Getting A Budgie: Things You Need
So you've decided you want a budgie. You know you need a cage, perches and seeds. But what else does a budgie need? Find out in this article.
The Budgie Cage
A Water Dish
Sand or paper?
At least 18 x 10 inches (45 x 26 cm)
Best in wood
- Water dish
Should be easy to clean
- Food bowl
If not already part of cage
Mirror, ladder, bell, something to destroy
- Cage sand
Best to pick a high quality one
- Bird bath
Something that's a good size for the budgie
Should be easy to fix to cage
- Premium mix budgie food
Cheap = worse
Good brand: Versele-Lage, Beaphar
The budgie cage
Every budgie needs a cage. Not just because you need to be able to keep it safe in there in case you open a door or window, but also because it needs a safe space of its own, where it can feel shielded. In the wild, budgies live in trees with lots of leaves to shelter them.
There are a great many cages out there, but what cage is the best? First, it's important to realize that budgies love climbing. Therefore, a cage with horizontal bars is best. Second, a budgie needs space. Even when a budgie is allowed to fly free daily, a spacious cage is still required for it to keep fit.
Furthermore, make sure the cage is safe (no sharp edges the bird can hurt itself on or where it can get stuck in) and of a good quality. No rusted cages! The coating used to make it look white is usually safe for birds, but not always, so take a close look at it and be sure it doesn't easily chip off. If possible, ask a vendor about the cage. It should last many years without rusting.
A very important feature for a cage is its size. The height is less important than how wide it is. Budgies always try to sit as high as possible, so everything below that is really just a waste of space. Wider is better. If you look from above on the cage, you should have a size of at least 45x26cm (approx. 18x10 inches). Again, bigger is better, and especially if you have more than one budgie.
The space between the bars should not be too wide. A budgie should not be able to wiggle its head through it. It should be no wider than half an inch (1/2 inch or approx. 1.5 cm) and it should not be too flexible. The bars need to be strong enough to withstand a human hand trying to squeeze through it.
Most standard perches sold today are made of plastic. Usually, these provide not as good of a grip as the wooden perches which are to be preferred. Wooden perches are slightly more rough, will help the bird in keeping its nails shorter and provide a better grip. There are now also stone perches that are marketed as being good for keeping the nails short, but these are bad for a budgie's soft toes! One of my own birds ended up losing a toe this way because of an infection she got from scraping herself on the rough stone perch.
A perch should also be stable and strong. If it doesn't follow a perfectly straight line, or has smaller or thicker parts, this is better too, as it will help the budgie train the muscles in its toes.
A water dish
The best one would be one you can attach to the outside of the cage, that dispenses water as the budgie drinks from it. This will not only allow you to easily reach the dish for cleaning, but it will help to prevent the budgie accidentally dropping something in it.
Here's a tip from experience. Make sure the food bowls you acquire can be reached from outside of the cage, and are strongly attached to it. Many modern cages now come with a lock on the food bowls. This is not a luxury! As you may know, budgies are extremely intelligent, and stubborn. If your budgie wants out, it will first try the bars, and then the food bowls. It will push them open and crawl through to get out of the cage. It needn't be said how dangerous this can be, both for the bird hurting itself in the process and for it flying into something hazardous or through an open window!
Keeping your budgie in its cage needn't be sad. Your budgie is simply following its instinct, but it cannot survive on its own and it doesn't realize what is dangerous for it! Think of it as a 3 year old that is constantly running away from its mommy to go explore but that really has no idea what's out there. It's your duty to keep the bird safe.
Again, toys need to be safe. There are many mirrors out there for sale. If you keep your budgie alone, think twice before getting a mirror. Some budgies actually grow strongly addicted to their mirror to a point where it's really unhealthy and very sad to watch. Of course, you can give your budgie a mirror, but just keep an eye on how it reacts to it, and if it seems to only sit in front of the mirror, take the mirror out.
There are also toys with bells, ladders, etc... Always keep in mind that the bird will explore the entire toy, and should not be able to get its nails stuck in anything. One of the things they love are so-called puzzle toys. These toys pose a small challenge for the bird and will help develop its intelligence.
Sand or paper?
Finally, should you line the bottom of the cage with cage sand, or with paper? The choice is yours. If you choose paper, make sure there are no inks on it that could be toxic to the budgie. If you choose sand, keep in mind it will increase the mess around the cage. In quality cage sands, extra grit is often added. These are to be recommended as budgies love grazing!
Bird baths! These are made of plastic, usually transparent, and can be attached on the outside of the cage and can be filled with a small layer of water. The bottom should not be too slippery. If you put in the bird bath once a week, you will see your birds will love taking a nice bath. Don't put in too much water. A thin layer of approx. 1/2 inch (1 to 1.5 cm) of water is plenty! It's a great deal of fun watching budgies splashing around!
Possible your budgie will be a bit afraid of the water at first. This is normal. Just put the bath back at regular intervals and leave it there for a couple of hours. Eventually the budgie will learn how much fun it can be!