One of the first questions new parrot owners face is what type of cage they should buy for their new addition to the family. It’s going to be their permanent home, after all. A cage is one of the biggest factors in maximizing your bird’s health, safety, and happiness.
Unfortunately, with so many companies advertising cages of different sizes, shapes, and reliability, it can be daunting buying one that is both safe and functional. Hopefully, this article will help all you new owners decide on the best bird cage for your parrot.
Size is Most Important
When deciding on a cage, you need to take the wingspan of your parrot into account. A budgie and an african gray are going to have completely different wingspans, and thus, two different cage sizes. You should ensure that the cage you buy is going to give them ample room to spread out or even fly. Below is a simple guideline you can follow.
- For smaller birds – budgies, lovebirds, and parrotlets, you’ll need an 18″ x 18″ or 24″ x 24″ cage.
- For medium birds – cocktaiels, quakers, and conures, you should give them at least a 32″ x 21″ cage.
- For large birds – african grays, amazons, and small cockatoos, you should buy a 64″ x 32″ cage.
- For X large birds – macaws and large cockatoos, you’ll need at least an 80″ x 40″ cage.
Keep in mind that not all parrots are built equally. Some species have smaller or larger subspecies, like macaws and cockatoos. Even some birds of the same species, like african grays, can be larger or smaller than average.
When in doubt, use this rule: take their wingspan and multiply it by 1.5, the next biggest cage is going to be safe bet. No cage is going to be too big for your feathered baby.
Always Measure Bar Spacing
The worst thing that can happen is you buy a big cage for your small parrot and the bars are spaced so that they can slip right through. Or worse, you have a large parrot who keeps pinching their toes on bars spaced too thin! This is a potential problem that should be avoided.
- For small birds like budgies all the way up to cockatiels, bars should be spaced 1/4″ to 1/2″.
- For medium birds such as conures, lorikeets, african grays, or quakers, 5/8″ to 3/4″ would be ideal.
- For large birds like cockatoos and macaws, provide roughly 1″ or more of bar spacing.
Keep in mind, just like with cages, parrot size can vary in some larger species. Some african grays are bigger or smaller than average, and some species of macaw and cockatoo can be larger or smaller. Having a rough idea on the size of your own bird’s feet will help in determining the best bar spacing.
Sturdier Cages for Stronger Beaks
The last thing you’d want is to buy a cage made from something your big-beaked friend can break right through. Beak strengths can vary wildly between parrot species, and it’s important you don’t waste your time and money on a cage that isn’t going to last a day.
For most birds, an iron, steel, or aluminum cage will work just fine. In fact, for many smaller birds, you can even go for a plastic droppings tray and plastic feeding bowls.
However, for larger birds with powerful beaks, you’re going to want to invest in something that is stainless steel or wrought iron with a metal droppings tray and metal feeding bowls. There should be nothing plastic in a cage for large birds unless that plastic is a toy.
The material isn’t the only thing that needs to be sturdy for larger birds, either. Screws and fastenings should be of high-quality, as many smarter birds can unscrew and unfasten their cage apart. I recommend you buy your own screws from a depot store so you know they’re up to par with your bird’s beak.
Cage doors should also have proper locks on them. For smaller birds, a simple flipping latch will suffice. Bigger birds are another beast entirely, and you’re going to want a proper lock system ensuring they cannot break out. I even recommend you buy a combination lock for birds like cockatoos, as they can easily outwit your basic latches and even key locks.
Shapes and Layouts Matter
I just want to get this out of the way, never buy your bird a round cage or dome cage. Not only are they typically poorly constructed, but the rounded corners are cutting off valuable space where your bird can move and spread out. They can also cause complications in their legs due to the curved structure and cause psychological damage as there is never any reference point for their eyes to focus on (i.e. a corner or roof).
What you need is a nice, square cage with ample horizontal bars for them to use for climbing. Roofing on square cages can typically be any shape and still be fine, so it’s okay if your square cage has a round roof.
An ideal cage layout for a small bird is one that provides some vertical height to compensate for less width and depth, as well as a feeding station that can be easily accessed – typically off the floor of the enclosure. For larger birds, two feeding stations are ideal, as well as either two doors or one very large door.
Speaking of doors, you never want to force your bird to squeeze out of its cage! Having a nice large door will help both you and your bird in the long run.
For bonus points, you can get a cage that provides an out-of-cage play area for your bird. Birds love having an area to play in at that isn’t enclosed in their own home. These often come with their own small feeding station and a perch.
Your Parrots Deserve the Best
In the end, this cage is going to be your bird’s new home, where he is going to eat, sleep, and play. The more money you invest in their first home, the longer it will last and the less stress you put on your bird by swapping cages later. I have cages I bought years ago that I still use for new arrivals, and they still hold up strong!
Even knowing all of this, picking out a cage can still be a battle. If you have questions or need clarification, don’t hesitate to ask in the comment section.