Cages

Parrots need room to move around in their cages. When we are looking for a house to live in, we want to make sure it has plenty of room for us to live comfortably. The same goes for a parrot. They will be spending the majority of their lives in a cage. (assuming you have a job outside the home) When looking for a cage for your parrot a good thing to remember is bigger is always better no matter the size of your parrot.

​A good piece of advice is that the cage needs to be 3x the wingspan of your parrot. So buy the biggest cage you can afford.

WHAT TO LOOK FOR WHEN BUYING A CAGE:
1. Check to see what kind of a tray it has. Make sure it is easy to remove for cleaning and be sure there is a grate above the tray so that your parrot does not walk around on the tray as they could become sick from walking on and possibly eating their own poop.

2. Check the cage doors. Parrots are very smart and curious they will try and could easily figure out how to get out of the cage. Make sure all the doors have some sort of latch on them. Also, make sure the main door is big enough for you to get your parrot in and out with ease.

3. Make sure the cage will be easy to move around. Usually, cages have stands that they sit on that have wheels or the cage itself will have wheels so it’s easy to move if needed.

4. Make sure the bar spacing is the right width. You don’t want the bar spacing to be too big or too small as injuries could occur.
For small birds (Finches, Canaries, Parrotlets, Lovebirds & Budgies) the bar spacing should be no more than 5/8″
For medium birds (Conures, Cockatiels, Lories, Senegals) the bar spacing should be 1/2″ to no more than 7/8″
For large birds (African Greys, Amazons, Macaws, Cockatoos) the bar spacing should be 3/4″ to no more than 1-3/8″

5. Make sure the cage is big enough for your parrot to spread out its wings and move around with ease. Also, make sure there is enough room for toys and perches.

6. Figure out where you would like to place the cage in your house. This will help you figure out what shape of the cage to get (Corner cage, Octagon, Square, Rectangle). Make sure the spot where you plan to place the cage is free of drafts, is in a spot where your parrot can get plenty of natural sunlight, and is in an area where you and your family spend time as parrots are social and love being with their flock (you & your family) at all times. Keep the cage away from the kitchen.

7. Metal or wrought iron cages are the best kind to get as they are easy to clean and are durable but make sure to avoid lead-based painted cages, galvanized cages, or cages made with zinc as these are toxic to parrots.

Not to take business away from pet shops or other box stores, but their bird cage selections are very limited in-store.
Try looking for a cage online. Also, check your favorite pet shop’s website. Sometimes they will sell better cages online that they don’t carry in-store. Be sure no matter where you check that there are reviews for the cage you are looking at and check that site/store’s return policy too just in case… Good brands to look for are HQ & Prevue Hendryx.
When you buy a cage, see what kind of food and water dishes it has. I recommend using stainless steel or ceramic food dishes because of the cleanliness.

I used to promote plastic water bottles for water, but after some research and a couple of informative Facebook posts, I’ve decided to switch my parrots over to using stainless steel dishes for water. There are glass water bottles with stainless steel spouts. I don’t care for these because I feel birds can’t get enough water out of the spout and when I’ve used them in the past they tend to drip causing mold to grow at the bottom of the cage… But they are safe and if you prefer to use glass water bottles, maybe place a shallow dish under the spout for an automatic bird bath! 🙂

There are many different styles and sizes of these stainless steel & ceramic food dishes to choose from. Again find out what size is right for your parrot.
This ceramic food dish hangs on the inside of the cage.
Stainless steel cups won’t get shredded by birds that are heavy chewers

Cage Liners

Do not use newspaper or paper towels. The ink in the newspaper lets off an odorless vapor after just 2 weeks from being published that will make birds ill or possibly kill them. Paper towels are very damaging for baby birds & older birds alike. As with newspaper, paper towels let off an odorless vapor that can actually cause the parrot’s toes to fall off.

Pine shavings and wood chips are very dangerous and toxic! Never use cedar around parrots it is toxic to them.
Sand, kitty litter, and small animal bedding are way too dusty for parrots.

Parrots have very sensitive respiratory systems and too much dust can have harmful effects on them.
Corn cob bedding soaks up moisture easily and mold grows rapidly on it. Mold of any kind is deadly to parrots.

