The Importance of Sleep Cages

 

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I am going to sound a bit extravagant here...but each of our birds have three cages. Yes, you just read that right...three! They have their normal cage in the Family Room, they have an outside cage on the screened in porch, and they have a night time cage.  
In their wild state, parrots have different sites for daytime roosting, nighttime sleeping, feeding and nesting. With one cage, we force all those behaviors into one area. Having an alternate cage or even a play stand where your pet can spend lots (hours) of time is good for their state of mind and their acceptance of you being in their territory. 

We have 6 pets and none of them are pluckers! However, we are frequently switching them from cage to cage, toys to toys, environment to environment. Read how we have done this by making our home "bird friendly." When we bought my African Grey, the lady told us she could never go in another cage (that's why she sold us her cage, too) and you could never put a cover (i.e., a tray) on top of her cage. Liberty now every night goes back to my room cage, which, by the way, has a tray on top!, every morning is put back in the kitchen, and when warm enough, she is put outside!

When my Grey came here to live, she was at first uneasy in her "night cage." Thus, I let her spend some time in it during the day to gradually adjust her into accepting this cage. Green cheeks love sleeping in fun positions. Click here to see how Green Cheeks like to sleep.

Sleep cages  help with territoriality. You will hear of people who have birds that  won't let them take them out of their cage! The bird is "cage bound" just like a horse gets "stall bound." If they are rotated through different cages, they won't be territorial. Decreasing territoriality helps when your baby becomes sexually mature and that desire to defend increases.

Sleep cages do not need to be big either. I don't put food in them so there is no mess in the bedrooms. They are for sleeping. Liberty, the Grey, sleeps on the orange sandy perch on the outside of her cage.

 

Some folks have even used the shipping crate for a sleep cage. I do not cover the sleep cages, but I am very careful about drafts. You never want a cold draft on your bird, and the most dangerous draft is that from an air conditioning vent. I do put toys and water in it. But, this is merely for sleeping....10 hours or so at most in this cage. Then, you want to make sure you get food to your baby. For the first week after baby arrives, you should include food in the sleep cage, so that he is able to keep his nutrition up despite any stress from his new home. 

 

They love snuggies in their sleep cage, and they love tents. But tents can be misconstrued as a nest box and cause some territoriality or egg laying. The other thing that they like to snuggle up against is a feather duster ( just be sure it has no chemicals on it ). In the day cage, I only put a snuggy or a feather duster. They also like the toys that look like a mop upside down and shrunk. If possible, I have a few differently sized perches in it.

 

We have had birds that were very sweet pets, but were intended to be breeders. So instead of being handled or going through the same routines as our "pets," they tend to stay in one cage while their mate is being found or their mate is being quarantined. I am specifically thinking of a Blue Headed Pionus for this just happened recently. Our pets usually go between an indoor day cage, a small nighttime cage, and an outdoor/porch cage. This Blue Headed girl was affectionate to all five in our family, but we knew we were going to pair her up. I wanted her to be acclimated to the outdoors so she could be transferred to the aviary with no problems. So, she sat in a cage on a screened in porch. While I found her a mate and she sat in the same cage on our porch, she became very aggressive and completely resembled the breeding females in our aviary. When her new mate was ready to be introduced, I switched her to a few new cages in efforts to introduce them in a neutral territory. As she switched cages during that week, her sweet nature returned and she allowed all of us to handle her again. She has lost that territoriality. All of this is to say that I really believe a bird who is intended to be a pet needs to NOT get the opportunity to establish a territory. We explain this to the people who take home our babies and add that being on a play gym on top of their cage does not count for them being away from their territory. They need to be completely off of their usual cage.

Having alternate cages is a help if you are having a party, painting the house, having a friend over who is scared of birds, if your bird is screaming, etc. or if your mother is trying to patiently teach you algebra.

Having alternate cages is also a way to ensure that your bird is able to get the needed sleep if you find this is necessary. Some birds need 12 hours in a dark, undisturbed environment.

OK, let's say you work all day and get home and haven't played with your bird and want to go to bed...if you move them back to the sleep cage, they at least get handled while you walk them to and fro. Then you have to move them back in the morning.

Sleep cages are an awesome thing because of

1. Reducing territoriality

2. Having an alternate cage on hand when needed

3. Getting some play time with your bird forced into your schedule on days when time is short.

4. Reducing boredom and giving your pet a change of scenery.

5. Security

A big concern for me with cages is that IF the cage has bowl holders built into the cage, that those bowl holders should always hold a bowl, even an upside down bowl if the person doesn't want anything in the bowl...because leaving cage bowl holders empty is a serious hazard for the birds. The birds WILL try to crawl into those bowl holders and end up breaking a wing or leg or worse.

For a green cheek, the sleeping cage can be quite small. My middle daughter, who sleeps on a top bunk, had dad put a hook in the ceiling. From that hook, hung a budgie cage and that is where her pet Green Cheek slept. The bar spacing should be no greater than 5/8" for a Green Cheek. Sleep cages really are a good thing to get in the habit of using. Click here to see how a Green Cheek sleeps.

 

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