cheap and you can even buy it at the grocery store but it’s absolutely not safe for your degu. Most cat litter clumps when it is wet, which means if your degu eats any of it the litter will clump in their stomach. This can cause internal blockages.
Compressed Paper and Wood Pellets
Often sold as cat or small pet litter, pellets made from compressed paper or wood pulp are not safe for a degu cage. These compact pellets expand when wet, so if your degu swallowed it the expansion in their intestines would be dangerous. The roughness of the pellet can also be an aggravator of bumblefoot. Examples are Feline Pine and Yesterday’s News.
Sawdust not only makes a huge mess (imagine your degus digging or running through it and creating a huge cloud of dust!) but it’s not safe for your goos. The fine particles in the dust not only make a mess but if your degus inhale them they can cause respiratory problems. Avoid sawdust compeltely.
Cedar Wood Shavings
While some degus are fine with kiln-dried pine shavings, cedar wood is never safe for degus. Cedar is highly toxic and can kill your pet if ingested.