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Geno 01-25-2017 03:38 PM

What Happened To Gravel On Cage Bottom?
OK, I had a budgie for a dozen years about 25 years ago. When he died there was no replacing him...didn't want another.

Well, Santa gave me a gift certificate to a pet store so I got myself another budgie two weeks ago. Used my old cage and toys and had some unused boxes of "Hartz Parakeet Gravel and Grit." Well, that stuff is now running out. I went to a number of pet stores...and no one sells that anymore. They just sell rolls of gravel paper. Because of the unusual shape of the cage I don't want that paper.

Why is gravel no longer used? If it still is used, where the heck can I find it? Any substitutes I can use?


JRS 01-25-2017 03:56 PM

Hi Geno & welcome to talkbudgies!

A lot has changed in 25 years with regards to what is considered to be current good practice for budgie owners.

Grit is no longer considered necessary and could potentially cause problems with crop impaction for birds that over eat it - that product is still available online along with many other unnecessary and potentially dangerous products.

I'm new to budgie keeping and this site has been a wonderful resource in educating me. I'm sure more experienced members will be along soon to point you to useful initial pages, in the meantime, you can use the search box For the forum to get started!

FaeryBee 01-25-2017 04:30 PM

Hi! :welcome: to Talk Budgies

Neither grit nor sandpaper are a recommended for use with your budgie. Grit isn't necessary as budgies hull their seeds before eating them. Sandpaper/gravel paper is too rough for budgies tender feet. Using newspaper, butcher paper or craft paper for the cage bottom is a much better option. :)

As JRS mentioned, there have been many changes with regard to what are considered to be best practices in budgie care in the last couple decades.

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You'll find most of your basic questions about budgies and caring for them will have been answered after you've read through all of them.

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Glad you decided to join us and looking forward to seeing you around the forums.


StarlingWings 01-25-2017 07:28 PM

Hi there and :welcome: to the forums!

It's great to have you with us, and congratulations on you new budgie ;)

You've come to the best place to learn even more of the best practices for caring for budges!

Already, you have been given some great advice. Be sure to read through the links provided to ensure you're up to date on the best budgie care, and if you have any questions afterwards, don't hesitate to ask as we'd love to help. :D

Hope to see you around, and to meet your new little friend soon! :wave:

Geno 01-25-2017 10:00 PM

Thanks for the replies.

It has been 25 years since I've had a little budgie. Odd, there have been changes in how we care for our birds. Gravel no more? Sandpaper covers on perches no more? What are we raising here? Should I buy my little guy a helmet for when he sits on his swing?

My little budgie from years ago lived a great, productive life. Gravel, sandpaper on perches, he drank water from the faucet. I even let him fly outside!

I appreciate your help. I'll look into these new ways to care for my little guy.

But newspaper on the bottom of the cage? Yech. The sand/gravel looked so nice, easy to clean, and did the job.

StarlingWings 01-25-2017 11:40 PM

You're very welcome, and I hope you continue to find the forums helpful.

As research into bird care has increased, we have been made aware of numerous things.

Parrots (which include budgies), as hookbills, husk their seeds and therefore have no need of grit or gravel to eat like some other birds do. In fact, if they do ingest any grit or sand, it has been proven to erode away at the crop and gizzard, causing inflammation, infection, and discomfort.

Additionally, the sandpaper covering on the perch covers has been found to conclusively contribute to a painful condition called bumble foot, where the bird's feet erupt in pressure sores. This is caused by the wearing away of the delicate foot skin by the abrasive sand.

If a bird chews on the sandpaper as well, the glue as well as the sand can be harmful.

These things are valid health concerns that if not addressed can cause your budgie much discomfort! As birds become more popular as pets, veterinarians are always looking for better ways to take care of our avian friends.

As for drinking out of the faucet, there's no problem with that ;)

I will say that you should never, ever take your budgie outside without a cage. It doesn't matter if you've done it before and been lucky with not having your bird blown away, spooked, attacked, etc. Budgies are very small, and usually unsuited to living in the wild should they get lost. Additionally, even if they are the most loyal of creatures, they cannot control if they are swept off by a gust of wind or snatched up in an instant by a hawk.

We aren't trying to tell you that you need to go to extreme lengths to care for your budgie. This is simply the best way to care for your bird and ensure that the chance of health problems or injury is minimized; isn't that the least you could do for a little creature who trusts you to care for him or her?

I'm glad to hear you'll be taking this new information into account when caring for your little one!

Feel free to start with these links!

RavensGryf 01-25-2017 11:59 PM

Hi Geno :welcome:

A lot has definitely changed in the past couple decades in regard to keeping pet birds. As StarlingWings pointed out, research has come a long way. 'Better', more efficient, and safer methods have been implemented. There are now many more specialists in Avian medicine, who know much more about birds and their healthcare than they did decades ago. Also, with everyone on the internet nowadays it's much easier to spread the word to bird owners throughout the world as to the best practices for keeping our little feathered friends healthy and happy.

Taking a look through our Articles section, and Stickies threads at the top of each major forum section would be a great place to start learning about updated care for diet, housing, and all aspects of budgie care. Good luck with your new little friend :).

FaeryBee 01-26-2017 05:50 AM

You've been given excellent advice.
Please be sure you review the information in the following links as well:

20 Things You Must Know About Nutrition

SusanBudgies 01-26-2017 07:46 AM

:welcome: to TalkBudgies and welcome back to budgie ownership!

My avian vet offers several helpful handouts here: BIRD Clinic Handouts - Bird Vet

Therm 01-26-2017 02:13 PM

Geno, like you, my Father had budgies for years and years and when I first got my first bird in 2015, before joining this forum, we had sandpaper perches etc.
When I first joined, I was swamped by all the information that had changed and started to work to correct things that now had been seen to be harmful to my birds.

