Cage safety starts with not just what you put in your bird’s cage, but what you don’t leave behind.
Don’t leave these in the cage …
Food That Can Spoil
A serving of healthy cooked food like quinoa or a bit of sweet potato and/or pieces of fresh produce are great additions to your bird’s diet. However, don’t be tempted to leave cooked foods or produce in the cage all day (or all night, for that matter) thinking that your bird can continue to nosh on them over the course of the day. Bacteria can start to grow in perishable foods in a couple of hours, or sooner during hot weather. Remove perishable food items within a half hour to an hour after serving them to your bird.
A good habit to get into is to offer cooked foods in the morning, and then remove the uneaten portion before you leave home for the day. You can offer homemade goodies again when you return home. During the day, offer your bird a nutritionally balanced base diet, such as Lafeber Pellets, Nutri-Berries or Avi-Cakes, which offer good nutrition yet are fun for your bird to eat, and you don’t have to worry about them spoiling.
A Mess …
Another good habit to have is removing all food, even seed and pellets, at your bird’s bedtime. Leaving food in the cage overnight can attract rodents keen on pilfering bits of your bird’s food. A mouse can slip through gaps as small as a 1/4-inch, which is common bar-spacing size for many small- to medium-sized bird cages, such as those designed for cockatiels and conures.
Signs that you might have a rodent rummaging through your bird’s cage include: night-fright type episodes where your bird thrashes about his cage at night; you notice scattered cage debris below the cage in the morning or see cage liner/newspaper pulled out through the cage bars. Make your bird’s cage less appealing to pests by removing your bird’s food bowls at night, change the cage liner and clean up any leftover food, including seed hulls, at your bird’s bedtime. Another reason to clean the cage bottom at bedtime: Well before you rise and shine for the day, your bird might be up and playing on the floor of his cage, foraging through his droppings and discarded food from the day before.
Dirty Water In The Dish
Water doesn’t have to look dirty to be dirty; water that sits in the water dish for a couple of days can be full of bacteria, which can make your bird sick. Of course, if your bird is inclined to poop or drop/dunk his food in his water bowl, bacteria counts can be significant by the end of the day. Ideally, your bird’s water should be changed twice a day or sooner if your bird is a prolific food dunker/water pooper. Chances are good that your bird wakes up before you do, so don’t let his first drink of the day be a cloudy, debris-filled one. It might be tempting to save water changes for the next day, but it’s much healthier for your bird to do it right away. But don’t forget to change your bird’s water as part of your morning feeding routine.
Accustoming your bird to drinking from a water bottle can help keep his water cleaner and fresher longer (Make sure your bird reliably drinks from the water bottle before removing his water bowls). Using a water bottle, however, doesn’t mean you can skip water changes or cleaning duties. If you use a water bottle, be diligent about changing the water, thoroughly cleaning it, and make sure your bird hasn’t stopped up the bottle’s sipper tube with food or other debris.
A Ragged Toy
Toys, of course, are more than a pet bird accessory — they are a necessity because toys keep birds active and mentally engaged.
Routinely check your bird’s toys for wear and tear. Toys are designed to take a beating/chewing, but this also means that your bird might alter a toy during play, and inadvertently create a hazard. Keep an eye out for frayed ropes or strings, which can wrap around a bird’s leg, toes, or neck. (The rope/strings on some toys can be trimmed down to prevent long strands from wrapping around a bird.) Also check for gaps or sharp pieces that might have been created when your bird chewed off pieces of the toy. Don’t leave a ragged, potentially unsafe toy in the cage, even if it’s your bird’s favorite — replace it with a new one!
Toys designed specifically for pet birds are generally safe; however, some birds are capable of interacting with their toys in ways that the toy’s manufacturer or the bird’s owner never intended. Birds have been known to get caught up in clamps, hooks, ropes, and other toy elements.It is especially important to supervise your bird whenever introducing a new toy to see how he plays with it.
- Remove leftover food
- Change/replace cage liner
- Check door latch and food bowl doors to make sure they are properly secured (so you don’t wake up with your bird loose in the house)
- Cover the cage, or a portion of it, if it makes your bird feel more secure or to keep out nighttime drafts
- Turn night-light on (if your bird is prone to night frights)
- Don’t forget to tell your bird “Goodnight!”