I hate cleaning cages. I'd much rather be spending my time training or hanging out with the birds. I don't actually mind the "ick" of cleaning poop so much as taking the time to do it. But it's a fact of life when it comes to bird ownership and something that must be done. This is why I am keen on good cleaning products that reduce the amount of time/effort I need to spend cleaning.
Recall my Must Have Cleaning Devices for the Parrot Owner article reviewing cleaning gadgets. Well in addition to good gadgets, you also need good cleaning supplies. Paper towels do just fine, but on a tight budget washable rags are a good idea. I find that dish soap and bleach work very well for a thorough cage cleaning, however, it smells awful and takes a long time to prepare. Worse yet bleach stains and requires gloves for use. I'm so worried about the fumes that I have to lock my parrots out in the stairway. There has to be a better way.
Since I got Truman's Cage from Kings Cages I was already familiar with the brand. I've been using a bunch of their products for a while now and one of them is the Royal Cage Cleaner spray. This spray makes cleaning a whole lot easier. I just spray it on and wait 5 minutes, come back before it dries, and wipe off with a wet paper towel.
Frankly, I prefer my steam cleaner because it is an entirely chemical free way to clean and sterilize the cage. The trouble is that it has a very narrow stream so it takes forever, especially when it's a wide spread mess. For hard to reach crevices like in the grooves of a perch, I'd definitely go with steam cleaner. But on cage bars, grates, and particularly seed catchers, the spray is awesome.
I tried a different cleaner before, don't remember the name, but it was a citrus based cleaner. It smelled good and is supposedly very safe but it would leave a lot of residue after cleaning. I like the Royal Cage Cleaner better because it has very little residue. Wiping with a wet paper towel once gets most of it and a little more effort and it's all gone.
For the absolute worst messes I use a combination of my steam cleaner and spray. First I spray the area to dissolve the poop. Then I wipe what I can and blast the rest out with the steam cleaner. Works like a charm. For spot cleaning, $10 for the spray is well worth it. One bottle lasts me about a year because I combine with the steam cleaner.
I have one bottle of free Royal Cage Cleaner to give away. The contest is very simple. Just leave a comment below or on the Trained Parrot Facebook page telling me about what you currently use for cleaning your parrot's cage. Contest ends midnight Tuesday November 26th and a winner will be chosen at random and announced Wednesday. The only restriction I have here is that free shipping is in the US only. International winner must pay international shipping or decline the prize and another winner will be selected. Winner to be selected from either comments section or facebook comments at random. Thanks for reading and participating.
It's a 10" wide, 3/4" diameter, 8" high T-Perch on a 12x12 base. It is suitable for all small to medium sized parrots including budgies, all parakeets, lovebirds, parrotlets, cockatiels, conures, caiques, poicephalus parrots, quakers, amazons, african greys, eclectus, mini-macaws, and small cockatoos.
The deluxe in the name refers to the fact that it is skillfully grafted and very well made. It comes in a retail box and assembly is nothing more than twisting the T-Perch into the base. The base is durable and very easy to wipe down.
Since this is a "table" top perch, it was very important to make sure that it would look good amidst your living room furniture. There are no nails or hardware sticking out. And the wooden border is smooth and aesthetic. These tabletop perches are so dependable they come with a 1 year warranty. It does not cover any chewing but if the (unchewed) perch broke as the parrot walked across it or something like that, you'd be eligible for a replacement.
I have a full line of parrot trees still in the works and I may be releasing a bigger version of the tabletop for large parrots as well. Stay tuned.
Finally, to encourage more people to give the Deluxe Tabletop NU Perch a shot, I'm offering free shipping for the first 3 days only. Get yours before the end of the day Wednesday, August 7th and save $9.99 on shipping.
I have been writing this book for the last half year but more importantly it is the culmination of five very intense years of parrot education, training, consulting, and performing. I've taken everything that I have learned, applied it, and then wrote down for you the essentials that you can apply to your bird. This book isn't there to teach you how to teach a million tricks or become a performer. It's about how to achieve a well-behaved parrot and ultimately a mutual relationship!
