Setting Up Your Parakeet’s Home
There are many things to take into consideration before you bring your parakeet home. It is a good idea to bird proof the area of your home where your parakeet will be located. Check for poisonous plants and dangerous areas such as open water sources, fireplaces, stoves, floor furnaces, etc.
The minimum cage size for a single parakeet is 18 inches across by 12 inches wide by 12 inches high. Make sure there is enough room in the cage for your parakeet to stretch his wings. There must also be enough room for his food dishes, a couple of toys, and at least two perches of different size. The bars of the cage must be close enough that the bird can’t get his head through them. Not only should there be vertical bars on the cage, but also horizontal bars so the bird can climb around. Parakeets love to climb.
Try to find a cage that has a door that swings open (and stays securely shut). Avoid the “guillotine” style doors that drop down.
Make sure the cage has easy access to the base for cleaning and easy access to the area where the food dishes are kept. Make sure the cage is not coated in some type of plastic. Parakeets can work on the plastic until it comes off and then they try to eat it.
If you plan on having more than one parakeet, you must buy a cage suitable in size. You might also want to have a spot where you can attach a breeding box. There are many types of indoor aviaries that are perfect for one, two, or more birds. They come in all shapes and sizes. There are even some wood cabinets with glass fronts that are beautiful furniture as well as great aviaries.
Decorative cages are just that – decorative. They aren’t intended to house birds, so make sure you get a cage that is actually meant to be a bird’s home.
Your parakeet will benefit from being close to the family. Place your cage in an area where the bird can be part of the family but not directly in the path of your family’s comings and goings.
Parakeets love their cages to be close to windows – but not in direct sunlight. If you do place your bird’s cage near a window, make sure he has a place to get out of the sun if he needs to cool off. If you see your parakeet panting or holding his wings away from his body, he may be overheating. Move him out of the sunlight immediately and try misting him with a spray bottle of water.
You may also want to consider what the kind of floor you have under your parakeet’s cage. Parakeets (and all birds, for that matter) can be very messy and tile or linoleum floors are much easier to clean up than carpet.
Never place your parakeet’s cage in the kitchen area. Some non- stick pots and pans give off toxic fumes that can kill a bird. The fumes are very minute and not a problem for humans but can be deadly for birds.
You should also be careful about putting a cage high up on a shelf near the ceiling. Remember from high school science class that hot air rises? It can be several degrees hotter near the ceiling, even if you’re nice and comfortable down below.
Cage Floor Bedding
There are many different types of cage floor covering you can use. Bedding materials that can be easily changed are best such as pine or cedar shavings. You can also use regular newspaper. Be sure to only use the black and white print only. Color print such as the comic section contains dyes that are toxic to birds. If you have a light colored bird, you might want to skip the newspaper bedding as the ink can stain the bird’s feathers.
If you’re going to use newspaper you may want to consider cutting a month’s worth of paper at a time. That makes cleaning the cage quick an easy.
Cleaning the Cage
You will need to change the bedding at least twice a week if not every day. Immediately clean up any spilled water or wet food as it can quickly mold. Every other week you should remove the cage floor and clean thoroughly, rinse, and dry before replacing.
Covering the Cage at Night
Some people prefer not to use a cage cover at night although most birds appreciate them. If your home is quiet in the evening, your bird may not need a cover. However, if you have an active household that has a hard time calming down at night, a cage cover will be a necessity for your bird. It will help calm them and provide them with the privacy and security they need to relax and go to sleep.
Believe it or not, perches can be very important to keeping your bird healthy (mainly their feet). Try to buy a perch that has different widths, materials and textures. The variety helps your parakeet keep his feet in good shape.
Natural perches are great because they give your parakeet something to chew on. Just make sure you choose a wood that is non- toxic.
Some good choices are oak, maple, grapevine, eucalyptus, willow, apple, and citrus. If you use oak, make sure you remove any acorns or foliage as they can be harmful to your parakeet.
Indoor birds need the benefit of the sun. They get certain vitamins from the sunlight. It is a good idea to put a full spectrum light on your bird’s cage. Use a timer for convenience.
You will want to place your parakeets feeding dishes next to a perch and slightly higher than the perch so the bird will not have to reach down to get to the food. Do not place the dishes on the floor. Parakeets do not like to eat on the bottom of their cage. Stainless steel feeding dishes are easy to clean and sterilize. Make sure you don’t place their food or water dishes beneath a perch where they may accidentally be used as a toilet!
