Online Veterinary Education Library
Our team of veterinarians and staff strive to improve the overall health of our patients by focusing on preventing, diagnosing and treating conditions associated with their health. Please use our educational library to learn more about health problems and treatments available for your pet. If you have questions or need to schedule an appointment, contact us.
- Small Animals
A bird's size is the most important determinant for the right cage. The cage needs to offer enough room for your pet bird to at least spread its wings freely and hop around inside. Figure a width of double the bird's wingspan. The bars must be smaller than your bird's head so that it can't get caught between the bars. Most birds like larger cages that allow them to fly inside them and have room for plenty of toys and perches.
Birds use their beaks for constant chewing, so your cage must be as close to indestructible as possible. Bird cages come in three primary materials: wire, metal and stainless steel. All three are acceptable. Wire cages are generally very affordable. Look closely at the welds to make sure they are secure and watch for metal flakes. Wire cages need cleaning with vinegar and a wire brush before their first use to make sure that no toxic metal powders or flakes remain, which could be ingested by your bird. Also examine the entry and feeder doors closely to make sure they can be sealed securely. Metal cages are popular because the powdered coated finishes don't rust or chip easily and they are easy to clean. Stainless steel cages are the safest of materials because they never rust, chip or cause any metal poisoning. They can resist strong beaks and are easy to clean. However, they are more expensive.
The location of the cage is as important as the cage itself. Place the cage where the bird has a view outside the window for visual interest. Make sure the cage isn't in constant sunlight or a drafty location to keep the temperature manageable. Keep the cage in a room that is frequently trafficked. Never put a bird cage in the kitchen. Many kitchen products and nonstick cookware produce fumes that are toxic to birds. Similarly, cages should not be placed in a bathroom because of the health risks associated with aerosol and cleaning products.
Paper is the best material to use for lining a bird's cage. You can use newspaper, paper towels, plain writing paper or brown bag paper. It's inexpensive, available and easy to change. Because of bird droppings, paper will need to be changed every few days at a minimum.
Please note: Do not use cat or kitty litter or ground corn cob for a liner as they are dangerous if ingested. Cedar shavings should also be avoided.
Your bird needs several perches placed at various heights around the cage. Incorporate perches of various diameters to help keep your bird's feet and legs in good condition. You can use perches made from wood, rope, some PVC or slightly sanded acrylics. Rope perches can be fun for climbing, but watch for loose strings, which can accidentally strangulate your pet. Be sure to mount one perch level with your feeding dish. It is also advised to add one concrete perch to help keep your bird's beak and nails trim.
Birds get bored easily, so you'll need lots of toys to keep them busy. You can pick up ladders, swings, mirrors and bells for birds at pet stores. Treat dispensers can be attached to the cage and give birds engaging challenges and rewards that will keep them active. Baby toys can be used, except for those made of metal. Make sure they are size appropriate and can withstand chewing from strong beaks without breaking. Have more toys than you can use at one time and rotate them so that your bird will always find something new. Birds also like hearing sounds, so keep on a radio or TV.