It's not that I think I know better than others, but I just was never very pleased with the other books I've read about parrot keeping. Many of them are obsolete and don't recommend best practices. But even some of the books I agree with, I just found terribly boring. They are written by experts for experts and really leave the common parrot owner in the dust. Parrot owners don't need the nitty gritty technical stuff, they need something accessible that they can apply and that will work! I understand this because I'm a pet parrot owner and it wasn't long ago that I was desperately seeking help on the most basic things.
Instead of teaching you how to do absurdly complicated tricks with your parrot, my book is there to teach you all the essential stuff from merely approaching your parrot's cage without it freaking out to being able to grab it. A lot of emphasis is placed on taming, health, safety, and other things that are essential elements of keeping a pet parrot. Also the first chapter is entirely about how to choose a parrot in the first place for folks who do not yet have one and attempts to answer the classic question, "what kind of parrot should I get?"
In my book, I tell it how it is. I don't try to sugar coat things or make a parrot owner out of everybody. The purpose is to help those who want the help and to get them to achieve a good relationship with their parrot. The book takes a very balanced approach keeping both the parrot's well-being but also the parrot owner's sanity in mind. I realize that people are busy, have other commitments, may not have the means to buy fancy stuff. That is why my book is down to earth and really about finding a way that anyone can make it work rather than a professional approach to training performing parrots.
Unlike any other parrot book I've ever come across, mine presumes that parrots are flying creatures and takes an approach to keeping them as such. Despite the recommendation of keeping them flighted, the book presents countless ways to get more out of your parrot than if it were clipped! Flight safety, flight recall training, flight trick training, and managing flighted parrots are key themes throughout the book. Even if your parrot is clipped you will find this book extremely helpful and I think it will convince you that you can still have a relationship with your parrot by allowing it to fly. Better yet, you will have a better behaved, healthier, safer, and more fun parrot than it could ever be while clipped!
Problem solving receives an entire chapter in the book. Solving problems such as biting, screaming, plucking, and even flighted related issues are extensively covered. However, the main purpose of the book is to present an approach to follow from day 1 to ensure that those problems don't arise in the first place. This information is all based on problems I have solved in my own parrots or have helped others solve with theirs.
You'll find it interesting that I barely wrote any of this book at home. It has bits written all over the world on planes, trains, and automobiles. I've been writing it on the go during my travels. Guyana, Suriname, French Guiana, Guadeloupe, Haiti, Ethiopia, Sudan, Eritrea, Djibouti, and Somalia are some of the places I was in while writing the books. During those trips I got to observe parrots in their natural habitats so it was especially encouraging to me to help owners find the best compromise between a parrot's nature and desirable household pet qualities.
This is a quick review of some of my favorite cleaning gadgets that I have found helpful. I have probably spent a thousand dollars on things to make cleaning easier. Some of these items turned out great while others were duds. I'd like to save you the trouble of trying everything out by directing you straight to some of the better cleaning devices you can buy.
#1 - Black & Decker Pivot Vac 18V Cordless Pivoting Hand Vac, PHV1810
A handheld vacuum cleaner is a must have device for every parrot owner from budgie to macaw. Parrots are messy creatures and being able to easily collect that mess is a part of daily parrot care. Not only do parrots throw food around but they also shed a lot of feathers and chew things down to dust.
I have gone through many handheld vacuum cleaners until I tried this model. That is when I stopped having to change brands and stuck it out with one for the longest time I can remember. This one is simply the best. Not only is the battery/motor more powerful, but the filter is less prone to clogging so the power doesn't diminish. The 18V battery gives more umph while maintaining a charge for longer. You can get a good 15-30 minutes of cleaning time with this one so the battery life doesn't end up inhibiting you like on the cheaper models. The suction port angle can be adjusted and cleaning it out is nothing more than opening the door.
