Is my cage too small? I just did CARA my cage and i got 9200 square cm. Oh boy. I got 105x46x70cm cage. Is it not good for 2 degus? I got ground level and 2 other full levels with about 20x20cm opening to get from one to other. As far as my math ability goes, that should be around 9200 square cm. Also I got 3x 30cmx30cm ledges those are about 2700 square cm. So together my cage is 11900 square cm. (Plus it has couple small ledges) If those 30cmx30cm ledges won't be countable to the CARA my cage would be disaster Is it too small then???
Don't you worry ady! In your cage I would definitely consider the “ledges” as part of CARA so your cage is absolutely fine
I don't know what will come out of the discussion of recommended dimensions at the next stage. IF, let's say, the recommended length were to be 80 cm, your 70 cm would still be covered by the inbuilt flexibility. In that case the calculator's response will depend on how “intelligent” I can make it. If I can make it “visualise” your cage as I am doing at the moment it will say the cage is fine. Otherwise it should make helpful suggestions how to optimise the space.
From all the feedback so far, it has become increasingly clear that we need to let the user decide what he/she considers CARA. The calculator is only there to provide guidance and advice (by would linking to the forum). I believe that the vast majority of those who using calculator will do so because they are interested in the wellbeing of their degus and have no reason to “falsely declare” CARA.
For example in my cage I have three boards at the upper level. Two long ones are extensively used for running around and I would therefore include them in CARA. I also have a corner board which is only used for feeding and drinking and I would not include it.
I believe that the calculator should consider recommended minimum values for length, floor area, and height but that they are all less important than CARA. I have difficulties to imagine many cages that match (or come close to) the 12,000 square cm but are so unfortunately shaped that one should not keep degus in them.
I've only just caught up with this, sorry. You're doing a great job
The thing that strikes me diving in at this point, is that there is a lot of difference between for example minimum, OK, recommended and palace sizing for a cage. Would the calculator tell you how many degus would fit in a particular size cage for each standard? I think it would be nice to encourage really big cage sizes, whilst also trying to increase minimum acceptable sizes, which is really the priority, I guess.
I like the running area CARA method of measuring. An idea which would possibly be easily workable to judge what counts as a level rather than a ledge, would just be to make it have to be double figures in cm in both directions to count towards CARA - you could make the box where you input the figures only accept double figures.
Another thing that just struck me is that people will be coming to this from two directions: ideally people will check the calculator or calculator area of the site to find recommendations on what size cage to get for the number of degus they intend to get. The other way is that people will check afterwards whether the cage they bought is suitable for the goos they are already keeping in it. I don't know what this means to the calculator, I just thought it was worth mentioning
Maybe use CARA but with recommended minimum width and height, so that the message still gets across that degus need a decent length to run in and also need height for jumping. Maybe anything below a certain width or height but adequate CARA triggers a warning about running/jumping space, or suggestions for improvement?
Thanks molette, you make a number of interesting and important points
The degu.ldka.de calculator makes three recommendations, for minimum, good and excellent cages. I have to say that I didn't like that at all. For the minimum cages size we have an objective basis with the recommendations by animal welfare associations but the criteria for good / excellent cages are totally subjective. I also found the text that accompanied the number of degus almost a bit patronising. However, I have thought about it again, and perhaps we could give the number of degus at minimum size, minimum plus 25%, and minimum plus 50% levels. That would by simple math rather than judgement. What do others think about this?
The input for levels/ledges will probably in percentages but I can easily build in an internal check that translates this into cm values and either rejects or gives an “are you sure?” response.
For people who consult the calculator after the fact, and find their cage is too small, there will be two possible responses, depending by how much the cage falls short of the minimum CARA. If the cage is for example the P@H cage there is no other way than to spell out that action needs to be taken ASAP. If the shortfall is relatively small than I would hope to be able to give tips for a quick fix, e.g. an extension of CARA within the cage where possible or external extension by attaching a small cage.
Maybe anything below a certain width or height but adequate CARA triggers a warning about running/jumping space, or suggestions for improvement?
When you say min, min+25% & min+50% are you defining what the difference in min, good & great should be, or are you suggesting a way of describing minimum, good & great by using language with no element of judgement, or both?
It might be worth considering how technical the whole calculator looks when deciding whether it's more important to be non - judgmental or whether simple language might look better, IDK.
I'm happy measuring things, but after giving it a bit more thought, you might be right that % areas would work better for shelves, you don't need to be all that technically minded to estimate the % area of most shelves quickly - my cage has the full area base, two 50% shelves and a 95% shelf - simple.
I don't know if this will be a stupid idea or not . . . but what if there were a simple grid illustration which would represent the basic interior shape of a rectangular cage, and each square on the grid represented 5% (?) of the space. Then people could fill in the grid to define the size and shapes of their ledges and levels, and would be able to then add up the percentages and put in their totals to the CARA? I'm just thinking that some things may be difficult to estimate? I don't know . . . might just be creating a massive headache with this idea. LOL!
Many thanks to all who have responded at stage 1. I will take the following to the next stages:
- The calculator will use CARA to determine whether a cage has the recommended minimum size for a pair of degus, and for a larger cage how many degus can be kept in it.
- The input for the upper levels can be as exact measurements in cm / inch or as a percentage estimate. It will be up to the user to decide what to include in CARA; while we will suggest what to include, I think we can do without a minimum size for a ledge/level. The calculator is meant as guidance and I would expect its users to make good judgements. Anyway, smaller ledges, which most of us would not include, can only have a minor effect on CARA.
- Because this additional bit of flexibility, I am for now setting the recommended minimum CARA at 12,000 square cm with the “grace margin” at 11,000 (subject to further discussion and tweaking at the trial stage).
Thank you, Greenlily! We have used this cage calculator here and have found it very helpful. The calculator that Fred is working on is one that will help to accurately measure the cumulative available running area (CARA) within a set up cage, not just the overall volume which measures only the inner space (which is not useful space unless there are surfaces for the degu to run on) of the cage. CARA will measure the present surface space, and will allow for a cage owner to figure out how to increase the surface space to improve the condition and habitability of his degu cage. I am wondering if I have just talked in a circle. I need coffee! I hope this made sense!
1 Bichon/Shi-t-zu Ollie (b'gollie), 1 Standard poodle, Indie