There seem to be so many options out there for bird bedding, but which one is right for you and your bird?
What is the best bedding for pet birds? The absolute best bedding for your bird is newspaper, recommended due to its cheapness, non-toxicity, and ease of use. It isn’t the only bedding that can work with your bird, however.
When thinking about what bedding to use first, consider how it might affect your bird. Even products that you can buy at your local store could be harmful to them, even if the packaging says that it is safe for birds.
Read further to learn what makes good bedding, what you can use, and also what you need to avoid.
The best bedding for your bird
There are several options to choose from when you get a bird. Not all of them are created equal. Bedding must meet specific criteria to ensure it is safe for your avian friend to use.
Any bedding needs to be:
- Easy to use for daily cleaning (You might also want to have a look at our article about birdcage cleaning tips you just have to know here!)
- Material that your birds won’t eat
- No fragrance or heavily perfumed bedding
- No Dust
It sounds hard determining which is the best to use. After all, we can buy the bedding at the store or so and so uses that, and it works out for their birds.
Due to the bedding that they use, they might not know if the litter is actually the best for their birds. Below is a detailed list of the top 4 bedding that you can use for your avian friend’s cage.
1. Paper products
Sometimes simple is the best option when it comes to bedding for your pet’s cage, and paper is the simplest and frankly best choice for your bird.
- Easy to clean
- Doesn’t harm your birds
- Birds will not eat it
Paper products also allow you to monitor your bird’s health, by well, paying attention to their waste.
Since there is a language barrier between the two you one of the first ways you find out there is an issue with your bird is by a change in their droppings.
With the flat surface of the paper, you quickly check on your little friend to make sure they are feeling ok.
Out of paper products newspaper is the one most often used. It’s is easily accessible, sometimes you can get it for free. Since you will be using this every day, it’s best to look for something inexpensive to purchase.
If you don’t have any paper products readily available or for cheap, try to get creative. Maybe someone you know reads the newspaper or you can make a deal with a local store to take that pack of unpurchased papers off their hands.
For owners who have an untidy bird, you can place a stack of pages at the bottom of the cage and just pull the top layer off if your friend has made a mess of it.
If you have a reasonably tidy bird, then other paper products are ok to use. If you don’t have any paper products readily available or for cheap, try to get creative
Other paper products you can use for your bird:
- Paper towels
- Plain paper
- Brown paper bags
- Packaging paper
- Butcher paper
Make sure to avoid glossy ads or paper that seems to have a treatment since the ink or treatment might not be safe for your bird. However, the print on the newspaper itself is not toxic to your birds and that most that it will do are dye your avian friends’ feathers.
Remember, you will be changing the bedding every day, so it’s best to avoid anything too expensive. Included in that price is the amount of layering you are going to have to do to ensure the bedding is doing its job.
If you want something on the bottom of the cage for your bird to play around in, there are other options besides paper.
Keep in mind due to the uneven texture of these products, you cannot view your bird’s droppings as easily, which might cause you to miss any health issues they might have.
2. Clean Straw
Although straw is typically used for chickens, you can also use clean straw for your indoor bird. If you have someone who sells straw locally or you live in a more rural area, then you can use that.
The rest of us who are less lucky can purchase straw bedding at a local pet store or feed store.
When using a straw, the keyword is cleaned. Straw can carry parasites when it gets baled up, which can make your bird sick.
Anything that you give to your bird needs to be sanitary. If you are buying the straw from a retailer, then make sure the package states that it has been cleaned.
This type of bedding is especially useful if you have a female bird that is brooding and needs a location to lay her eggs. Also, if you have younger bird’s straw will be softer and feel safer to them.
You might assume that using straw will give you time in between cleaning, that isn’t the case, and the straw makes the task a little bit harder too.
General daily cleaning is still necessary for your bird. If you don’t, the bottom of the cage will be a cumulation of droppings and straw being a natural product tends to mold. Another drawback with this tow colored fiber is the texture.
While it might feel suitable for your bird straw doesn’t allow you to observe their droppings so you cannot safeguard against any issues your friend might have.
3. Birdcage Liners
Bird liners made of various materials and are available at any pet store or online. These are great for people who don’t want to use paper but also want to have a flat surface at the bottom of the cage.
Bird liners can be bought in assorted sizes to fit your cage exactly. They also come in large packs, which makes it easier for pet owners.
Liners are made of varied materials, and not all are ok to use for your bird. Avoid the ones that are essentially sandpaper.
