Dowel perches usually come in the price that you pay for a regular cage for your pet birds. But with other perches available in the market, dowel perches somewhat pale in comparison and some even believe that they can be harmful.
Are dowel perches bad for birds? The answer is that it depends on how you use these perches for your pets. They are bad if you use only dowel perches of the same shape and size. When used in addition to other perches in the cage, these perches are not particularly harmful to the birds.
It is generally recommended to have multiple perches for your pet bird. Amateur bird owners might feel that the dowel perches that come with the cage that they buy are enough. The problem with dowel perches is that they are uniform in size across the perch.
This is harmful because when the birds perch on it, the claws always get the same diameter of the perch and the same amount of pressure.
The claws can get weak due to this and the bird can get the bumblefoot disease, too. As long as there are a variety of perches for the birds to use, a single dowel perch will usually do no harm.
How important are perches for your bird?
A bird is either in flight or on its feet. Hence, perches are used by the birds for resting, grooming, sleeping, and even for snacking. Birds in the wild get a lot of exercise climbing and hopping from branch to branch.
Birds raised in captivity as pets depend on their owners to give them the required exercise to keep their bones strong. And, believe it or not, perching is a form of exercise for birds.
Climbing on different perches and adjusting their feet on them gives their feet exercise and keeps their joints flexible and healthy. Lack of exercise can develop bone diseases such as arthritis and pressure sores. Incorrect perching can also cause bumblefoot infection.
It is a bacterial infection that causes inflammation on the foot which requires an antibiotic treatment under the supervision of an avian vet.
Thus, ensuring that your feathered pet has good perches is very important for its overall health.
Ideally, when birds have access to perches that offer a variety of shapes, sizes, textures, and contours, it helps the birds give their feet some exercise by adjusting their claws differently over different perches.
Dowel perches for birds?
Dowel perches do come with their advantages, too. For one, they are usually free with the cage. Secondly, since they come with the cage, they are the perfect fit for the cage, easy to fix, easy to remove and clean.
The disadvantage of dowel perches is that they are very smooth and uniform in thickness. This makes them slippery and unsuitable for perching on for longer periods of time. A dowel perch provides uniform pressure every time your bird perches on it which can lead to pressure sores.
Thus, having only a dowel perch or multiple dowel perches of the same size is not recommended.
What other options do you have for perches?
You can find a variety of other perches such as pedicure perches, swing perches, mirror perches, rope perches, natural wood perches, metal perches, etc.
Natural wood perches are a very good option. They provide different thicknesses and textures.
They are also great for birds to chew on and keep themselves occupied.
Swing perches are also good to let them have a fun time as they swing while they perch. Most parrots simply love swings. In this article, we show you some awesome swings that won’t hurt your parrot!
Pedicure perches are good for keeping the nails and beak healthy.
Rope perches made from natural fibers are also a great option. We show you why rope perches are awesome for birds in this article. We also show you a few of our favorite rope perches there!
The idea is to have multiple perches in the cage. If you have a dowel perch, it is not necessarily a bad thing. You just need to ensure that your birds have access to a variety of perches in addition to the dowel perch.
Heat perches are perfect for birds that need a warmer climate. We were skeptical at first, but we found out that heated perches are safe and loved by most birds! Here is our article on heated perches!
How to repurpose dowel perches
If you have some dowel perches lying around that you don’t want to use because you got new perches for the birds, don’t throw them out. You can repurpose dowel perches in a variety of ways to make them usable. Here are a few tips.
- Let your birds have a dowel perch for some time and then replace it with another. Even with the disadvantages of a dowel perch, you can still let them have one as long as they have other options in the cage as well.
- If the dowel perches you have aren’t very thin, you can hammer them a little so that they are no longer smooth and uniform.
- If the perches are thin, you can cover them with fleece or cloth. Just make sure you use bird safe material and no-pill fleece. The soft cover over the perch will make it an ideal sleep perch for your birds.
- If you are feeling creative, a wooden dowel perch can also be cut up to make a ladder. Parakeets love ladders and it would be a great accessory for their cage.
- You can also give the dowels a different texture by taking sandpaper and rubbing it over the surface. Make sure you rinse the perch well before use and also check for any splinters.
- You can make slots on the surface of the dowel perch using a sharp knife and fix different perches into it to make a play stand for your bird.
- Perches need cleaning. So when you are doing the regular cleaning of the perches, you can use the dowel perches as a temporary arrangement. Just hang in the spare dowel perches so that the birds have something to perch on while you get the other set ready for them.
So, don’t entirely discard the dowel perches that come with the cage. Let the birdies use them as long as they have other perches for variety too. Having one dowel perch in a cage with 2-3 other options isn’t really a bad thing.
And if you really don’t want to use them, repurpose them!
What materials are bird perches safe? Natural wood such as pine, birch, ash, elm, apple, maple, balsa, walnut, basswood, etc. are good options if you are going for wooden perches. For rope perches, it is best to go for natural fibers such as cotton, sisal, and hemp. If using a metal perch, go for stainless steel since it is non-toxic, durable, and easy to maintain.
How do you remove bird poop from perches? Perches can be cleaned using a common dishwasher. Once all the poop residue is removed from the perches, make sure they are completely dry before you put them back in the cage. Spraying them with a disinfectant is also a good idea.
Are sand perches bad for birds? Sand perches are usually kept to keep in check the nail growth in birds. But when they are extremely abrasive, they can cause injuries. Also, the sand is glued to such perches using an adhesive. If the birds pick on them and the adhesive is toxic, it could be harmful to them. They could also ingest sand, which is not advisable.