The best cage lining to use is just paper. Used printer paper, plain paper, or even shredded paper. Just as long as it’s not newspaper or paper towels, your parrot will be safe. – There’s finally a use for junk mail! 🙂

Perches & Toys

When buying perches for your cage make sure to buy them big enough for your parrot but small enough that they won’t hurt their feet.

The diameter of perches for small birds (Canaries, Finches, Parrotlets, Budgies, lovebirds) should be 1/2″ to 1″
For medium birds (Conures, Cockatiels, Lories, Senegals) they should be 3/4″ to 1.5″ in diameter.
For large birds (Macaws, Cockatoos, African Greys, Amazons) they should be 1.5″ to 3″ in diameter.

Perches are very important as your parrot will be climbing, standing and chewing on them. You want to make sure they are made out of wood or cotton rope as shown in the pictures below. Use different perches with different textures. Make sure they don’t have any splits or loose fibers that your parrot could get its nails or feet stuck in. There are also perches that are made to be in the shower or on a window. Those are nice to have for when your parrot is out of its cage.

Cages usually come with standard wooden perches, but buy more to give your parrot a way to climb and have fun! Natural wood perches are really good for your parrot’s feet too. As with the cage & toys, be sure to wash the perches before placing them in the cage.

You can easily make your own perches too! For a list of safe wood to use click here

Toys
Buying toys is a very important step in caring for your parrot. Parrots need a lot of stimulation.
Try to stay away from plastic toys as parrots need to forage and have something to chew on. Plastic toys really have no place in a parrot’s cage unless they are made to hold food for foraging or if your parrot is a Budgie.

Here are a few things to look for when buying toys:

1. When looking for toys for your parrot make sure they are made of natural or organic fibers/woods and if they are colorful make sure they were dyed with veggies. Usually, toys sold in pet shops have been dyed with food coloring or other artificial colorings that can hurt your parrot. As with any new toys if you buy them with any coloring and you aren’t sure the color is natural, make sure to wash them thoroughly before placing them in the cage for your parrots to play with. You will be surprised at all the color that comes off in the water from artificial coloring. Rinse colorful toys until the color no longer comes off in the water to be sure the toy is safe for your parrot to chew on. The color will be faded but parrots really don’t care if their toys are colorful, they just want to have something to play with or tear apart.

Make sure wood toys are NOT made out of cedar, red cherry, plywood, or oak. Arsenic is found in pressure-treated woods used to make cheap toys. This is toxic to parrots. For a list of safe woods for your parrot see my page entitled Safe Plants & Trees. You can also make your own perches out of branches of trees from the safe tree list, just be sure to sterilize them properly before letting your bird have them.

2. If a toy is leather or has leather on it, make sure it is veggie-tanned and does not contain formaldehyde. Formaldehyde can cause nasal tumors, rashes, and respiratory problems.

3. Check the metal used for the toy, make sure it is made with stainless steel or iron, and make sure it does not have a zinc coating. Also, stay away from galvanized metals. Zinc is a common coating for iron and steel used in bird toys to keep them from rusting. Zinc toxicity causes feather plucking, weight loss, gastrointestinal problems, seizures, hyperglycemia, anemia, weakness, excessive urine in droppings & death.

4. Make sure the toy doesn’t have any glues, adhesives, lacquers, or paints as these can be toxic.

5. Make sure the toys are free of small pieces/wood chunks that your parrot could choke on. Don’t buy toys that have split rings or key rings. Your parrot’s beaks and toes could get caught in them. Make sure if there are any bells on the toy that they don’t have sharp edges for your bird to snag its beak on.

6. Make sure chain toys and rope toys are the right sizes for your parrot. If they are the wrong size your parrot could get its neck, legs, and feet trapped.

I have heard a lot of horror stories about parrots getting their legs caught in rope toys. Parrots also chew on everything and rope toys can break easily causing the parrot to swallow pieces of the toy. This is very dangerous because the rope can get caught in the parrot’s crop. If this happens the crop can become clogged causing the parrot to become sick, this results in costly vet bills to save your parrot.
I choose not to use rope toys for my parrots. I do however use rope perches on the outside of their cages.

