En EspaŅol

Q. Who is Mr. Smarty Plants?

A: There are those who suspect Wildflower Center volunteers are the culpable and capable culprits. Yet, others think staff members play some, albeit small, role. You can torture us with your plant questions, but we will never reveal the Green Guru's secret identity.

Help us grow by giving to the Plant Database Fund or by becoming a member

Did you know you can access the Native Plant Information Network with your web-enabled smartphone?

Share

Ask Mr. Smarty Plants

Ask Mr. Smarty Plants is a free service provided by the staff and volunteers at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.

Search Smarty Plants
    
 
See a list of all Smarty Plants questions
Can't find the answer in our existing FAQs, submit a question to Mr. Smarty Plants.
Need help with plant identification, visit the plant identification page.
 
rate this answer
1 rating

Friday - February 01, 2013

From: Austin, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Seed and Plant Sources
Title: Deadwood for Degus
Answered by: Anne Van Nest

QUESTION:

I have a very specific and hopefully easy question. I just brought home some degus (small adorable rodents) and they have a severely restricted list of woods they can chew on safely. The safe trees that are fairly common (and that I recognize) are: birch, poplar, ash, willow, pecan, elm, sycamore and bamboo. I need to go somewhere in the woods or to a park and pick up some fallen deadwood from these trees. Can anyone recommend some places for some of these trees? All I seem to see around Austin are oaks and cedars. I'm in the NW Austin areas, but I'll drive anywhere. Willow is the theoretical best for them, along with pecan and poplar. Thanks!

ANSWER:

Best wishes for a long and healthy relationship with your new degus pets. A quick search online showed that they are popular pets because of their diurnal habits, intelligence, friendly personalities, bonding nature with their human owners, and long lifespan. Their continually growing incisor and molar teeth cause them to chew, chew, chew and hence your search for safe, local, deadwood branches.

Around Austin, the most prevalent native trees on your list are the Carya illinoinensis (pecans). Pictures of the leaves, bark and a tree silhouette as well as information about the tree’s characteristics can be found in our native plant database so that you will be better able to identify the wood they need.

There are also many Fraxinus texensis (Texas ash) trees in the city as well as a few Salix nigra (black willow), Ulmus americana (American elm) and Populus deltoides (Eastern cottonwood) that you might consider. The willows and cottonwoods (poplars) can be found mainly along creeks.

Before you start out on your wood collecting expedition, please research your trees so that you can correctly identify the safe species for your degus. Also, it is imperative that you get prior permission to remove deadwood from public or private lands. Some people that might be able to help with this are the staff at the City Arborist office, Treefolks for location suggestions, and perhaps an urban fruit growing farmer or commercial arborist (if they have a brush pile of prunings). You should not have a problem finding a source of wood that is safe for your degus pets.

 

From the Image Gallery


Pecan
Carya illinoinensis

Texas ash
Fraxinus albicans

Black willow
Salix nigra

American elm
Ulmus americana

Eastern cottonwood
Populus deltoides

More Seed and Plant Sources Questions

Source for Carex senta plugs in Maryland
February 04, 2008 - Dear Mr. Smarty Plants, I have discovered that Carex senta would be a great plant to replace grass that is just not working. There are numerous articles supporting this, as well as my local coun...
view the full question and answer

Smarty Plants on Tamarisk
July 31, 2005 - Where can I buy Tamarisk, and will it survive in Massachusetts? I've seen it in Provincetown, on Cape Cod.
view the full question and answer

Source for Matelea for Indiana
December 05, 2008 - I have been searching unsuccessfully I might add for a vine species called Matelea. These vines benefit the Monarch butterflies but no butterfly places online carry them. Where would a good place be...
view the full question and answer

Source for purchase of Texas ash tree in Round Rock, TX
August 24, 2009 - Where can I purchase a Texas Ash (Fraxinus texenis)?
view the full question and answer

Fast-growing, evergreen, non-invasive root tree for El Dorado CA
February 20, 2011 - We need to plant a FAST-growing, non-deciduous TREE with a non-invasive root system. Where can we buy one?
view the full question and answer

Smarty Plants's Facebook profile Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.

Mr. Smarty Plants wants you to be his Facebook friend. Click the Facebook icon to add yourself to Mr. Smarty Plants list of friends.

Bibliography

Common Southwestern Native Plants: An Identification Guide (2003) Carter, J. L.; M. A. Carter; D. J. Stevens

Field Guide to Texas Trees (1999) Simpson, B.J.

Howard Garrett's Texas Trees (2002) Howard Garrett

Plants of Central Texas Wetlands (2009) Fleenor, S. B. and S. W. Taber

Texas Trees & Wildflowers (2001) Kavanagh, J. ; R. Leung

Texas Trees: A Friendly Guide (1988) Cox, P. W. & P. Leslie

Trees, Shrubs, & Cacti of South Texas (2002) Everitt, J.H. & D. L. Drawe

Search More Titles in Bibliography

E-NEWSLETTER | BECOME A MEMBER | DONATE NOW | MEDIA | SITEMAP
© 2014 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center