Written completely and solely by softie AKA Aaralyn, who has recently gone inactive on Talk Budgies I know she would not mind a repost of her fabulous sticky! It pertains mostly to budgies but it is similar. I had to remove a lot of the pictures since the max of TP is 25, and i believe hers had 35. So some pictures are missing.
So here is her genius!
Having a great budgie's cage all starts with having the right and proper size. Cages that are too small or with wrong bar spacing measurements will definitely interfere with having a great cage, and with prices going down and cages all over classifieds, it's not hard to obtain a great sized cage. You can check out Cage Sizes to view what measurements work for you and your budgies. Remember, "the bigger the better!" (with right bar spacings )
Also remember that certain types of cages do matter. When choosing a cage, do look for those that are wider than taller. Another great alternative is a "square" cage, where the height and width measurements are similar. Also, having a cage that is slightly taller than wider is fine too. The only types of cages that you do want to avoid are cages that are much more in height than very shortwidth.
The reason behind this is because budgies generally like to spend the majority of their time on the higher parts of their cage. Having a cage that is vertically bigger will not have the advantage as the higher parts is shortened by the minimzed width of the cage. Having a cage that is substantial in width will allow budgies to move more freely, back and forth from one side of the cage to the other.
The Perches and Perch Alternatives
Having a variety of perches is always the best way to go. They are no longer just long straight wooden rods. Perches now come in all shapes, sizes, textures, materials, and colors, so there are endless possibilities and options.
Budgies are on their feet all day and all night long (literally!) so it is important to keep their feet stimulated. Having a variety of different perches will exercise their feet and increase flexibility in their toes.
Although a variety of sizes so come in handy, do keep in mind that only a certain range of sizes should be placed in your budgie's cage. The perch should not be so thick that your budgies feet look flat on them. The perch should also not be so thin that your budgie's nail curls under each other, with the exception of the multiple branch perch. (I'll explain that a little later). Having too thick or too thin perches may interfere with the budgie's balance.
Here are a few perches that are easy to find anywhere. They are inexpensive and long lasting, multi-purpose, and provides great stimulation for the budgies.
Natural wood perch - Natural wood perches are one of the most popular perches preferred by bird owners. With it's rough texture and natural look, they are very inexpensive and long lasting.
Multiple branch perch - This perch is the exception to the "too thin perches" rule. Because this perch are several perches combined, some branch pieces will be too thin. However, the perch overall is a great size and budgies do love to hop from branch to branch.
Twisty branch perch - These wooden perches stimulate the budgie's feet to a maximum. With hooks and twists and curves, it is sure to keep the budgie's leg muscles working.
Grooming perch - Not only are these perches great for variety in a budgie's cage, they are also groomers. The rough texture will help keep the budgie's nails and beaks trimmed. Cement perches are also as beneficial.
Rope perch - Rope perches are like slippers on a budgie's feet. The soft cotton is a must from all of the other wooden and sandy perches. Rope perches come in all different sizes and lengths and are machine-washable. Mold them into any shape you like: straight, curved, circular, or even zig-zagged! (Do watch out for any stray strings that may have come loose. Rope perches usually do not have these stray strings unless they were improperly manufactured or if the rope is rather old.)
Calcium/Mineral perch - These perches are both beneficial to the feet, as well as their health. These perches are edible, providing calcium and mineral as the budgies chow down.
Cactus perch - The cactus perch is irrestible to budgies, as very appealing to our eyes as well.
There are different types of budgie decor that act as perches as well, such as ladders and swings.
These are just some perches and perch alternatives. Remember that variety is key!
Placing the perches in the cage is also important. Try to place them in different corners, different angles, and create a jungle gym with them! Do keep the grooming perches lower on the cage, or right in front of any feeders and cups. Grooming perches should not be kept too high in the cage since budgies do like to their time on the higher parts. Long periods of time on a grooming perch can irritate the budgie's feet, and can also create "Bumble foot" which is a disease where sores begin to develop underneath their toes.
Grooming perches are excellent perch options, but sand covers can be dangerous to our budgie's feet. These perch covers are rough on their feet and can cause irritation and sores. These sand particles attached to the covers can easily come off, especially if the budgie is gnawing on them. Even the smallest particles can cause impaction to the budgie if ingested.
Toys, Toys, Toys!
Like children, budgies are fanatic toy lovers. Toys provide physical and mental stimulation and exercise. They brighten up the cage and keep the energy going. There are so many different types of toys that you will find, and it is important to mix and match your toys every one or two weeks with both old and brand new toys. Do remember that toys that haven't been in the cage in a while can be considered "new" to a budgie. Rotating toys will help save you money, and will prevent any budgie boredom.
Some toy categories that you should invest in are:
Preening/String toys - Preening toys are a must for all birds. These strings will entice budgies to chew on them and preen them as they would their own feathers. This will help prevent any feather plucking or over-preening situations.
Noise making toys - Budgies can never have enough bells. Most toys do come with a bell attached to the bottom of a toy. Bells create sound that budgie do enjoy, and will often play with the toy to make that sound. Other materials are often added to the toy to create different sounds.
Acrylic toys - Acrylic toys are extremely long-lasting and come in all fun shapes and sizes.
Shreddable/Ka-bob toys - These shreddable wood toys are a hit with budgies. Do prepare to buy more, as they may be gone in a few days!
Wooden toys - These all-natural wooden toys create hours of beak exercise.
