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Bird Bedding | Bird Litter

The requirements for bird litter vary widely for different species of birds depending on their natural diet and type of droppings produced. Sleeping and nesting habits also varies by species with some requiring bird bedding in a nest or nesting box and others requiring only perches. So it is important to get advice regarding your particular species to make sure your choice of bird bedding or bird litter is safe and appropriate.

Here we will look at some general care issues when looking after pet birds and see how SmartBedz may be used as a bird litter for many types of birds to help control wetness and odour within your bird’s environment.

Bird Bedding click here to buy our universal bedding litter from our online shop

Bird Cages

Bird cages come in many designs and sizes so get advice on the needs of your bird(s) before you buy. But generally the cage needs to fulfil the following requirements. It needs to provide sufficient space to allow the bird to climb up and down and to spread its wings completely without touching the side of the cage. If the bird feels its wings coming into contact with the cage this will inhibit it from exercising its wings and this will have a detrimental effect on its physical health as well as being a source of stress. Do not depend on “outside time” to make up for a cage which is too small. Insufficient space creates stress in birds which can lead to all types of behavioural problems including excessive vocalisation, biting and feather plucking.

You should expect that your bird will attempt to squeeze between the bars at some point just to see if it can escape. The cage bars should be close enough together to prevent escape, but not so close that a bird might get trapped between them.

Although round cages look pretty, they are not a good shape for most birds. Square or rectangular cages are best. The cage material should be sturdy and able to withstand chewing - which is why wire is such a common material for bird cages. To avoid rust, choose either stainless steel or something which has been suitably finished to prevent rust. Avoid painted cages as the bars will inevitably get chewed and the paint will be ingested.

A typical cage design involves a wire floor which allows droppings to fall through to a litter area below. Bird litter is placed on this lower level in order to keep any litter material and droppings well away from the birds. It is vitally important to choose a size of mesh and distance between aviary floor and litter level which adequately prevents birds reaching through with their beaks and trying to eat the litter - this will vary according to the size of the bird and their beak length. If you are breeding your birds take special care that your cage, which may be appropriate for an adult bird, is also appropriate for younger, smaller birds.

Make sure the cage is ready assembled when your bird arrives and arrange perches and bird suitable toys. Toys should be arranged along the top of the cage within reach of one of the perches - this should be low enough so the bird does not need to crouch when perched. Arrange the water and food containers but make sure these are not directly below the perches to avoid soiling and make sure there are perches close to these containers. Ask the breeder you are buying from what type of food the bird will like - it is probably best to use this at first and the breeder may also be able to advise on different treats that would be appropriate.

Bird Litter

Birds can be messy particularly when eating and this is not always easy to contain.

A layer of suitable bird litter should be placed under the wire cage base to help absorb wetness and prevent odours - SmartBedz is ideal for this. 

Some owners like to monitor droppings as a way of checking for developing health problems and like to use a bird litter which makes observation easy, such as white paper towels. If this is required, temporarily or permanently, paper towels can be easily placed over the SmartBedz litter base and the paper towels removed and replaced as required.

Some types of bird litter should definitely be avoided as they cannot be processed through a bird’s digestive system and will cause “compaction” which can eventually lead to death if not controlled. Smaller birds are especially vulnerable to this problem.

Avoid litters based on walnut shells and corn cobs as these are simply too hard and will cause severe digestive problems or even death.

Avoid cedar based products - shavings or chips - as the scent is harmful to many birds.

Avoid any type of conventional kitty litter, but especially clumping varieties, as these are dusty and can cause severe damage if inhaled or eaten.

Paper based materials are generally safe, provided it is not printed with toxic ink.

SmartBedz pellets are made from a completely natural product, straw, with no toxic chemicals and is virtually dust free. The straw is processed and, although highly absorbent, is designed to break down easily when moist. It should therefore not cause any compaction problems in the event that it is eaten. This product has been used on the continent for almost 20 years with no reported problems. Completely covering the SmartBedz layer with paper towels hides the pellets and helps to prevent birds from attempting to reach the pellets. It also makes visual observation of droppings much easier and allows frequent removal of solids. In this configuration, SmartBedz acts primarily as an excess moisture absorber and odour suppressant and will last a long time.

If in doubt, or if indicated by the specific needs of your bird’s species, it is best to stick to paper towels.

Once in place, SmartBedz can be spot cleaned, depending on the type and consistency of your bird’s droppings. It should be replaced completely once it starts to smell.

SmartBedz is easily disposed of as it is biodegrades quickly when moist and so can be used in the garden. The quantities required by birds will be small and so can be safely flushed - which is a major benefit to owners who have no garden or are unable to go outside.

Bird Litter click here to buy our universal bedding litter from our online shop

Bird Bedding for Nesting

Different birds have different sleeping and nesting behaviours so it is important to provide features in the environment which are suitable for the species you have. Some will happily sleep on their perches while others prefer to sleep in a nest. A perching bird will not require specific bird bedding, while a nesting bird will want appropriate nesting materials.

During the spring, birds will go to great lengths to try to mate. Obvious signs of this are changing behaviour such as rooting around to try and find a suitable place for a nest, courtship behaviour or egg laying. Birds who are trying to mate or who you wish to breed, need to be provided with appropriate bird bedding from which they can construct a nest and possibly a nesting box depending on species preferences.

Suitable materials can vary according to species, so do take expert advice on this. But some commonly used materials include “nesting hair”, shredded paper, cotton, jute and animal hair of all varieties such as horse and cow. A nest can be in situ for several weeks or months during the breeding season and as with all bird nests it is best not to disturb them especially if being actively used for egg laying and chick rearing. But if this nest is in your living room the smell may be problematic after a while, especially if a brood of chicks is continually pooping into it. Using an odour suppressing layer of SmartBedz in the bottom of the nest can help with odour control considerably, provided this is appropriate for the species in question. The SmartBedz layer can be hidden away visually by covering it with nest felts (discs of natural felt designed for lining birds nests).