The only downside I can think of to this handheld vac is that it is heavy. I don't consider the circa-$50 price tag a downside because of the quality and value. I've had mine for over 3 years now and it's running like new while the cheaper ones I had for $25 had to be replaced more frequently in the same span of time. Since your parrot will put you in the habit of using a handheld vac daily, this is a place where quality/durability are essential.
I have also used this same vac to clean my staircase and car, so it has been by far the greatest cleaning asset. The slightly higher price tag actually makes it seem cheap compared to the longevity and value that it has truly offered. So I highly recommend the 18V Black and Decker handheld vac to all parrot owners. There is no other cleaning gadget I am as thrilled to use as this vac. I rate it 5 stars on all parameters.
The Steam Shark or Shark Steam, whatever it's called, is a "steam cleaner." Don't confuse it with other steam cleaners that just rub the floor with hot water. This one actually blows out steam. The steam should help sanitize surfaces without the need for chemicals. Since chemicals and parrots are a risky combination, the idea of simply blowing hot water on a surface to disinfect it is highly appealing. My main resignation, however, is that I'm not sure that the steam exposure is long enough to do a complete job so I do resort to parrot safe chemicals every now and then. That said, I prefer to use this cleaner on a more regular basis.
I don't find this cleaner as awesome as the vac I previously mentioned, but there are a few things it can help with that make it worth having for most parrot owners. The downsides are that it is cumbersome and slow to use. It takes time for the water to heat up and steam to come out. Since there is water inside, it is pretty heavy to hold. The worst part is that the steam comes out a fairly small nozzle so you can only clean a small area at a time. Cleaning a bird cage with chemicals ends up faster than using the cleaner.
But where this steam cleaner really shines is in the hard to reach places: the cracks and crevices in parrot perches. Poop and dirt seem to find their way into perches, between cage bars, in cage corners, and all those hard to reach/clean places. The steam cleaner not only heats those places but it also blows the contaminants straight out of where they are. Essentially, the steam cleaner is like a miniature power washer. You can blast dried poop out of just about anywhere. It may take you a few minutes to clean a spot only a few inches across, but when you need to clean out the bark on a perch, there is pretty much no other way. This cleaner comes with a long cord so it is convenient when you need to clean multiple trees and cages.
I would not rely on this cleaner exclusively for cage cleaning but if you are already well stocked on other cleaning supplies, this is a good extra gadget to add to your arsenal. It is pretty much the only power cleaning tool you can use for parrot cages (except a power washer outdoors) so it's worth mentioning. If you are very poopy-phobic, which is hard to imagine for any seasoned parrot owner, with enough patience, this cleaner can be used to clean down your parrot's cage entirely without ever touching anything.
Just remember that you can burn yourself or your parrot with the hot steam coming out so always be conscious of where you are spraying it. I use this device a few times a week and recommend it as something that most parrot owners should eventually end up getting. It's not a must have device but it is quite helpful. It's a little pricey but the value is good. The construction and capability leave some to be desired but they are generally good enough for common parrot cleaning purposes. I'd rank it 3/5 on quality, usefulness, and value. But I'd give it 4/5 when it comes to cleaning tight places such as between cage bars, perches, trees, toys, etc. I give it 5/5 as being parrot safe (as long as your parrot is away to avoid getting burned).
#3 - BISSELL Spotbot Pet Handsfree Spot and Stain Cleaner with Deep Reach Technology, 33N8
The spotbot is really cool because it's the only fully automatic cleaning gadget I'm aware of. This one is particularly handy for people with a lot of carpet/rugs. No matter how much you try to potty train your parrot, accidents will happen from time to time. With some, more than others. Kili is pretty good so this device wasn't paying off with her. But, with Truman on the other hand it's been worth every penny. When he was younger and couldn't hold it in long enough, when i would let him out in the morning he would sometimes spill his load while flying across the room. It wasn't just a matter of having a mess on the carpet in one spot. He'd leave a whole trail that was a nightmare to clean. Using my spotbot, I was able to run it a couple times and be done with it.
