There are a number of products sold for birds to help them stay warm – particularly sleeping bags such as ‘happy huts’ and snuggle buddies made of soft, fluffy materials. Although many birds enjoy having access to these they can pose a significant health risk. It is a natural behaviour of birds to chew, and they will often swallow the fibres that they have chewed from anything in their cage, including fluffy toys! Birds cannot digest synthetic fibres and over time these can build up in their crop and in other areas of their gastrointestinal tract. These will often lead to an obstruction, which can quickly result in illness and even death.
Similarly, cotton (although a natural fibre) often knots up within the bird’s gut, and can also cause an obstruction. Surgery is almost always required to resolve this problem. . Due to the high risk associated with these sorts of products we would suggest steering clear of them. It is also important to note than any small enclosed cavity (such as a sleeping bag), will be a big reproductive trigger particularly to female birds, but also to some male birds. This can result in unwanted reproductive activity which can be bad for your bird’s health – and their relationship with you and the rest of the household.
Many people will cover their bird’s cage at night time to ensure they have shelter. Usually sheets or fleece blankets are used. It is important that your bird does not chew on any of these materials either (due to the same reasons described above!). One way we can try to stop them from doing this is to place pegs on all four corners of the top of the cage, which will effective hold the material away from the bars so that your bird cannot grab it to chew on, but it will still provide a covering and some shelter. It is also important to ensure that there is still some ventilation (air flow) in the cage – so make sure there are so gaps at the bottom to allow fresh air in.
Remember, birds that are fully feathered already have all the tools to keep them warm enough (if they are well), so often just bringing them inside is enough to keep them cosy over winter! If you a worried your bird is unwell we would suggest you call the clinic to discuss getting them seen.
This little guy is snuggling in a towel during his health check!
Here is Rica the conure with some browse to snuggle into in her outdoor cage. Having an indoor cage for at night time is ideal in the cooler months.