Some animals, such as rabbits and guinea pigs, are herbivores. Others, like hamsters, are omnivorous. Finally, there are also carnivores like cats that cannot survive without meat.
All animals need to have their nutritional needs satisfied. However, this does not mean you can’t have a vegan dog. Vegan cats, though, are a lot trickier.
Can my dog have a vegan diet?
If you were to meet a species of animal for the first time and had to make an accurate guess about its diet, you would get lots of clues by looking at its teeth. The teeth of a dog, like the teeth of a bear, proclaim loud and clear that this animal is an omnivore – that is, one that eats both meat and vegetables. If you think of your dog as a domesticated wolf, you get a good idea of its natural diet.
However, as the panda proves, a supposed meat-eater can sometimes get by perfectly well on a vegan diet. A panda’s teeth are similar to any other bear’s – long canines for meat-eating and molars for grinding vegetation. And yet pandas don’t eat anything other than bamboo. So, if a bear can be vegan, does that mean you can have a vegan dog?
The answer is yes – but it’s a yes with lots of small print! A dog requires a diet that contains the fats and proteins it would get from meat. It is dangerous to ignore this basic need and simply feed your pet with whatever you please. Some dogs have delicate stomachs at the best of times, and a low-fat, high-fibre diet can cause potentially life-threatening problems. A diet that excludes meat should never be fed to a dog without the advice of a professional pet dietician.
The collagen, elastin and keratin found in meat diets are not easily replaced by vegi equivalents. Your dog will also need the ‘long chain’ omega-3 fats found in animal products such as egg, fish and some meats. Vegan omega-3 fats are not the same as animal-derived ones.
All of which presents a headache for the vegan dog owner. There are, however, products available that claim to let your dog live a healthy, meat-free life. Before you take the plunge, it is essential to seek professional, scientific advice and guidance. Compromise is usually the best choice here – a vegan diet supplemented by some of the animal-derived essentials. Crickets, for example, can provide lots of the amino acids and keratin a vegan diet lacks, and they’re 65% protein.
Can my cat have a vegan diet?
The compromise approach is even more important for cats. These are amongst the planet’s true carnivores, obtaining all their dietary requirements from other animals.
The main challenge with minimising the meat in a cat’s diet is that, unlike many mammals (including dogs), cats cannot produce certain proteins. They have to absorb these from the meat and fish in their diet. Amino acids are another issue – cats deficient in the animal-derived amino acid taurine, for example, usually succumb to a specific type of heart problem.
Even a fortified vegan cat food cannot be confidently recommended. Turn the situation on its head, and try to imagine weaning a rabbit onto a meat-only diet, and you get some idea of the challenge – and the ethics – involved.
There are some lab-grown ‘meat’ products in development, with vegan and vegetarian cat owners in mind. However, whether these will arrive – and remain – on the market any time soon is hard to guess.
For many vegan pet owners, there is a huge ethical issue involved in feeding the animals they share a space with. Ethics, however, include the animal’s needs too, and it’s an almost impossible issue to resolve when it comes to cats. If you are able to reduce but not eliminate the meat in your cat’s diet, that’s the safer option.
Top 10 pets for vegan households
There are, of course, plenty of other pets that don’t eat meat, or that eat some meat but can still thrive on a meat-free diet. Here are our ten favourites.
1. Rabbits. No problems here – rabbits are happy vegans, with diets based on hay and vegetables. You could argue that the soft pellets they eject and then eat are animal products of a sort, but they are simply semi-digested vegetation.
2. Guinea pigs. Like rabbits, these wonderful little characters thrive on a 100% vegan diet.
3. Hamsters. Most hamster owners give them store food, you don’t always know what’s in it. However, hamsters, like rats and mice, can do without meat.
4. Gerbils. Like hamsters, gerbils are omnivorous. They have sensitive stomachs and need a quality pellet mixture. Food that is too fresh can harm them.
5. Mice. Although they will eat pretty much anything in the wild, mice can thrive on vegan diets; but it is still best to use a food mix prepared specifically for them. This ensures that they will not be deficient in any of the vitamins and minerals they need.
6. Rats. These are the most omnivorous of rodents, but as long as you feed them a vegan mix that has been fortified with all the nutrients they need, they will thrive. Indeed, rats who eat too much animal fat tend to become fat and die prematurely.
7. Chickens. If you watch a free-range hen, it soon becomes clear that she will eat anything – grass, beetles, worms, and everything in your veg patch if you’re not careful! Most chicken feed emulates this mix of plant and animal products. However, it is possible to buy vegan chicken feed, and circumstantial evidence suggests that hens can thrive on it. However, they are likely to produce fewer eggs, and you will not be able to stop them scratching for worms and bugs, no matter how vegan the layers pellets are!
8. Budgies and parrots. Vegans will have no obstacles to face with budgies and parrots, unless the birds are being bred. Egg-brooding female birds need a protein boost, normally delivered via an egg-based food or cooked meat. Vegan alternatives are available, though.
9. Finches. Many finch species enjoy bugs and mealworms as treats, but these are not an essential part of an adult finch’s diet. These birds thrive on a mixture of seeds and fresh vegetables.
10. One for reptile fans. When you think of pet snakes and lizards, you probably have an image of dead mice or doomed crickets. However, there are a few commonly kept pet reptiles that eat a 100% vegan diet, the most popular being the Green iguana. Getting the balance of vegetables just right is very important for the animal’s health, but meat is certainly something you won’t have to worry about.