The way the spotbot works is it has a round opening on the bottom, approximately 9 inches across, that runs a complete wash/scrub/vac cycle for you. All you have to do is add water/detergent to the canister, place it over the mess, and activate it. The machine will run the complete cleaning cycle and then beep to alert you when it is done. Since you don't want it to beep any more than necessary (or else your parrot will be doing that all the times there isn't even a mess to clean), you have to run over right away to turn it off.
Almost every time I've had to run it, the spotbot took care of the mess on the first run. Rarely have I had to run it a second time and I really can't think of a time when it couldn't cope with the mess. It sure beats getting on your knees and scrubbing bird poop out of the carpet for half an hour. The only thing I suggest about using the spotbot is to remove as much of the mess with a papertowel beforehand as possible and then let the machine do the hard work. The device also comes with a hose for handheld cleaning. I've never had to use that for a bird mess but I admit it was handy for cleaning the floor mats from my car. Otherwise, I've found no other uses for the machine.
The spotbot is the most expensive of my parrot-specific cleaning gadgets so I least recommend it for all owners. It's the gadget you'll end up paying the most for and using the least. If you don't mind the expense or have a lot of carpet messes, I do suggest it. The quality of the machine is good but the frequency of these pooping on the carpet accidents are just so rare that the cost effectiveness is the only concern. Perhaps I've used mine 50 times. That still comes out to $3 a cleaning. So keep in mind that you'll be paying a lot for little use. But the amount of tiring effort that it saves is really worthwhile. I'll rate the quality/capability of the gadget 5/5 but 2/5 on price and 2/5 for how essential it is for parrot owners. Not a bad device by any means, just limited in use and expensive.
When it comes to regular vacuum cleaners, etc, I don't feel it worth reviewing. That comes down to your personal cleaning preferences and is impacted less by owning parrots. Whatever vacuum cleaner, mop, or other device you like to clean with shouldn't be affected too much by having a bird. The 3 devices I mentioned above I would not have if it weren't for parrots so that's why I thought they are especially worth mentioning. Over the years I've tried many and have thrown out most of them. The 3 I listed here have lasted for years and served me well. I have no motivation to push those products except that I hope they can make your life taking care of parrots easier like they have mine.
Feel free to leave comments if you've tried these devices or have other cleaning gadgets you'd like to recommend.
Since I got Truman back in 2010, both of my parrots have been on a Roudybush Maintenance Pellet diet. Before that point, Kili had been on a Purina pellet diet that she was weened on at the store I got her; Truman was on Pretty Bird. I did not want to feed two separate diets and nor was I thrilled with either. I was faced with the choice of what diet both of my parrots would be on from then forward.
Let me begin by saying that I don't know much about parrot diet and nor does anyone else. Anyone who says they know everything about parrot diet actually knows little. The most respectable people that I have talked to about parrot diet fully admit that we know very little and to take it with a grain of salt. The problem is not only that little research has been done but also that there exist over 300 species of parrots that all have vastly different diets. For starters we are dealing with parrots from 3 isolated continents, 2 different families, and over 90 generas. Habitats range from lush rain forests to savannahs and deserts. Clearly different parrots are eating completely different foods.
Now let's add the fact that none of the foods we feed to captive parrots are anything they would encounter in the wild. Whether it's fruits, vegetables, nuts, or seeds (with few exceptions) these are entirely human foods and have nothing to do with the foods these birds would naturally encounter. For this reason, you can't argue that an apple or sunflower seed is a natural food for parrots while a pellet is not. The parrot would eat neither in the wild. So instead of trying to find the foods that are natural to a certain species of parrot (actually impossible because they aren't cultivated and cannot be sourced), the next best solution is to learn their nutritional requirements and appeal to those. Though there are variations in nutritional requirements, they are far more similar across species than specific foods consumed.
