Choosing a Suitable Cage: Part 2
Yesterday, I touched on the importance of choosing an appropriately sized cage for your parrot. Today, I’d like to discuss some other important factors that should come into play when choosing a cage.
Of course, the most important factor in choosing a cage for your parrot should be size – preferably as large as is feasible for your living arrangement. Another important factor is cage shape. Round (or hexagonal) cages aren’t suitable for parrots because they don’t provide the security of a solid wall to hide against when enxious, and it is extremely difficult to properly place perches, toys, and dishes in them. Parrots in round cages don’t have any point of reference for location and territories, which is essential for them to feel confident, secure, and safe in their own home.
Round or hexagonal cages also tend to be tall and narrow, which – as we discussed yesterday – isn’t appropriate for parrots. Square or rectangular cages provide a maximum amount of space, but there are several decent corner cages on the market that are suitable for birds ranging from cockatiels to cockatoos as well.
What other factors should you consider when choosing a cage? There are several!
- Material – powder coated cages work well for most birds, but won’t necessarily last for your bird’s lifetime. Most will inevitably chip and rust, and eventually need to be replaced. For birds who chew their cage’s bars, stainless steel is the only way to go. Though the initial investment is pricy, a stainless steel cage will last a lifetime and then some!
- Bar spacing – must be small enough that your bird cannot get his head through the bars. Bar spacing should be no larger than the space between your parrot’s eyes.
- Bar thickness – be sure that the cage you’ve chosen has bars that are thick enough that they cannot easily be broken by your parrot. Use common sense here, and never underestimate the power of your bird’s beak. Larger birds (and birds with very large beaks, like Poicephalus) have very strong beaks capable of breaking bar welds or even actual bars. Know your bird, know your cage, and choose accordingly.
- Ease of cleaning – the easier a cage is to clean, the cleaner it will be. Birds need a very clean living environment to stay healthy, and it’s important that you be able to clean both soiled papers and a soiled grate without ever opening the cage. This is especially important if you ever need to have someone else clean the cage for you.
- Outside dish access – nearly all cages come with outside access doors for food and water dishes, and although I do not use the dishes that come with my birds’ cages, I know that should I ever need to have someone else care for my birds that both caretaker and parrots will be safer if dishes can be accessed without the main door ever being opened.
- Make it escape-proof – parrots are intelligent, and a determined one can figure out how to open door latches just by watching you do it. Cockatoos and macaws seem to make up the majority of escapees, but my UnCape, Jardine’s, and Timneh all require cages with “bird proof” locks!
- Dometop or playtop? – Playtop cages are great for folks with limited space who want to provide their birds with another place to hangout. I prefer dometop cages (or, more specifically “fan top” or “victorian top” cages) so that my birds get more natural light (and so that their artificial lighting is placed appropriately.) I just attach rope perches, java perches, and grapevine “cage playtops” to the tops and sides of their cages, hang toys, and voila – instant play top cage! And I can change it around and mix it up as often as I like. With flighted birds, I especially find that the fold-down door on the fan top cages is essential during training, and being able to attach branches and toys to the top of the cage in any manner that I choose means that I can provide landing spots for the birds.
Once you’ve figured out what will best suit your bird and your lifestyle, shop around. Prices for various cages vary greatly depending on the seller, but expect to pay about $200.00 for a quality powder coated cage for a conure-sized bird, and several hundred for medium-sized birds. Stainless steel cages often range in the thousands, but are well worth the cost.