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How to keep your budgie healthy 

PAGE 24 HOW TO KEEP YOUR BUDGIE

It’s important to keep an eye on your budgie’s health and check them every day for signs of illness. There are also lots of things you can do to keep your beloved budgie in tip-top health.

It’s really important for all your pets to be registered with a vet including your budgie. Ask your local vet if they’re an avian (bird) vet or if they know one in your area. An avian vet has a special interest in treating birds. They will have the right knowledge and facilities to give your budgie the best health care.

Birds hide signs that they’re ill for as long as they can. Look out for any changes in behaviour as these could be an early sign that your bird isn’t well.

Sick budgies can go downhill very quickly so if you spot any of these symptoms get to your vet straight away: watery droppings, fluffed up feathers, lack of energy/sleeping more than usual, loss of appetite, drinking much more or less than normal, unusual swellings. loss of feathers, limping or holding one leg up, unusual bleeding, watery eyes or nostrils, overgrown beak or overgrown nails and beak.

Some budgies can suffer from overgrown nails, often because they don’t have the right perch to help them wear down naturally. Your vet can trim them for you. If your budgie needs a regular nail trim, your vet can show you how to do it safely.

It’s uncommon for budgies to have overgrown beaks. However, if their upper and lower beak doesn’t meet properly the beak won’t wear down properly and can make eating difficult. Your vet can file the beak down.

Preventing problems

It’s really upsetting when you beloved pet becomes ill. Luckily, there’s lots of simple steps you can take to help keep your budgie in the best of health.

Putting a bird bath in your budgies’ aviary will help them keep their feathers in top condition. This is really important for birds who live indoor because the heating systems in our homes can dry out the air.

Budgies love to splash around in their bath. If yours is an indoor budgie, try an enclosed bath so they can splash to their hearts content without making too much mess.

You can also try spraying your budgie with lukewarm water from a mist dispenser – lots of budgies love it.

Stopping boredom

Budgies need toys and other objects to keep them busy and stop them getting bored. Things like rope ladders and swing perches are ideal. Make sure they’re zinc-free and safe for birds, as zinc can be toxic for budgies.

Mix it up and give your budgie different toys each week. It’ll make playtime more interesting for them and give you a chance to properly clean their toys.

Perfect perch

Your budgies will need a perch or two in their aviary so they can rest safely. The perch you choose can have a big impact on your budgies’ foot health, so it’s important to get it right.

Avoid smooth, tube-like surfaces (like the wooden dowelling perches sold with many bird cages) and perches covered with sandpaper. These are bad for your budgies’ feet and could lead to health problems.

A natural branch is best for your budgie. It’ll help the blood circulation in their feet and they can strip the bark with their beak, which is what budgies would do in the wild.

Sociable birds

Budgies like to live in groups and need the company of other budgies, so we recommend that your budgie has a friend or two. Ideally, buy your budgies at the same time so they already know each other.

It’s best to keep male and female budgies separate so they won’t breed. If your budgies have babies you’ll be responsible for finding the young budgies a new home. That can be a difficult and stressful process. You can tell if your adult budgie is male or female by looking at the fleshy lump at the top of their beak (the cere). It’s blue on males and brown on females.

Indoor flight

Budgies are really active birds so you’ll need to give them plenty of space to stretch their wings. Avoid tall, circular cages – they’re too small and don’t give your bird enough room to fly. Instead, we recommend creating an aviary or ‘indoor flight. This is a large cage with plenty of flying space.

Tame budgies can fly out of their cage, which is a great form of exercise. Find out more about budgie exercise and diet here.

Feeding time

Here’s what vets’ recommend for a balanced budgie diet:

Good quality pellet budgie food. We recommend pelleted foods because they contain all the right nutrients in the right amounts. Follow the feeding guidelines on the back of the packet and replace any uneaten food every day.

Bird grit, which you can buy from pet shops. Budgies can’t chew their food – they don’t have teeth! Grit helps them grind their food in their stomach.

Vitamin supplements. Speak to your vet to see what they recommend for your budgie.

Water should be available at all times. You can buy a suitable water drinker from pet shops. Clean it every day to keep water fresh and safe to drink.

Budgie-friendly fruit and veg

You can give your budgie small amounts of these fruits and vegetables.

Changing your budgie’s diet suddenly can give them an upset stomach. It’s best to introduce new foods slowly over at least a week.

Information courtesy of PDSA (People’s Dispensary for Sick Animals) in the UK.