Using Natural Climbing Branches for Degus
Sometimes it’s hard to find good branches for your degus to climb and play on for their cage at pet stores. Most branches you find are perches for birds or large branches for snakes and lizards that are primarily for resting at the bottom of the cage not climbing to the top like degus do.
Degu Preferred Woods for Climbing Branches (my experience)
- Applewood branches
- Wild grape vines
When in doubt Google degu safe wood. There’s a lot of conflicting information but grape vines and apple wood have been recommended to me by local degu breeders. Remember the main objective with boiling and baking the branches is to kill bacteria and parasites so they don’t harm your degus. Being meticulous is always an option hehe! 🙂
Step 1 – Pick, Cut and Clean the Branch
Trim up the branch as needed, cut off any twigs you don’t want and rub off any moss that has grown on the bark. You may even choose to remove the bark which will remove a lot of potentially dangerous insects – really your degu is just going to chew off the bark eventually anyhow, but that’s up to you. Trust your instincts.
I use an old vegetable brush to brush the dirt, moss and loose bark from the branches outside in the driveway.
Step 2 – Boil the Branch
Often enough the branch is too big to submerge fully in boiling water so pour as much boiling water over the branch, either outside or over your kitchen sink. You want the water to penetrate as much of the branch as possible. Or stick as much of the branch in a large pot of boiling water at a full boil for ~10 minutes then flip it (using tongs) to submerge the other side, make sure during the rotation all parts of the branches become submerged in boiling water at some point.
Step 3 – Bake your Branch
Put the branch(s) on a pan or directly on a clean rack and bake it at 300 degrees for 10-20 minutes or until the branch is completely dried out from the boiling water we earlier poured on it. Keep a watchful eye on wood when in the oven…pretty much: don’t leave the kitchen! Also, be careful not to char your branches. Not only will it stink up the house but your degus won’t like the taste of it much.
Step 4 – Happy Degus
I added my branches into my degu’s tanks weeks ago and they have sure loved having them in there to chew on and climb atop. They love to play and climb all over them!
Optional: Grow a branch
Or if you prefer, grow them a branch in the cage they seem to enjoy eating live apple branches much like this video:
Though be warned that degus are known for devastating entire farms in Chile so any live plants in their cages won’t last long at all!