One of the reasons that we keep pet birds is to enjoy their physical beauty. Healthy birds spend hours daily grooming their plumage to maintain their looks. Unfortunately, their fastidious behavior does not extend to their home or surroundings.
Birds, on the whole, are notoriously messy creatures and parrots are no exception. No matter the species, they don’t seem capable of keeping a cage clean. They have no conscience when it comes to distributing droppings or flinging food scraps throughout their home. The important task of keeping their cages and environment clean falls to the human members of the flock.
Why Clean Your Bird’s Cage?
Captive birds spend a lot of time in their cages. Accumulated dust and dander, combined with the daily parrot droppings and scattered food particles make for an unsightly and potentially hazardous living space.
The website theworldofafricangreys states that proper cleaning and sanitizing of your parrot’s enclosure is as important to its health as a good diet. Improper cleaning can make the cage at risk of developing various bacteria, viruses, and mold that can adversely affect your parrot’s health.
Additionally, your bird’s droppings contain ammonia which is toxic. Confined to its cage, a bird is exposed to these toxic fumes and can be impacted by levels that we cannot detect. Discarded food and seeds can attract insects which can also cause problems.
How Do I Clean My Bird’s Cage?
Cage cleaning is best done in an orderly and methodical fashion. According to the pet education website, you should organize your cleaning tasks into daily and longer-term activities.
- The cage liners should be changed every day to remove the accumulated droppings and food. Putting down a number of liners at one time can ease this process by allowing you to simply remove the topmost layer every day.
- Other daily tasks include a thorough cleaning of the bird’s water and food bowls. Rinse these well to ensure that no disinfectant or soap remains on these items. Make sure they are totally dry before introducing any seeds or pellets as the moisture will lead to the formation of mold. Inspect perches and toys and clean any that may have been soiled with food or droppings.
- View your daily cleaning as an opportunity to constantly monitor your bird’s health by noting any difference in droppings, how much it’s eating, and if any lost feathers look abnormal.
Serious cage cleaning should be done on a weekly or monthly basis based on what kind of bird you have. With the exception of small birds like budgies, the following steps should be followed on a weekly basis.
- The first thing you need to do when doing the extensive cleaning of your bird’s cage is to remove its inhabitant and place it in a safe place. Based on what kind of cleaning you are doing the bird may have to go to another room so as not to be around potentially harmful cleaning products.
- After your bird is secured, you should remove all toys, perches, and other accessories from the cage. Clean these thoroughly, scrubbing off any droppings or other foreign material. This should be done with mild dishwashing detergent. In some cases, sandpaper may work better for cleaning wood perches. Disinfect these items and rinse thoroughly, taking care that they are fully dry before returning them to the cage. Discard any frayed or broken accessories or those that you cannot get clean.
- Now the cage itself needs to be addressed. Scrub it down with hot, soapy water. Disinfect the cage, rinse it well and let it dry. Smaller cages can be cleaned in a sink or shower using a handheld spray. Larger cages will need to be cleaned in place or taken outside so you can use a power washer to assist you. An old shower curtain can be used to roll your large cage on so you can wash it indoors while protecting your floor. Here’s a video showing how to clean a smaller cage.
- Finally, the area around the cage needs to be cleaned. The cage apron and area under and around the cage needs to be taken care of on a regular basis. You will also want to look at the walls near the cage as parrots have a tendency to inadvertently throw some food. My conures are very skilled at launching pieces of fresh strawberries.
When doing a complete cage cleaning, I always take advantage of the opportunity to swap out some toys and place them in different locations to keep my parrots interested. They can get bored and this is a way to keep them mentally stimulated.
What Should I Use To Clean The Cage?
Unless you have a stainless steel cage, soft brushes are your best bet for scrubbing down the cage as they will not scrape the paint from the bars. An old toothbrush is a good tool for getting into crevices and performing fine cleaning. Wooden perches will often need to be sandpapered to remove all traces of bird droppings. Check out this video for some tips.
When choosing cleaning products to use in your bird’s cage you need to ensure that you stick to bird-safe products. There are many so-called “pet-friendly” products offered at the pet store. According to the bird tricks website, none of these products work any better than some readily available household products.
Washing your cages, perches and toys should be done with a mild dishwashing liquid. White distilled vinegar can also be used. A cup or two per gallon of water makes for a good cleaning solution. Steam is also an effective cleaner, especially in cracks and crevices that are hard to clean using other means. It also kills mold and fungus. Make sure to never use anything but water in your steamer.
Other products that can be safely used to clean your bird’s cage and accessories are grapefruit seed extract and a solution of water and baking soda.
Things to Avoid For Your Bird’s Safety
Aerosol sprays should never be used near your bird as they can damage your pet’s respiratory system. Spray bottles that are used during cage cleaning should never have other chemicals introduced to them, as residue can linger and cause problems for the birds.
Another class of products to avoid are carpet fresheners. They have been linked to many bird deaths. Chemicals in carpet cleaners can also be toxic to your feathered companion. If you need to clean the carpet in their room, be sure to move them to a safe place for a few days.