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BUDGIES CAGE

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WHAT CAGE IS BEST FOR BUDGIES?

I could simply answer: the bigger the better. But instead of making it easier for you, I'd actually make it even harder. So let's talk about what matters when it comes to picking a right cage for your bird.

What you need to consider before buying a cage for your budgie is:

  • how many budgies you have

  • and therefore - size of a cage

  • shape of a cage

  • the way it's built

  • whether your budgie is going to be kept in a cage all the time, or is it going to spend some (or all) the time flying around and only sleep and eat in a cage

  • the features it has 

And when you pick a cage, you need to think of all crucial, recommended and optional accessories you'll need.

Let's assume you need an indoor cage (outdoor cages and aviaries are a bit different story)

How many birds are going to have (or already have)? It matters because the more budgies you have, the bigger 'house' they need.

So the minimum size of a cage should be:

  • 1 budgie - 18x18x18 inches (46x46x46 cm)

  • 2 budgies - 30x18x18 inches (77x46x46 cm)

  • 3 budgies - 32x18x20 inches (82x46x51 cm), but having 3 budgies is generally not recommended, as they're likely to be left out by a better bonded couple; so if you plan more than 2, get 4 straight away

Remember - the longest measurement is length of your cage. Then it's depth, then height. 

And take a note of a bars spacing. Some cages are suitable for larger birds, but not for budgies. For small birds like budgies - bars spacing should be 0.47-0.60 inch (1.2-1.5 cm)

What should it be made of? Standard cages, available to buy in most pet shops are normally nickel-plated metals and that's safe to use around budgies. Steel and wrought iron tend to rust easily, making them risky metals. Chrome can contain zinc, making it potentially poisonous—it is also best to avoid brass and copper.

Now - we've said the bigger cage the better, however if you plan to let your budgie fly free and get her to a cage only for night time - size is not as important. (Saying 'not important' I don't mean it's ok to get your budgie a tiny cage; it's just not as crucial as if it was if you kept your bird inside all the time)

Next - to the shape of a cage. There is plenty of cages, all different shapes and sizes and it's important to remember that it's all about your budgie, not you, when it comes to making a choice. In that case - the simpler a cage is the better. Rectangle shape works out best. Below are some examples of the cage shapes that are more or less suitable for your budgies and explanation why I think they're right or not for budgies.

 

This is what may happen if bar spacing is too wide. I mentioned before, it should be 1.2-1.5 cm for budgies. Some cages have bars spaced wider and they're suitable for cockatiels or larger birds, but not for budgies or finches. A bird can get stuck and injured.

budgie stuck between cage bars
 

Below (cage with brown base) - Simple looking cage. Longer than taller. The reason a budgie cage should be longer/wider than taller is based on a fact that budgies fly horizontally, not vertically. Also - look at the bars on the front and back side of a cage. They also go horizontally, not vertically. And that's good, because budgies are climbers; they love climb up and down, like they do in the wild. Some cages have vertical bars and that doesn't allow your bird to climb, so it's quite important to look for a cage with that (horizontal) bars. Also - in case of this particular cage - its base is quite deep which means less hoovering for us, because budgies tend to be messy eaters. The other good thing is that the base comes with a tray, which makes it easier to clean.

cage for a budgie
 

Now - take a look at the bars in those two cages below. The cage on top (grey base) has horizontal bars on the front and back side. The cage on the bottom (white base) has vertical bars. The other thing is - perches. Your cage may come with perches, or you may prefer getting a cage without them and put in some perches later (we'll talk about perches later). Look at the way the perches are installed in the cages below. The cage on top has perches going from the back side of a cage towards the front. That way a bird can fly across, horizontally, between one side of a cage and an other. And now look at the cage at the bottom. The cage is long, the perches are long so it seems it's great for a bird, but in fact - a budgie can only move sideways, or jump up and down between perches. Ok, it can fly diagonally, but it would be much better if the perches went front the front side to the back. That way a bird can fly further, for longer, rather than jump up and down between perches. Sometimes I think people put in perches the wrong way unintentionally, because they feel their budgie should be facing the front of a cage (hope you know what I mean). And they don't realise perches are meant to help birds to be birds, not us to have a better view of them.