There is no shortage of choice when it comes to vegan pets. Keeping a vegan cat or dog is a much trickier proposition, though. And with all these animals, a balanced diet that matches the pet’s nutritional requirements should be your primary goal.
This article is a part of our Pride of Omlet series, a collection of amazing stories which shine the spotlight on extraordinary pets and share their selflessness, bravery, talent and compassion with the world.
-Written by Anneliese Paul
At the tender age of one, Peaky is already a retired filmstar. He had lived in a cage his whole life, released only to perform. When Joana and Fergus took him home, he was a fluffy, yellow bundle of nerves. But they are determined to help Peaky, their cute little canary companion, to come out of his shell.
When Joana met Fergus, she didn’t know she was falling in love with a human and his pet cockatiel. It had been his companion for 22 years. Together they grew the flock with a cheeky budgie. “He was like a dog; he wanted to sleep with us. You could hold him and kiss him!” But tragically, within a short space of time, the cockatiel died of old age, and then the budgie became terminally ill. The house fell silent.
Lockdown 1 without birds was quiet and sad for Joana and Fergus. To cheer themselves up, they decided to get their home ready for another bird and after plenty of research, they agreed on the Omlet Geo as the beautiful new bird home. All they needed now was a bird to live with them.
Fergus works in TV, and if anyone offered an animal, Fergus was known to take it. One day a ray of sunshine arrived on set-a bright little canary owned by a person who supplies animals for TV shows. Fergus struck up a conversation with the owner and learned that this little bird had a feisty character and had to be separated from the other birds, which meant he lived alone, probably in a smaller cage. Seeing Fergus’s enthusiasm, the owner asked, “Do you want this one?”
Ecstatic, Fergus called Joana, “We can get a canary!” When the clapper board shut, Fergus drove Peaky home to Edinburgh. But they got stranded en route in a massive snow blizzard and were stuck in the car for hours before being rescued by locals who took them in for the night. The next day, Peaky and Fergus continued their journey home, and when they finally arrived, the house instantly came alive.
Peaky sings beautifully and chirps up when he hears a running tap, the kettle, the hairdryer, and he even provides backing vocals to Joana’s zoom calls. However, unlike their previous birds, he’s a scared soul that feels safer inside his Omlet Geo.
He doesn’t want to come out. Joana understood it would take time to get to know him.
She has a deep empathy with birds and is slowly, patiently, gently, working with Peaky to get him to trust his new human family. When she was younger, she made magazines written from a birds point of view called The Birds Club. And Joana is now a professional writer, currently working on a series of children’s novels where birds play the main characters. Peaky even has a little cameo.
He’s getting braver, occasionally eating treats from Joana’s hand, enjoying honey seeds, millet and spinach. Joana makes sure he has space to escape if he’s not comfortable. She doesn’t want him to perform, she just wants to prove to Peaky that he can trust her.
“I’m doing a lot of research to work on rewriting his ideas about us. He came into our lives after being birdless for a year. He has no idea how happy he makes me.”
Budgies are extremely affectionate pets that love to thrive in a family environment. You don’t need to be a bird expert to keep a small budgie under your roof. However, if you want it to thrive and be happy and healthy, there are a few things to consider.
Omlet offers you a list of 5 things to keep in mind when raising a budgie.
1- Consider investing in a cage that respects your pet and its needs
If you decide to adopt a budgie, this should be a priority. Make sure you have a cage that suits your budgie’s needs and allows it to be happy. A bird needs enough space to stretch its wings and have fun. Make sure the cage is large enough and that it gets enough sunlight. Your budgie will need to see light to be able to thrive.
Budgies fly horizontally and do not fly high, so make sure the cage is wide enough.
It is important to choose a cage that is easy to clean, as you will need to spend time keeping your bird’s area clean. This is essential for your bird’s health (and yours). Budgies need to relieve themselves on a regular basis, approximately every 15 minutes, so you need to have easy access to all areas of the cage so that you can clean the entire cage and avoid unpleasant odours and a dirty environment for your little budgie.
You should also consider a cage that can accommodate several budgies. Although budgies can be kept alone, they do prefer the company of their own kind.
The Omlet solution: The Geo Cage.
The Geo cage complies with current regulations to provide your pet with the space it needs. Its innovative design provides a safe and airy living space for your budgies. This cage is the result of many years of research to provide your birds with an optimal environment to keep them happy.
This cage not only meets the needs of your budgies, but is also functional and can be cleaned quickly and easily. The inside of the cage will be as good as new after your visit. In addition, the Omlet Geo cage offers an exceptional design that allows it to be integrated into any interior decoration.
The cage is extremely important, as is its location. Remember to place the cage in a room with stable temperatures: not too hot, not too cold. Also avoid rooms that are too noisy with too much traffic and activity. Your birds need peace and quiet. A bright room will make your little budgie happy. However, avoid placing the cage too close to windows, as the sun through the glass and the intense heat can be dangerous, or even fatal to your pet.
2- Don’t skimp on accessories
Taking care of your budgie is not only about giving it a place to sleep, it is also about allowing it to have fun and discover many things through a variety of accessories. The bathtub is not a trivial accessory: budgies love to stay clean. There are many plastic tubs available that allow your budgie to clean itself and feel clean all the time. Choose a bathtub that fits your cage and can easily be installed in it. It should be easy to fill from the outside.
