Phase II of the raising of the cage floor was undertaken on the 20th July. As previously posted (click here), I thought the raised floor could be improved by lowering it a section.
This time I mostly used mini bungee cords, with string to cover a few gaps. This lattice work was covered with pieces of cardboard connected with foldback clips. I reused the piece of cardboard providing a rim across the front. As before, the padding, oil cloth & cage liners were then placed on top. An extra rope perch was added to bridge the gap between the new bottom & the existing low perch.
Bungee cords & string
Lennie settling in
The changes were accepted immediately. This time, Lennie was the first to test out the new floor’s bounce-ability! It works a lot better this way so I think I will stop fiddling with it now!
When it was time for the swap to take place. Perry was in with Moriarty, so I caught Lennie & popped him in the ‘new’ cage. After the initial upset over being caught, he seemed relieved to be back in familiar surroundings again, despite the floor being raised.
The quarantine cage was removed & the half & half cage placed back in its original position. Moriarty was keen to visit Lennie (he had not been able to do this whilst he was in the quarantine cage) but did a double-take on clocking the raised floor & backed off. He kept coming back though & finally braved going over the threshold to greet his friend. When it came towards bedtime, Perry returned home as he usually would. All seemed to be back to normal again after nearly a week of upset!
Ironically, the first to fall & test the new floor was Moriarty!
Whilst doing the conversion I had some better ideas but because I needed to work quick to minimize Perry & Lennie’s stay in the quarantine cage I decided to leave them for phase II. The next phase is to actually lower the floor down to the next section (I think this will be a better compromise) & to use bungee cords instead of string.
The lower half of the cage is not expected to be used so is currently kept bare. This arrangement, so far, seems to suit us better.
Video of Lennie & Moriarty chilling in the new set up:
I had been thinking about it for awhile but last week I finally raised Perry & Lennie’s “bottom”.
Their flight cage is a good size but it has a big drop if anyone falls. The cage bottom has been padded to cushion any fall, & perches arranged to allow an easy ascent.
However, recently I noticed Perry fell off the perch as he reached around to clean his bottom (I seem to be talking about bottoms a lot in this post!) His various lumps & bumps have made it difficult for him to balance at times. He has also wobbled quite a bit when cleaning his bottom, but managed to right himself before falling. Lennie has also fallen on occasion. It made sense to me that it would be more comfortable for them if there was not so far to fall.
It was quite a big operation. They had to move into the quarantine/folding cage whilst I made the changes. I set it up as near as possible to what they were used to & anticipated they would be in there for up to 2 weeks as I worked out how to raise the floor.
I did plan to swap out Moriarty’s cage with Perry & Lennie’s clean cage & convert Moriarty’s cage, but decided at the last minute to just clean Moriarty’s cage & furniture all at once as I thought there might be some objection as the cages are different colours (grey/silver & black) & we know how finicky they can be about such things! This meant that Perry & Lennie were an extra day in the quarantine cage.
After I cleaned Moriarty’s cage (& added extra padding on the bottom) I had to work quicker than I planned on the conversion as Perry & Lennie were not coping well in the quarantine cage. Perry had the advantage of spending most of the day in with Moriarty (after an age trying to get him out through the strange door!), so Lennie was the most unsettled.
Though I had run through the conversion idea in my head many times, I could not be sure how it would turn out until I actually tried it. Firstly, I decided to split the cage at the halfway level. The bars split into three sections at that level which suggested three sets of cardboard could be slotted through. I did not have cardboard long enough so tied pieces together with string. It had to be flexible to get in & out through the door.
The cardboard would lay on a crisscross of string. This proved to be quite difficult as I had to research some different knots in order to keep some decent tension. I ended up with making a loop mid-way in the piece of string in order to thread the string through it & tie tight enough. I kept testing it by throwing a tailor’s ham on (weighs about 450g) to simulate a fall! There was also a slight gap at the front & back so an extra piece of cardboard was added. At the front, at the gap when the main door is open, I added a ridge for a little safety. All exposed edges of cardboard were covered with parcel tape.