cage for a budgie
 

Below (cage with a brown base) - an example of good shape cage. Perches going from the front to the back, flat top, which is useful if you let your budgies out; they like landing on top of a cage, so it's easier for them to land or walk on the flat shaped 'roof'. You can also put a bird bath tub on top or a dish with some snacks. What I don't like about that cage is that doesn't have a tray at the bottom, so in order to clean it - you need to unclip the wired part from the base (and I lost one of my birds that way, because she took a chance and flew out whilst I was lifting up the cage).

budgie cage
 

Below - budgies on top of a cage having a snack (thanks to a flat top, they can sit comfortably)

flat top of budgie cage
 

Unlike the last cage, this one (blue base) does not have flat top, which doesn't enable you to put anything on it, let alone enable a bird to land or sit on it comfortably. Also, it's only taking space inside, which cannot be used by your budgie. Some people may find this shape appealing, but is it practical?

budgie cage
 

This cage (white base) is very tall for sure, which may make us think it's large and good for our birds. In fact - it's not suitable for birds like budgies. "Budgies are planes, not helicopters" - I'll put it that way. If you watch your budgie for a while, you'll see it flies horizontally, like said before. Tall cage doesn't help a budgie cover a long distance; it seems large, but doesn't really support the main thing birds do - flying. There is another reason this type of cage is not the best choice. Budgies tend to choose perches situated as high as possible. It makes them feel safe, less vulnerable to potential predators. If you ever let your budgie out (or even when you watch birds outside sometimes), you can notice they always pick places up high. Very rarely birds choose to be on the bottom of a tree, a bush, and also in a cage. So if they have a choice - they'll choose a perch up high. And that means - most probably - the bottom half of a cage is not going to be used (unless they get active and start to move around or have their feeders situated on the bottom). Your budgies will spend most of the time on the highest perch and all the idea of tall cage stops making sense.

budgie cage
 

A little note about the tip below. You may have noticed I wasn't recommending the long cage a minute ago (the one on the left below), so why am I saying it's ok now? Last time I used that kind of cage only to show you wrong setting of perches and vertical bars. The tip below refers to the shape of a cage only.

budgie cage
 

Round cage. Some people may find it cute or fashionable, as it doesn't look as sturdy and serious like 'boring', rectangle-shaped cages, but from a bird's point of view - it's not a good choice and I'll tell you why. If you've ever owned a budgie, you can perhaps remember what your bird did when got scared (and I don't mean flying around a cage like crazy). Your bird tried to hide in a corner, the furthest corner in a cage, right? How would it be supposed to hide in a corner in a cage like this? That's not the end. Budgies like climbing and their feet/claws may get stuck when a bird get to the very top, where the bars gather together. Also - it's always good to put a cage against the wall, so your budgie gets a 'feeling' of a front and back of a cage and when needs some privacy, or gets scared can hide on the back. In a round cage - there is no front and back and that's not good to your bird's mental health. An angular cage provides your budgie with reference points to different locations in their territory — thus helping them feel secure. One more reason why round cages are not great - most feeders are made to fit angular cage, bars going straight, so they may not fit in a round cage.

budgie cage
 

This is, in my opinion, another cage created with a human, not a bird in mind. It's modern, it's fashionable, it's cool. But is it practical and considers your birds' needs and preferences? For the same reasons as the round cage before, I don't think it's really suitable for budgies. No corners, no sense of back and front. Nowhere to hide, (not to mention vertical bars that a bird cannot climb up). It has a purely decorative function.

budgie cage
 

And lastly, my favourite type. Simple and classic. Deep base with a tray, horizontal bars on the front and back, flat top, longer than taller. The only disadvantage I see is the feeders mounted outside. Made to help us top up budgies food without disturbing birds, but it's a matter of time for a budgie to figure out how to lift the flap and escape (it happened to us more than once. I secured the flaps with a rubber band so it can't be lifted.)