At Omlet, we offer a bathtub that fits our Geo cage and its sloping sides perfectly.
Technique for the bathtub: do not fill it to the brim, as you will find water everywhere. The tub should not be too small to allow your bird to enjoy it fully, but it should not be too large either, so that it does not take up all the space in the cage. If the bathtub you have chosen fits easily into your budgie’s cage, you may want to consider adding it for a few hours while your bird takes a bath and removing it the rest of the time.
You should also consider quality drinkers and feeders that will allow you to feed your beloved animals properly and without hindrance.
If your budgie can clean itself and stretch its wings, it is likely to thrive and feel happy. However, it is necessary to keep it occupied with toys.
So think about furnishing its space with useful accessories that entertain your budgie. Vary the shapes, sizes and aspects to offer your pet new experiences.
Perches are extremely important for your birds and play a significant part in ensuring a better lifestyle. Choose perches with a wooden base, such as pine, as plastic fails to offer the proper grip that your bird needs, and can be bad for their feet.
Toys have their place in your pet’s cage, but avoid taking up the whole space. It is important to have several types of toys that you can mix up on a weekly basis to give them more variety and keep your bird entertained.
Toys stimulate your pet and prevent your budgie from getting bored.
3- A happy budgie is a well-fed budgie
There are several ways to take care of your budgie and the first way is to feed it sufficiently with quality food. What does a budgie eat? Your birds’ favourite foods are seeds, vegetables and fruit. Just like other animals, dogs, cats (etc), never give your budgies chocolate and caffeine.
It is essential to ensure that the drinker is always full of water to keep your animals properly hydrated. Your birds will know how much water they need but it must be available to them. If the water is not drunk, it is essential that you change it regularly to prevent the growth of bacteria.
4- Budgies need quality sleep!
Sleep is essential for your bird. It allows your pet to rest its body and recharge its batteries. Just like human beings, sleep helps reduce stress and promotes your pet’s learning and memory. It is estimated that a budgie can sleep between 10 and 12 hours a day. A happy budgie is one that benefits from this rest time in the best conditions.
It usually prepares for bed half an hour before going to sleep. You can improve the sleeping conditions of your budgie by providing an opaque blanket, which does not let light in and ensures that your bird gets the rest it deserves. This solution also allows you to soundproof the cage a little if there is regular activity in the room. It is sufficient to keep the room dark and to let a little light through so that your budgies are not injured if they hear a noise that wakes them up. The Omlet cover offers your birds an ideal solution for a full and restful night’s sleep. It can be placed on any cage and allows your birds to sleep safely.
Establish a routine each night so that your budgies feel comfortable and understand when it is time to go to bed. They will feel confident that there is nothing to worry about and will fall asleep peacefully.
However, if you notice that your budgie(s) panic when you put the blanket on the cage, don’t persist. Some birds have their own habits and there is no point in insisting on certain accessories. If your budgie is happy and can sleep perfectly and peacefully without a cover, that is the main thing.
5- Give your budgie lots of love and get it used to its environment
For a budgie to be happy and healthy, nothing is more important than the love you give them in a healthy environment adapted to their needs. Never rush your budgie and give it time to adapt to any situation, new environment, new toys or accessories…
Don’t hesitate to talk to your budgie and make it feel your presence without smothering it. Repeat its name to get it used to the sound and to assimilate it. If there are several of you in the family environment, introduce the members of your family little by little without rushing your pet. No loud noises or big movements. Your friends or family can enjoy your budgie, but in a calm and respectful way.
Treats and time with your pet will make your budgie happy. Make sure you spend time with your budgie. This will strengthen the bond between you. Gaining your pet’s trust is a long-term process. You can use your fingers to tame your pet little by little, for example by moistening them and placing seeds on them. Intrigued and curious, your budgie will surely come to you.
Do not hesitate to open the cage from time to time to let your bird fly in the open air in a room. Just remember to avoid bright lights that may attract your bird and end up hurting it (sunlight through a window, for example). If you decide to let your bird fly in your home, be careful with objects that could either break, or hurt your pet. The room should be secure enough to prevent your budgie from ending up in the vet’s office.
An unhappy bird may become aggressive or develop health problems. This can manifest itself in regular pecking or screaming. Your budgie, if unhappy, may be more agitated than usual. If you are sure that you have done all you can to keep him happy and his aggressive behaviour persists or you detect abnormal problems, it is time to make an appointment with the vet. In fact, one visit per year to the vet is recommended to check that everything is going well with your pet.
With all these tips and tricks, your budgie can be happy and thrive by your side. All you need is patience and the right equipment and accessories for your pet’s needs.
When considering whether or not to keep chickens, it’s important to take into account the pets you already have around your home. The most obvious examples are cats and dogs, who sometimes let their chase instincts get the better of them. However, all your pets can get along just fine, as long as you lay down a few ground rules.
Keeping chickens with dogs
If you’re a dog owner, the first thing to consider is the temperament of your pet. Does it often chase rabbits or deer when out on a walk? How does your dog react to birds in the garden? If your hound tends to lose control in these situations, this behaviour is likely to carry over into their relationship with chickens. Equally, if your dog is of a more relaxed temperament, they may show little if any interest in your coop.
The likeliest scenario falls somewhere between the two extremes, in which case you’ll see your dog taking an interest in the chickens, and spending plenty of time watching and attempting to play with them, but not moving in ‘for the kill’. What’s important here is that your dog needs to understand that the chickens are part of the pack, and not something to be hunted. It’s also important that your dog understands that chickens are fragile, and that dog-style rough play is out of the question.