Finally, I added some padding (not as much as before given there is less of a fall), a piece of oilcloth, then the bottom liners. All furniture was placed back in exactly the same place! (To help with furniture/toy placement I made a note of location according to bars & also took photos.) You will notice in the last photo below there is an extra perch in the lower section that was just the right shape to provide a little extra support.
So, how did they receive it? That will be in the next post!
For some time now, because of various illnesses & special needs within the flock, I have padded the cage bottoms.
When Moriarty arrived, he came with the Ferplast Canto cage. Though he has officially moved into Dalai’s cage, he still has an attachment to his previous cage & is in & out of it during the day.
The folding cage was around for some time as an emergency hospital cage for Perry. As that cage can be folded & stored easily, I have converted Moriarty’s Canto into emergency hospital quarters instead. Part of the refurbishment involved padding the bottom. Quite by chance, I came across two unused cushions that I could roll up & squeeze through the small doors. These, wrapped in pillow cases, provide a lovely, thick, soft bottom. I topped this with a piece of oilcloth & initially with newspaper but now with kitchen towel.
Fortunately, Perry has only spent small amounts of time in there (aside from the odd moment he voluntarily goes in for a change of scenery).
Perry’s lack of flying (partly physical & partly, I suspect, laziness!) means he appreciates a helping hand to get around. Since Moriarty’s arrival, Perry has been increasingly keen to be out & about. To aid in this, I resurrected the Hand Navigation System (HNS), originally developed by Atilla.
There is a glaring difference in their ways of using the HNS. Atilla was firm & decisive, whereas Perry is less so. With Perry, there is a lot of changing of mind/direction & a lot of me asking, “Where do you want to go, Perry? Here? There? Nowhere?” Despite the different styles, the system still works well.
The major route is out of Moriarty’s cage to Moriarty’s old cage (Ferplast Canto) & locations in the vicinity, like the curtains & the back of the chair. Sometimes, Perry may even set foot on the window perch. He will also join Moriarty on top of the cages.
I have thought of setting up a perch system to get Perry from Moriarty’s cage to these areas but this would mean more perches to remove whenever I need to close up the cage quickly, particularly in an emergency, or need to move it for cleaning purposes. For now, I will continue to give Perry a helping hand.
For a long time I have used newspaper to line the bottom of cages. In recent years I have stopped buying newspapers & also not had easy access to free newspapers, so then started buying packs of ‘chip paper’ or packing paper. This paper was particularly nice as the light, plain colour made it easy to check poop quality.
However, as I was using up the last pack I questioned if there was another cheaper way to line the bottom of their cages.
I remembered I had an old shower curtain that was washable. I cut up a trial piece & was pleasantly surprised with how it worked. It is a light colour with faded swirls, so poop (& blood that it later had to cope with) is easily seen. I thought it might be a bit slippery if Perry fell down on it but it seemed ok & no more slippery than anything else. I cut up the rest of the curtain & got 6 ‘bottoms’ out of whole thing. After some washing (either hand or machine) the edges started to fray so I hemmed them.
Having 6 means that I can have 4 in use, one drying & one to be (hand) washed. When I take the last one away, I have 4 clean ones to put in (1 dirty one & 1 drying).
I bought another cheap, washable shower curtain & made another 6 for Dalai’s cage.
They lay nicely on top of the padding (fleece & towels) & are easy to roll up when you take them out. Then I can scrape the poop off into a bag & put it in soak ready for a quick hand wash. They dry very quickly. And, as alluded to above, blood washes out well!
It was obvious very early on that Moriarty liked lots of stimulation.
His home was the Ferplast Canto which has rotating seed pots incorporated into the design. These were not being used & were turned outwards. I decided to swivel one back around & fill it with crinkled paper. This has proved to be a hit!
