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The Reality Of A Cheap Pet Bird Cage

The wrong pet bird cage could end up costing you and your pet bird.

By Laura Doering

African grey
Get the largest-sized pet bird cage that you can afford for your pet bird.

Bob just got a pet bird. Now Bob needs a pet bird cage. So Bob goes to his local pet store and — whoa! — Bob’s jaw drops. The price tag lists triple digits that are more than what Bob paid for his bird. Bob notices that the smaller pet bird cages are lower in price, so Bob starts thinking, “Well, perhaps I can get away with a smaller cage.” Bob’s eyes zero in on the price tag first, then they zoom out to see what type of pet bird cage the price tag comes with. The prices keep dropping, but what Bob fails to notice is that he’s now looking at what many bird owners would consider a sleep cage or a travel cage.

Stubborn Bob is determined to save on his pet bird cage, so he buys one designed to house a smaller bird species. He sets it up on his corner table and tries to introduce his bird to it. His bird’s body is almost the size of the cage’s opening, so Bob has to bring his bird down, then up and then forward a little just to get his bird through the cage door, and even then the pet bird’s head bumps against the door frame going in.

Getting his pet bird out of the cage isn’t all that easy, either. To the bird, Bob’s hands look massive coming through the small entrance. It takes some more careful maneuvering to get the bird out without hitting the side of the cage. Bob soon discovers that his bird seems to panic whenever he tries to get him out of the cage.

Later that week, Bob notices that a few of the cage bars are pinched together, which creates a larger space between the adjoining ones. Some of the paint is scraped off of the pinched bars, and one even has a sharp point near the bent point.

Bob’s cage just got a lot more expensive because, when his bird goes back to “reconditioning” the cage the following day, its foot is going to get caught on that sharp point on the pinched vertical cage bar, causing a bad gash. Bob now has to take his bird to an emergency vet clinic. The money he is forced to spend on medical treatment could have gone toward purchasing a larger, more species-specific cage. The moral of this fictitious story? Don’t be like Bob. His first mistake was equating the price he paid for his bird with the price the cage should be.

Your pet bird cage is arguably the single most important item you buy your pet bird. It functions as its sanctuary and home; the area where your bird will spend a good deal of its day eating, sleeping, playing and relaxing. No cage is a bargain if it is too small for the bird or if its configuration is not designed to withstand the power of your bird’s beak.


5 Reasons Your Pet Bird Needs A Cage Makeover
1) Broken Door Hinge
If a door in your house precariously dangled from a broken hinge, you probably wouldn’t secure it with zip ties or take it down and put it back up every time you opened it. Surprisingly, some bird owners do just that when a similar problem happens to their pet bird’s cage door. A broken cage hinge has inspired some creative fixes, such as utilizing paper clips, metal binder clips, zip ties and twist ties.

The problem with the aforementioned MacGyver-esq solutions is that they ultimately fail. They either leave just the right amount of space for the bird to get its head, leg or wing caught up in the unnatural fit, or the bird considers these new cage components challenging toys to tinker with. However, there’s no fun in getting your tongue or toe pinched by a metal clamp or pierced by the sharp point of a twisty tie. The moment you start rummaging through your “nuts-and-bolts” drawer for something to keep an important component from following off the pet bird cage is the same moment you should go online or to your local pet retailer to look at cages.

2) Pinched Cage Bars
If the bars on the cage look like Mighty Mouse just escaped, the bars are too flimsy for your bird’s beak. Cages designed for smaller species generally don’t need the same bar strength as those designed to withstand a larger bird’s beak strength. An Amazon housed in a budgie cage, no matter how spacious, can easily “reconfigure” the bars with one clamp of its beak. One pinch too many can cause a bar to break, exposing a sharp point that now poses a puncture risk to your bird.

3) Missing/Broken Debris Guard
Some cages, usually those designed for small birds, come with a hard-plastic shield at the bottom to keep seeds, feathers and other debris contained within the cage. If it becomes chipped, you now have a potential “razor fence.” Again, people have come up with creative, but ultimately failing, quick fixes to this problem by way of wrapping duck tape around the area or replacing the entire plastic strip with cardboard. What budgie, lovebird or cockatiel can resist gnawing on cardboard or the curiously chewy texture of duck tape? Soon your bird has had sufficient contact with the non-vet approved substances in the tape, or it has made the cardboard piece a daily chew project until there is enough space to crawl out of the cage. All this can be circumvented by replacing the guard with a new one. Many manufacturers sell replacement parts for just this reason.

4) Food Cup Malfunctions
Some cages come with food dishes designed to fit designated areas of the cage. They either drop into swing-out doors so the cage can be serviced without sticking your hand in the cage, or they slide/snap into slots cut out in the sides of the cage. If a food cup is broken or lost, some people might be tempted to use a dish not designed to fit into these spots. For example, if you place a dish with hooks on one of these open areas, once your bird learns how to knock the dish down it has an open portal to your living room. Similarly, if you place a dish in a swing-out door that is too small, you leave room for your bird to get its leg or wing caught in the gap. Again, a safe solution is to order replacement dishes from the cage manufacturer.

5) Painting
When I was 10-years old, my brother suggested we give my cockatiel Elvis’ cage a makeover by painting it from white to black — with spray paint! We at least let the cage air outside while Elvis spent the day admiring himself in front of the bathroom mirror. By coincidence, two days later, a friend gave me an extra cage she had, which was larger than Elvis’ cage. I didn’t know enough about bird care back then to notice if Elvis was ill from his stint in a spray-painted cage, but I know enough now that any old paint won’t do. Toxic fumes aside, some paints contain lead, and a bird that uses its beak to climb up and down the cage bars can ingest this lead. Some cage manufacturers can re-paint a cage for you or offer bird-safe paint you can apply yourself for touch ups. A safer way to color! 


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The Reality Of A Cheap Pet Bird Cage

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Reader Comments
I always tell people that unlike cars, there isn't a place to trade in your old bird cage for a nicer one. Buy the best cage to start with.
Charles, Orlando, FL
Posted: 11/17/2011 7:44:09 PM
Great its a coinsidense my birds cage door clipper has just broken
Sandra, Tanots
Posted: 11/17/2011 3:16:11 AM
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