Teaching dogs to get along with chickens
You can teach your dogs that the chickens are part of the family by letting them watch you spending time in the coop – initially keeping them separated with chicken wire or fencing. Many breeds of dog are naturally cautious around small animals and will be protective of your chickens once they consider them a part of the pack. The behaviour you want to see is your dog cautiously sniffing at the chicken, as opposed to adopting the head-down-bottom-up ‘let’s play’ stance.
One of the most important considerations when it comes to dogs and chickens is the temperament of the dog breed. Hunting dogs such as greyhounds and beagles will cave in to their chasing instincts if the hens begin to flap around, and they should never be allowed to mingle with the chickens. In contrast, farm dogs such as sheepdogs have protective and herding instincts, and they will be less likely to harm your chickens.
There is no sure-fire way to guarantee your dogs and chickens will get on, but spending plenty of time introducing them goes a long way. As with all dog training, this can be an extended process, so be prepared to spend a few weeks introducing your chickens to your dogs with a barrier before you let them meet face to face. When you do introduce them, it’s a good idea to keep the dog on a short leash at first, just in case.
Keeping chickens with cats
Cats are a completely different story to dogs – they are harder to predict and less susceptible to training. However, they are unlikely to view a big fat hen as potential prey. Many farmers concur that their farm cats have no interest in hunting poultry, and are much more interested in the rats and mice that are inevitably attracted by birds. When keeping chickens, the occasional rat is standard, and having a cat around can greatly reduce their numbers.
Although most chickens are too large for a cat to hunt, this largely depends on the breed of chicken and the size of your cat. If you find that your cat is beginning to stalk your chickens, a sturdy and secure coop and run that your cat can’t access will deter trouble. This is good practice either way, as even if your cat is friendly with your chickens, your neighbour’s cat might not be! The ideal answer here is the Eglu, which is super-secure and comes with its own attached chicken run.
Keeping chickens with guinea pigs
You may already have a guinea pig hutch or run in your garden, and while this won’t be a problem for your chickens, it is not recommended for chickens and guinea pigs to share living quarters. This is for several reasons, one being that rats will be further attracted to your pets’ food, and they may attack your guinea pigs. Another reason is that when establishing a pecking order, your chickens will peck at each other and any other animal they live with. This can cause serious harm to guinea pigs, who do not have thick feathers to protect them.
Keeping chickens with rabbits
Rabbits can be great companions for your chickens if you introduce them to each other when they are all very young. You will also need to ensure that you care for their different needs within the same run, in terms of food and equipment.
Rabbits, for example, like to have a clean space to sleep in, so you may need to muck out your coop and run more regularly than you would if the chickens were alone. You will also need to ensure that the chickens and rabbits all have a safe space within the coop where they can have privacy and space. You can achieve this by separating your run into three areas, one to house the roosting chickens, another for your rabbits, and a communal space.
Having a large and secure garden run will make your chickens feel safer in general, and plenty of space will maximise the chance of the hens getting along with each other and their rabbit and guinea pig neighbours.
Chickens and other pets
Chickens can also rub along happily with goats, and with female ducks (males will tends to bully them). Ironically, they do not mix with birds in an aviary. They will eat anything that falls to the aviary floor, but they will also happily peck the other birds whenever they can and may attract rats and mice, which will cause problems for the smaller birds.
Small mammal pets such as hamsters and gerbils should never be kept in the same enclosure as chickens. The rodents will be pecked and killed.
By following these few ground rules, you will be able to keep the various members of your mixed menagerie happy!
For a limited time only, save 15% on the Geo Bird Cage from Omlet.
Upgrade your budgie cage for 2021, with the stylish, easy clean Geo and it’s integrated ‘no-spill’ feeder and drinker. Available in three contemporary colours with optional accessories, including the constellation Night Cover and striking blue Bird Bath, all now with 15% off!
Promotion of 15% off Geo Bird Cages runs from 20/01/21 until midnight on 24/01/21. Use promo code HAPPYGEO at checkout. Includes all colours of Geo Bird Cage, plus stand, bird bath and night cover. Excludes Geo Bird Cage Perches – Pack of 2. Subject to availability. Omlet ltd. reserves the right to withdraw the offer at any point. Offer cannot be used on delivery, existing discounts or in conjunction with any other offer.
Like most kids, as a child I had a budgie I, nor my parents, knew nothing about. At the age of 17 I hadn’t had birds since that time in kindergarten but my boyfriend (and soon to be husband) did. It kind of forced me into a world I didn’t understand but wanted to.
What does a typical day look like for your budgie?
I half-wish there was such a thing as a “typical day” in my life at all! Because there’s a lot of different areas of my life, it keeps things interesting for my birds based on the fact that I travel so much. My budgie has been to a lot of states and hotel rooms
already, and one of her favorite things is actually road trips because she enjoys being in the car with us!
When we are home, she owns the house and we even screened in an outdoor porch area for her to fly around in as well. The cutest part of the day is when she wakes up and flies herself into the main living area of our home to greet everyone, and when you notice in the early evening she is nowhere to be found because she went off to find the quietest room in the house to sleep (we keep foraging trees in each one – and her open Omlet cage in my daughters room.)
How can you tell your budgie is happy?
All animals make happy noises – cats purr and birds sing. Our budgie is no exception and has her own set of content and happy noises we’ve grown to love to hear. She also flies laps daily around our home which is always fun for us to watch!
