Talk Cockatiels Forum banner

1 - 15 of 15 Posts

·
Registered
Joined
·
12 Posts
Discussion Starter #1
When I was younger I used to have a budgie, and he had always bird sand in his cage as lining his entire 14 year long life without any problem.

Now I have my cockatiel for 5 weeks now and since people say a grate is bad for their feet so I switched the trays and the collection tray is now on top. So rather having my tiel walking on plastic I've put bird sand on it, which she loves and also walks around sometimes happily in it.

I've read now mixed things about bird sand and cockatiels. Some sides sand is fine and similar to natural habitat and is fine even if they accidentally eat a bit since it suppose to good for their digestive system.
Then others say its not good and could harm their crop and makes it more difficult to spot any changes in their droppings.

Now I know a lot of people using newspaper, but isn't it then I would need to use the grate again which is bet for the feet and she likes to wonder around once in a while on the floor.

Any ideas on that? Cause I thought if my budgie never had a problem with it then a Cockatiel would be also ok with it.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,486 Posts
bird sand

Hi Tomoki - I have not heard any good things about using sand for cockatiels. As you said, it can cause crop impaction. I could also cause irritation to the bird's feet if the grains get caught in the little creases as folds. I have a grate in the bottom of Bennie's cage; he doesn't spend much time on it. I put newspaper under the grate to make cleaning easier. He has a variety of perches to climb on so that keeps him off the floor. But you are right that it would not be healthy for a cockatiel (or any bird) to stand on wire. Walking around on the wire grate occasionally won't hurt the bird's feet. BTW, re newspaper, if it is where the bird can reach it, avoid colored sections such as ads. Those dyes can be harmful to birds if they chew on it, which you know they will! :) Enjoy your cockatiel!
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
10,882 Posts
Wild cockatiels eat grit as part of their natural diet, and it looks to me like the "grit causes crop impaction" thing is a gigantic myth. Grit eating goes back to the dinosaur days, so birds are thoroughly evolved for it and can get rid of excess grit whenever they want to, through regurgitation or pooping it out. The major exception is for babies who don't have regurgitation skills yet. Birds with certain diseases that interfere with crop function may also have a problem, but that will also affect their ability to process food. I've researched the issue as much as I can, and have a long article about it here: http://www.littlefeatheredbuddies.com/info/nutrition-grit.html
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
4,781 Posts
Not sure about the grit, but the grate on the bottom of the cage is fine for birds. When you have a baby bird, they will have trouble walking on it, but they will learn as they get older.

I personally just use newspapers to line the tray, and use the cage grate to prevent my bird from getting to his poop.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
2,384 Posts
I use newspaper without the grate. Joey does spend some time each day playing on top of his cage. which is the same as having the grate. He spends most of his time on the back of the couch or the bendy perch that is his walkway from the top of the cage to the back of the couch. It never seems to bother his feet when he is on top of the cage, but he has the option of whether he wants to be on it or not.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
4,781 Posts
I use newspaper without the grate. Joey does spend some time each day playing on top of his cage. which is the same as having the grate. He spends most of his time on the back of the couch or the bendy perch that is his walkway from the top of the cage to the back of the couch. It never seems to bother his feet when he is on top of the cage, but he has the option of whether he wants to be on it or not.
Why don't you use the grate in his cage? Just curious.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
2,384 Posts
Why don't you use the grate in his cage? Just curious.
I took it out when he first moved in with us as a baby. It seemed easier to take it out and put newspaper down. saving the mess of cleaning the grate, too.

I'd also heard it was better for their feet to take it out, but he very rarely walks on his floor so that wouldn't have been an issue after all. He doesn't seem at all bothered when he is playing on top of his cage, and will even run the short distance to the corner closest to me if he is on it when I walk by. It makes me laugh to see him sprint less than 3 feet. :D
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
260 Posts
I have found caged birds don't tend to hang out at the bottom that much where as aviary birds are on the floor 60% of the time foraging. I have a bowl of grit and a cat litter tray full of bird sand as I have a mixed aviary and my cockatiels never touch the grit or sand so I imagine they probably don't even attempt eating it but I'm sure if they walked on abit of poop then in the sand they would end up with a cement like lump of their foot so this maybe a concern if you do keep the sand. Which ever floor covering you go for just keep an eye on his feet and feeding/pooping habits. With our indoor birds we have always used news paper and grate.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
115 Posts
It's interesting you bring this up, I had a conversation with my mom the other day about providing grit to budgies and cockatiels. My mom has been breeding both species since well before I was born, and my birds growing up as well as all of her breeders ALWAYS had clean grit on top of the newspaper or cage liner at the bottom of their cages. She still, to this day, buys boxes of grit and every one of her birds has clean grit at the bottom of their cages...Why? Because it's what she has always done, lol. I don't provide my budgies grit anymore because it was finally discovered that they aren't a species of bird that need grit to digest their food, neither do cockatiels. But there are species of birds that require grit in their diet to eat foods other than the feed made especially for them, like chickens, ducks, quail, geese, doves, etc. So these two little Pekin ducklings I recently acquired and am pretty sure that I'm keeping are now eating "Chick Starter Feed w/20% Protein" because they are only a week old. They'll eat this until they are 10 weeks old, then switch to different feeds depending on their age. And as long as they only eat the feed specially made for birds with their types of crops, they don't need any grit to digest it, because the feed itself has the texture of grit. But if I want to feed them anything else, like veggies, greens, fruit, etc. I have to provide either a chicken grit or an oyster shell grit mix along with it for them to be able to digest it.

