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Buying Your First Budgie

As a first time budgie buyer there are certain things to look for and be aware of. This small article points out some of the things you should know.

First and foremost, before you even buy a budgerigar, you need a cage for your future feathered friend. It's always best to have that set up and ready for when you bring the bird home, but what's the best type of cage for you and your bird?

Don't buy a small cage, get the biggest one you can afford and have the room for so that your budgie will have lots of space to move around. It's very important that you get a cage that is actually intended for budgerigars and not for larger birds, as the spacing between the bars of the larger bird cages is usually much bigger and your budgie could squeeze through them or even get stuck between them.

The spacing between the bars shouldn't be more than 1.5cm and the bars should be made of metal rather than plastic. If buying used or 2nd hand make sure there isn't any rust. Try to get a cage that has both horizontal and vertical bars for the birds to climb around them with ease, and also so that it's easy for you to attach feeders and bottles.

A pull-out drawer in the bottom for easy cleaning is also recommended, as is a detachable base. Multiple doors is always a good idea too, for hanging bird baths and nest boxes etc, or for being able to access the inside of the cage if you've already hung one or both of them on it.

Ok, that's the cage sorted, now it's time to think about getting that little bird you so badly want :)

When you go to buy the bird, whether buying from a reputable breeder (recommended) or from a pet shop, take a good look at it to make sure it looks healthy, chirpy and active. No missing feathers, no poop stuck to its bottom. Bright alert eyes are usually a sign of good health. Tail bobbing isn't.

For more information about the health of birds please read How To Recognize A Healthy Budgie (opens in new window).

Both males and females can be tamed and learn to talk, but males tend to pick things up quicker (or so I've heard). Females tend to nip harder than males, but it's never really an excruciatingly painful nip, although it does hurt a bit. Either way, it takes a ton of time and patience to get a bird to talk. Remember, the bird won't really be talking, but rather mimicking what you've taught it.

Make sure you have cuttlebone, iodine block, a bit of millet, fresh food and water (of course). If it's a really young bird, put the food and water in shallow dishes at the bottom of the cage and the perches low.

I don't personally use sandpaper, I prefer to use sand that I buy at the pet shop.

Give the bird a week or 2 to settle in before thinking about letting it out of the cage for a fly-around. Some people prefer to wait until they have the bird at least finger tame before they let it out, as it makes it a tad easier to get them back in.

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Anna-Marie Stewart keeps and breeds pet budgerigars.
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