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How To Choose The Best Cage For Your Parakeet

Although we didn’t do too many things right for my childhood parakeet, we did select a good home for him. My’s cage was large, it had both horizontal and vertical bars for his climbing enjoyment, his food and water dishes slid in and out through holes in the side of the cage (which meant they were easy to get to and made his cage simple to service), it had three or four perches placed at different heights in the cage, and it had a bedsheet for a cover at night.
Choosing a Parakeet Cage
Choosing a Parakeet Cage
Some of the cages you’ll look at while making your selection are designed to sit on tabletops, while others have built-in or attached stands. Consider which will work best in your home. If yours is an active house with other pets and children in it, a tabletop cage may be better than a cage with a stand that could be knocked over. If you live alone in a small apartment, a cage and stand might be in order. If you do choose a cage with a stand, be sure the stand is steady and fits well with the cage.

Cage Considerations:
Your parakeet will spend much of her time in her cage, so make this environment as stimulating, safe, and comfortable as possible.
Keep the following things in mind when choosing a cage for your parakeet.
* Make sure the cage is big enough. The dimensions of the cage (height, width, and depth) should add up to at least sixty inches for a single bird.
* An acrylic cage may be easier to clean up. Wood or bamboo cages will be quickly destroyed by an eager parakeet’s beak.
* Make sure the cage door opens easily and stays securely open and closed. Avoid guillotine-style doors.
* The cage tray should be a regular shape and easy to slide in and out. There should be a grille below the cage floor so you can change the substrate without worrying about the bird escaping.

Size Matters:

When choosing your parakeet’s cage, remember that it must be large enough to house your bird, her food and water bowls, perches, and toys. One way to ensure the cage you choose is large enough is to measure the length, width, and height. When added together, these measurements should total at least sixty inches. That’s the minimum for a cage large enough for one parakeet and her accessories. A common size for parakeet cages is eighteen inches wide, eighteen inches high, and twenty-four inches long, which adds up to sixty. This is the smallest cage to consider if you own a single pet bird. If you have more than one bird, or if your bird is an upwardly mobile creature with lots of belongings (toys, food dishes, a bathtub perhaps), a larger cage is in order.
 Simply put, buy the largest cage you can afford, because you don’t want your pet to feel cramped. Remember, too, that parakeets are like little airplanes, flying horizontally, rather than little helicopters that hover up and down. For this reason, long rectangular cages that offer horizontal space for short flights are preferred to high, narrow cages that don’t provide much flying room.

Acrylic or Wire:

Birdcages are traditionally made of metal wire, but you may see acrylic cages in magazine advertisements or at your local pet store. These cages are better at containing seed hulls, loose feathers, and other debris your bird creates, which may make birdkeeping easier and more enjoyable for you. Although it sounds like a sales pitch, I know from experience that acrylic cages clean up easily by wiping inside and out with a damp towel and regularly changing the tray that slides under the cage itself.
 If you choose an acrylic cage for your pet, make sure it has numerous ventilation holes drilled in its walls to allow for adequate air circulation. Be particularly careful about not leaving your parakeet in direct sunlight if you house her in an acrylic cage, because these cages can get warm rather quickly and your bird could become overheated. (Parakeets in wire cages shouldn’t be left in direct sunlight either, as they can overheat, too.)
 If you go with an acrylic cage, you’ll have to include a couple of ladders between the perches to give your pet climbing opportunities she won’t be able to take advantage of on the smooth sides of an acrylic cage.
 If you find wooden or bamboo cages during your shopping excursions, reject them immediately. A busy parakeet beak will make short work of a wooden or bamboo cage, and you’ll be left with the problem of finding a new home for your pet! These cages are designed for finches and other songbirds, who are less likely than a parakeet to chew on their homes.
 If you choose a wire cage, examine it carefully before making your final selection.
Make sure the finish is not chipped, bubbling, or peeling, because a curious parakeet may find that 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 finish. And if your parakeet ingests any of the finish, she could become ill.
 Reject any cages that have sharp interior wires or wide spaces between the bars. (Recommended bar spacing for parakeets is between three-eighths and seven-sixteenths of an inch.) Your parakeet could become caught between bars that are even slightly wider than recommended, or she could escape through widely spaced bars.
 As for the arrangement of the bars, be aware that some birds may injure themselves on the ornate scrollwork that decorates some cages. And make sure the cage you choose has some horizontal bars in it so your parakeet will be able to climb the cage walls if she wants to exercise.

