Not only do natural branches provide chic cage accessories for your parakeet, they serve a range of practical uses. While pet supply stores sell wooden dowels for cage use, you can DIY this to save cash by placing branches from some outside trees and shrubs into your budgie's cage.
Natural wood serves two purposes for your keet: It offers her something to chew on that satisfies her instinctive need to gnaw, and it serves as a cage perch. Providing a parakeet with separate wood for chewing means that she's less likely to snack on a perch, eventually chewing her way through her resting place. Offer a regular supply of safe wood for these purposes.
Sturdier hardwoods hold up longer to parakeet pecking and are less likely to harbor parasites and bacteria than soft woods. Safe hardwoods include apple, almond, beech, bottle brush, butterfly tree, crabapple, dogwood, elm, eucalyptus, fir, gingko, lilac, magnolia, mimosa and spruce. Maple wood is safe if you remove the bark; some maple bark contains a fungus that's bad for your budgie to breathe. Take branches only if you know for sure they came from a safe tree, such as one listed here.
In general, avoid softwood -- wood that has a soft inside you can dent with a fingernail -- since your bird can chew through it quickly. Other woods to avoid include pressure-treated wood and driftwood, since you don't know what ocean critters may be tucked away inside their nooks and crannies. Some hardwoods are considered unsafe because they are potentially toxic to birds. These include red alder, apricot, azalea, boxwood, elderberry, flame tree, ground cherry, hemlock, holly, horse chestnut, hydrangea, juniper, mountain laurel, walnut, wisteria and yew.
Avoid using branches thinner than 7/8-inch for perch wood, as your parakeet may be unable to find footing. Backyard and neighborhood trees are safe, so long as they're not treated for pesticides. If you're unsure if a tree was treated, best to avoid it. If you see residue on a branch, don't use it. This might be a moss killer or weed killer that splashed onto the branch.
- M.D. Vaden: Bird Perches, Toys. Safe & Harmful Perch Wood.
- "The New Australian Parakeet Handbook: Everything About Purchase, Housing, Care, Nutrition, Behavior, Breeding, and Diseases"; Matthew M. Vriends et al.
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