So basically it was believed that ALL birds needed to have grit along with their seed, pellets, greens, etc. for digestion up until not that long ago, into the late 90's or so. It was discovered that most companion parrots have crops that can digest food without needing grit, but most "poultry foul" absolutely do require grit or feed that is like grit, because their crops need it to break down food and digest it. Is it going to hurt your budgies or cockatiels if you provide bird grit in the bottom of their cages? Absolutely not, just ask my mom, or Keety, the blue English budgie my mom hand-raised and gave to me as my first bird when I was 6 years old. Keety lived to be 18 years old and was with me throughout college and grad school, and he had fresh bird grit in his cage bottom every day of his life. And he ate it too, so do my mom's birds. Not a lot of it, but they do go to the bottom and munch for a bit each day or so.

Now I am talking about "BIRD GRIT", not bird "SAND", as the OP stated in the original post...SAND IS A NO NO! I'm sure the OP meant GRIT, lol, just a wording misnomer. SAND of any kind, whether we're talking playsand, calcium sand, beach sand, etc. is not nearly the same as GRIT, sand is very fine and becomes thick and caked together when it gets wet, and will absolutely without a doubt cause any bird to become impacted very quickly. This is a no no!

Please never put ANY type of "SAND" in your bird's cage, it can kill them...GRIT only!

Sent from my XT1575 using Tapatalk
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
10,882 Posts
Sand is frequently used as grit, both by wild birds and in commercial and homemade grit mixes. It will clump together slightly when it gets wet, but the slightest amount of pressure makes the clumps fall apart. Clean sand isn't dangerous. Here's an article saying that wild cockatiels eat sand: http://web.archive.org/web/20090303223840/http:/www.birdingmania.com/Cockatiels-In-The-Wild.php

Here's a 177-page PhD thesis on grit use by birds. http://lib.dr.iastate.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=12258&context=rtd Here's a quote from page 99:

Several authors have contended that some birds require grit for digestion and would weaken and die if deprived of it [gallinaceous birds (chickens, ducks, quail etc) and Ring-Necked pheasants are mentioned as birds possibly requiring grit, but this is basically rejected in the following paragraph]... Although grit use may be highly beneficial to birds, it does not seem to be essential to the survival of birds receiving adequate nutrition. Studies of poultry have shown, for example, that although grit use hastens and improves digestion, it is not essential to survival, growth, or egg production. Moreover, birds whose gizzards have been removed may live indefinitely, although they may show a reduced ability to digest coarse foods. Nestler et al concluded that grit is not essential to growth, welfare, or reproduction of northern bobwhites, based upon his studies of captive birds deprived of grit throughout life.
The summary: grit does not appear to be required by any bird, but it does appear to be useful to any bird that eats a lot of hard food. That includes pet parrots who eat a lot of dry seed. It's not so useful to birds whose diet is mostly pellets and vegetables.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
10,882 Posts
All the scientific sources that I've been able to dig up indicate that the use or non-use of grit by birds doesn't have anything to do with the presence or absence of seed shells. Instead, it's directly related to how tough the food is. Birds that eat soft food use little or no grit. The birds that use the most grit are those that eat hard foods (seeds, nuts, grains) or those that eat a lot of grass, which is indigestible to many animals because of its high fiber content.

Birds will remove the seed shells if they have the ability to do it, because their digestion is more efficient without this indigestible material getting in the way. But they still have to get the nutrients out of the part that they did swallow, and if it's hard stuff then having some grit in the gizzard helps them extract more nutrients. If they don't have access to grit, the gizzard muscles will get stronger to compensate. But using grit is nature's way of handling it, and it appears that Australian parrots in general (including cockatiels) are major grit consumers.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
184 Posts
Is this why my tiel occasionally heads for the fireplace and tries to chew on the grout? Does it look like grit to him?
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
260 Posts
For me I have sand as quail require it for bathing and apparently doves but I've never seen them use it! lol I have to check the quail and doves feet regularly as sometimes other birds poop in the sand and if I cover the sand they don't use it. Luckily my birds don't mind if I catch them to clean off a little patch of sand and poop it can get quite hard but I just use my finger nails to pick it off as they have such skinny toes I wouldn't want to risk crushing their toes and I always have clean hands. I have never noticed the cockatiels with lumps on their feet and I do see them walk in the sand I guess they must be better at cleaning their feet? Quail and doves are a tad stupid lol as they are the only birds who ever get effected. The feet for me is my concern as birds feel safe being able to perch. I've never had a bird gorge itself with grit or sand. If you keep an eye on your bird I'm sure the bird will be fine
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
10,882 Posts
Is this why my tiel occasionally heads for the fireplace and tries to chew on the grout? Does it look like grit to him?
Yes, chewing on grout is grit-seeking behavior. One of the problems with trying to prevent birds from eating grit is that they'll often seek out and eat anything they can find that resembles grit. A lot of birds have been harmed by eating dangerous materials in a quest for grit. If you've got a bird that's actively seeking out grit, it will be safer to provide him with some clean safe grit so he doesn't have to go scrounging for whatever he can find.

I have never noticed the cockatiels with lumps on their feet and I do see them walk in the sand I guess they must be better at cleaning their feet?
Yes, adult birds are perfectly capable of cleaning their own feet if they get dirty. Even cockatiel nestlings usually have clean feet, thanks to their habit of backing up to the nest wall to poop. Budgie babies don't do this, and they tend to accumulate big wads of dried poo on their feet. But cockatiel chicks usually don't.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
6 Posts
I have been using bird sandpaper sheets on the bottom of Hugo's cage and at times he eats it ...now I am concerned that I have given him something harmful.
 
1 - 15 of 15 Posts
Top