budgie cage
 

Now - to the perches. They come in different shapes and sizes, are made of different materials, but although pet stores sell them, not all of them are good for budgies (and birds in general). You don’t look at what’s pretty, but what’s functional and keeps your budgie’s tiny feet healthy. Sanded, plastic, smooth round, metal perches are bad for birds feet. Plastic ones, although often included in your cage set when you purchase it, are not good, as they lead to deteriorating the condition of the feet of your budgies. Sand perches can be quite harmful to your bird too, because of their scratchy surface (it's a misleading  myth budgies need sand). Natural, untreated wood (ideally with bark) is best. It feels natural under budgies feet and doesn't cause blisters thanks to rough and irregular shape and texture. You can also use rope perches, but make sure to replace them when/if they get damaged. You can make perches yourself, with twigs and thin branches, but make sure you use wood that is safe/non toxic for budgies. And that includes:

  • birch,

  • willow, 

  • bamboo,

  • elm,

  • apple, 

  • hazelnut,

  • walnut,

  • dogwood,

  • lilac,

  • magnolia,

  • aspen,

  • cottonwood,

  • poplar,

  • balsa, 

  • guava,

  • eucalyptus

  • palm,

  • pecan

If you have access to some other wood, not listed above, please do your research to find out if it's safe for budgies. 

perches
 

Do not overcrowd a cage with perches though. Two perches is a minimum, so the birds can fly across; make sure you place them at the furthest ends of a cage.

Line a cage with a kitchen towel (easy to clean and replace) or a newspaper and change them every other day. Budgies don't need sand sheets; paper lining is absolutely fine. Sand sheets are useful for other birds that need to grind sand, but that doesn't include budgies. (Birds eating whole seeds need to grind sand or grit which helps hem digest seeds. Budgies don't eat husk, so they don't need grit or sand)

Bird feeders and drinkers

There are, of course, many different types available on the market, but some are better than others. 

Feeders should be accessible for budgies, easy to use and clean. 

The picture below shows 4 types. Top two are perfect for birds. Easy to mount inside a cage, hygienic, easy to clean (regular cleaning prevents from mould  and dirt building up and therefore sicknesses). Budgie get easy access to seeds. Feeders like these are simple, seeds don’t get stuck in the way and birds can easily reach seeds that are underneath the husks. They can be used for both - water and seeds. Two other feeders on the bottom of the picture below are not the best choice. As we said before - budgies eat seeds without husks, so they build up in the bottom of such feeder and a bird can’t reach fresh seeds. Same type feeders are very often used as drinkers, but the problem is, the small bottom part is not the easiest to clean. Mould builds up and contaminates water. It’s much safer to use an open container as a drinker. 

 
good and bad budgie feeders
 

One more thing. Budgies are foragers - in the wild they feed on or near the ground. If you have budgies, you may have noticed, they eat off the cage floor very often. It’s natural for budgies and the good idea is, instead of using a classic bird feeder, you can put a shallow dish with seeds on the cage floor. Budgies will be happy because that’s how they feed in the wild and you’ll be happy because there will be less hoovering around the cage. Win-win.

budgies eating off the ground
 

Toys. Toys should be, first of all - safe. Make sure your budgie's toys are made of non-toxic material, are not coated with toxic paint and there are no hazardous elements your budgie's feet/claws/beaks/heads can get stuck in. Don't overcrowd a cage with toys though - your birds still need to be able to fly. 
(below - an example of a cage with toys)

budgie cage
 

Mirror in a budgie's cage. It seems to be a controversial subject amongst budgie owners. Some say their birds 'love' their mirrors, some say they won't put one in a cage, because it's bad for budgies.
Well, according to birds behaviourists - a mirror may have bad consequences for a budgie's mental health. A bird does not know there is its own reflection in a mirror - it 'thinks' it's another bird. So it can either take it a threat, if it's a very territorial type, or it may want to befriend a bird from the mirror. Birds that are bonded with other birds - feed them, preen each other, follow each other around a cage and have their little 'chats'. Obviously your budgie cannot do those things with a birds in the mirror and doesn't understand why. Birds love to socialise with other birds, do things together and some behavioural patterns are in their genes. When a bird in a mirror doesn't respond as it's supposed to (doesn't reciprocate feeding, preening, following your bird), your budgie gets confused. If you ever had mirror in your budgie's cage, you may have seen your bird spending most of its time by the mirror, right? That's because he wants to be close to his friend, but his friend doesn't move from the spot. It's better to give your budgie a real friend and not mess up his mental health.

mirror in a budgie's cage