Degu Housing Crisis

Over Christmas break, one of the items on the family To Do list was to clean out the degu cage. Never a popular task, but one which we’ve followed for years without serious incident. Our degu lives in a two tier affair, the bottom made out of a 30 gallon aquarium tank filled with wood shavings, and the top being a wire construction complete with an exercise wheel and a second floor lair. It’s worked well for us these past eight years.

This time, however, when Tomas and DC went to dump the cage contents on the compost pile, the glass aquarium finally gave up the ghost, with an entire side of it shattering into the snow. This was, needless to say, Not Part of the Plan, and it left us in a bit of a jam. We had a cage top that was still fine, but no cage bottom. Without a bottom, there would be no place to contain the wood shavings. We could try putting it in a cardboard box (we had plenty of those after the holidays), but that would get nasty fast.

A quick perusal of Craig’s List and Facebook Marketplace showed us there were other glass tanks around, but none the right size. And a new one would cost upwards of $100. That’s a bit rich for my blood, especially for an eight year old degu and no plans to get a new degu once she departs us. So I did what any self-respecting American would do: I took the dimensions of the cage top and went to Walmart.

My mission? Find something (anything!) that would work for a cage bottom for the little critter. The trick? The cage top was exceptionally long. 31 inches long, 14 inches wide. And after scouring the entire Walmart, DC and I were coming up with nothing. I had figured a plastic bin would work, but all the ones we found were just an inch or two too short. We tried bookcases as well, but they were just too big, or too expensive.

Finally, we tried the Christmas section, and there we hit pay dirt, coming across a single bin that was 34 inches long and 18 inches wide. Better yet, it was all of $15. We bought it, brought it home, and set the degu cage top inside it.

Problem: it was so tall, the cage almost completely disappeared inside it. This made it less than ideal for our degu, since she couldn’t see out, and the kids couldn’t see in to watch her. So I did what any self-respecting American would do: I got out my Dremel and cut windows in the side of the bin.

I’m pleased to say that with about 20 minutes of work, our degu can now see out just fine. Better yet, her new cage has convenient carrying handles, so moving it around for cleaning and transportation is simpler. Would I recommend it if we were just starting out on our degu ownership adventure? No. But for the end portion of the ride, I think it should be perfect.

American ingenuity wins again!


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