6 years ago840 views
How to Choose Your Bird's Cage - as part of the expert series by GeoBeats.
Hi, this is Rick Horvitz at Golden Cockatoo in Deerfield Beach, Florida and we are going to discuss how to choose the best cage for your parrot. The first thing to realize about parrot ownership, which you may already know, is that they can be a little messy, and they are extremely intelligent, and they are really good at getting out of things. So you have to be very careful to get a cage that takes these things into account. Such as, number one: door locks. Can the bird pick the front door lock? Number two: the locks for the actual feeders. Can the birds open those feeders and not only empty the cups on the ground, or escape? Those are two really important factors to look at.
The third thing is, do the feeders have a system so that the mess is contained? Are they open behind it with just bars, which means that you are going to have more of a mess around the cage? Another to consider is something called a skirt. It is not what you wear, it is what the cage wears. So it is a piece of metal that angles around the cage, comes usually up around four inches and out about two or three inches, and that does catch a lot of the food that the parrot will throw out. Not all of it. It helps. Personally, I do not like them. I am always bumping into them with my knees. You do not see them. They are below your eye level. So it is better to try to have a cage that is designed with a better cup and a better feeding system, rather than relying on the skirts of the cage.
Another thing to take into account is the bird that you have and the bar spacing. For instance, birds, as you have probably realized, have eyes on the side on their head, not on the front of their head like we do. So if you can imagine the bar spacing being smaller than the bird's eyes, the bird is not going to try to get its head out because it cannot. It is going to hit its eyes against the bars and it is not going to stick its head out. And then maybe, if it worked to get its head out, twist sideways and hang itself. So it is really important to get a cage that the bird cannot stick its head through the bars, indicated by the width of the head, dictated by the eyes.
The second thing that is important to realize is how big your bird's wingspan is. You always want the bird to be able to open up the wings inside the cage, and then some. So if you have a large Macaw, the minimum cage you should be looking at is 40 inches across, because their wingspan could easily be three feet, and that only gives them a couple of inches on each side, but it does allow them to at least open up their wings. The third thing to consider is the material, and that has to do with your budget, because stainless steel is the most expensive. Now they are making nice aluminum cages which are less expensive. And then you have the powder-coated cages, which are the least expensive. So you want to determine what your budget is, what you can handle, and what is going to work well with you with those three things.
Another element of the cage that is every important is whether or not it has a grill, which it should; it has a tray, which it should; and both are easily removable, because you will want to be able to take the grill out and clean it every day. The same with the tray. The tray you will want to take out and actually put a piece of paper down there, or some other substrate, that you can look at the bird's droppings to make sure your bird is healthy. That is one way you check on your bird's health, is by the droppings. Play tops versus dome tops. I have a dome top beside me here. Birds, being prey, also have a pecking order, like chickens do. So if the bird is up high, higher than your eye level, it tends to be more aggressive. For that reason, we do not condone the purchase of play top cages for younger parrots.
Because what you are doing is you are training the bird to be above your eye level, to be on top of their cage, which they consider to be a safe spot. A nesting cavity, if you will, because they nest in tree hollows, and that is what they think the cage is, is really a nesting cavity. And they tend to get aggressive. And it does not happen right away. So let's say you buy an African gray. The first year, playing up on top of the cage, no problem. All of a sudden, a year-and-a-half, he starts crawling on the back of the cage, he does not want to come up on you when you command him to come up, and then he starts biting you. Come into the store, you discuss it with your bird store, or your pet store. And if they are knowledgeable, they will tell you, this is what has happened. You have now trained your bird, gotten your bird into the routine of being aggressive, and now you have to try to break that habit.
So instead what we would rather see is you have a cage and you get a stand. When you want the bird out, you take him from the cage to the stand. Yes, it is easier for humans to have a cage and a stand in one. Sure, one spot, one thing, I get it. It is not best for the bird. If you have a ten-year-old bird, a five-year-old bird, it is well-trained, and you want to get a play top cage, great, as long as you can control your bird. That is fine. A bird that is not controlled is a bird that you pick up, it runs up your arm and ends up on your shoulder, and will not come off your shoulder. That is the same situation it will get in if you get a cage that is a play top cage when your bird is a baby. You are going to be training a bird to have bad habits, and you are not going to have as an enjoyable experience as you should with your companion.