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9 Essentials For Having a Cockatoo Roam Free in Your House
If you let your bird spend a ton of time out of its cage, like I do with my cockatoo Boo goffin, you’ll need a few things to keep your sanity. I use the term “free-roaming cockatoo” because Boo spends the majority of his time out of the cage and is practically a “house bird” (except he goes into his cage when I’ve been out for a long time or when in his sleeping cage at bedtime). The sentence also makes me LOL. The items on my list seem to fall into the cleaning and home preservation categories.
Here are some products that I have and that I use, or that I would like to have:
- A good vacuum cleaner for carpets. Right now I’m using a Eureka that gets clogged every five minutes. It kind of does the job. I think the Hoover F5918-900 SteamVac Spinscrub Pet will be my next purchase, although Dyson is definitely the leader in pet vacuums. I’ve had great luck with a shop vac in the past, but they’re pretty ugly… and if you’re like me, you won’t want to put the vac away because you’ll just be using it again in few hours.
- A good floor cleaner, for non-carpets! I just use a regular $10 mop from Walmart with a scrubbing thing on it.
- As for cleaners, it’s important that they’re non-toxic, especially if your bird is likely to put its mouth where you’ve cleaned (unless you’re deep cleaning and scrubbing the most untouched corners of your home, and even then, prevention is better than cure). I’m a big fan of Poop Off, especially the one with the cool brush. I find it works great on carpets and floors, and the brush bottle always came out for a quick clean – which was needed about every 20 minutes until Boo decided to get clean.
- Pet deterrent! Boo is afraid of random inanimate objects, so placing a “scary Boo” where I don’t want him chewing always works… for at least 20 minutes. Boo is quite stubborn and quickly figures out that NOTHING in the house will eat him or hurt him (the downside of raising him so well), so it doesn’t work out so well. The best way to keep my house from getting damaged is to not put anything I don’t want to chew on out of her reach. This was VERY hard to do when he was a baby and going through his cord chewing stage, and was one of the few misbehaviors where I actively punished him (because he could die if he found live wire). Unfortunately, I made the mistake of punishing him with a spray bottle and to this day he hates being sprayed (but at least he learned very quickly not to chew on my electronic cables!). I still haven’t found a commercially available parrot deterrent that works, but I just came across Bitter Apple for Birds and will give it a try. Pepper solutions don’t work and accomplish the reverse of making him chew MORE, as he likes hot and spicy tastes. Oh, and the foil worked for about a day, until he found he could find the delicious door frame by ripping it off.
- Newspaper. I put this under where Boo really likes to sit. It’s free, if you get local community newspapers at the cafe. If you’re worried that newspaper on the floor might look like a birdcage, use clear plastic (it’ll make it look like you’re one of those weird people who keep everything) or carpet scraps (which can seem white trash can, so especially do not use it if you are in a mobile home). I find that putting old bills and mail where Boo likes to poop can make it look like they’re somehow “accidentally” put there (making it look like I’m atotalredneck). Unfortunately, there is no aesthetic solution to bird poop.
- A Parrot Playstand is essential. Currently, I’m using a pendant light that I assembled from a metal curtain hanger, a rope perch, and a rope swing. After being scared of the hanger for a whole day, Boo decided it was the perfect place to perch, and now sits in the most uncomfortable spot and gnaws at the pieces of my textured ceiling. Hanging brackets are NOT recommended for aggressive or fearful birds. I’m really dying for a Manzanita activity tree. Being able to take the play booth around the house with you is almost a necessity and will help you control the screaming, the amount of poop you have to clean up, and the destruction your pet bird is capable of causing. Of course, it’s important to train your bird to stay on the playstand, otherwise you’ve wasted a lot of time and possibly money. What worked with me and Boo: Make this the ONLY place you give your bird “yums” (except his cage), and give your bird TONS of attention when he’s playing on the game stand. Having even an extra cool and expensive game stand is no excuse to pay less attention to your bird; it is only a preventive measure of destruction of residence.
- Things that are “OK” for your bird to destroy, possibly disguised as household items. Commercially available bird toys are great, but can be expensive to replace. Parrots are supposed to destroy toys, and it’s as good for their sanity as a crossword is for people – so don’t complain about the price! If you’ve noticed the toilet paper roll on Boo’s hanging perch…it’s a very inexpensive fun toy. Boo also likes cat balls and take-out paper boxes with treats inside. Anything fun to forage or shred is usually a winner with me. One of Boo’s favorite pet toys is a parrot pinata – he loves chewing on this relatively affordable toy!
- Treats are also essential, especially if you want your bird to stay on its play stand or chew on other things in your home. Boo likes pasta, pizza and eggs. I’m kind of a health freak, and so he often eats my bowl of soy milk and whole grains. Because of this, the vet recently admonished me to put him on a 70% parrot diet (for good reason, as there’s been a ton of recent research on the dietary needs of parrots and cockatoos), I bought more of his yums from the pet section rather than the human section. Avi-Cakes Lafebers for parrots are Boo’s all-time favourite, and are good to hide in paper towel tubes and other places to encourage foraging and entertainment. Treats are also often used as toys
- …that’s it, as far as the actual products I use or want to use with my goffins cockatoo! The final essential to having a pet bird is to bond with your companion and give him a ton of attention so he thinks you’re the guru of what’s fun and popular. Spending time redirecting destructive behavior to more acceptable objects is a must, as is convincing your bird that their toys and treats are MUCH cooler than the boring old pens, computers, and electronics you have elsewhere in the house.
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