Archive for the tag “Parrot Cage”

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.

Choosing a Suitable Cage: Part 1

I’ve seen a recent trend towards so-called “space saver” cages; cages designed to be very tall, but very narrow. I’ve yet to see any of these cages that are appropriate for any bird, let alone the birds that they are marketed towards. Since parrots are, by nature, active, intelligent, and inquisitive creatures, housing them in such a small space is inappropriate and saddening.

This cage, for example. Dimensions are 27″ wide by 24″ deep. This is a decent cage size for a very small parrot – such as a lovebird – or for less active species, like cockatiels, but it isn’t roomy enough for any species larger, and certainly not large enough for a grey or Amazon. Although the cage goes nearly to the floor, at least the lower third of that cage is wasted since most birds will never venture down there, and anything placed in the lower 2/3rds of a cage designed like this will get covered in poop quickly.

Pyrrhura conures like Green Cheeks, though about the size of a cockatiel, need significantly larger cages due to their activity level. Phoenix Landing, a well known and respected avian rescue resource, recommends a minimum cage size of 32″x23″ for them – and other conures, Lories, and small Poicephalus – and I tend to agree. Unfortunately, most larger birds – like greys and Eclectus – rarely even get to live in a cage this large.

A main concern for caregivers is whether or not any given cage suits our home’s style, but there’s more to choosing a cage than just our personal taste in decor. Sure, we’d like for our birds’ cages to fit in with the rest of our furniture, but in order to choose a cage that will suit our birds, we need to see things from a very different perspective.

The cage we choose is more than just something that prevents our parrots from destroying the house. Their cage is their house, and just as much as we wouldn’t choose to live in small, cramped quarters if we had a better option, we should not force our birds into small spaces just for our convenience.

Companion parrots usually have the ability to fly removed via wing feather clipping, and unless an aviary is provided, even unclipped parrots in a large cage will not fly. Instead, they climb along perches, toys, and cage bars using their feet and beak. They move laterally – from one side to another – and being prey animals who have evolved to equate height with safety, they’ll spend the vast majority of their time in the “canopy” of their cage: the very top. For a grey in the 27″x24″ cage above, their home is going to consist of little more than a two foot cube, and considering that the average adult Congo grey has a wingspan of about 20″, this doesn’t leave much room for toys or wing flapping inside.

Some ground foraging species – like ‘tiels and greys – may venture down to the grate to explore, but are much less likely to do so if the grate is inches from the floor, or if the grate is level with the head of a predatory canine.

We already know that parrots aren’t like cats or dogs, but keeping a parrot as a pet also requires a lot more real estate within our homes than do cats or dogs who generally are happy with a sleeping area and a box of toys, and perhaps a crate or room for confinement during training. Parrots, on the other hand, require large, spacious cages, several play areas outside of and away from their main cage, and possibly a night/travel cage for sleeping in. For most people, providing appropriate cages and play areas is something they only think about (or are made aware of) after they’ve already bought a too-small cage from a untrained sales associate at a local pet store. Sometimes, it’s a matter of how much space they have available for a cage and play area. Sometimes, it’s the result of the bad (and incorrect) advice that a bird in a small cage will be more eager to get out of it when asked to step up.

Regardless of the reason, I’d love to see the trend swing towards providing roomy, fun-filled cage environments that are significantly longer than they are tall, and at least half as deep as they are wide. It’s important to remember that these are creatures born to inherit the vast expanses of the skies and the trees, and they deserve the best – and the biggest – that we can afford.

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