Lining | Bedding/Litter
are two main approaches toward floor covering in an indoor
aviary: paper lining or bedding/litter (unless you have
the skills to construct a cement floor with a hose and drainage
system). Both approaches have advantages and disadvantages.
I use paper on the bottom of my aviary. I
used to use a corn-cob bedding until it was suggested to
me that corn-cob could be a source Aspergillosis. The following
are some of the advantages and disadvantages of using a
paper lining to cover the floor of your aviary:
allows for easy review of the droppings. This
is important for recognizing illness in your birds.
does not generate any additional mess.
is not harmful to the birds in any way.
does not promote mold growth.
is cheap and easy to come by.
types of paper can be unsightly (such as printed
newspaper) and droppings are more visible.
requires the paper to be changed every day.
on the floor of the aviary are more exposed to
large floor will require several sheets of paper
to be laid out to cover the entire surface (unless
rolled paper is used).
When paper is used, it should be changed
daily. Once a week, the floor beneath the paper should be
cleaned thoroughly. The following are some types of paper
that can be used:
This is the most common paper choice because
it is readily available and it is free if you already
receive a daily newspaper. It is sometimes recommended
not to use pages with colored ink because the colored
dye may contain toxins. However, my vet has informed me
that almost all publications now use soy-based inks and
they haven't seen an illness in a bird (even in parrots
that chew paper) that could be attributed to ingestion
of colored inks. If you are concerned about the toxicity
of inks, only use pages that contain black ink. I've used
colored pages without any problems. I don't use newspaper
anymore, however, because of the unsightly appearance
and because of the vast number of sheets it would take
to line the entire aviary (remember, I put down seven
days worth of paper at once).
Many people purchase unprinted newsprint
in bulk from paper supply stores. Although a little more
costly than using old newspapers, it has all the advantages
of newspaper without the unattractive look of printed
- Kraft paper on a Kraft paper cutter.
MIDDLE - Kraft paper on rolls. It is essential
that the black disks in the center remain
intact if you use a paper cutter.
BOTTOM - Kraft paper in the aviary. Notice
that the droppings are visible for inspection
at the end of the day.
I use Kraft paper on the aviary floor. Kraft paper
is commonly used to help stuff boxes that are partially
empty so that the contents don't move during shipping.
It is also used to wrap packages for shipping. It
frequently comes in a brown paper bag type color
but is also available in white. White Kraft paper
(also called butcher paper) is usually more expensive
and is not available in as many widths. Kraft paper
is available from many packaging supply stores as
well as from food service/kitchen supply stores.
paper comes on a large roll and can therefore be
cut to any length you desire. It is available in
an assortment of widths. I order Kraft paper in
a 30" width (the width of the interior of my
aviary), but have seen it in various widths from
18" to 60". Kraft paper cutters can also
be purchased, making it easier to unroll and cut
the paper. I highly recommend the purchase of a
roll paper cutter if you intend to use kraft paper,
as it greatly reduces the time spent cutting paper.
The "blade" on the paper cutter is not
sharp and therefore there is no risk of injury to
yourself or children.
I could theoretically cut pieces that run the entire
length of the aviary, this is not practical. It
is too difficult to handle paper that long. Instead
I cut pieces approximately 4.5 feet long (a little
more than 1/3 of the aviary length). Thus, when
the paper is replaced in the aviary, I place one
stack of 4.5 foot kraft paper in each third of the
aviary. This makes it easier to cut, remove, and
replace the paper.
paper is also sold in various weights. A lighter
weight means a thinner paper, but you will also
get more square feet of paper, since rolls are usually
sold by the weight or thickness of the roll. Conversely,
a heavier weight means a thicker paper, but less
paper on a roll. I order 40 lb Kraft paper. This
seems to have enough weight to prevent wet droppings
from leaking through to the next layer, without
being so thick as to be cost prohibitive.
biggest problem with ordering Kraft paper is that
the shipping can be as expensive as the product
(and most sites don't readily promote the shipping
prices - you have to dig to find them, if they are
there). I've purchased Kraft paper online from FoodServiceDirect.com.
They used to sell Kraft paper with free shipping.
They changed this and currently do charge shipping,
but have reduced the price of their paper accordingly.
I've found their prices to be reasonable. It does
take about 2 weeks to receive shipment, however,
so I always order in advance.
have recently been a little unhappy with FoodServiceDirect.com.
