Bird Cage guide   

Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

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 Bird cage is a very important aspect in keeping pet bird. Pet bird enthusiasts should decide and prepare the cage for their bird before they even buy the bird.

 Keeping a pet bird is actually not as cruel as some people might though. However, I consider this statement for tame pet bird and not wild bird. We shouldn’t consider to catch a wild bird and put them inside a small cage. We should only get the bird from ‘captive breed’ stock.

 Tame pet bird is use to their cage as they have been kept in captivity for many generation and they are born in captivity. Cage is actually part of their life and for them cage actually also serve as a save and comfortable house. However, tame pet bird should also be given lots of opportunity to come out from the cage and play. In this case the bird and the cage can be seen as a human being and his bedroom. Normally the bird will prefer to go back to their cage during the night, or when they want to eat or even when they feel unsafe.

 A cage s also very important in keeping a pet bird especially if you will involve in some activity that your pet bird can’t joint you. For example when you cook, clean your house etc. during this time the cage is the most suitable place for your bird. You can also ensure that your activity will not harm your bird.


Choosing a cage for your bird.

The main issue to consider when choosing the cage for your bird is the cage size. This is because the cage that is too small will have bad impact on our bird, mentally and physically. Normally when we talk about cage, we will found the minimum size. This is because we will encourage the bird keeper to search or look for biggest cage possible that he or she can afford.

 Normally the good minimum size cage for a bird is twice the wingspread of the bird. Therefore the bigger the bird, the bigger the minimum cage size is. For a cockatiel, the minimum recommendation cage is 20 inch wide, 20 inch deep and 28 inch high.

 Based on my reading, many people believed that the better cage to keep a pet bird is the cage where the spare is like a box shape (have some corner). This is because it is believed that the bird will feel safer in the cage with this shape compared to cage with round shape (no corner). I am not sure how much we should believed in this, but somehow all my cage that I keep my bird is ‘box shape’ cage.


The high and the deep of the cage.

Some said that different species of bird would have different requirement of cage. Some species will prefer deep cage (horizontal) while some species of bird will prefer high cage (vertical). I think this is much depending on the lifestyle of each species. For the bird that their lifestyle is foraging on the ground or hoping from a branch to another branch, the suitable type of cage for them is horizontal cage. Horizontal cage will create more space for these species of bird to hop around. However, for bird that not likely to foraging on the ground but prefer to climb, I think the cage that is suitable for them is vertical cage. For cockatiel, I think the cage that is suitable for them is vertical cage.

 The size of this cage also can be based on our bird daily routine. If we always take our pet bird our from his cage (in daily basis – several hour out from cage everyday), I think the cage that we need can be small. However, if we rarely take out the pet bird from the cage, we should consider to house them in larger cage. Cockatiel or any pet bird that is kept alone in a small cage for a very long time tends to pick up some bad habits. Their health also is not in their best position. Many of the bird enthusiasts tend to compare the bird emotional with human being. For example, they claim that keeping a bird in a small cage is similar to a human being, which is lock up in s small cell for a very long time. In the case of human being, I also buy their idea that the human will somehow become very emotional and some may develop attitude problem.


Choosing a cage for bird in your house

When we decide to keep a pet bird in out house, we should consider a suitable cage for them. Overall the characteristic of the cage is still similar with the topic that we discuss above that is the cage must make the bird feel safe and comfortable.

 Size of the cage should be big enough for our bird. Which is normally two times the length of the ‘ wing spread’ of the bird. However, if you keep the cage inside your house the size should not too big until you unable to moved them. This is because normally when we keep pet birds in our house, the bird normally tame and they like to attach to our family member or us. Sometime it is a good if we able to move him around where we normally spend out time.

 We also can choose a cage that their bars are not very wide. I normally will choose a cage that my cockatiel unable to ‘ put’ their head through the bars. This is to avoid any accident that might happen to the cockatiel inside the cage and it also to avoid the bird ‘destroy’ anything near their cage. Accident that might happen may include the bird trapped at the bars and died.

 Toys in the birdcage also are important if we keep individual bird in the cage. Bird is an intelligent creature, in the wild most of the bird are very active and very playful especially parrot family. Therefore, if we keep a parrot in a cage, we should provide some toys for them to play with. We can make the toys by our self or just buy from the pet shop. Choose appropriate size of toys so the bird can maximized their usage. One more important thing about toys is they are mean to be broken by the bird. Somehow the toys will damage, what we can do is just provide the bird with new toys.


