When it comes to buying a new pet the vast list of supplies that you need can be rather intimidating. Not only can it be difficult to work out everything that you might need, but it’s also all too easy to be sucked into some sales ploy and end up buying all sorts of supplies that you don’t actually need. Lastly, possibly the most frustrating thing about shopping for pet supplies can be getting home only to discover that you’ve forgotten something!
The aim of this article is therefore to provide a “shopping list” of equipment you’ll need if you’re going to buy your first pet budgie. You can then print this list out and take it with you to the pet shop, making certain that you’ll come home with all the supplies necessary.
Assuming you’ve already got the cage at home, this should be everything you need to get you started with a new pet budgerigar…
Sand Sheets/Loose Sand
To begin with you’ll need some kind of substrate for the bottom of the bird cage. Without this cleaning out your pet can be a whole lot more difficult. Most typically pet owners opt to use some form of sand on the bottom of their bird cage. This either comes loose, in a bag, which you can tip over the floor of the cage, or in the form of a large sheet of paper with sand stuck to it.
Loose sand can be messy, as cage birds may scatter it as they fly about, putting dust into the air and making a mess around their cage. On the other hand, loose sand encourages more natural behaviour, whereby your pet bird can dig about in the sand, just as it would in the Australian outback.
Sand sheets are more practical as the sand is stuck down so won’t be scattered in all directions, and the rough sand can also be useful for filing down your budgie’s claws. However sand sheets don’t facilitate natural behaviour. Furthermore, with a wide range of different sized sand sheets, you should aim to get an idea of the size you need before you go shopping; this will save annoyance when you realize you’ve bought the wrong size and need to go back and swap them at a later date!
In terms of food, your budgie should be provided with a food bowl, most commonly one which clips onto the side of the cage, allowing your pet to feed away from the ground. This is where they feel safest and most comfortable so is recommended. Food bowls may be made of a variety of materials though these days sturdy plastic is most common. This works well as it is cheap, strong and easily disinfected during cleaning.
Over the years numerous budgie owners have attempted to provide water for their pet in another food bowl, however this rarely ends well. The reason is that budgies can be messy birds, scattering seed husks and feathers in all directions. An uncovered water container quickly becomes soiled and then will be unusable.
A better idea is to buy a specialist water-feeder, designed to keep out as much dirt as possible and keep your budgie’s water fresher for longer.
Your budgie will of course require some form of food to keep it going. While budgies may enjoy a range of different fruits and vegetables, these really should only be considered supplements. A good quality budgie seed should be fed as a base to their diet. In a perfect world, try to buy the same food that your budgie has had access to in the pet shop – this will minimize the chances of an upset stomach.
Budgies are smart animals and can quickly get bored within the confines of a cage. Worse, such boredom can lead to self-harm, such as in cases where cage birds pluck out their own feathers for entertainment. In other words, keeping your pet bird entertained and amused should be considered as important as providing the right food.
Here, variety is the spice of life and a broad range of toys and/or treats may be given. Experienced bird keepers recommend “cycling” through a range of toys and treats, keeping a box of them and changing the toys each week when the cage is cleaned. In this way your budgie won’t have the chance to get bored.
Birds have an unusual and interesting digestive system. In essence they swallow seeds whole, and then need to find some way to actually crack the seeds open and so access all the nutrients they contain.
They do this using a muscular pouch in the digestive system whereby the seeds are ground up with fine grit, so breaking them down. Over time this grit is digested and excreted and so it is important that your budgie should have access to fresh grit at all times.
Grit can be bought by the bag and provided in a small food bowl so as to ensure your pet’s digestive system remains healthy and functional.
As parakeets, budgies use their beaks as almost like a third foot. They use their beak to hold items, leverage food open and even climb about their cages. No wonder that beaks can get worn down over time.
This is why your budgie’s beak never stops growing; if it did there would be a risk to wild budgies that they’d simply wear their beaks out.
However captivity offers rather different problems; most notably quite the reverse problem; while your budgies beak continues to grow, pet birds have far fewer options available to help them wear down their beak and keep it in perfect condition.
This is where a cuttlefish bone can come in handy. These bones provide your budgie with a firm surface on which to scrape their beak – and so keep it in perfect condition. Furthermore, by regularly eating cuttlefish bone your budgie will also be able to boost its levels of calcium; an essential mineral in a budgies diet.
Experts in the field of budgie care claim that iodine is required in far higher concentrations in Australian parakeets than in many other cage birds. As a result, they have a nasty habit of suffering from an iodine deficiency in captivity. The best way to avoid this is with a supplement block – which will also afford your pet another opportunity to keep its beak trim.
Cage birds can be surprisingly sensitive pets, especially when it comes to household chemicals. As a result, you will need to be careful when it comes to cleaning out your pet’s cage each week.
This is where a pet-safe detergent can come in handy. You will be able to ensure that your pet’s cage receives a thorough cleaning, but without the risk of absent-mindedly poisoning it with harsh household chemicals.