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You are here: myPetSmart.com > Pet Care Library > Articles > Bird Cage Necessities

Bird Cage Necessities


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Several perches provide the most entertainment, but don't clutter the cage. There should be at least two, but not too many to that it's difficult for the bird to move around or fully stretch out its wings.

Several perches provide the most entertainment, but don't clutter the cage. There should be at least two, but not too many to that it's difficult for the bird to move around or fully stretch out its wings.

Vary the size of the perches.
Flat, oval, or square perch shapes are better for the bird's feet than perfectly round shapes. When all of the perches in a cage are perfectly round, this means the bird will always be using the same part of its feet to grip the perch. This would be like wearing the same pair of uncomfortable shoes every day. Eventually, pressure sores develop, which can become infected.

Wooden perches that can be chewed are actually good for parrots. This exercises their powerful beaks. Concrete perches are also very popular with large bird owners since they help to file their nails and beak.

Perches should be placed at slightly different heights in the cage, because birds exercise by jumping from perch to perch. Make sure that one perch will not contaminate another perch with bird droppings. Never locate perches over food and water dishes.

The diameter of the perch should allow the bird to grip it comfortably. The bird's foot should encircle one-half to two-thirds of the perch. It's too small if the front toes can curl around to touch the back toes. Perches should be cleaned and disinfected when they become soiled.

Some tree branches are safe and acceptable alternatives, and some are not. Before the branch is put in the cage, it should be scrubbed to remove any bird droppings that could have come from wild birds. It's also very important to know what type of tree or bush the branch came from. There are several types of trees and bushes that have toxins in their fibers, which could cause death if ingested.

Also, tree branches should come from trees that have not been treated with chemicals. Branches from sycamore, elder, ash, manzanita, ficus, oak, or fruit trees are acceptable. Manzanita branch perches are commercially available and are a good choice.

Cage Bedding / Floor Covering
Bedding used in the cage bottom provides absorbency and easy cleaning. Although you'd like to use last month's credit card statement or your audit letter from the IRS as floor covering, it's not very absorbent. Corncob, pine and cedar shavings, and walnut bedding are preferred bedding materials. Never allow your bird to consume bedding materials even if the bedding material is labeled that it can be eaten.

If you use newspaper, the colored ink pages (comics/ads) should not be used because the colored inks may contain toxic substances. Wet dye from a piece of newspaper can also spoil the appearance of a light-colored bird.

Change the bedding at least twice a week, and preferably every day. Clean up any spilled foods in the cage immediately. Damp, soiled bedding causes molds, fungi and bacteria that can pose a risk to your bird. Any bedding material can mold if not cleaned frequently.

At least twice a month remove the tray and grate. Thoroughly wash and sanitize them, making sure to completely rinse and dry them afterwards.

A gym or a freestanding perch such as a T-stand is a must, whether it's part of the top of the bird's cage or bought separately. Your bird should spend several hours each day playing and exercising, preferably outside its cage

Breeding Boxes
Breeding boxes and nests make for a safe place to hide, and some birds even prefer to sleep in the privacy of these boxes. lovebirds, finches, canaries and conures are all especially fond of sleeping in breeding boxes or nests. Birds will only use these boxes as long as they are attached high in the cage above the perches.

Cage Cover
Some birds can benefit from a cage cover. However, cage covers are not necessary for all birds. Every bird needs quiet time when they are undisturbed. All birds, like humans, need a photoperiod -- a cycle between daytime and nighttime. This period is a natural rejuvenation period for the bird that keeps the bird healthy and reduces their stress. Your bird may appreciate a cage cover if your home is fairly active. Some birds are easier to quiet in the evening in preparation of the photoperiod if you use a cage cover.

Treat Clips and Holders
Clips and holders that attach to the side of the cage keep food off the floor and are great for holding cuttlebone, millet and vegetables. Finicky eaters can often be enticed to eat from one of these.

Avian First-Aid Kit
An injured bird can quickly die if it loses much blood. Blood-stop powder, scissors, bandage tape, gauze, and anti-microbacterial gel are all essentials to have nearby.

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