Moriarty coped with quarantine (Oct/Nov 2020) well but it was clear he needed lots of attention.
When his previous owners brought him in, & the cover was raised, there he was, swinging away, seemingly not bothered about the move. That first sight of him made me think he would take most things in his stride. As for the elephant in the room…. yes, he has a similar colouring to our dearly departed Bezukhov but in real life perhaps a greener shade.
His cage originally had 3 cement perches & a cement platform perch, along with a wooden perch & a wooden platform perch. I replaced the cement perches with a variety of wooden ones (there is nothing wrong with cement perches but ideally they should not be the main perches & not used as a roosting perch). I did notice a small red/orange spot on the underside of one foot which might have been the start of an irritation – it disappeared quickly. You will see from the photo posted here that the toenail on his short, forward toe angles inwards. The odd angle has not caused any noticeable problems.
As far as toys, he had a lovely swing with colourful, wooden beads, a mirror, a chewy toy with a bell at the bottom. I should note that the swing has two bells at the bottom – it was quickly apparent that he loves shiny things! I added some more toys, such as the rings, the disco ball (ultra shiny!) & a paper rope toy, along with some dried grass for further stimulation.
He was not scared of hands so though not tame, was not worried about me entering his cage to make all these changes. In fact, he had quite a bite on him but I think that may have lessened with the introduction of more toys to keep his beak busy!
The seed situation was curious as he had one of those gravity seed fountains mounted in one of the cage gaps for the incorporated seed bowls. Though he would perch on it, I never once saw him eat a seed from it! He had millet, so was not starving but at times when there was no millet, he still did not eat the seed. (It had an area underneath that collected the husks so I could see if he ate any). Given his love of shiny things, I put in a stainless steel bowl with seed & he immediately took to eating from that. Knowing he was eating the seed mix, I could start rationing the millet!
I also put in a water bottle along side his water fountain in the hope he would use it. During quarantine he never quite understood it was for drinking water, but was fascinated watching the bubbles go up the bottle as I pressed the water end. He also got quite attached to the shiny spout, often having long chats with it!
Perry’s mobility is gradually being compromised by his growing lump. With this in mind, I made a few adjustments to their cage to help him get around easier.
The first hurdle was for Perry & Lennie to vacate their home so I could go in & make the changes, so I was on alert waiting for an opportunity. As ‘luck’ would have it, on the 24th October, I was scraping some poop off a perch with my fingernail (a not unusual occurrence) & Lennie decided this was a scary thing & shot out the cage. He landed over by the window. He made it back to the nearest safety, which was Dalai’s cage, in two stages, which, although it does not sound great, I was quite encouraged by, given his flying problems. I then got Perry & put him in Dalai’s cage also.
It was a relief to have full control of their cage & the first thing I did was give it a thorough clean! The main change I made was to have a perch run the full length of the cage at the top, hopefully giving Perry an easy walk from one end to the other & therefore easier access to the top level. I also moved the water bottle from the salt lick perch up there. The only slight issue is when he has to jump down to the seed pots but I have also lowered the triangle perch that he jumps down from. There is also a rope perch at mid-level that I also adjusted.
The bottom was already padded, but I added more padding. Most of the time, if he falls, he usually lands on the sisal rope perch that is stretched from the bottom-level to mid-level, but occasionally the padded bottom comes in handy.
The added advantage of the extra long perch across the top-level is that it makes a cross-junction with the branch perch. I did not realise at the time, but that is a particularly good thing as sometimes Perry struggles to turn 180 degrees on the perch, so the cross-junction allows him to turn 90 degrees at a time.
All the changes were well & good but would be useless if not accepted by Perry & Lennie. Lennie was the first to venture back in & managed to avoid the long perch for a bit. However, by the time Perry strolled in, Lennie had broken in the long perch. I may make some further adjustments later on, but for now, all seems well.