The Dos And Don’ts Of Budgie Cages
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Budgies are the third most popular pet in the world, and yet all too often they are forced to live in improper and sometimes dangerous cages.
Just as we discussed in this post, one shouldn’t readily trust a bird cage just because it is advertised by a big chain pet store. They’re way more expensive than they need to be and usually they’re also way too small.
Every budgie is different. They have different personalities, different needs, and different preferences, just as we do. Many of these differences are ones that a budgie’s new parront (that’s you) will simply figure out as they go.
While the orientation of certain perches or the location of certain toys may change depending on your particular bird’s preferences, some basics are necessary for the safety and wellbeing of all budgies.
In this post, we will be taking a close look at the numerous dos and don’ts of budgie cages, from the cage’s location in your home to the types of perches you include.
Let’s get into it, shall we?
DO Choose a Flight Cage
Budgies fly horizontally and require plenty of space to stretch their wings while inside their cages. Cages should be rectangular in shape, and no smaller than 30″ length x 18″ width x 18″ height.
Don't Choose Vintage Or Spherical Cages
The world has come a long way in banishing the spherical cages of yore and with good reason. Simply put: they’re impractical and they’re unsafe.
Spherical cages cause budgies great distress as they have little room to fly, and no corners to feel safe in while perched at night.
Above all, these cages pose a big risk to your bird’s life, as it’s very easy for their breaks, wings, or feet to get caught in wider spaces where the bars gather at the top of the cage.
Do Choose A Cage With 1/2" Bar Spacing
This is one of the most important deciding factors in choosing proper cages for parrots of any species. Budgies in particular require 1/2″ bar spacing, no more and no less. Here’s why:
- If the bar spacing is too wide, the bird can (and will) escape.
- If a bird can stick their head through the gaps, they can easily get their head stuck and potentially even hang themselves.
- If the bar spacing is too small, the bird won’t be able to climb.
Don't Pick A Cage Made Of Toxic Materials
You’d be surprised how many bird cages made of toxic materials are on the market. Sadly, metal toxicity is semi-common among birds and the source is usually a toxic cage.
Avoid galvanized cages or cages with paint that will chip, especially* lead-based paint, as it is incredibly toxic to birds. Furthermore, cages made of zinc will make your bird sick and will likely lead to death.
Do Pick A Sturdy Cage
The ideal cage is made out of steel or wrought iron. Wood cages are hard to clean and most parrots can chew right through them. Cages made of aluminum bend too easily, and cages made of copper or other corrosive materials will rust over time.
Don't Choose A Cage That Is Hard To Clean
If you thought budgies would make a smaller mess than bigger parrots, you’re wrong! Budgies defecate approximately every 15 minutes, and because they are seed-eaters, you can be sure that seeds will end up everywhere.
Cleaning their cage regularly with vinegar or grapefruit seed oil is critical to maintaining their health. Some cages make it more difficult to reach the nooks and crannies than others.
Finally, aim for a cage that has multiple doors on as many sides as possible. These will come in handy when it’s time to clean perches, corners, and the walls of the cage.
Do Place The Cage In A Corner
Always remember that a budgie’s first instinct is to stay safe from predators. Budgies will feel most relaxed when their cage is placed in a corner so that there are walls on at least two sides.
Don't Place The Cage Near A Drafty Window
While budgies certainly appreciate a nice view from the window, they are especially prone to catching a cold. Sadly, for our fragile budgies, even a cold can prove to be fatal.
If you choose to set the cage by a window, make sure that no air is seeping through the cracks. As an extra precaution, it’s always a good idea to cover the cage at night.
Do Set The Cage SOMewhere People Frequent During The Day
It takes a lot of patience, trust-building, and familiarity, but under the right conditions, budgies can be very social with their humans.
A common mistake new parronts make is placing the budgie in a quiet room to get acclimated to their home without becoming over-stimulated.
Instead, this sets the new budgie up to become anxious when humans do come around.
And because budgies are such social creatures, they can easily become depressed if made to be alone for extended periods of time.
The best place for a budgie’s cage is an enclosed area that people spend time in, such as a den or a bedroom that is far away from the kitchen.
Keep in mind that candles, smoke, fumes from paint or non-stick pans, and aerosols are all lethal to birds. Take extra special care to prevent the budgie from coming in contact with any of them.
Don't Set The Cage Somewhere People Frequent At Night
Budgies need approximately 10-12 hours of undisturbed sleep in a dark and quiet place every night. A consistent lack of sleep leads to health and behavioral issues and even depression.
For the budgie’s health and wellbeing, their cage should be set in an area where people are not coming and going or flickering lights on and off during sleeping hours.
And if you’re an insomniac who stays up till 3AM every night playing video games or watching YouTube videos, you should consider keeping the cage elsewhere, or at minimum turning the lights off early and using headphones.
Do Add A Variety Of Natural Wood Perches
Birds need a variety of non-toxic, natural wood perches that are diverse in size, shape, and texture, and that are placed at varying heights throughout the cage.