Cage Door Options:

Once you’ve checked the bar spacing and the overall cage quality, your next concern should be the cage door. Does it open easily for you, yet remain secure enough to keep your bird in her cage when you close the door? Is it wide enough for you to get your hand in and out of the cage comfortably with the bird perched on your finger? 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 like their pets to have a play porch on a door that opens out and down, drawbridge style, while others are happy with doors that open to the side. Watch out for guillotine-style doors that slide up and over the cage entrance, because some parakeets have suffered broken legs when the door dropped on them unexpectedly.

Cage Tray Considerations:

Next, look at the tray in the bottom of the cage. Does it slide in and out of the cage easily? Remember that you will be changing the paper in this tray at least once a day for the rest of your bird’s life (about fifteen years, with good care).
 Is the tray an odd shape or size? Will you have to cut paper into unusual shapes to fit in it, or will paper towels, newspapers, or clean sheets of used computer paper fit easily into the tray? The easier the tray is to remove and reline, the more likely you will be to change the lining every day. Can the cage tray be replaced if it becomes damaged and unusable? Ask the pet supply store staff or the cage manufacturer’s customer service department before making your purchase.
 As long as we’re on the subject of cage trays, let’s talk about what goes in them—the substrate. I recommend clean black-and-white newspapers, paper towels, or clean sheets of used computer printer paper. Sand, ground corncobs, or walnut shells may be sold by your pet supply store, but I don’t recommend these as cage flooring materials because they tend to make owners lazy in their cage-cleaning habits. These materials tend to hide feces and discarded food quite well. This can cause a bird owner to forget to change the cage tray on the principle that if it doesn’t look dirty, it must not be dirty. This line of thinking can leave time for a thriving, robust colony of bacteria to set itself up in the bottom of your bird’s cage, which can lead to a sick bird. Newsprint and other paper products don’t hide the dirt; in fact, they seem to draw attention to it, which leads conscientious bird owners to keep their pets’ homes scrupulously clean.
 On a related note, you may see sandpaper (a.k.a. “gravel paper”) sold in some pet supply stores as a cage tray liner. This product is supposed to provide a parakeet with an opportunity to ingest grit, which is purported to help aid digestion by providing coarse grinding material that will help break up food in the bird’s gizzard. The problem is that experts are unable to agree on just how much grit a pet bird needs. Many British avicultural books advocate offering a parakeet regular supplements of grit, while American parakeet fanciers are less generous with their offerings because some parakeets have overeaten grit. This causes impacted crop, a serious condition that requires immediate veterinary
attention. Additionally, if a bird stands on rough sandpaper when she’s on the cage floor, she could become prone to infections and other foot problems caused by the rough surface of the paper. For your parakeet’s health, please don’t use these gravel-coated papers.
Cage Floor
Check the floor of the cage you’ve chosen. Does it have a grille that will keep your bird out of the debris that falls to the bottom of the cage, such as feces, seed hulls, molted feathers, and discarded food? To ensure your pet’s long-term good health, it’s best to have a grille between your curious pet and the remains of her day in the cage tray. Also, it’s easier to keep your parakeet in her cage while you’re cleaning the cage tray if there’s a grille between the cage and the tray.

The Cage Cover:

Be sure you have something to cover your parakeet’s cage with when it’s time to put her to sleep each night. The act of covering the cage seems to calm many pet birds and convince them that it’s really time to go to bed, even though they may hear the sounds of an active family evening in the background.
 You can buy a cage cover or you can use an old sheet, blanket, or towel that is clean and free of  holes. Be aware that some birds like to chew on their cage cover through the cage bars. If your bird does this, replace the cover when it becomes too holey to do its job effectively.

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