One item that doesn’t always get the attention it needs is the perch. Remember, when your parrot is in its cage the majority of time will be on its perch, eating, sleeping, playing etc. Perches can also assist with beak and nail maintenance. It is critical for you to provide your parrot with the correct size perches as well as a variety of types of perches for its well being. Your parrot’s feet should rest on the top half of the perch. If they wrap all the way around the perch, the perch is to small, and could result in foot problems. Finding the right combination is imperative to prevent health issues, as well as offering a means of exercise, and strength building. Please remember, they MUST be kept clean!!!
There is a large variety of perches available, and you will have to research which perches work the best for you and your parrot. We will review just a few different types of perches:
Cement perches: This type of perch can help keep nails rounded. We provide Adaya with one of these at all times. At one time we changed her cage around, and temporarily took out the cement perch. After just a short time, we realized our mistake: OUCH! Her nails became very sharp! What a lesson. Of course we placed the perch back in her cage and felt the change within 2 days! For these perches to be effective, your parrot’s feet should reach ¾ around the perch. We use this near her treat bowl, and she also rubs her beak on this.
Natural perches: refer to those made of wood, either purchased from a store or collected from untreated trees and sterilized. To sterilize branches, wash with a half cup bleach to 1-gallon water solution and dry completely, or wet the wood and bake in the oven at 300 degrees Fahrenheit until dry. Only use bird-safe unsprayed and untreated wood branches.
Manzanita and cholla: are common store-bought picks. Manzanita gets praise for its indestructibility; cholla, because it has a porous surface with holes large enough for bird toes to grip through. The life of a cholla perch may be limited, but vets and breeders both agree that this is a comfortable option to place within the cage. The multilevel texture has the extra benefit of exercising bird feet. Adaya has a cholla perch and this is one of her favorites! We have manzanita perches, but she doesn't care for these yet. I think she feels less stable on these, so we may try them again when shes a bit older.
Rope and Sisal perches: These are comfortable on birds’ feet, and the variations in texture allow for foot exercise. They’re also useful with handicapped birds, or those needing extra comfort as they age. Be careful though, if your parrot’s nails are untrimmed, they can snag on the material and trap a bird on the perch or leave it hanging, literally. Another precaution with rope perches: Cockatoos and cockatiels have been known to ingest the fibers, which become impacted in their stomachs and require surgery for removal. When Adaya first arrived home after weaning, her first perch was sisal rope that was the width of her cage, closer to the bottom. It took her awhile to become comfortable with other perches, and after buying corner sisal rope perches, she began to explore the others as well. She enjoys her corner sisal rope perches, and still uses those for her naps.
Cajeput perches: These perches have a chewy outer layer and an inner layer that is very hard wood. This bird safe perch provide a great cushioned stand surface. It comes from the Cajeput Tree, which is sometimes called the paper bark tree. Cajeput is grown in Australia, Asia, and Florida.
Cajeput coffee table perches: These have a round flat surface, and are ideal for those with special needs, or very young parrots.