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What Not to Put In Your Budgie’s Cage

Like many budgie owners, you probably want to provide your bird with the best enrichment money can buy. But before splurging on toys and accessories, check out this list of common cage items with hidden risks.

There’s no shortage of items online and in stores that are marketed to budgie owners. But did you know that many of these items can actually threaten your budgie’s wellbeing? You may want to think twice before putting any of these common objects in your pet’s cage.

Happy Huts

Happy huts are small, soft-sided shelters sold in almost every pet supply store. Not only can these huts add to budgies’ nesting urges, but they are often sometimes made from unsafe materials such as cotton or synthetic fibers. If ingested, fabric fibers can become impacted and damage your bird’s internal organs1–4–so it’s best to steer clear altogether.

Mirrors

budgie parakeet with mirror

Mirrors were originally introduced to animal husbandry because many care takers noticed abnormal, repetitive behaviors called ‘stereotypies’ in animals that were housed alone. These behaviors seemed to decrease when animals were provided with a mirror but it was because these animals (horses, bird, and primates) were highly intelligent, highly social animals who were kept alone without adequate enrichment or social interaction. While some facilities have used it as a temporary hold over in certain cases (5), these items are not a replacement for proper social interaction. 

Budgies generally do not recognize the mirror image as their reflection but rather as another bird, meaning they can interpret this “new bird” as a potential mate or as a threat. As a mate, budgies can become obsessed with the object, leading to excessive egg laying and mating behaviors. As a threat, the budgie can becomes stressed from trying to chase this “new bird” away and never being successful in doing so. Unfortunately, mirrors are still commonly sold as budgie toys but should be avoided. 

Frayed Rope Toys

These are often marketed as “preening toys.” Just like the fibers from happy huts, cotton and synthetic fiber rope toys are huge impaction hazards. Birds can’t resist pulling at (and swallowing) loose fibers, which can become tangled and lodged in the GI tract. This can result in a life-threatening medical situation that may require surgery.

Instead, offer shredding toys like Sola, Yucca, or Cork wood!

Nest Boxes

budgie parakeet in nest box

In the wild, budgies are a nomadic species. They move constantly in search of food and water and do not sleep in nests. Budgies only enter nests when they have settled down with a mate and are ready to reproduce or are raising a clutch of eggs. Once the breeding season is over, budgies move onto the next location, leaving their nesting site behind. When it comes to your pet budgie’s cage, nest boxes should only be added for active breeding periods or used for reproductive management. They aren’t toys!

Maximize Your Budgie's Space!

When choosing an item for your budgie’s cage, evaluate carefully. Ask yourself: is it made with potentially harmful materials, like loose fibers or strings? Could it encourage unwanted behavior, like mirrors and nest boxes? Additionally, keep in mind that there is a limited amount of space in your budgie’s cage so we need to do our best to maximize the space they have available, adding items that bring a lot of enrichment to the table rather than just take up space. 

When it comes to providing a rich, fulfilling life for your budgie, there are many things to consider beyond the toys in their cage. Check out our other articles at The Budgie Academy to learn more, and don’t forget to follow us on social media for the latest on everything budgie!

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Literature Cited

  1. Hare, V. J., Rich, B. & Worley, K. E. Enrichment Gone Wrong!
  2. Faux, C. M. & Logsdon, M. L. Comparative Veterinary Anatomy. in Comparative Veterinary Anatomy 1271–1275 (2022). doi:10.1016/b978-0-323-91015-6.00117-5.
  3. Adamcak, A., Hess, L. R. & Quesenberry, K. E. Intestinal String Foreign Body in an Adult Umbrella Cockatoo. Journal of Avian Medicine and Surgery 4, 257–263.
  4. Livingstone, M. Foraging toys and environmental enrichment for parrots. Companion Animal 23, 462–469 (2018).
  5. Diamond, J. & Bond, A. B. Lasting responsiveness of a kea (Nestor notabilis) toward its mirror image. Plains Anthropol 22, 84–84 (1977).
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