What is your budgie’s favorite treat?
Like a typical budgie, she loves herself some spray millet.
What would be your best advice for someone thinking about keeping budgies?
Ask yourself “why” you want a budgie. Make a list of the reasons why and ensure you’re committed because budgies can be really discouraging pets – they spook easily, they’re flighty and they can become hand and human shy if not interacted with and instead left to their own devices inside a cage. A lot of the typical things humans interpret as “budgie loves” like mirrors, will work against you creating a meaningful relationship with your bird.
What is it that you like about the Geo bird cage?
The first thing that attracted me to the Geo cage is its unique design and how well it looks in the home. The footprint is also nice, and it fits easily in any room and looks great in it too. Of course, my main concern with any budgie cage is design and materials and once those both checked out for safety, I was hooked!
The starting point for all budgie tricks is trust, and the key to success is treats! Once a budgie has been hand-tamed and is happy to perch on your finger outside the cage, you can take it a step further and introduce some fun challenges. Make sure you have a sprig of millet or your pet’s favourite vegetable snack handy!
Snakes and Ladders
For this, you need a small raised platform, with a ladder leading on one side and a slide on the other.
The ‘ladder’ part of the trick is simple: place the budgie at the foot of the ladder, and offer the treat at the top. As the bird climbs up, use a command such as ‘Up the ladder!’ After a while, you will be able to place the budgie further from the foot of the ladder.
For the ‘snakes’ part of the trick, the budgie will scoot down the slide, and once again the millet or other treat is the key. Place it at the foot of the slide, and be patient. It’s very likely that, being such a smart bird, the budgie will fly to the treat without using the slide. If this happens, hide the treat, and start again.
The budgie will soon realise that the slide is the key to the treat. Once the bird is on the slide, say ‘Down the snake!’ You can then extend the ladder and the ‘snake’, if you wish.
If you put a table tennis ball in your budgie’s cage, the bird will soon be playing with it, ‘dribbling’ the ball with its beak. Outside the cage, this can be turned into a human-versus-budgie football game. Gently roll the ball towards the budgie, and the bird will instinctively ‘save’ the ball. Include a goal mouth, and your budgie is transformed into a goalkeeper.
Set up another goal mouth a metre away from the budgie, and see if the budgie manages to score a goal as it taps the ball forward with its beak. Once the ball is between the goalposts, say something like ‘Goal!’, and offer a treat. The bird will soon learn to hone its beak-dribbling skills in order to score those treats!
The Great Escape
The aim here is to get your budgie to negotiate a short tunnel. It won’t be tunnelling its way to freedom, though, just to a tasty treat!
To begin with, use a piece of cardboard with a large hole cut into it, or a large plastic ring. Call the budgie, offering a treat on the other side of the hole. As the bird hops through, speak your chosen command words – something like ‘Let’s tunnel!’ Once the trick is going well, swap the hole for small sections of plastic or cardboard pipe, with a narrower hole/tunnel as time passes. Eventually, you will be able to call your budgie to make his Great Escape through something with the thickness and length of a kitchen towel tube.
This one takes a little time to get right, but once again the budgie’s intelligence wins through in the end. The goal here is to teach your bird to pick up an object, bring it to you, and drop it into your hand.
To begin with, get the budgie to perch on your hand, and offer a shiny object such as a button or paperclip. When the budgie takes it in its beak, say ‘Fetch!’ When it drops the object, say ‘Drop it!’, and if it lands in your hand, offer a treat.
Once this has been mastered, place the object away from your hand, and say ‘Fetch!’ when the budgie picks it up. Bring your hand close, ready to catch the object when it falls. Over time, this will develop into a routine in which the budgie picks up an object, runs back with it, and places it in your hand for a treat.
The thing that all these tricks have in common is that the budgie will love performing them. If they don’t want to take part, they won’t, simple as that. This means there’s no pressure, no forcing the issue. It’s just fun all the way, for budgie and owner alike. Trust and treats – that’s the key!
Budgies make wonderful pets. Not only will their beautiful plumage brighten up any room, they are also very intelligent and sociable, and will develop strong bonds with their owners. Like with all pets however, they come with responsibilities, and it is now your job to make sure they stay healthy and happy. Here are the most important things to think about if you’re new to budgie keeping:
FOOD AND WATER
Try giving your budgies the nutritional equivalent of what they would eat in the wild. The basis of their diet should be a good quality seed mix, and they should always have access to water and a cuttlefish bone. Leafy greens and herbs provide vitamins and minerals, and can be given a few times a week. Only feed your budgie fruits once a week, as they are high in sugar. Food and water containers must be refilled every day, and washed a few times a week.
Twice a year your budgies will moult, and their plumage will gradually fall out and grow back. To help them keep healthy during this time it’s important that the budgies get extra moulting vitamins in their water.
Like most pets, budgies prefer clear routines in their lives. Try feeding and letting them out of the cage around the same time every day, and if you want to put a cover over the cage at night time, it’s best to do this every day. This way the budgies will know what’s happening around them and feel comfortable in your presence, which will minimise stress and anxiety.
Budgies are very sociable creatures, and it’s always best to keep them as a pair, preferably two siblings of the same sex who are used to living together. If you just want one budgie, you will need to act as its friend and companion, and spend a lot of time together with your pet.