Before I can make the case why I chose Roudybush, I have to begin by explaining why pellets in the first place. You see, parrots are picky eaters and tend to eat the most caloric foods while leaving behind the more nutritious ones. The reason for this is pretty simply, in the wild the highly desired foods are seasonal and limited. Eat those first while they are available and when they are not, revert to the other stuff. The seed mixes we can buy are already premixed. So the supply of sunflower seeds or whatever else never runs out as it gets restocked daily. Furthermore, the vitamins and minerals are simply sprinkled on the seeds and not actually in them so who knows how much the bird is actually getting? On the flipside there also exists the possibility of a parrot overdosing (which can be as dangerous as not getting enough) by eating too much of a certain seed or drinking water with vitamins mixed in. Pellets on the other hand are thoughtfully balanced. Since the parrot is eating the same thing in each bite, there is no chance of getting the wrong amounts of things while ensuring that the bird gets a healthy dose.
One thing that really convinced me that pellets are a superior food for parrots was a discussion I had with Truman's breeder about pellets vs vegetables and fresh foods. She is a firm believer that pellets are food and everything else is just play stuff. In other words, pellets are for health and the other foods are just fun/tasty for the birds but not important. She explained to me that she used to be a firm believer in giving fresh foods to the birds and would spend hours every day preparing them until her mother became ill. She had to take a year off from the breeding business to care for her mother while entrusting her birds to the husband. The birds would be canned during this period and just bare essentials done until her return. What this meant was no more time consuming fresh foods. The birds were put on an all pellet diet. After a solid year on nothing but pellets, the birds appeared healthier (not only to the breeder but the vet as well) but more convincingly yielded greater offspring. Unlike beliefs about which foods may or may not be better, this is actually some very objective evidence. Since learning about this, I never again felt bad about leaving my parrots on just pellets when I'm away and predominantly feeding them a pellet diet. When I feed vegetables to my parrots, it's to make them lose weight and not to make them healthier.
Some people try to go with all natural or less pellet dominated diets. The problem I have with these is how do you know what to actually feed your parrot, in what quantity, in what balance, and how to ensure they are actually eating that and not other things? It seems to me that most people just make up what they think is healthy and feed it to their parrots rather than actually basing it on any rational evidence. For example I've heard great arguments for why frozen vegetables are healthier than fresh and the other way around as well. How am I to judge which arguments have better merits? Instead I feed a bit of either to the birds but only as supplement to pellets which are actually proven to work.
Pellets provide ample and balanced nutrition. Once accustomed to them, parrots eat them whole heartedly. My parrots have never been on seed or other diets, but when viewed by vets they are always complemented on having a very healthy appearance. On the flip side, looking at similar parrots that are on unhealthy diets, the difference is quite apparent. So given that I am very convinced that pellets are the best diet available for parrots, the big question when I was getting Truman was which pellet to use? I had no special attachment to Kili's Purina pellets except that was what she was weened on so I continued using them out of habit. Truman was weened on Pretty Bird but I did not want to use a colored pellet. All the silly shapes aren't necessary either, a hungry parrot will eat regardless how entertaining the food looks.
I researched different pellets on the market before coming to my decision. I ruled out colorful and sugary pellets up front. Not only is it safer to avoid using colored foods but also it allows you to monitor droppings for abnormalities. Sugary pellets and other globby treat ball type products were out of the question as well. The last thing a captive parrot needs is refined sugar. They already have more energy than they can expend sitting in a cage and flying in the confines of a home, so getting hyper off refined sugar is not only detrimental to their health but also their behavior. If you are unsure if what you are feeding your parrot is sweetened, I urge you to taste it to find out. If it's sweet, you should probably look for an alternative. Also, keep in mind that sugary pellets are more prone to spoilage or causing yeast infections.
When it comes to healthy, unsweetened, and actually researched pellet brands, the list becomes greatly narrowed down. Simply put, many pellets on the market are junk. It was pretty easy to eliminate the pellets I did not want to use but much more challenging to pick the one pellet to feed out of a few good ones. I considered organic pellets but found that the benefit comes at a disproportionately greater cost. I eat non-organic processed food with preservatives so I figured (as long as it's not detrimental) my parrots can do the same. Roudybush in my mind is the best of the non-organic pellets and I didn't feel like having organic soy or corn really makes that much of a difference through all the processing and treatment it undergoes anyway. Furthermore organic food is much more prone to spoilage and has to be used quicker. I think organic food can potentially do more harm than good because it can carry bugs/diseases resultant by the lack of preservatives and pesticides. This means it is more critical to use organic food quickly and older food is best discarded and replaced. This makes the cost of organic even higher than just the package cost.