Cage material

Since we talk about cage I would also like to touch on the material that they use to build the birdcage. When we know the advantage and disadvantage of each material, we can decide which cage should we buy and which one most suit our need.

 Stainless steel cage.

This material is very good. A stainless steel cage can last very long and the material will not harm the bird. However we have to choose a proper cage size therefore the bird will feel comfortable inside the cage. I think a stainless steel cage also look very elegant and easier to clean. However, the price is very expensive compared to other material.

 Powder coated cage.

Powder coated cage is the normal cage that is available in the marker. Normally the manufacturer will spray the cage with some sort of coat or paint. The quality of the powder coat cage will differ from one manufacturer to another manufacturer. Therefore the best way to buy the quality powder coat cage is by checking the brand or the manufacturer.

 In Malaysia, one of the good brands is YML brand. They produce variety of cage and I think the cage is good quality and last long.

 Back to powder coat cage, one more important issue that I want to highlight is that if possible please choose the cage that didn’t have any zinc or lead because these material is very dangerous to the birds and may kill the bird.


We also should always check the condition of the cage. If we found any of the bar that is broken, we should repair it or make sire it will not harm our bird. A broken bar may become very sharp and this may result to severe injury to our birds.


A note for buying old/ secondhand cage

If we buy a secondhand cage or a cage from a very dirty shop, we should bear in mind that there might be some disease attaches with the cage. If it is a second hand cage, the previous owner might use it to house a sick bird and the disease may still live at the cage. Later if we keep our bird the same disease may pass to our bird. Same possibilities apply to the cage from dirty or poor maintenance shop.

 In case we have to buy or acquire old or second hand cage, we should do a through cleaning of the cage. The best way is to do a steam clean and send the cage for re-painting by professional. However, if we unable to do that, we may use a good disinfectant to clean the cage before we use it.


The tray of the cage

A good cage may have a tray. This tray is very useful to maintain the cleanliness of the cage. The facet and leftover food will  fall into the tray, therefore we should choose a suitable cage for our bird whereby there must be some bars to prevent the bird from accessing the tray from the cage.

 In my case, I normally put a layer of old newspaper on top of the cage, therefore it can absorb the facet and it is easier to clean the cage. Putting a layer of newspaper or pines shaving also can make the tray (if it is metal) to last longer. This is because we don’t need to wash the tray everyday, but we can just change the paper or the sawdust.


The door.

The cage must have good door system. A good door must be big enough for us to put our hand inside to change or to provide food to the birds. However, it should not too big, because the bird may escape when we open the door (if the birds is not tame)

 A good door system also should be easy to open and the locking system must not too simple until the bird able to open the door by themselves. Birds especially parrot or mynah family is very smart and some of them is an escape artist, whereby they able to escape from their cage.

 I encounter this with my cockatoos. They manages to escape from their cage and try to fly away. Luckily I have clip their wings, therefore I manage to catch them back using nets ( they are wild cough cockatoos). However, one of my friend lost many of his birds because of this issue.

 In case you unable to find a cage that have food locking system, it is a very good idea to put extra locking to the cage. I normally will use small padlock to each of the cage ( for big parrot). However, for my cockatiel, the door is fine ( however even for some individu I still put some locking)


You can check out some of the cage from the site below.

 Blue Ribbon Parakeet-Cockatiel Playpen
Blue Ribbon Parakeet-Cockatiel Playpen

Ideal for those times when you want to let your bird spread his wings and interact with the family.



Cockatiel Books and Video Tapes from Avian Publications

The Complete Pet Bird Owner's Handbook (Revised Edition) by Dr. Gary A. Gallerstein


Medicine: Principles and Application (Abridged Edition) by Dr. Branson Ritchie, Dr. Greg 

Harrison, Linda Harrison & Dr. Donald W. Zantop Specials

Blue Ribbon Parakeet-Cockatiel Playpen
Blue Ribbon Parakeet-Cockatiel Playpen

Ideal for those times when you want to let your bird spread his wings and interact with the family.





Create: 18 February 2005

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