In the video a girl explains about having a bioactive digging box for her rats and how to maintain it.
The box is filled with coconut fiber substrate, which is moistened, she also supplements the substrate with springtails (little insects a.k.a cleaning crew) which help the moist soil to not mold and keeps it clean.
As far as my understanding goes, I don't see why this could be a problem for degus, as they love to dig and also prefer to do it after rain in nature.
But I do want to ask for you input and opinions and maybe even experiences with this. I tried to use the search bar but nothing came up.
That's a pretty intresting idea. I don't see any reasons out of hand why it would not be possible to create a dig box similar to this. I don't have experience with them myself, but it's true that degus do dig in nature, and it would likely be a very enjoyable activity for them to partake in.
The main thing that comes to mind is the potential of collapse. I'm not sure how well substrate like that holds its form if dug into, so I would investigate thoroughly whether there's any risk of a cave-in while the degus are digging around. Since it looks fairly hefty, there might actually be some risk of being trapped or even suffocating. Under supervision, for example during playtime, this would be easily fixed, but less so if they have free access to the dig box and something like that occurred during, say, night.
But a digbox in itself is certainly not a bad idea.
That's very interesting!! I'm intrigued! Not sure what I think, but let me just absorb and process the information. I don't think collapse of tunnels is an issue, especially if you are careful with the moisture content. Not too much wet, and not too dry would be the balance to find. I noticed that she didn't do anything to protect the edges of the plastic enclosure from chewing, and that would be a must for degus. They could quite easily gnaw a way out of it.
Edit: I am amending my opinion on this digging pit in relation to degus specifically. Degus are naturally found in dry, desert like conditions, and do not naturally nest or dig in very moist ground. Daily exposure/inhabiting or nesting in this material would not be good.
Keep it for rats or other animals that may naturally inhabit wet or very moist areas.
I actually had a talk with a rodent enthusiast about digging box if you want tunnels. She is a hamster / gerbil enthusiast and she has plenty of experience about non-caving material.
My only worry is the challenge of keeping the ground wet without wetting the degus ? Mélusine actually dropped her tail in the water bowl (don't ask me why they like to walk on the edge of bowls) and ended up pulling off the fur on it.
So if you do try, I would be more than curious about it. If you'd like to try 'dry' materials, I can ask my friend about the tunnels withholding material she uses for her hamster.
I apologize if I don't make sense, english is my second language. I'm French.
I would also be reluctant to try. Two of mine like digging so much, they've moved their nest from their snuggly cube in their burrow section to underneath it! Their substrate is giant woodshavings (for horses), so there's plenty of air underneath.
Being dragged through life on Bernard the Bike, with Squidgygoo (RIP), Spidergoo, Scaredygoo (RIP), Sillygoo, Sausagegoo, Smashygoo (aka Spud), Snoozygoo, Sneakygoo, Pootle (RIP), Perkin (RIP), Fidget (RIP) and Twitch (RIP) the pillions.........
I have made a digging box with coconut fibre (the same material which you would use for a bioactive setup) a few months back with a 50x30 aquarium. My plan was to test it out and if it would work I would buy and add the clean up crew later (insects) which would make it bioactive. But I would not recommend it.
The first and biggest problem was that the soil was to moist. For the blocks to expand into soil you need to add water. And even tough i used less water then recommended it was still very moist.
The second problem was that the digging box was only used by my degus to dig a hole in, in which they made their nest. But a nest in a moist enviourment is not a good idea. I did not want my degus to sleep in a moist enviourment, plus the nest material would also get moist. I tried making the soil less moist by adding play sand. But this did not work.
And the soil also had a smell. I ended up taking the aquarium with the soil out and out and put in the hallway. Guess what, After a 1-3 weeks the wooded ladder and nest started to mold.....
So if you think your degus will only use it to digg you could try it, but in my experience they only dug one big hole, plus it did not hold any tunnels. You could experiment with adding diffrent types of soil to see if it holds tunnels, but I don't think it is worth it. When they only spend a hours or a bit more in a most enviourment (the digging box) i think it is fine. But when they decide to build a nest in it I don't think it safe because they would sleep in the nest and spend 5-10 hours per day(/night) in a moist enviourment, which would not be very healthy for their lungs.
I recall reading about people using water for it to expand and then putting it through the oven to dry it a bit more. But I think it was mostly so they could dig and not make a nest since the moisture ensures the tunnels can hold out.
I apologize if I don't make sense, english is my second language. I'm French.
Hello everyone, First of all I want to thank everyone for your answers andalso for expressing concern! My goal is to create the best environment and life for my future degu family and therefore I'm really eager and wiling to learn as much as I can!
After some research bellow I provide possible fixes/answers to the issues: Potential of collapse- risk of a cave-in : integrate the dig box in play area, and supervise the gos while they’re playing.
Protect the edges from chewing, they could gnaw a way out of it : strengthen the corners with metal, or just have the box in enclosed play area so that escaping is not an issue at all (and hopefully chewing is minimized).
Degus are naturally found in dry, desert like conditions, and do not naturally nest or dig in moist ground: after some search of degu living conditions in wild: “Degus prefer to dig in soft soil than in hardsoil as they can dig out more soil using the same amount of energy. For this reason, degus prefer to dig their burrows in the winter when the soil is more moist, or after rainfall.” -So as for the digging, I assume it should be fine, even prefered, and nesting will be avoided by keeping box in play area.
Keeping the ground wet without wetting the degus: Watering the area outside the play time.
Moved nest from snuggly cube to burrow section: Avoidable if the dig box is in play are not directly connected to home enclosure. Also will provide a dry dig box (with hay) that will be attached to their enclosure.
Soil also had a smell / wooded ladder and nest started to mold: my guess is, that happened due to an absence of cleaning crew (as you mentioned), as their sole purpose is to keep the moist soil moldfree and clean, wiki: “Springtail habitats vary greatly, but the majority of springtails develop in soil, where they feed on decaying plant material,bacteria, fungi, and algae”.
If you have anything else to add, or can raise any other concerns that I might have not considered yet, please, feel free!! They are very welcome! I've also decided to plant some degu-safe edible plants in the play are for them to nibble on! I've had this idea before but thought that plants would be quickly destroyed if the box was accessible 24/7. Now that I've decided to make it in the play area, I am hopeful that some plants/sprouts will survive there! (Advice on that also welcome<3)
I think this is a really interesting idea because it is an issue that I am not aware that anyone has solved before. It will be really cool if you can get the conditions right that it will retain dug out shapes and have the springtails control the moulds. I think the dampness vs the springtails may need to be very finely balanced.
I think I would keep the depth quite low while you experiment so there is never a great enough depth that would harm a degu if it collapsed.
I experimented quite a bit with a dry digging box, my ultimate conclusion is that degus don't really dig for fun, they dig to create a burrow, and once they have a burrow they just sleep in the burrow and don't dig any more. Your plan to having it in a temporary pen may get round this, but they may get annoyed or lose motivation, but I'm sure it will be great fun to see how your degus react in any case.
I think the best way to allow them access to fresh, growing plants is to build a planter with a mesh top a few cms above the soil surface that stops them digging out the plant and chewing it right down to the soil.