Covering cages at night time has been a technique employed by bird owners for decades. For many, it seems the most normal thing to do and yet it is common to wonder if the bird is able to breathe through the covering. After all, we know how hard it is for humans to breathe under covers. Is it not the same for budgies?
Under most circumstances, a budgie will have no trouble breathing when you cover her cage. In fact, when done properly and with great care, covering your budgie’s cage at night is not only safe but can be beneficial to her health.
Covering a budgie’s cage at night is equivalent to turning off your child’s bedroom light at bedtime. It signals the body that it is time to sleep while the darkness typically promotes calm. With many children, once the lights are out, it is not long before they are asleep.
However, there are some children that react to the opposite when the lights go off. For those, it may cause feelings of fear, loneliness, and more, which can lead them to get much less restful sleep.
Budgies are similar. For some, covering the cage produces great results, but is not always the best move to make. Knowing the potential pros and cons of this method and how to do it properly can help you make the right choice for your budgie.
Advantages of Covering the Cage
Some common advantages include:
- When budgies are in their natural habitat, they often find holes in trees and similar areas to sleep in. A covered cage mimics the look and feel of those places, thereby making it a more natural nesting area.
- A cage covering helps to block out or dim any light in your home from them while they are trying to sleep.
- It can also act as a sort of blanket for your budgie by minimizing drafts and cold air that might enter the cage. Just as humans enjoy a blanket in a cool room at night, it can help keep your budgie comfortable as well.
- Covering the cage can be useful if you need to adapt your budgie’s schedule. When left alone, birds tend to stick with a natural daily schedule, which involves being up and active during the day. If your work schedule forces you to sleep during the day, you have little ones that you want to stay asleep for a little extra time, or some other circumstances that mean you do not want your birdies chirping at the crack of dawn, covering the cage can help.
Disadvantages of Covering the Cage
These are just a few potential issues:
- Between dust on the bird itself and in the cage, cutting off their access to fresh air at night can lead to health problems.
- Some budgies get frightened if they see shadows moving across the covering as they cannot tell if it is you, a predator, or something else entirely. This may result in them anxiously flying around the cage, leading to a lot of noise and potential injury.
- Some budgies that desperately want to see might chew a hole through the covering. Depending on the fabric of the covering, this could be dangerous. The fabric may also stick to your budgie’s feet, causing its own set of problems.
- When covered improperly, your budgie may not have enough air to breathe and end up suffocating.
Should I Cover My Budgie’s Cage?
Budgies, like humans, are not themselves when they are not getting restful sleep. Also like humans, budgies need a minimum of eight hours of uninterrupted sleep, though needing 10 – 12 hours is not abnormal.
A lack of good sleep can lead to a multitude of health issues, aggressive behavior, depression, and more. Knowing this, you want to be sure you provide an environment that lets your budgie get the sleep she needs. Is covering her cage the way to do that?
The truth is that not all animals are the same. Covering the cage is great for some budgies and not so great for others. In order to make the best choice for yours, you will need to do a little test.
Start by keeping the cage uncovered for a night or two and then judge the behavior the next day. If your budgie seems tired, cranky, sluggish, or has any other undesirable issue, try covering the cage instead.
How to Cover a Cage Properly
If you decide that covering the cage is best, you need to be sure you do it properly. Follows these tips to provide the best possible care.
- Choose a lightweight, breathable piece of material. Using something made from cotton or a cotton blend is usually best. Choosing a dark color helps to block out any additional light and shadows, helping them sleep better and not get frightened if a shadow passes by.
- Be sure that the fabric you choose is not something that sheds easily, and check it regularly for any sections that might easily be chewed off.
- Pull the cage away from the wall at night so that the air is able to circulate better.
- Only cover three sides of the cage or use clamps to pin up small sections of the covering on one side. Be sure the uncovered or clamped side of the fabric is facing a darker section of the room, such as a corner, to prevent a lot of light from coming in.
- Only use the covering for bedtime. Covering your budgie’s cage to block out sound- either theirs or yours- is typically not very effective or healthy for your bird.
A Safer Alternative
Many bird owners keep their feathered friends in the busiest areas of the home. This is not a bad thing as it allows for greater interaction between the budgie and its humans.
The location can greatly impact the budgie’s sleep, but you do not necessarily have to move it to another room completely. There is another option that encourages restful sleep while still keeping your budgie in the mix of things during the day.
Set up a second cage that is just for sleeping and put it in a darker, quieter room. You also want to be sure that the room is kept at a comfortable temperature. For instance, if your den is usually dark at night, will not be affected by a hall light or the kitchen light suddenly being turned on, and it is not drafty, it would be a great option.
Your second cage does not have to be as big or as furnished as your main cage. It can be a small cage or travel cage, and it only needs a perch, and a little water and food. At bedtime, you transfer your budgie to its sleep cage and then transfer it back in the morning.
For the most part, this solution should provide a very comfortable and restful environment, but you still may need to make a few tweaks.
- If the room is too dark and your budgie is scared, consider a small night light to provide a comforting glow.
- For those who have other pets, little ones that make potty runs, or even teenagers who are up all hours of the night, you might need to close the door. If this is necessary, adding a small fan or heater fan to the room depending on the temperature can help keep air circulating and the atmosphere comfortable.
- Just because your budgie is in a different room does not mean you cannot use a covering. Your bird might sleep better with a covering still as it provides the nesting feel. If you find it necessary or beneficial to use a covering, use clamps to pull the covering to the side on the front of the cage so it mimics a curtain or tent door. Doing so provides a secure feeling and keeps air circulating so your budgie keeps breathing well.