Beginner's guide to choosing a budgerigar cage
By Elizabeth Wright
Most modern bird cages available for sale come in varying shapes and patterns, are well made from easy-clean chrome and plastic materials and designed with the birds’ comfort in mind.
For a happy pet it is best to buy the biggest one your pocket can afford. But we are talking here about a large cage, not a min-aviary. To have fun with your pet, the bird needs to be within reaching distance of your hand when you open the cage door, otherwise training reaches stalemate.
For a single bird the minimum cage length should be 18” (46cm). As a budgerigar’s natural movement pattern is to jump to and fro, a rectangular cage is preferable to a round one. Because budgies are also great climbers, horizontal wires are more suitable than vertical ones.I personally prefer wooden perches rather than the plastic rods that are often provided. Wood is a natural material; better still, add some washed, unsprayed apple or pear tree branches. The varying sizes gives the birds’ feet useful exercise, avoids foot sores and the twigs double up as much enjoyed nibble sticks, keep beaks in good condition and alleviate boredom.
Don’t place one perch directly over another, otherwise a bird sitting on the top one can soil those below. Many modern Budgie cages are now fitted with outside feeders where birds have to put their heads through a hole in the wire to feed and drink. Unless these fit perfectly, or, your pet is a nervous youngster, it is best, in the first instance, to put extra feeders inside. You can buy tubular feeders that hang on the outside of the cage, but if you have plumped for horizontal wires, check that these feeders have ‘universal’ clips. Special bird grit should be offered in a small, separate dish, this is essential for the bird’s digestive system.
Unless you are going to breed with your birds at a later date, wooden box cages may not be the best choice. Budgies like to see all around, be part of the family. Also avoid the attractive, but entirely unpractical, oriental style round bamboo cages. Not only are they, in most instances too small and unhygienic, a budgie can easily chew its way out, as well as the bamboo spars can make excellent hiding places for parasites, such as red mite.
Location is important. It should be where the bird gets plenty of daylight, but out of the way of draughts. A window-sill is not ideal, nor should the cage be hung up too high as hot stale air rises.