The single most important item you will ever purchase for your pet bird is its cage. There are many factors that must be considered when choosing the perfect cage for your bird.
Bar Orientation (horizontal/vertical)
Cage Size - Bigger is Better
A large amount of your birds time is spent in their cage and, since our feathered pets are not living in the wild, it is easy for them to feel constricted. The cage you choose must be large enough for your bird comfortably flap their wings, move freely, play, climb, be silly, forage and perch in different areas of the cage. Keeping you bird in a cage that is too small for them to do these things will undoubtedly lead to behavioral issues such as cage possessiveness, screaming, aggressiveness, feather plucking and weight gain.
The simple answer is: Purchase the largest cage you can afford/fit in your home.
Because of this, it is important to first decide what your budget and space for a cage is before buying your bird.
Detailed information on cages:
A cage should always be chosen based on size, functionality, quality and safety over aesthetics. Many people make poor choices because they find many cage options 'ugly'. Luckily, My Birds House stocks cages from A&E Bird Cages who build cages that are safe, functional, of the highest quality AND look great!
There are still many choices when it comes to shape and style, here are some things to consider:
Standard cage shapes are rectangular and round. Although round cages may be attractive, we do not recommend them for these reasons:
They are difficult to place in your home in an efficient way, because of the round shape they take up more space because they can not fit comfortably into room corners.
They are actually smaller inside, they technically take up more space in your home and provide less space for your bird
Studies have shown that round cages can be stressful environments for birds, birds are prey animals and are wired to be on alert for predators. When sleeping, a bird will position themselves as high as possible and in a place where they feel protected from predators approaching their blind spot (like a cage corner). Round cages do not allow this sense of security and as such can lead to stress related behavior problems.
The best cage shape is rectangular. And again, size is important so be sure to choose one that provides as much space as possible. Height and width are the most important dimensions to consider when choosing your rectangular cage. Width is most important for small birds such as love birds, budgies, cockatiels, finches etc. These birds enjoy moving/flying from one side of the cage to the other. Large parrots on the other hand, while also needing ample horizontal space to move around and spread their wings, also need a generous amount of vertical space in their cage to allow climbing.
Dome vs. Play Top
Dome Top cages provide more space for your bird to climb and play. They also allow for easier placement of toys and perches within the cage.
Play Top Cages have a play area built in to the top of the cage. This provides an out of cage play area for your bird. Try to limit your use when your baby is young so that you don't cause a dominance habit and behavior issues. Once older this is usually not a problem.
It is important to have an area for your bird to be out of their cage and feel a part of the family activities. We recommend a dome top cage and separate play stand that can be moved to whichever room the family is in, or a play top with an extra table top perch so that your bird can be with you as well. There are many styles of portable play stands available for all budgets.
Door Size and Style
Do the cage doors make it ease to take your bird out/put them back?
Do the cage doors promote ease of access while at the same time prevent your bird from escaping?
Is it easy to access the food and water bowels from outside of the cage?
Are the cage doors large enough to allow easy cleaning of the inside of the cage?
Bar Spacing & Orientation
Bar spacing is often overlooked but is actually an incredibly important component to consider when choosing an appropriate cage. How to choose:
The bars should be strong enough to not be broken or bent by your bird. Thickness and strength will differ depending on the size and species of your bird.
The spacing between the bars should be such that your bird can not get their head stuck between them (happens more often than you think).
Having a cage with both horizontal and vertical bars will allow ease of climbing and also provide more options when hanging toys.
Please refer to our Cage Size Guide for recommendations as to species specific bar spacing.
Ideally you want a cage that lasts the life of your bird. So choosing a cage that is well built and constructed using durable materials is important. Here are some materials you may find cages made of and the pros and cons of choosing them:
Powder coated metal cages: These cages are common and can be found in many different styles and colors to suit your needs. They are durable, safe and relatively inexpensive considering that most powder coated metal cages will last.
Stainless Steel cages: These will never rust or chip and are the safest, easiest to clean, most durable cages on the market. But they are also the most expensive. If you can afford a stainless steal cage and find one that is the right size and shape for your birds needs, it will be a wise investment.
Acrylic cages: Can be visually appealing because there are no bars blocking your view of your bird. But since there are no bars, acrylic cages greatly reduce climbing capabilities. It has also been reported that acrylic cages are less durable than metal bar cages.
Wooden Cages: Often look very beautiful but are more often than not the wrong choice for most species of birds. Any type of hookbill will easily chew through the wood and, eventually, out of the cage. This is obviously a safety issue for your bird but also a wasted financial investment. Your bird should not be able to break its cage. However, sometimes wooden cages can sometimes be okay for non-destructive bird species such as canaries and finches.
NOTE* for those planning to build their own wooden cages or have one made by someone else. The wood must be dried and treated appropriately so as not to attract termites or parasites. The would must also be of a type, and treated, so that it is non-toxic to birds. Some chemicals used for staining and treating wood can be toxic to animals.
Whether you choose a new or second hand cage it is important to thoroughly inspect it, check that:
Check all sides, connections, and fasteners.
There are no loose parts or accessible parts that a bird can disassemble?
The seams fit well
The welds smooth and rust free
The bars and welds are strong enough for your bird
The powder coat is in good condition and not flaking
The cage top securely fastened to the frame
The locks and or latches are working correctly
Your bird will not be able to escape when removing the tray
Placement and other information:
The cage should be placed in a busy room, where there is lots of family activity. Parrots live in large flocks in nature – your family will now be its flock. The cage should not be put in direct sunlight, or near drafts. I suggest using black and white newspaper (not colored print, or advertisements) for cage lining. Do not use corn cob litter as it can be eaten by the bird and cannot be digested. The paper should be changed daily. The cage should be equipped with perches and toys. But not too many that your bird will not be able to stretch its wings, and move around freely. The perches should be of varying widths so that your parrot’s feet will be exercised by holding onto the various sizes. You should not use the sandpaper perch covers to dull the birds’ toenails, as they are uncomfortable for your bird. We recommend a cement perch to dull your birds’ toenails. They work great. I suggest putting the cement perch high in the cage as a parrot will usually perch on the highest perch to roost for the night. Having these perches placed high in the cage will insure that the nails will be dulled on a regular basis. There are many toys sold in the pet stores. Make sure you get sturdy toys, without small or removable parts. My birds love to play with leather strips, (make sure the leather is vegetable tanned). Be creative and look around the house – you could make your own toys. Just make sure they are safe.
Your bird will enjoy time out of its cage. You may want to consider a play pen for your parrot while he is out of his cage. They are easy to create from different sized dowels arranged in ladders, swings, and t-stands. Make sure you supervise your bird very carefully when he is out of the cage. Parrots are often very sneaky, and would love to chew on a yummy electrical cord, or they could fly into the pot of soup you are cooking! I have heard of many drownings in toilet bowls also...so please be careful when your bird is out of its cage.
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