Safe Cage Concerns

Your bird's cage must be large enough to house your bird as well as his food and water bowls, perches and toys. Select the largest cage that you can provide, because your bird needs space to feel comfortable. Remember, too, that parrots and softbills like flying across an area, rather than hovering up and down. For this reason, long rectangular cages that offer horizontal space for short flights are preferred to tall cages that don't provide much flying room.

Don't try to recycle cages that have been used for rabbits or other small animals when housing your bird. In many cases, these cages are made from galvanized wire. If the bird gets bored and chews on the cage wire, he may consume enough of the galvanized finish to get zinc poisoning.

Parrots should not be housed in wooden or bamboo cages unless the wood or bamboo is lined with wire or wire mesh. A busy parrot beak will destroy a wooden or bamboo cage, and you'll be left with the problem of finding a new cage for your pet. These cages are designed for finches and other songbirds that are less likely than a parrot to chew 011 their homes.

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Cagf Finish

Examine the cage finish carefully before making your final selection. Make sure that it is not chipped, bubbled or peeling, because a curious bird may find the spot and continue removing the finish. This can cause a cage to look old and worn before its time, and some cages may start to rust without their protective finishes, which can mean that a cage needs repainting or replacement before its time. Finally, if your pet ingests any of the finish, he could become ill.

Bar Spacing 5

Reject any cage that has bar spacing that is too wide for Household your pet bird; he may escape through the wider bars or he may get stuck between the bars and injure himself. The recommended sizes of the bar spacing for commonly kept pet birds follow: canaries, finches, budgies and lovebirds,'/┬╗inch; cockatiels and small conures, l/i to % inch; Amazons, African greys and other medium-sized parrots, % to 1 inch; macaws and cockatoos, % to I/2 inches.

Do not choose a cage that has sharp interior wires because they could poke your bird. Birds may injure themselves on ornate decorative scrollwork 011 the cage. Additionally, make sure the cage you choose has some horizontal bars in it for your bird to climb and exercise on.

Cage Door

lament rscajx and injury by choosing a cage with bars thai are spaced apart appropriately for ymir bird's size.

Investigate the different types of doors on the cages you are considering for your bird. Does the door open easily for you, yet remain secure enough to keep your bird in his cage when you close the door? Is it wide enough for you to get your hand in and out of the cage comfortably? Will your bird's food bowl or a bowl of bath water fit through it easily? Does the door open up, down or to the side? Some bird owners prefer that their pets have a play porch on a door that opens drawbridge style, while others are happy with doors that open to the side.

lament rscajx and injury by choosing a cage with bars thai are spaced apart appropriately for ymir bird's size.

Perches

Another important factor to consider when selecting a cage is the type of perches that come with the cage. Keep in mind that your bird spends most of his time 011 his feet. You can help prevent foot problems by 83

purchasing appropriate-sized perches for your bird when you choose the cage.

Try to buy two different diameters or materials so your bird's feet won't get tired of standing on the same-sized perch of the same material day after day. Think of how tired your feet would feel if you stood barefoot on a piece of wood all day, then imagine how it would feel to stand barefoot on that piece of wood every day for ten or fifteen years. Sounds pretty uncomfortable, doesn't it? That's basically what your bird has to look forward to if you don't vary his perching choices.

Recommended perch diameters are as follows: % inch for finches and canaries, x/t inch for budgies, % inch for cockatiels, % inch for conures, 1 inch for Amazons and other medium-sized parrots and 2 inches for cockatoos and macaws.

Try to buy one perch at the recommended size for your bird, and a slightly larger perch to give your pet a chance to stretch his foot muscles. Birds spend almost all of their lives standing, so keeping their feet healthy is important. Also, avian foot problems are much easier to prevent than they are to treat.

Types of Perches

You'll probably notice a lot of different kinds of perches when you visit your pet store. Along with the traditional wooden dowels, bird owners can now purchase perches made from manzanita branches, PVC tubes and rope to terra-cotta or concrete grooming perches.

Manzanita offers birds varied diameters on the same perch, along with chewing possibilities, while a PVC perch is almost indestructible. (Make sure any PVC perches you offer your bird have been scuffed slightly with sandpaper to improve traction on the perch.) Rope perches also offer varied diameters and a softer perching surface than wood or plastic perches. Terracotta and concrete perches provide slightly abrasive surfaces that birds can use to groom their beaks without severely damaging the skin 011 their feet in the process. Some birds suffer foot abrasions by standing on these perches; watch your pet carefully for signs of sore feet (an inability to perch or climb, favoring a foot or raw, sore skin on the feet) if you choose to use these perches in your pet's cage. If your bird shows signs of lameness, remove the abrasive perches immediately and arrange for your avian veterinarian to examine your bird.

Do not use sandpaper covers on perches. These sleeves, touted as nail-trimming devices, really do little to trim a bird's nails. Sandpaper perch covers abrade the surface of your bird's feet, which can leave them vulnerable to infections and can make moving about the cage painful for your pet.

When placing perches in your bird's cage, try to vary the heights slightly so your bird has different "levels" in his cage. Don't place any perches over food or water dishes, because birds can and will contaminate food or water by eliminating in it. Finally, place one perch higher than the rest for a nighttime sleeping roost. Pet birds like to sleep on the highest point they can find to perch, so don't forget to provide this security for your pet.

This parrot 's perch is too small. Choose perches that are the appropriate size or larger for your bird so that your pet can exercise his foot muscles.

Cage Tray

When you are looking at a cage, don't forget to examine the cage tray. Remember that you will be changing the paper in this tray at least once a day for the rest of your bird's life. Does the tray slide in and out of the cage easily? Is the tray an odd shape or size? Will you need to cut paper into unusual shapes to fit in the tray, or will paper towels, newspapers or clean sheets of used computer paper fit easily? The easier it is to 85

remove and reline, the more likely you will be to change the lining of the tray daily. Can the cage tray be replaced if it becomes damaged and unusable? Ask your pet store staff or the cage manufacturer's customer service department before making your purchase.

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