The rolls I have received most recently have arrived
quite banged up. The outer layer of paper has been
dirty and has to be thrown away. The plastic disk
inserts at each end (center) of the roll have been
missing or severely damaged. These disks are not
important unless you use a paper cutter, which I
do. Without the disks, the paper will not unroll
smoothly. I've had to save intact disks in order
to use my roll paper cutter with more recent paper
of these issues, the last time I ordered paper,
I tried a different source: Instawares.com.
They had a promotion where shipping on orders over
$175 was free (I am not sure if this promotion always
runs or if it is only a temporary offer). Their
Kraft paper was very reasonably priced (although
there might possibly have been less paper per roll
than those from FoodServiceDirect. At the price
at the time, I had to order exactly 11 rolls to
exceed the $175 order limit but still come below
a "Large Order Size" that required special
shipping (since then they raised their price slightly
and 10 rolls now comes in above $175). This is a
lot of paper, but since I know I will use it, I
didn't mind buying in bulk to save the shipping
costs. Two of the rolls of paper were sent loose
and were slightly banged up (but not as bad as some
of my orders from FoodServiceDirect, however. The
other nine rolls were packaged nicely in boxes of
3. The boxes were well taped. While the boxes got
banged up in transit, the paper rolls came in perfect
condition. All rolls were sealed in plastic and
almost all plastic disk inserts were intact. Needless
to say, I was very happy with this shipment, and
I would order from them again if their prices and
shipping policy remain the same. However, I shouldn't
need to buy more paper for a couple of years, with
the stock that I've built up.
and litter is the alternative to a paper floor covering.
(Note: when it comes to birds, bedding and litter mean the
same thing. The dual terminology most likely came about
in terms of small animals, which use the ground cover as
"bedding" to sleep in as well as "litter"
to poop in.) Bedding/litter have their own set of advantages
makes an attractive floor covering that hides
the droppings from view
can help bury the droppings so the birds don't
have to walk through them.
does not have to be completely changed each
is harder to check the droppings of the birds
when looking for signs of illness.
can generate a lot of dust, both in the house
and in the aviary.
dust can embed itself within cracks and seams
of the aviary.
flakes or pellets can easily leak out of the
aviary, creating a mess on the floor. (Tall
baseboards should be installed when litter
is to be used.)
beddings, such as pine and cedar, emit aromas,
especially when wet, that can cause respiratory
problems in birds.
can be ingested and cause impaction, which
can be fatal.
bedding is highly prone to mold growth, which
can lead to illness, including Aspergillosis.
can be costly when a large aviary floor needs
to be covered.
bedding is used in an aviary, it does not need to be changed
every day. It is, however, a good idea to top it off with
fresh litter or to rake in the top layer so that the droppings
are buried away from the surface. Some people like to skim
the top layer off with a shop-vac.
recommendations exist for how frequently to perform a complete
litter change. If the aviary is not very big, it should
be changed every week. However, if the aviary is large,
this is a very costly endeavor. At the very least, the top
layer should be skimmed off with a shop-vac and a fresh
layer should be added on top. Then, complete litter changes
can be put off to a monthly basis. The aviary floor should
be cleaned at this time.
following are some of the bedding choices available:
Corncob is a popular choice, but it is
not highly recommended. When corncob gets wet, it is highly
susceptible to mold growth. This can cause serious illness,
including Aspergillosis. If you decide that corncob is
the litter for you, make sure to completely change the
litter around water and bath dishes every day so that
wet cob does not have the opportunity to promote mold
and Cedar Shavings
Pine and Cedar Shavings are not as conducive
to mold growth, but they do emit aromas when wet. Birds
are very sensitive to these aromas and they can lead to
respiratory problems. Note that cedar is more aromatic
than pine, so if deciding between the two, pine might
be the better choice.
Shavings or Pellets
Aspen is my preferred choice among the
available beddings. It does not have strong aromatic properties,
nor is it especially prone to mold growth. It is available
in both shavings and pellets. Shavings are softer, but
lighter weight and more likely to escape from the aviary.
Walnut shell beddings have been known to
be ingested by birds, causing impaction and death. They
tend to contain smaller pieces that are more likely to
be ingested than other beddings.
There has been a recent emergence of environmentally
friendly recycled paper beddings. Recycled paper is available
in pelleted and shredded forms. These beddings are safe
for birds, but tend to be gray in color and therefore,
not as pleasant looking. Yesterday's News cat litter (made
from recycled newspaper) can also be used (just make sure
to buy the unscented version). Other types of cat litter
should not be used as they contain various chemicals that
can be hazardous to a bird.
Sand is a safe bedding to use as well.
It can be sifted with a sieve to remove droppings and
periodically vacuumed and replaced. Sand is better suited
for an outdoor aviary, however, because it puts a lot
of dust into the air and is very messy.
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