Roudybush comes out ahead in the bird food market as the optimal balance of good nutrition, research, quality control, preservation, and cost. It is one of the more expensive pellets but quality seems proportionate to cost. Yet it is still far cheaper than organic or specialized diets. Roudybush pellets have been in use since 1981 and have gone through rigorous research and testing. I feel that for such long living birds, having time tested results is essential. We may not know long terms side effects of newer diets on kidneys/livers of parrots. Having a diet that has been researched and successful for this long is evidence I'll take any day over a hunch feeling that something is a healthy food for my birds.
Here are aspects of the pellet that makes Roudybush superior.
· Nutritional balance is achieved through years of study · Pellets contain no coloring · No sugar/sweeteners · Bird safe preservatives prevent spoilage/toxins · Steam Pelleting yields less nutrient loss and greater concentration than extrusion · Good shelf life · Time tested (going on 32 years)
I have heard complaints about the ingredients such as corn/soy basis. However, I have not read evidence for why this is bad or a better substitute. Thus in the meantime I do not have a problem with this. It's not surprising that my birds like Roudybush pellets though because they love corn. At least, unlike eating corn straight, the pellets ensure that they get a balanced nutritious diet in the process rather than just empty calories.
The place where I disagree with Roudybush (and really all the pellet manufacturers) is the concept of freefeeding the product to parrots. Of course the manufacturer has no reason to tell you otherwise because they make more money from all the overfeeding and waste. My biggest problem is with the overeating, followed by the mess, and only in last place the excess cost. The excess cost of spilled pellets is not the end of the world but still something to consider. The mess of unnecessarily spilled pellets is a bigger pain because it requires frequent cleaning. Watch the time lapse of Kili & Truman eating their pellets at the end of the video and you will see how they neatly eat over their dishes. All crumbs fall into the dish (remember there is a grate at the bottom of the cage so anything spilled elsewhere is gone forever) and then the birds lick their dish clean not leaving a single crumb. I find feeding medium pellets (which are considered suitable for much larger parrots) optimal because it allows me to count the pellets out quickly. Kili gets 5-10 per meal and Truman gets 5-20 per meal depending on weight. This is a quick amount to count out and it encourages the parrots to use their dexterous feet to hold them.
Roudybush Maintenance Pellets are the type that I would have no hesitation in recommending to other parrot owners. I feel that it is a safe, reliable, healthy, beneficial, affordable, and nutritious diet. It is the best balance of price, quality, and benefit in the market. It may be difficult to find in stores but order in bulk online, freeze, and use at your pace for greatest savings.
I am happy to share that Roudybush company values the training and educational work I am doing with parrots and has agreed to sponsor Kili & Truman with their favorite brand of pellets. I had already made up my mind and been using their pellets for several years now. But lately I've begun capitalizing on Kili & Truman's fame by getting manufacturers to sponsor them. I was thrilled that Roudybush agreed because it was already my first choice diet.
In addition, I ensured that my favorite rescue would also be taken care of with a matching contribution. Not only will my flock benefit, but so will the parrots at GingersParrots rescue. Up until six months ago the parrots had been on all kinds of diets, not to mention colorful/sugary ones. But since my first visit to the rescue, I have convinced Ginger not only to try Roudybush but also to consolidate all of her birds onto the same diet. I got her birds to try some of the pellets from Kili & Truman's stash and most of them took right to it so conversion was a non-issue. She didn't try converting them off the colored pellets because she didn't think they could do it. All it took was actually trying and now her flock is on a much healthier standard diet. So I'd like to thank Roudybush for caring about the health of rescue parrots.
Here is a video of Kili & Truman receiving their first sponsored package and enjoying their Roudybush pellets followed by GingersParrots getting their first shipment.