Straw/Woven toys - Like shreddable wood toys, these straw and woven toys are shreddable as well. Their crunchy texture is a favorite to all birds.
Stick toys - Thin popsicle and wooden sticks are easy to break apart!
Some toys are a combo-toy, having more than one element in a single toy.
Other toys are the mind-stimulating maze and knot toys, leather rope toys for chewing pleasure, and foot toys.
Like perches, toys should also be size appropriate. You wouldn't want a little budgie trying to play with a macaw toy!
Food and Water Cups
Food and water cups come in variety as well. Some food and water cups that are provided with the cage are not as great as they can be. There are separately sold stainless steel, acrylic, crock-lock and plastic cups that are very handy.
Stainless steal cups rinse and wash easily, making clean up a breeze.
These crock-lock cups stay sturdy, but the cups easily remove for as wash.
This crock-lock cup doubles as a water cup as well as a bird bath.
Plastic cups come in large and small sizes and hangs over any horizontal bar on the cage.
There should be at least 3 separate cups in each cage.
1. Staple diet/Seed mix cup
2. Pellet cup (pellets only)
3. Water cup.
Another cup can be added to the list, which stores veggies!
Budgies cups (both food and water) should be washed daily, just like our plates and dishes. The exception to this are the seed and pellet cups, as they usually do not get dirty very fast. Do remove debris from the food cups daily to keep the cup clean. If the cup has been soiled, do wash and clean it right away. In average, the water cup should be washed daily, and the food cups should be washed weekly/bi-weekly to prevent further bacterial growth.
Veggie cups should be washed frequently throughout the day, as plants do create bacteria.
Cuttlebones and Mineral Stones
Budgies do need extra calcium and mineral supplements in their diet, which is why every cage should provide a cuttlebone (for calcium) and a mineral stone. Chewing and gnawing at these stones will also help file and trim their beaks.
Cage Grates and Bedding
The bottom of your cage plays the most important role when it comes to budgie housing, as well as budgie health.
Grates should be a part of every cage, unless it is advised to remove the grate due to medical conditions. The grate is what separates your budgie from the majority of his droppings, left-over food, and other bacteria and fungus playgrounds. The grate should be scrubbed thoroughly weekly as dropping do tend to build up on them. Do wash them more often if your budgies do like to spend time and forage on the bottom of the cage.
There are many different options when it comes to bird bedding. However, this is one material that is guaranteed to work, easy to spread, fast when cleaning up, and it costs almost nothing: newspaper. Newspapers are absorbant, sturdy and very easy to clean up, which is why it is one of the top preferred budgie bedding. Do remember to use only black and white newspapers, as colored ink can be harmful to budgies (only if your budgies do like to chew on the newspaper).
Not only does the bedding capture droppings and other wastes, it can also help determine your budgie's health. The colorless pages of a newspaper makes any abnormal droppings stand out, as well as color in the droppings. Observing your budgie's droppings is important to knowing the condition your budgie's health, which is why it more than enough reason to change your budgie's bedding everyday.
Frequent changing will help prevent bacterial and fungal growth (as well as odor), keeping your budgie healthier and happier.
Another great option for bedding is commerical brand liners.
Some budgie bedding's should be avoided, such as corn cob bedding, wheat litter, and other grainy/cotton-based substrates. These beddings create bacterial growth and the substrate makes it hard for droppings to stay in place, therefor, observing the droppings is more difficult.
Other Cage Accessories
Stands - Some of the cheaper cages do not come with a stand. Cages can be placed on any secure, spacious and flat surface, but stands are sold separately.
Seed guards/Cage Aprons- These seed guards are covers that go around the lower half of the cage. This can reduce any seeds and feathers from shooting out the cage, but it does not completely eliminate a messy floor.
Millet holders - It's great to spoil your budgies with an occasional treat. Keep millet off the dirty grate and in holders for clean and easy munching.
Secure locks - Some budgies are escape artists and there have been stories of budgies opening up their own cage doors. For extra security, these secure locks come in handy.
A great cage, filled with varieties of perches and toys is not great if it is not maintained regularly. A clean cage is the number one factor to a great cage.
Do take a few minutes to wipe down the bars of the cage on a daily basis. Just a wet paper towel can do the trick. Wipe down any feathers or droppings that may be stuck on the bars. Doing this daily will help when it comes to a full clean. A full clean consists of washing and rinsing down the entire cage, top to bottom. This can be done on a weekly/bi-weekly basis, depending on the size of the cage. Hot water and soap is all you need to have a sparkling cage.
For cages that are difficult to break apart, a bleach solution works very well. Combine water and bleach together and wipe down the cage with a sturdy hand towel. Remember to have a water-only spray bottle and thoroughly rinse out any bleach.
Keep perches clean as well, as droppings do magically appear on them. Remove toys and any other accessories that have been soiled. Not only does the cage get dirty, but so can your floors around the cage. Remember to vacuum and pick up any debris on the floor to eliminate odors.
Building a great cage is fun, but maintaining the cleanliness can be challenging. However, the results are worth every effort and every penny.
That's it! these are just some of the basic elements to building a great budgie cage. Remember that budgies can adapt to changes very well, so rotate toys, rotate perches, add and remove toys, etc. The options are limitless!"
All I can say is thanks to Aaralyn! I read this shortly after getting Mojito and it cleared up a lot of things for me and i hope she sees this and knows we all appreciated her hard work on this. I took me 30 minutes to copy all the pictures and add the IMG codes to all of them and edit the titles to being bold. THANKS AARALYN!