Guest Author - Heather Thomas
Birds rely on their feet for just about everything, to climb, eat, perch, sleep and mate. They literally depend on their feet for their very existence. Provide variety in the perches you choose for your birdís ideal foot health.
Natural branches obviously provide the most nature-like experience for your bird. However, care must be taken when selecting branches to use in your birdís cage, many species of tree are toxic to birds. The list is to extensive to cover here, so be sure to know what species of tree you are harvesting from, that it is pesticide free and check it against a list of safe woods for your bird. After you have completed these steps, remove leaves and sterilize the branch in your oven at 200 degrees, 15 minutes for thin branches and 30 minutes for thicker branches. Allow the branches to cool completely before placing them in your birdís cage.
Manufactured Wooden Perches
The type of perch that typically comes included with a new birdcage is a manufactured wooden perch. These perches are fine, but because they donít offer any variety in texture or size they should not be the only perches in your birdís cage.
Cement or Pedi-Perch
These odd shaped perches are supposed to, in theory, keep your birdís nails from becoming too sharp. In my experience this is not necessarily the case. Place the perch in an area your bird often spends time but not as its only perch option. If your bird spends too much time on this perch, the abrasive surface can create sore spots on their feet, be sure to watch for this wherever you place the perch in their cage. Often this is a good choice to place in front of the food dish because you can be guaranteed your bird will spend some time there each day. While these perches may not keep your birds nails trimmed, they do offer a variation in size and texture for your birdís feet.
Many bird play-gyms are now created with pvc. This product is very durable and cleans easily making it a desirable perch material. It is also waterproof so it is the best choice for shower perches. The smooth surface is not optimal for your birdís foot health but not harmful either. So, as long as you provide other perching surfaces this is a great option for long-lived perches.
Molded plastic perches, in many cases made from similar product as pvc, provide a more realistic texture with the ease of cleaning. These perches have long life and are relatively inexpensive. Be sure to choose a sturdy enough perch for your bird. A large bird should not be housed with a flimsy plastic perch, due to their ability to chew. A chewable plastic perch could be a safety hazard for your bird.
One of the best options currently on the market is the bendable perch. They come in sisal or cotton rope in various sizes to accommodate the size of your bird. These perches are bendable to form different shapes and climbing challenges for your bird and offer you the ability to change your birdís environment very easily. Bendable perches are relatively inexpensive for how long they last and most are machine washable.
The bottom line when it comes to perches is to make sure your bird has a variety of sizes and shapes to maintain foot health. Perches also have the ability to add interest to your birdís environment.