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The Cage PDF Print E-mail
Written by WFWAvian   

Whenever possible, try to purchase the largest cage suitable to the species that you can both afford and accommodate. Minimally, the cage should allow for the bird to spread its wings without touching the sides of the enclosure.

The cage should also be wider than it is tall, yet still tall enough to accommodate the bird's tail. Avoid cages that are tall and cylindrical. These type cages aren't very practical and don't offer the bird useful room. Also avoid cages with ornamental scroll work. I've seen birds get their leg bands and heads caught on the loops.

Powder coated or stainless steel cages are excellent choices. They are both practical and long lasting in addition to being very attractive and easy to clean.

Bar spacing is also a very important consideration. If the bars are spaced too far apart, smaller birds may be able to slip through or get their heads wedged between the bars. Even if they don't get their heads stuck, it still presents a danger in homes with other predatory animals like cats and dogs. The cage should also have some horizontal bars so that the bird can climb around the cage easily.

Bar and cage space: While you want to get as big a cage as possible for your bird, make sure the bars aren't spaced far apart that your bird could stick its head through them. Here are some guidelines for bar spacing by species:

Proper bar spacing:

Budgies, finches, canaries: 3/8 to 1/2 inch
Cockatiels, small parakeets, small conures, lovebirds: 1/2 to 3/4 inch
Large conures, large parakeets, medium-sized parrots, mini macaws, small cockatoos,African Greys, amazons, Eclectus: 3/4 to 1 1/2 inch
Large cockatoos and Macaws: 1 1/4 to 1 1/2 inch

Minimum cage sizes:

(Measurements are length by depth by height.)

Budgies: 14x14x14 inches
Finches, canaries (flight cages): 36x18x18 inches
Cockatiels, small parakeets, small conures, lovebirds: 18x18x24 inches
Large conures, large parakeets, medium-sized parrots, mini macaws: 20x20x24 inches
Small cockatoos, Eclectus African Greys, amazons: 24x20x24 inches
Large cockatoos, amazons and macaws: 3x3x5 feet

Lining the Cage

There are a variety of materials that can be used to line the cage, including corn cob, crushed walnut shells, and wood chips or shavings. We feel the best cage liner is plain old newspaper, paper bags or paper towels. They might not be the most aesthetically pleasing substrates, but they are cheap, functional, and easy to clean. They also do not promote the growth of bacteria and fungi the way that many of the other substrates do.

Cedar, redwood, and pressure treated shavings or chips should not be used as they are toxic.

A grate with adequate distance between the cage and lining pan is a must in order to prevent the bird from having access to droppings, substrate, and discarded food. Many substrates, especially walnut shells and corn cob litter can be harmful if ingested.


Perches should be made from selected branches of clean, non-toxic hardwood that have not been treated with pesticides or chemicals. They should also be free of rot or mold. We strip the bark from our perches and wash them in a bleach and water solution. They are then rinsed thoroughly and allowed to dry in the sun.

More than one perch should be supplied and they should be of different diameters. They should be sized to allow comfortable perching. Perches that are too large or too small in diameter do not allow the bird to properly grip and this can lead to foot problems.

Perches need to be sturdily mounted and should not move or vibrate under the weight of the bird. They should also be high enough to prevent the bird's tail from coming into contact with the bottom of the cage but not so high that the bird has to bend its head to avoid contact with the top of the cage. Also, position the perches in such a way that the bird's droppings won't soil the food, water or other perches.

Concrete perches can be used in combination with wood perches to assist in dulling sharp nails. However, sandpaper perches should never be used as they can create foot sores.

Toys in the Cage

Toys are very useful and very necessary. They are mentally stimulating and encourage your bird to exercise. A bird that is deprived of diversion will quickly become depressed and lazy.

There is no quality control regarding pet bird products. It is therefore up to you to be aware of potential hazards and to keep safety in mind when selecting toys for your bird.

Choose toys that are free of toxic metals, hooks, sharp objects or small easily consumed parts. Good choices will vary in shape and color as well as stimulate activity and fulfill a bird's natural tendency to chew.

Toys should be made of very strong materials, especially for the large macaws and cockatoos. In addition to wood toys for chewing, acrylic toys are also good. Acrylics are a little more expensive but they are generally safe and long lasting.

Select toys that are size appropriate. Toys designed for small birds should not be used for large birds. Small bird toys may contain parts that a large bird will easily consume. Large bird toys may contain parts that are large enough for a small bird to get its head or other body part caught in.

Some toy components are safer than others. Avoid toys with open chain links, snap type clasps, and bell clappers. Safer choices are toys containing screw type clasps and closed chain links.

Try not to overcrowd the cage with so many toys that it becomes an obstacle course that the bird must maneuver just to get to its food and water. Parrots are natural chewers so be prepared to replace toys and perches on a regular basis.


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