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Preparing for Parakeets

March 10th, 2010

ParakeetsParakeets make beautiful, interesting pets for any bird lover, and are simple to care for. The first step in owning a healthy, happy parakeet is to provide the bird with a safe enclosure to live in.

When selecting a cage for your parakeet, it’s important to consider the metal the cage is made out of. Metals such as zinc and lead should be avoided. Brass tarnishes when it’s wet, and that tarnish is toxic to parakeets, so it shouldn’t be used either. Stainless steel is a safe choice for parakeets. The dimensions of your cage should allow for your parakeet to completely stretch out and fly as well. Horizontal width is what’s important, because that’s how parakeets fly.

Height doesn’t really matter, and circular cages are not recommended. Horizontal bars on the cage you select will also be beneficial, because parakeets love to climb on them. The space between the bars should be very small, you don’t want your parakeet getting their head stuck, or crawling through completely. It's important to remember that a parakeet is smaller than it looks because of the puffy feathers all over its body. Parakeets thrive off of stimulation and are best kept in a room with a lot of activity. They shouldn’t be kept in direct sunlight or by drafty windows.

The first items you’ll need to put in your cage are perches. Perches with a sandy coating are not recommended for parakeets because they can cause open sores to form on your parakeet’s feet. Multiple perches should be placed at various heights throughout the cage. You’ll also need at least one food bowl for every parakeet that will be in the cage. Even if you have only one parakeet, having two fold bowls is a good idea. Food and water dishes should be covered and attach to the side of the cage. A cuttlebone should also be attached somewhere near a perch. Cuttlebones provide calcium which is vital to beak health.

Toys are very important for parakeets because they provide mental stimulation. Your cage should have a variety of toys in different places. Don’t feel restricted to only parakeet toys - toys designed for birds like parrots can also be enjoyed by parakeets. Parakeets will enjoy toys with mirrors, bells, things that spin, ladders, and soft wood they can chew on. Also, keep in mind the fact that your parakeet with inevitably destroy all the toys you put in the cage, that’s simply how they play and you’ll need to replace toys periodically. Toys with long strings, or things that have the potential to become long strings if frayed should not be given to parakeets. They’ll try to eat the strings and choke. Rotating different toys in and out of the cage will provide your parakeet with added stimulation.

The bottom of your cage should be covered with something such  as newspaper. Soft bedding is not an option because it allows for fungal growth, and is bad for parakeets if they ingest it. You’ll need to change the paper on the bottom of your cage once a week to maintain a healthy and clean cage for your parakeet. Keep in mind that your parakeet will love to shred the paper in the bottom of the cage, and toss seeds out everywhere. Make sure the area around the cage is easily cleaned as well.