Most budgies like to bathe. In the wild the main purpose of the bath would be to clear dust and sand from their feathers and to cool off, and even if your budgies probably won’t have these daily requirements, they will enjoy splashing around in the water. You don’t have to have a bath in the cage, instead you can put a bowl of water somewhere in the room where the budgies are flying, but if you do it’s important to change the water as soon as it gets dirty. If your pet doesn’t seem interested, an alternative to bath time is a budgie shower. Hang some wet leaves (lettuce, basil and parsley are favourites) in the cage, and watch your budgie run through them.
The budgies should be offered the opportunity to fly freely (but supervised) outside the cage every day, at least 45 minutes, but ideally a few hours. Make sure the room is budgie proofed before your let your pets out. Close windows and doors, block off fireplaces, turn off fans and air conditioners and keep other pets out of the room. Budgies are intelligent, very sociable and active birds who will enjoy spending time with you and the rest of the family.
Check the cage weekly to see that everything is in place and nothing has broken. Perches must be kept clean and fully functioning. Toys are great for mental stimulation, they encourage physical exercise and wear the beak down. Change the toys every now and then to keep your budgie interested. You don’t have to buy new toys all the time, but rotate the ones you’ve got regularly and throw in a new one every now and again.
Budgies’ beaks and nails grow constantly throughout their lives, so it is important that they have access to toys to grind them down. In most cases you will have to trim the nails when they get too long, so make sure to purchase a pair of clippers suited for the task.
Budgies, like other pack animals, are very good at hiding pain and illness, so it’s important to give your pet regular health checks. When you get to know your budgie, it’ll be easier to spot irregular behaviours.
Normal signs of illness include changes in weight, discoloured feathers, reduced interaction with humans and toys, scabby nostrils and missing feathers around the eyes. Another way of spotting early signs of illness is to regularly check your budgie’s droppings. The disposable paper liners in the Geo bird cage makes it easy to monitor your pet’s health. When you do your weekly clean, check the amount, colour and texture of the droppings. They can vary somewhat depending on what your budgie has been eating, but all faeces should be firm, and the urine part transparent and clear. If you notice clear changes, or have other reasons to suspect that your budgie might be ill or in pain, contact your vet as soon as possible. Make sure to find a vet that specialises in small animals, ideally as soon as you take the budgie home, so you know who to contact if something goes wrong.
If you need more information, check out the section on budgie illnesses inour guide.
The main thing is to give your budgies and finches a space in which they can happily do what a bird has to do – eat, sleep, fly, perch, and chill out.
So, your check list might read something like this:
Full flying access to the entire cage
Fantastic feeding station
Lots of perches and usable ‘corners’ for taking time out
Easy access to and from the cage
Fantastic design that makes it a standout feature in the room.
And that pretty much summarises the new Geo – the first great leap forward in cage design for 100 years.
The Geo Bird Cage for Budgies, Finches and Canaries
Until the arrival of the Geo, bird cages hadn’t changed much since the early 20th century.
But why did we need another innovation in cage design, you may ask? For the simple reason that when keeping a pet, its welfare and happiness are the top priorities.
So, with this in mind, could the old, rectangular-type standard bird cage be improved upon?
The answer is yes – and then some!
The unique geodesic-dome shape of the Geo, and its central feeding station, are the stand-out features. To explain how we got there, let’s take a brief sprint through previous approaches to cage design.
Bird Cages – from Small Cells to Big Sales
Bird cages have a long history, and their basic shape and function has evolved over the years.
In the beginning a cage was simply a cell in which the feathered inmate – usually a finch, bunting or starling – was expected to sing its little heart out. These small cages were made from wicker or other light, pliable wood. By the 1830s cages were being made from metal and wire. The basic design remained bell-shaped (the kind of thing seen in Tweety Pie cartoons).
This design lingered into the later 19th century when keeping birds as pets underwent a huge surge in popularity, with budgies becoming the pet bird of choice for many. The cages were often ornate, but the emphasis was on decoration, rather than keeping the birds happy. These cages were all height and no width, usually.
By the early 20th century, rectangular, wider bird cages were mass produced – the kinds of things still sold as the standard finch or budgie cage in most pet shops. Design was, at last, part of the overall concept – seed trays that slot into the cage sides, water bottles that attach via clips, better, wider doors, removable bases for easy cleaning.
With a wide range of cage sizes, it meant you could ensure that the dimensions were right for the number of birds you owned. So what was left improve – why do we need the Geo?
Why the Geo Cage is Better for Pet Birds
The geodesic dome shape of the Geo cage provides the ideal dimensions for birds to move around in. When flapping and flying in a rectangular cage, birds don’t have much front-to-back space – the flying area is limited to the length of the cage. Also, birds cannot negotiate 90 degree corners: these are dead space when it comes to flying.
So, if you were to map the total usable flying area, you might be surprised to find that in a standard rectangular cage of 90x60x40cm (220,000 cubic centimetres) a budgie or finch can only make use of one tenth of the area for flying.
In contrast, the Geo’s 62x60x60cm (223,200 cubic centimetres) is nearly ALL flying space. There are no front-to-back limited space issues, and no right-angled corners to prevent a bird stretching its wings.
Birds are happier if they can fly outside the cage
In any indoor cage, a bird is only able to fly in a limited space. Ideally, all pet birds should be allowed to free-fly in the room every day in a safe manner.
The Geo makes free-flying a breeze – it has two wide doors allowing your birds easy access to and from the cage.