There are many things that you can place in your bird’s cage, but don’t clutter the cage with too many toys. One or two at a time is enough. To make sure your parakeet doesn’t get bored, rotate his toys every few days or so. Some toys you might want to consider are a mirror, swing, and ladder. You might also want to place a tree branch in the cage for your parakeet to climb or perch on. Just make sure it is not a plant that is poisonous to your bird.
If you’re looking for good toys for your parakeet, look for bright colors, moving parts, chewable wood or leather. In general, try to buy toys that were made for parakeets. Try to avoid large toys. They can frighten small birds.
Unbreakable mirrors are always a favorite. It encourages your parakeet to talk and whistle to his new friend!
A cuttlebone is an important part of your parakeet’s cage. It’s a source of calcium to him. Parakeets need calcium for strong bones and egg shells. Mineral blocks can also be used in place of cuttlebones as a calcium source.
It’s no longer a good idea to give your parakeet grit to aid in digestion. Recent research has determined that they don’t need it.
If you’re going to leave the bird alone for a long time you may want to try to leave on the radio while you’re away. In the wild, silence can mean that a predator is nearby. The background noise can lower your parakeet’s stress level.
Making Your Home Parakeet Safe
There are many things to consider before you bring your parakeet home and one very big consideration is how to make your home parakeet safe. Cage placement is very important. Never place your parakeets cage in the kitchen area.
Another consideration is whether or not you will allow your parakeet free flight. Clipping his wings will give you a little extra dose of safety in this area. Before allowing your bird out of his cage, make sure all open water sources such as toilets, sinks, and buckets are closed off.
There are many harmful substances and plants in and around the home that you will want to keep your bird away from. Some of those harmful elements are listed below.
There are many harmful substances that can be found in your home. Before bringing your parakeet home, make a sweep of your house and remove everything that could be toxic to your bird if it is at all possible. Harmful substances include but are not limited to:
- Non- stick cookware - A tremendous source of toxic fumes that are lethal to birds. Never place your bird’s cage in or near the kitchen area for this reason.
- Self- cleaning ovens
- Leaking gas
- Aerosol sprays
- Pine scented cleaners – Do not use these around your bird and do not use them to clean their cage or feeding dishes. In fact, most household cleaners are not safe to use around your parakeet’s cage.
- Nail polish remover
- Air and carpet fresheners
- Formaldehyde – Can be found in new carpets and other remodeling elements.
- Glade scented candles
- Lead or zinc
- Direct sunlight – If you place your bird near a window, be sure he has a spot to get out of the sun.
- Halogen lamps – Make sure any halogen lamps in your home have been turned off and allowed to cool before your parakeet takes a flight around the room. They can get so hot that little bird feet will burn if used for a perch.
- Human medications
- Ceiling fans
There are a lot of plants that can be harmful to your parakeet. It’s a big list, but I think it’s important for you to know.
- Agaric Mushroom
- Amaryllis bulbs
- American Yew Apple (seeds)
- Apricot (pits and bark)
- Autumn Crocus
- Azalea Balsam
- Baneberry root
- Bird of Paradise
- Black Locust
- Bleeding Heart
- Blue Flag
- Blue- green Algae
- Bracken Fern
- Broomcorn Grass
- Calla Lily
- Candelabra Tree
- Cardinal Flower
- Castor Bean
- Chalice Vine
- Cherry (leaves, twigs, seeds, pits)
- Chinaberry Tree
- Christmas Candle
- Crown of Thorns
- Deadly Amanita
- Death Camas
- Dumb Cane
- Elephants Ear
- English Ivy
- English Yew False
- Glory Bean
- Ground Cherry
- Henbane Fly
- Indian Licorice
- Indian Turnip
- Jack- in- Pulpit
- Java Bean
- Lily of the Valley
- Lima bean
- Locoweed Lords
- Mango Tree – (wood, leaves, rind - the fruit is safe)
- Marsh Marigold
- Mescal Beans
- Mock Orange
- Morning Glory
- Mountain Laurel
- Oak (foliage, acorns) – the branches are OK for perches
- Peach (leaves, twigs, seeds)
- Pear seeds
- Pencil Tree
- Pine (needles, twigs, sap)
- Poison Ivy
- Poison Oak
- Potato (eyes, new shoots)
- Red Maple
- Rosary Peas
- Sandbox Tree
- Skunk Cabbage
- Spindle Tree
- Sweet Pea – seeds
- Tomato All green parts
- Virginia Bower Coral
- Virginia Creeper
- Water Hemlock
- Western Yew