Parakeet cages tend to come with a grate for the “floor” of the cage. This often sparks a grate debate as parakeet owners weigh the merits of keeping the grate in the cage against the potential benefits of removing it. Here are some pros and cons of using the included grates.
- Not necessarily a pro, but the grate may be critical to the structural integrity of your cage; or removing the grate may leave large gaps that a budgie could wriggle through. We had this issue with Toby’s flight cage, and fortunately had a similarly shaped piece of wood trim that we could use to block the gap. But, it may not always be that easy and that’s something to consider if you’re removing a grate.
- If you use a grate, you may be able to use less substrate at the bottom of your cage. Whether you are using bird cage liners, paper towels, newspaper, or any other option, a grate will catch some of the poop that would typically land on your lining. At that point it’s just a matter of preference, some folks find scraping a grate once a week to be a better choice than changing newspapers every day or two.
- The grate may help discourage breeding. A nice flat, comfortable cage bottom could look like a pretty good nesting area to a hen that’s determined to lay some eggs. A grate would, comparably, seem like a less desirable place to raise babies, it would be uncomfortable to sit on for long periods of time, and babies would have a difficult time learning to walk and maneuver in the world. Also, eggs laid from a perch above would be more likely to break on impact.
- Removing the grate frees up additional living space for budgies. The flat cage floor gives them a chance to move their feet and be active in different ways, particularly if they aren’t interested in going to the floor in your home. It also increases opportunities for enrichment and stimulation by way of foraging.
- Without a grate, you may find you have to clean a bit less. This is a matter of preference, but I am not a fan of scraping poop off a grate. I love that without the grate I can just remove my cage liner, pop in a new one, and I’m done with that task.
- Not using a grate may have some safety benefits for your budgies. First, the bottom of the cage will be a softer landing spot if ever they fall off a perch. Probably not a frequent occurrence, but night terrors can definitely cause a budgie to take a dive off a perch. Once they are on the bottom of the cage a flat floor is a safer walking surface than a grate, where feet can slip through and possible get twisted or bruised up.
Personally I remove the grate from every cage that I own unless it’s absolutely not possible due to structural issues. The benefits of enrichment and safety when removing a grate far outweigh any bonus I can think of for leaving the grate in the cage. Let me know in the comments if I’m missing any really important points for consideration!
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