Do birds need corners to hide in if they’re startled or afraid of something?
Yes and no. It’s more about the position of the cage. If the birds are in the middle of a room completely surrounded by activity they will have nowhere to hide if they’re feeling nervous. That’s why a cage – including the Geo – should be close to a wall or a corner of the room if possible.
Also, the Geo does have corners – lots and lots of them, just not the right-angled corners of a standard cage. You’ll still find your birds using these multiple corners to rest and take stock.
Looking good, feeling good
The Geo’s marriage of great looks and ultimate bird-friendly design set it apart from anything else available.
One of the most eye-catching features is its central feeding station. It’s a joy to watch birds gather together and feed, and the Geo has an extra bonus in that most of the discarded husks and dropped seeds fall into the feeding station’s hopper for easy cleaning.
The rounded shape of the Geo – not circular, but a collection of many flat sides – makes it a striking feature in the room. But, most importantly, it’s a striking feature that doubles as the perfect environment for your pet budgies and inches.
The budgie is the world’s most popular pet bird. When the first specimens were brought to Europe from Australia in the 1840s they were an instant hit. The reasons for their popularity are clear to anyone who has spent time in the company of these wonderful little birds. They are pocket-sized parrots, with all the personality of their bigger cousins – clever, colourful, and with the seemingly magical ability to learn human words… sometimes!
1. Budgies don’t require much
Budgerigars are also easy to look after, and being small birds they have modest appetites, so they’re an inexpensive addition to the home. Their diet is based on seed, and as long as you source a good mix, without added colours or chemicals, the birds will thrive. They will also enjoy some fresh greens and other vegetables, but only in small quantities.
This reflects the birds diet in the wilds of Australia. They gather in large feeding flocks and seek out grass seeds. Most of these are fresh, of course, and in captivity the seed should be as fresh as possible too.
In terms of equipment, a good cage and basic accessories are all you need. You can give them simple things to play with, too, like ping-pong balls and bells. All very cheap, and incredibly cheerful.
2. Budgies Have Fantastic Personalities
Beautiful as a pet canary or finch may be, you can’t train them beyond the basic perching-on-a-finger level. Budgies, however, can take on board an amazing variety of skills, from coming to your hand when you call, to negotiating tunnels, skateboarding, and manoeuvring a ball around obstacles.
The key to these skills lies in bonding with your budgie. It’s more than simply taming – it’s a human and bird friendship, the kind of connection you can only form with an intelligent animal. Budgies are not alone in this, of course – the whole parrot family is renowned for its grey matter. But in a bird as small as a budgie, intelligence appears even more remarkable.
3. Budgies Can Talk To You!
Budgies talk, pretty much all day, with various moods that you soon come to recognise. Not all the ‘talking’ consists of recognisable words – in fact many, if not most birds, never master human words. But it doesn’t really matter. It’s great fun if your bird takes on board a few words and phrases, but even without them budgie sounds are a source of great pleasure.
Female budgies are less inclined to speak than males. Of these, around half may pick up human words. They have more chance of learning if you start teaching them in their first nine months. Some require lots of time and effort, while others seem to soak up words with relative ease. Talk-time tends to be after a good feed or a spot of exercise. The budgie will settle on his favourite perch and begin to chatter. The bubbling, clicking, whistling babble of speech sounds voice-like even when there are no human words in the mix. It’s a lovely, soothing backdrop to the day.
4. Budgies Don’t Like Vets!
In other words, budgerigars are generally very healthy and robust birds. As long as they have a super-healthy diet and a clean environment (cages should be spruced-up once a fortnight), they will be strangers to the vet.
Budgies also let you know on those rare occasions when they’re not feeling well. They will stop chattering non-stop, will sleep during the day, and will look sad and ‘droopy’ on their perch. Because, of course, there are potential illnesses, as there are with any animal. Give them a daily visual check – if they’re looking as happy and chirpy as usual, all is well. If you have any doubts, run through our checklist of possible problems, and have a word with a vet. Chances are they will never have met your budgie before!
5. Budgies Come in Endless Colour Patterns
Although there are just three basic colour combinations – green and yellow, blue and white, or a mixture of these – the variety of patterns within this mix is incredible. In some birds the white dominates, with other colours bursting through like flowers in a snowy meadow. Some birds have striking primary colours, while others have pastels, sometimes fading to just a hint of translucent colour. There are all-yellow budgies, all-white ones, birds patterned in just greys and blacks, and, of course, classic green and yellow budgies looking exactly like their Australian wild cousins.
Whichever variety of budgie you bring home, you are guaranteed a bird packed with enough personality to fill a dozen birds twice its size. And this will be a long-lasting friendship, as a healthy and well fed budgie can live up to 15 years. Enjoy your time together!
Finally there is a budgie cage as good looking as the budgies
The revolutionary NEW Geo Bird Cage from Omlet is a breathtaking, contemporary design that redefines what a pet bird’s habitat can and should be. The geodesic shape defines a light and spacious habitat for your birds, creating the perfect environment to reveal their natural beauty.
Rigorous design and testing have refined the Geo Bird Cage into a final form that has nothing superfluous but leaves nothing out.
Simon Nicholls, Omlet’s Head of Design said “The inspiration for the Geo Bird Cage came from a really amazing polymath called Buckminster Fuller, who pioneered geodesic domes in the 50’s. Once we had the form we developed over 60 prototypes to ensure that every aspect was optimised for both the bird and the owner. I couldn’t be prouder of the finished product.”
