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Things to Know About Bird Cage Accessories

By: Dr. Don Harris

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Bird shops carry a vast array of products to enhance a bird's cage. These include plenty of toys as well as an assortment of items that claim to contribute to the bird's health – from therapeutic perches to nutritional supplements. While some products are downright mandatory, some offer little or no real benefit. A few can actually be harmful.

One of the best gauges of a product's usefulness is common sense: An accessory is worth buying only if it fulfills a particular need. A cage crowded with items that serve no purpose can frighten and frustrate a pet bird. As always, asking the experience of others is more reliable than trusting product labels.

Accessories That Benefit Birds

  • Concrete or cement perches.

  • Perches of variable diameter and cross section – necessary for healthy feet and legs.

  • Cuttle bones – provide calcium for egg-laying females.

  • Swings and closed-link chains – for safe exercise.

  • Soft wooden objects, such as blocks – act as pacifiers for many birds and facilitate chewing.

    Accessories of Little Benefit to Birds

  • Open-link chains and fasteners, which can become caught on a bird's beak.

  • Rope toys, which have been implicated in accidental strangulation injuries and death.

  • Lava rocks and mineral blocks may benefit larger birds that choose to use them. Most of the time, though, birds find these products awkward – and simply ignore them.

  • PVC perches are too smooth to toughen the bird's feet; instead these perches leave them prone to irritation and infection.

  • Sandpaper perch covers – they slip too easily off perches.

  • Mite protectors are useful, but only in an enclosed cage; at best, they are only minimally effective.

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