Hi to everyone! I'm new in the forum, and to budgies. A week ago I got my first budgie, Fae, a fearless little boy who is already eating from my hand (when he is in the mood).
He isn't too active and can't care less about his toys, but I just attributed it to him molting. Besides, I read that English budgies are less active than regular budgies in general. The thing that really confuses me is that he seems to be really into digging. He has play sand as substrate at the bottom of his cage. I thought that, besides being very hygienic, it would be good to provide new textures to his feet, and something else to play with. I know that small grain sand can be dangerous for birds if it gets in the folds of their feet, but I also know that budgies instinctively clean their feet for sand, since they come from the Australian desert, and that in the wild they spend a lot of time on the ground so it sounded like a sand-and-rocks bottom cage would be enriching for him.
Fae loves it, and spends a long time hopping on the bottom and looking for the extra seeds I sprinkle on the sand...but sometimes it seems like he likes it a bit too much. He doesn't just walk on the sand, he digs. He does so all the time, kicking sand behind himself like a gerbil, and even crawls belly first on it for a couple of inches. I'm not sure if I got a budgie or a hamster at this point. Not to mention that he likes the rocks more than the perches.
At the beginning I was delighted because I thought it would be good for his nails, but I'm not so sure it's healthy anymore. He is starting to dig between rocks and udner the dish plate, to squeeze through them or inder then and go back and forth. I've never seen a budgie doing this before.
Is this normal? Is he developing some unhealthy behaviour? Is this actually related to him not being active in some way? Should I stop encouraging him to look for seeds on the sand (it seemed like good enrichment at the time) or take the sand out altogether? Is he just itchy for some reason and I should be worried about parasites?
Keeping birds domestically is different than having birds living out in the wild.
We do not recommend using sand as a lining for the cage bottom. Using newspaper, craft paper or white paper towels is much better for your bird.
If your budgie eats the sand, it can quickly lead to crop impaction.
You don't mention how young your budgie is but many baby budgies like squeezing themselves into small tight spaces and many like to dig in their food dishes.
Sand fleas are always a possibility when using sand and I would remove the sand and rocks from your bird's environment.
Please take the time to read through the Site Guidelines, all of the How To Guides, the FAQs, the Budgie Articles and the stickies located at the top of each section of the forum.
Truly, the very BEST advice anyone can offer you is to take the time to read ALL of the stickies throughout the various Talk Budgie forums as well as the Budgie Articles we have posted.
These are great resources for Talk Budgie members and have a wealth of reliable information which will assist you to learn the best practices in caring for your budgies for their optimal health and well-being.
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You've received excellent advice above from FaeryBee. I agree totally; that's exactly what you should do. Please be sure to also read through the links provided above to stay updated on the best of budgie care practices. If you have any questions afterwards, please be sure to ask as we'd be happy to help.
We hope to see you and Fae around the forums!
and Princess Mallorn!
Thank you to Deb for her wonderful Faery magic