Natural wood perches keep our budgies’ nails trimmed and their feet healthy and strong. Budgies will also chew their perches and file their beaks with them to prevent overgrowth.
Rope perches in good condition without fraying or loose fibers are fine in moderation. However, it’s our responsibility to encourage our birds’ instincts and to do our best to simulate their natural environments.
We can certainly utilize perches from our backyards and community parks, but we should be very careful to ensure the pickings are non-toxic and untreated.
Don't Include Dowel Perches Or Plastic Perches
Many bird cages come with removable dowel perches and plastic perches. These aren’t inherently harmful unless they are the only perches inside the cage. If these exist among a variety of natural wood perches, they should be fine.
That said, if the budgie has no other perches they can fly to, they are at risk of developing bumble foot and a number of health and behavioral issues resulting from boredom and under-stimulation.
Do Place Perches & Toys Strategically
This is one of those things that parronts will figure out the more they watch their birds in action. In addition to providing engagement, perches serve practical purposes within the cage.
Unlike humming birds, our budgies cannot hover mid-air in front of their food bowls and toys. Perches should be placed strategically so as to provide easy access to feeders and toys.
A toy that hangs in the middle of the cage is a waste of space if the bird can’t reach it. Toys should be hung closer to the walls of the cage near perches. That way, they won’t obstruct the budgie’s flight routes.
Finally, budgies sleep at the highest point of their cage where they feel safest, so make sure there’s a perch in a corner near the top of the cage with just enough room for them to perch without having to hunch over.
Don't Add A Nest Box Or Cozy Corner
There are many, many tragic stories of birds who died by either consuming fibers from cozy corners and hammocks or from becoming tangled inside of them. Budgies don’t need them. They’re not safe, and they encourage breeding.
The same goes for nest boxes. Unless you plan on breeding your budgies, do not include a nest box. Budgies are particularly prone to egg-binding, so nesting behavior is strongly discouraged unless you are prepared for the potential consequences.
DO Add Shredding & Foraging Toys
Engaged and active budgies are happy and healthy budgies. Budgies, like all parrots, are foragers and they get bored easily too.
To keep them stimulated and encourage their foraging instincts, they need an array of foraging toys, shreddables, and swing toys.
Oh yeah, and budgies LOVE bells and rattan balls, but you should only include those that are colored with non-toxic veggie dyes.
Every now and then you will see stainless steel spiral foraging feeders like these. Do NOT buy them. Budgies have been known to get stuck inside of them and to hang to death.
Here’s some tried-and-tested toys that budgies are known to adore:
- Bird Kabobs. Budgies go CRAZY for these.
- Planet Pleasures Natural Bird Toys. As a matter of fact, anything from Planet Pleasures is sure to please.
- Triple threat Crinkle Toys with a rattan ball and a bell.
- This one too!
- Rattan balls for playing both inside and outside of the cage, or for making DIY toys.
- Shreddable Foraging Balls. Budgies will have a field day when you stick some seeds inside of these too.
Don't Add Mirrors
Though it’s true that mirrors are entertaining for budgies in the short-term, in the long-term their effects can be quite harmful.
New parronts with good intentions will sometimes provide a mirror for a budgie who doesn’t share their cage with a companion.
The thought process tends to be that they’re providing the budgie companionship with their own mirror reflection.
Instead, budgies don’t always realize their reflection is just that. They will often become obsessed with the reflection, thinking it is a potential mate.
This can spark cage aggression, lead to hormonal behavior, or cause the budgie to become depressed and sexually frustrated as their perceived mate refuses to return their advances.
Do Keep The Cage Out Of Reach From Predators
Bird cages should be placed up high and out of reach from other pets such as dogs, cats, snakes, and other predators. They should also be placed in a location that young children don’t have access to without the assistance and supervision of an adult.
Got everything you need for your budgie's cage? Check to make sure:
- A flight cage no smaller than 30″ length x 18″ width x 18″ height.
- Safe, non-toxic bedding such as pellets, VitaKraft Cage Liners, recycled paper, rolled oats, or reusable placemats.
- Stainless steel food & water bowls, as plastic bowls and silos collect bacteria fast.
- A variety of non-toxic natural wood perches, like these, these, and these.
- Calcium-rich cuttlebone to keep your bird healthy and strong and a holder to make your life easier.
- A seed catcher to minimize the mess.
- Plenty of foraging and shredding toys. Budgies go wild for those bird kabobs and colorful shredding toys!
- Last but not least, we strongly recommend the K&H Pet Products Snuggle-Up Bird Warmer for those of you living in chilly climates. It’s so, so important to make sure your bird stays nice and warm. These can be a literal life-saver if your bird falls ill.
To Keep Improving Your Budgie's Health & Wellness...
Follow this link for a thorough list of non-toxic plants, trees, and flowers that will safely add a touch of beauty to your home without hurting your bird.
Click this to learn how to identify the warning signs and symptoms that your bird is sick or injured, then find out which tools and supplies can help you save their life in a crisis.
Sprouts are one of the best things we can feed our birds to optimize their diets and solve many health and behavioral issues that result from malnutrition. Become a Sprout Master here.