Choosing a Parrot Cage
It seems that the topic of cells is not discussed much, and this is sad. After all, buying a cage is secondary to choosing a bird species, and a cage represents a large percentage of the initial cost of owning a bird.
But anyone looking to buy a cage has a plethora of hurdles, ranging from the extraordinary variety on the market, to the plethora of advice offered by pet stores, online classifieds, and seemingly anyone with a friend, relative, or neighbor who owns a bird!
So the purpose of this article is to work our way through all of these things and offer some simple guidelines to help you deal with the often confusing world of birdcages. After all, your bird’s cage will be its home for many years to come. Therefore, the choice should be based on a large number of factors, including size, style, composition, purity, safety, and cost.
Size ( bigger is better)
Too many cages on the market are not suitable for any living animal in my opinion. For example, I hate what I call “tube cages” which are only 30 cm (12 inches) long in diameter but one meter high. Birds don’t fly up and down like helicopters, so for exercise purposes it’s the horizontal space that the cage offers, not the height of the cage that matters.
I compare these tube cages to someone who is forced to live in a locker room three stories high. But apparently people like these cages, because the height creates the illusion of size without compromising the space for human habitation. (After all, God forbid a person give up living space!)
The general rule of thumb when choosing a cage size is to buy the largest cage you can afford. However, if you cannot afford a cage large enough to comfortably house the bird species you want, you should not buy that bird species. Easily. For example, if you are having a hard time fitting into your small apartment, consider nothing but the smallest bird species on the market.
It is definitely insulting to force a bird to live in a cage that is too small.
So what is the right size, you ask? In my opinion, if a bird never leaves its cage to fly and train, it needs horizontal space 2-3 times its wingspan in width and depth. For example:
• Small species (parrots, canaries, cockatoos, etc.) – 60 cm (24 inches) by 90 cm (36 inches).
• Medium Parrots (Amazons, Gray Cockatoos and Lesser Cockatoos) – 90 cm (36 inches) by 135 cm (54 inches).
• Large macaws (blue-yellow, scarlet, green-winged, etc.) and large cockatoos (Moluccan, umbrella, etc.) will measure 180 cm (72 inches) by 270 cm (108 inches).
In addition, parrots with tufts or long tails need the necessary height so that the feathers do not touch the ceiling or floor (or lattice) of the cage.
However, this basic arithmetic does not take into account the activity levels of different species. For example, while parrots (caikis, lorises and lorikeets) are considered fairly small in size, their unusually high activity levels (like a ferret on crack) will cause them to use every cubic centimeter of their cage every day.
Therefore, they need a cage that is much larger than their size suggests. Finches and canaries are also active birds, so they also need a place to fly.
Here are some fantastic cages for parrots and canaries.
By the way, the more toys loaded into the cage, the less space for the bird to live and play. Haven’t we all come across our dear Great Aunt Maria’s living room, which is so cluttered with furniture that we can’t easily move from one place to another or grab a cup of tea without knocking something off the table with our elbows? On that note, make sure the cage is big enough for the bird AND all the toys (plus perches, ladders, swings, food bowls and water) it needs!
When choosing the largest possible cage, the safety distance between the rods should also be taken into account. It is dangerous for a bird to be able to stick its head through the bars of the cage, as it can get caught too easily and get injured, possibly fatally.
Because of this possibility, care should be taken when placing a small bird in a large cage. The distance between the bars, which is safe for small birds, is about 1 cm. (½ inch); medium birds need 2 cm (about ¾ inch); large species need 2.5 cm. (1 inch)
The strength of the parrot’s beak is another important safety issue.Many cages have bars that cannot withstand the crushing force of a parrot’s beak, which can allow it to break welds and bend or break the bars of the cage. This is a disaster in the making.
When evaluating a cage before buying, be sure to run your hand along the inside of it, looking for sharp edges, metal spikes, or roughness. Sharp edges and spurs can cause injury, and rough areas make cleaning difficult.
Cages come in a wide variety of styles, and again, the best cage for you and your bird will depend on the type of bird as well as your own needs. Generally speaking, cages are divided into open top, play top, and hard top styles, with pros and cons of each.
Open top cages:
They have lids that open (obviously) to provide support that you can add a hanger to. This gives the bird a high vantage point as well as the ability to re-enter the cage for food and water as needed. This type of cage can be a disadvantage for novice owners who cannot get the parrot to voluntarily leave the high perch so that the owners can close the cage at night.
Find a bunch of open cells here.