Parrots love shredding things! The woven shredders in the picture below and other shredder toys made by Planet Pleasures are favorites of my parrots. You can do so much with these shredders make foot toys, weave them through their cage bars, place a bird-safe hook on them and make your own toys and so much more!

Parrots are extremely smart! Use the rings game & the colored cubes to teach them to match up colors! Plus when they learn their colors with the cubes they will get a treat!

Sometimes it’s hard to find the right toy for your parrot or your parrot has torn up a toy and left some usable pieces behind. That’s when you know it’s time to get creative!
Making your own toys is a great way to keep your parrots stimulated and active.
The same rules apply as mentioned above when looking for pieces to make toys.

Here are a couple of sites to check out when looking for pieces and parts:
(I am not affiliated with these sites)
Mysafebirdstore.com
CaliforniaBirdNerds.com
TheCoconutKing.com
Makeyourownbirdtoys.com

Snuggle huts

Snuggle huts are a favorite of our parrots. They sleep in them every night and get very distressed if we have to remove their huts for cleaning.
We have several of them, one for each parrot’s cage and one for their travel cages.

They are inexpensive and give a safe place for your parrot to sleep.
If your parrot is a heavy chewer they could get the fibers from the hut stuck in their chop which could cause blockages and big problems for your parrot which will need the attention of a vet.
I suggest finding a hut that doesn’t have long fibers or making your own.
Our parrots do love to chew things up but fortunately have never chewed on their huts.

If your parrot has never had a snuggle hut, they will probably freak out about it being in their cage, ours did at first too, but now they love them.

There are different styles of snuggle huts, each serves the same purpose.
I would not recommend using the snuggle sack, just from personal experience. Check out the page Dangers for Parrots to find out why.

The sea-grass hut is a popular choice since it is made from natural materials and won’t harm your parrot if chewed on.
My Hilo unfortunately likes to tear things apart. I fear he would chew it up like one of his toys, leaving him without a place to sleep.

Cage Covers
A cage cover is something essential to have. Parrots need to be protected at night from drafts.
They also help keep the light out so your parrot can sleep if you are going to be up for a while after you put your parrot to bed.

Parrots need 10 to 12 hours of sleep a night. If they don’t get enough sleep they will be very grumpy. Trust me!
Like with children it’s good to have a regular sleep schedule for your parrots and try to stick to it. Once they get used to their sleep schedule, they will let you know when it’s time for them to go to bed 🙂

You can use an old bed sheet as a cover, buy one from a store or make your own.
They are really easy to make. Make sure the fabric is 100% cotton.
Do not use flame-resistant materials. These are hazardous for your parrot.
I went to JoAnn Fabrics and got some dark cotton material. All I had to do is wash it and sew the cut edges. (I am not a seamstress so it’s not perfect, but it does what I need it to do)

Be sure to wash the cage covers every few weeks to a month.

First Aid Kits

Something most people don’t think to have is an avian first aid kit.
Like humans, sometimes parrots have accidents. Some are worse than others, but it’s important to have a first aid kit just in case. Plus you can have it on hand when you clip your parrot’s nails and wings. We never leave the house with our parrots without their first aid kit. We have a smaller kit that we take with us.

You can either buy a kit or make your own.

Every avian first aid kit I’ve found contains the same things, give or take a few items.
I made my own for minor accidents. Here’s what’s in it:
Styptic powder
Latex gloves
Tweezers
Sterile gauze bandage
Scissors
Nail trimmers
Bandaids
Hand wipes
Cotton balls
Adhesive tape
Cotton Swabs
Gauze Pads
Antiseptic Towelettes
Toothpicks & popsicle sticks (to use as leg splints)
I’m always adding to it. You can add what you’d like to yours.
If you make your own be sure to include an emergency information card for veterinarian records and info.
Keep in mind that you might want to buy a heating pad, travel cage, towels, and hemostat for bigger emergencies that require you to take your parrot to the vet.

Disclaimer: I am not a veterinarian. The material on this site is not intended to be, and should not be relied on as, a substitute for professional advice. Read my full disclaimer.

Sprouting Organics is an offshoot of Willowbottom Homestead, a website about our homestead where we share practical ways to help save the environment through Eco-Friendly & Sustainable living.