A good example of the care and attention to detail throughout the Geo is the central feeder. A delight for both owner and budgie to use, it’s also a remarkable piece of engineering. It intelligently catches any dropped husks and seeds in a hopper making this the cleanest bird cage of its kind.
Pet birds are the 4th most popular pet in Australian households according to recent reports. Budgies have long been a favourite with children, parents and grandparents as they enjoy human company and can be easily trained to land on your hand and can even learn to speak. With Omlet’s latest innovation, keeping budgies is easier, cleaner and better looking than ever before!
Available in a choice of teal and cream base colours, and black, white or gold mesh, the Geo Bird Cage can be further customised with or without the stand. Made from solid bamboo, the stand elevates your Geo Bird Cage and makes it easier for you to interact with your pets. No other small bird cage creates such a captivating centrepiece for your home.
The Constellation Geo Bird Cage Cover is typical of the kind of thoughtful touches pet owners have come to expect from Omlet. Decorated on the inside with a map of the stars, when it’s placed over the Geo at night, budgies cantry to spot Orion, Ursa Major and maybe even a shooting star before they nod off to sleep!
The Geo Bird Cage is available exclusively at Omlet, from $180!
Elderly pet-owners will need a little help looking after their furry or feathered friends. Shopping for pet food, training, grooming, and cleaning out cages and litter trays are all factors to be considered.
If a pet falls ill, it will need taking to a vet, or medication may have to be given. Lack of transport and shaky hands can suddenly become problems in these circumstances.
The level of assistance needed will, of course, depend very much on the physical and mental health of the pet owner.
But in spite of these considerations, pets and older people are a perfect match – as long as you get the right pet!
Pets to Avoid
For many older people, owning a pet is all about companionship. So, although an iguana, goldfish or tarantula may be low maintenance, they don’t exactly exude personality and friendship. Reptiles, fish and insects can therefore be placed in the category ‘Dedicated Enthusiasts Only’.
Rodents are not ideal choices, either. They are fast moving, and can easily escape from an open cage. Some, such as the hamster, are largely nocturnal too, losing several points on the ‘companionship’ scale.
The Best Bird Companions
Small cage birds make good pets for seniors. Larger species such as parrots are long-lived, and this can present mounting problems if an owner becomes increasingly frail with the passing years.
A budgie is a good option. These birds are intelligent, easily hand-tamed, and once trained they will return to their cage unassisted after playing and flying indoors. Some also learn to talk, which reinforces the companionship enormously. Add to this the fact that their cages can be kept on holders at shoulder-height, with easy access for cleaning and feeding, and you have the perfect pet for older people.
Canaries and other pet finches can be good choices too, but it has to be said that they lack the big personality, trainability and talkativeness of budgies. There are other plus points, though, notably the beautiful song of the canary.
The Best Cat Companions
In many ways the cat is an ideal pet for seniors. But it isn’t just a question of arriving at Gran’s door with a kitten and expecting everything to be fine!
A kitten will need to be house-trained, and won’t instantly be the placid lap-loving cat that many elderly owners will be looking for. An older cat, on the other hand, will have ‘grown in’ to its personality. You could choose a placid, indoor-loving coach-potato breed such as the Persian, Russian Blue or Ragdoll if laps and cuddles are the priority.
Ideally the cat should still be given access to the outdoors to prevent the chore of cleaning a litter tray every day. In this respect one of the ideal breeds is the Abyssinian. Super-friendly and incredibly tame, they are also lovers of the great outdoors, mixing and matching house and garden perfectly.
If a cat is being adopted from a previous home, you will be able to find out all about its personality. Many ‘moggies’ of a non-specific breed turn out to be the perfect pet for seniors, after a little investigation into the animal’s background.
Bear in mind, though, that cats can live up to 20 years – a big time commitment if someone is already worrying about health and mobility in later life. But once again, this is where the animal’s independence becomes a great asset. Most cats, even though they love their owners, can pretty much look after themselves.
The Best Dog Companions
For an elderly person with mobility, dogs are a great pet choice. Several breeds thrive with just a little daily exercise. Many of these are at the smaller end of the scale – dogs such as the Miniature Poodle, Shih Tzu, Maltese, Bichon Frise, and good-natured individuals from the West Highland and Yorkshire Terrier families. Smaller dogs have smaller appetites too – a major consideration if money is an issue.
However, some smaller dogs can be very yappy or snappy – not a great combination. Breeds to beware of for these reasons include Chihuahua, Jack Russell, and Dachshund.
If the owner is still able to walk a mile or two a day, a Golden Retriever makes a great choice. But with all breeds you need to bear in mind longevity – a dog that needs walking at six months old may still be demanding walkies at 15.
Pets For Therapy
It’s a well known fact that pets are therapeutic. Some care homes hold regular pet therapy sessions in which residents spend quality time with cats, dogs, and other tame animals.
Pets bring positive benefits for mental health across all age groups, and can also prevent loneliness becoming a problem. We all need affection, and pets deliver it with no questions asked!
However, having a pet-handling session in a care home is a different proposition to an elderly person keeping a pet in their own home. All animals need a certain amount of looking after, and if mobility is an issue, even a simple chore such as cleaning a cage can become difficult. In these circumstances, seniors will need a little assistance.
But if you get it right, a pet can bring so many positives into an elderly person’s life – companionship, stimulation, stress relief, and that most important human need of all: love.