The sand on the paper can be picked off by your bird to eat, and coarseness of the sand will dull down their talons if they walk around on the bottom of the cage. Bird liners that are quilted like a dog pad are the best type to use.
They offer the benefits of using paper due to the flatness, but they are much more expensive.
4. Aspen Wood Shavings
Aspen wood shavings work well for your bird due to their low fragrance and lack of chemicals that can irritate your bird’s skin. These can be purchased to make sure they are Aspen wood chips explicitly made for birds.
Get the larger wood chips so that your bird is not tempted to eat them. The drawbacks on Aspen wood shavings are the same for clean straw. You will still need to clean this every day, and it will prevent you from making sure their digestive tract is working right.
If your bird loves a little bit of something at the bottom of the cage, you can also create an area for either straw or the wood chips without it filling the entire bottom of the cage.
What not to use as bedding
It might be easier to understand what you can’t handle so that you are aware of what you can use. Don’t use anything that will prevent you from cleaning the bottom of the cage daily.
Dropping, food pellets, and the water that they inevitably throw around the pen does not make a very healthy environment. Something hard to move around makes cleaning a hassle on you and will you’re your bird’s cage smell.
Speaking of smell, while it might sound enticing don’t use anything that has a strong fragrance or odor. Maybe people use fragrant materials to counteract the smell of the cage, but if you clean out the bottom daily, there should not be any smell.
The aroma from the materials that you are using for bedding is blocking your ability to recognize health issues in your pet. If your bird cage smells, and their cage is clean, then it is time to take your bird to the vet.
A healthy bird’s cage should not smell at all. Besides hiding sickness, heavy fragrances irritate their sensitive skin. A telltale sign is crusting near your friend’s beak, eyes, and sores on their legs.
Small bits at the bottom of the cage don’t just hamper your ability to gauge your bird’s health, and they might eat the material. Sometimes that is ok. However, some products swell in your avian friend’s stomach, causing them digestive stress.
Do not use anything that throws up a lot of dust when moved around, another irritant for your bird.
Some everyday items not to use for your bird:
Bird litter is typically either discarded corn cob parts, walnut shells, or paper pellets. All of which create a danger for your pet if eaten.
Corn cob and paper pellets cause digestive issues in your bird, while corn cob and walnut shells are jagged and could cause significant damage to your bird’s digestive tract.
They are also an uneven texture, which makes a more laborious cleanup and prevents you from gauging their health.
Some people do use sand for their bird’s cage to act as a little box at the bottom of the enclosure scooping up any mess. That would be fine, but birds tend to try to eat or chew on anything that is around them so they will try to eat the sand.
Also depending on how messy your bird is the location where you keep your birdcage will be covered in sand.
Cedar or Pine Wood Shavings
Due to the high fragrance in these two particular trees, the chips and shavings are too overwhelming to your birds. They mask any health issues that your friend might have.
Then they cause skin irritation if your bird comes in contact with them. To be on the safe side don’t use any wood shavings or chips unless it is Aspen wood, even then they need to be made explicitly for birds.
A logical choice if you are trying to avoid a messy cage, however even low dust kitty litter is too dusty for your bird. Also, another thing that could cause them issues if they eat it.
Some people use cloth at the bottom of the cage and then wash the material once it needs cleaning. This is a bad idea for several reasons. First, the cage needs to be cleaned daily.
So if you use a piece of fabric for your bird’s enclosure depending on when you do your laundry, you will have several pieces of cloth with bird droppings mixed with your own laundry.
Then what do you wash them with? Regular laundry detergent is fragrance heavy, which will mess with their skin, and you have no idea how they will react to more natural products.
Unfortunately, most of the bedding that you can buy at the store is frowned upon by people who own birds. When purchasing anything for your pet first, you must ascertain their habits and how they behave.
If you feel that something isn’t right for your pet, then pay attention to that voice. That goes for generally approved products to those on the naughty list.
Is hamster bedding safe for birds? No, the dust, scent, and small size of the hamster bedding causes respiratory and digestive distress in our avian friends. Even if the package says that it is safe for birds do your due diligence and read the back to make sure it doesn’t contain any materials that might be dangerous to your bird.
How do you disinfect a birdcage? First, rinse it down with water to dislodge anything that is stuck to the cage. Then clean with a natural disinfectant such as vinegar or dishwashing detergent, scrubbing if needed. After that, you can clean any toys, perches, and bowls. Leave it outside or a sunny spot so that it can air dry.