Like open cages, they are popular when the parrot has nowhere to turn, and for some birds they are quite suitable. However, if owners have not properly trained their parrots, getting them out of the playpen can be difficult. Some playing cages allow you to remove the playing surface to place it elsewhere, while parrots are taught better manners so they can return to their original position after proper training.
Here are the game cells.
Solid top cells:
Solid top cages can be flat or rounded (“dome top”). This type of cage does not open and does not have a playground attached to it. Domed-top cages can be a challenge for shorter owners (also known as “height contenders”) trying to get to the birds dangling in the dome.
Take a look at a selection of hardtop cages here.
Note on decorated cages: Birds are adorable creatures in my opinion, and any decoration on the cage (curls, whorls, etc.) only detracts from their value. Also, many of these decorations have caused injuries to birds, as they can get caught on such trinkets.
The problem of height and the so-called “region of heights”.
Some parrots tend to show more problematic behavior when they are taller than their owners, but not all. There are different opinions as to why this happens, but there is no scientific evidence on either side of the issue.
The important thing is that proper training (training the bird to sit and dismount from your hand or perch) solves the problem quite well. My macaw Sam is always happy to step out of her domed cage, knowing from experience that she will be rewarded with something she appreciates, like praise, a good scratch, or a sweet treat.
Incidentally, keeping a bird below eye level not only guarantees good behavior, although many people seem to have come to that conclusion. I wish life with parrots was so easy!
Most cages are powder coated or stainless steel. Powder coating means the metal is spray painted and these cages can be quite attractive as owners can choose colors to match the environment and the bird itself.
On the other hand, sooner or later the paint on power coated cells will chip off. However, this is not a cause for concern, since reputable companies can remake the powder coating for a reasonable price. Certainly less than a clip replacement!
Stainless steel cages are the cream of the cream and many are very expensive. On the plus side, these cells can last forever, so the initial cost is more than offset by no future replacement costs. I’m glad I have a stainless steel cage for my blue and yellow macaws and it’s a pleasure to take care of.
This very well moves on to the next issue: ease of cleaning. If the cage is easy to clean, you will likely clean it more often and this will provide a healthier environment for your bird. In my experience, cages with cracks, crevices, ill-fitting pieces, and decorations accumulate food and waste, making cleaning nearly impossible.When it comes to a cage, ease of cleaning and safety far outweigh issues such as attractiveness.
Clean the cage with our cleaners and disinfectants.
When it comes to cage, cheaper is NOT necessarily better
We’ve all heard the stories, I’m sure. A guy buys his dream bird, a hyacinth macaw, and doesn’t have enough money left to buy a decent cage. So he puts the bird in a dog cage until he can afford something better. The parrot destroys the dog’s cage while the owner is working and destroys the house.
The moral is clear: Proper cage keeping is critical and you need to factor in the cost of cage keeping in your overall cost of acquiring a parrot. If you can’t afford a proper cage, then you can’t afford a bird, and that doesn’t even touch on the equally important fact that you can’t afford proper bird medicine!
If you’re being offered an incredible deal on a new cage, be careful. There are companies that sell cheap artificial cages containing hazardous metals such as lead and zinc. Remember the problems in the USA with children’s toys from China!
Make sure you are working with a reputable company that stands behind their products. Horror stories abound with exceptionally cheap cages purchased through sources like EBay, only to find out that the money saved has been paid out multiple times to avian veterinarians in the valiant fight to save birds’ lives from toxic cages.
Remember the saying “Buyer beware”. This is especially true with cages: you get exactly what you pay for.
A discussion of bird cages should address the ethics of keeping birds in cages. Some people consider putting a bird in a cage to be an unnatural act, tantamount to so-called “maltreatment” (an all too common accusation in my opinion).
The simple reality is that a spacious, well-designed cage is no more “offensive” than a child who has his own room. The human environment is fraught with dangers that birds (particularly parrots) are unaware of, such as the extraordinary variety of poisonous chemicals that can be found under the kitchen sink.
Parrots are especially prone to trouble, as the combination of intelligence, curiosity, and beak strength can be deadly. I often describe parrots as “smart two-year-olds with a can opener glued to their faces.” The danger potential is limitless!
In the same way that cage-trained dogs love their cage, a parrot’s cage should be a happy place that a bird loves. After all, this is your playroom, your dining table, and most importantly, your sanctuary when you don’t want to be bothered by that big, featherless creature you share your home with.
Find the best cage for your parrot here.