Housing for Pet Birds
Housing requirements will depend on the size and the species of bird(s) kept and on whether the birds remain in their enclosure or are allowed to free fly. At a minimum, for all birds, the shortest side of the cage should be at least twice the wing span of the largest bird being kept in the cage to allow them to stretch their wings freely. For birds housed continually in the cage this should be larger.
The Victorian Department of the Environment and Primary Industry publishes a Code of Practice for the Housing of Caged Birds which provides advice and sets out minimal legal requirements for housing pet birds in Victoria. See http://www.depi.vic.gov.au/pets/other-pets/birds/code-of-practice-for-the-housing-of-caged-birds . This article expands on those requirements to help you provide optimal care for pet birds with avian veterinary treatments.
Melbourne-bird-vet suggests Cages should be made of strong, impervious material that can be thoroughly washed and sterilised. No lead or Zinc . The interior of the cage should be free from any sharp points or edges and any dangerous obstruction. They should be placed in an area with good ventilation in a active of the house. Ideally one or two sides of the cage should be against a wall or a corner of the cage covered with fabric (Bird Vet Melbourne sell bird products like the “cozy corner’ to give the bird a spot to retreat if desired. If space is limited a rectangular cage is preferable to a circular or a square cage so that the bird(s) will have a longer flight path in one direction. Birds generally fly horizontally, they are not helicopters! Length and breath of the cage are more important than height: tall narrow cages are less suitable.
Metallic parts – Stainless steel is ideal but expensive. Parts made of galvanised iron can be problematic, especially if new as zinc from the galvanisation process can be toxic to birds if chewed. Thoroughly scrubbing newly galvanised aviary wire with a weak acidic solution such as vinegar and/or allowing it to weather will reduce the risk of toxicity. Chrome or power coated wire is generally okay but, depending on the manufacturing process, zinc or lead content of wire itself can also be too high and pose a risk of heavy metal toxicity. At our practice we see metal toxicity often.
Floors should be kept clean. A removable tray lined with newspaper that is changed at least weekly is ideal. Newsprint is not toxic to birds and can provide enrichment for birds that like to chew or burrow in it. The avian vets at our clinic all prefer newspaper to sand or grit as birds eat sand and grit and this is not healthy where these are heavily contaminated with droppings.
Perches of varying diameters should be provided so that your birds’ feet are not constantly being held in the same position. NO DOWEL PERCHES ! Natural branches are excellent. Australian natives, specifically eucalyptus, wattle and bottle brush are perfect and non-toxic. Pine is also fine. Some exotic garden plants can be toxic and should be avoided, it is safest just to stick with Australian natives and pine. Perches should not be placed over food or water dishes and should not unduly impede lines of flight. It is not a problem if your bird chews through wooden perches, it provides enrichment and keeps their beak in good order. Replace perches whenever required. Melbourne Bird Vet sell perfect perches for your pet bird.
Toys should be suitable for the species of bird and are important for enrichment but they should not be allowed to clutter the cage or impede lines of flight. Birds hate change and love the familiarity of toys in the same location always Speak with our Avian Nurses about toys that we stock for your bird. Individual birds often have strong preferences for particular toys. Our Bird clinic has a great selection of parrot toys on sale.