My Dad has kept budgies his whole life, on and off and even though he was certain that what he knew about grit and sandpaper perches, when I talked to him about it and he thought about it, he came round to the idea.
I'm sure the more you research into these things, the more you'll understand why these ways are best for your new budgie friend. Certain things from the past are great to keep- and some just need to be forgotten about and finding news ways to adapt.

tonic 01-26-2017 03:48 PM


Originally Posted by StarlingWings (Post 3927001)
In fact, if they do ingest any grit or sand, it has been proven to erode away at the crop and gizzard, causing inflammation, infection, and discomfort.

That sounds like useful and interesting research, do you have a link to it?

StarlingWings 01-26-2017 04:06 PM

I do ;)

Here's a few quotes, with the links below:


Insoluble grit is most commonly in the form of silica, and accumulates in the gizzard, a muscular portion of the stomach that helps to grind up food.

It's not uncommon to see wild birds eat grit, after all, they need to eat whatever they find. Grit aids in removing the outer fibrous shell around some seeds (think something like sunflower seeds) if the seeds are eaten whole and not removed by the beak prior to going down the hatch.

Captive parrots face a much different scenario, and even though they eat seeds and nuts (which are often easy to separate), these birds are quite adept at removing the hulls and shells from these food sources with their beaks (and it's fun to watch them do so!).

Some parrots may eat too much grit if it's made available. This leads to irritation of the digestive system and in some cases, can cause an blockage of the crop, gizzard, or proventriculus.
Parrots benefit from having many things in their diet, but is grit one of them? |


It was believed that grit was necessary for the mechanical breakdown of food in the gizzard, as an aid to digestion. . However, now we know that birds do fine without grit in their diet. Some birds will in fact have problems if grit is over eaten.

Soluble grit is different than insoluble grit; soluble grit is essentially crushed eggshell and cuttlebone, and is fine, although budgies get that same thing from having a mineral block and a cuttlebone in their cage.

Insoluble grit, which is just gravel or sand (silica-based) is the dangerous one.

Kate C 01-26-2017 04:14 PM

Geno as someone who has kept budgies and many other species of birds for more than 60 years I know it can be very hard to take in the changes that have come about after more than 2 decades but I know that you are never too old to learn.

Remember that the practices that we employed in the old days for the keeping of budgies and other parrots to were only modified from the keeping of canaries which have entirely different needs to parrots. Even our cages are only modified canary cages and are really not suited to birds that climb. Canaries don't climb but parrots including budgies do. Nearly all the cages available have vertical bars but parrots are much better off with horizontal bars. Manufacturers are slowly realizing that this is the case and we now can buy some cages that at least have horizontal bars on the side.

And it is the same with feeding and management of our budgies. I have seen cases of impacted crops with parrots including budgies being fed grit and also the damage that sandpaper perch covers can cause to their feet and it is not pretty. I have been a member of various bird clubs now since 1993 and even the older members of these clubs have had to re-evaluate their bird management. These clubs have also in the main been showing clubs and we used to use grit on the bottom of the show cages as well, this is not being done anymore and we use the seed they normally eat for the floor of the cages.

As for using newspaper, yes it may not be as attractive but it is not dangerous. Newspaper print now does not contain chemicals like it used to and is more often than not vegetable based inks being used. We always use it to line our breeding cages and also the show cages when having a table show at a meeting rather than the seed which makes a mess on the meeting room floor and we don't wish to spend an hour or so cleaning up after a meeting. Meetings are usually held in the evenings but shows are during the day on a weekend so we have more time to clean the hall.

Also years ago we would never have thought it necessary to give our birds fruit and vegetables, maybe the odd bit of milk thistle or spinach but nothing else except seed. As research into birds diets has gone on we now know that we should feed our birds a variety of fruits and vegetables as well. Sometimes it takes the birds a little while to get used to it but they will. I have had budgies absolutely demolish Bell Pepper that has been put into the aviary and they really enjoy it.

So please Geno keep an open mind and remember we are never too old to learn and there have been massive changes in the way we keep our beloved birds.

Also as a side I would never under any circumstances let any of my birds fly outside. As someone who has worked very closely with the Budgerigar Society of New South Wales Information Service we have had so many calls about lost birds, not only budgies but other parrots as well and I have also taken in many birds that have been found by someone that were obviously pets and the finder did not want to keep them. It is really just not worth the risk.

Geno 01-26-2017 04:42 PM

Thanks again, folks, for your helpful replies.

I have removed the sandpaper perch covers. Come to think about it, those things really are kind of cruel. When I do sanding around the house, even a low grit sanding paper wipes away my fingerprints. Imagine what those sandpaper perches can do to little budgie feet.

Still up in the air regarding the lining of the cage bottom. Much to think about there.

SusanBudgies 01-26-2017 04:49 PM

Non-sandpaper bird cage liners are commercially available.

FaeryBee 01-26-2017 04:57 PM

Rolls of white or brown butcher paper are also available at places like Costco or Sam's Club. :)

Urvogel 02-05-2017 08:03 PM


It's been over 25 years for me too, and this was an eye opener! I would have just assumed that gravel would be on the shopping list for the new budgie we'll be getting.

The new info available on best practices is really useful!

JRS 02-06-2017 04:54 AM

Geno, if you dislike the look of paper on the cage bottom, you could consider using your preferred sand/gravel together with a bottom cage grate, so that your budgie can't get to it.
I use a grate in the budgies cage and literally a 10 second wipe every morning has it looking clean (I wash it in the bath every couple of weeks).

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