What Do Cockatiels Need In Their Cage? (Complete Guide)

You’re bringing a new cockatiel home and want to ensure you have everything your bird needs. You need to figure out what kind of enclosure to get your cockatiel and what your cockatiel needs to feel safe and happy in their home base. The good news is, that you don’t need a lot of stuff to get started with your pet bird care.

Your cockatiel’s cage will need a set of food and water bowls, 2-3 perches, a climbing rope, a bell, a pair of swings, a cuttlebone, and a bathing bowl. Besides this, you will need to get an enclosure that is big enough for your cockatiel and have places for your pet bird to play, hide, eat, and poop.

There are, of course, a lot of extra fun toys and accessories you can get for your cockatiels, but not all those expensive accessories are strictly necessary.

It can be a lot of fun to give your bird new toys or watch it investigate its latest piece of furniture, but as long as you have these basic supplies ready, your bird will be set up for success in their new home.

What Do Cockatiels Like In Their Cage?

You will soon observe that your cockatiels are inquisitive and intelligent birds. Your cockatiel’s cage needs to reflect its needs to maintain this bright disposition.

A cage for your cockatiel should have the following:

  • 2-3 perches
  • Food and water dishes
  • One bathing bowl
  • Cage lining lined with paper towels
  • Toys (bells, swings, ropes, etc.)
  • Plants

Besides this, depending on where you live, you may need to get your pet bird a heat lamp. Cockatiels don’t strictly need them, but they can make their living environment optimal.

What Is The Ideal Cage Size For Cockatiels?

Like most other birds, cockatiels are inquisitive and enjoy exploring their surroundings. They are even known to be clever escape artists.

A single cockatiel needs a minimum of 18 x 18 x 18-inch cage. The size of the cage should double for each additional cockatiel. Each bird should be able to stretch its wings without bumping into anything.

What Type Of Cage Shape Is Best For A Cockatiel?

With my experience, I can tell you that cockatiels are most suited to rectangular cages that are vertical in structure.

In the wild, cockatiels tend to hop up and down in the canopy. Therefore, a tall cage allows domesticated cockatiels to replicate this behavior. Also, a tall aviary with a domed ceiling is suitable.

Make sure that the cage is clean and rust-free. It’s best to avoid cheap plastic pens, as they’ll break easily due to general usage and persistent chewing.

Metal cages should be coated in a bird-safe, anti-rust material for longevity.

Be sure that any materials coating the cage aren’t cheap plastic prone to chipping and cracking. Your cockatiels can ingest the particles and choke or hurt themselves on sharp edges.

What Perches Are Good For Cockatiels?

You can make your cockatiel a perch yourself using natural materials. You can make the perch using wood or even braided rope.

The surface should be soft, allowing your cockatiels to grip the surface without damaging your bird’s delicate feet.

Furthermore, your cockatiel’s perches also need to be the right size. Too narrow and too wide can affect your little bird’s feet.

I would advise you or build a perch with a width of around 1 inch. At least one perch should be level in the cage, while rope ladders can hang in any direction.

While 2-3 perches are recommended, there should be at least one wooden perch in the cage. Avoid metal, plastic, and stone perches if you can.

These surfaces either make it difficult for your cockatiel to perch comfortably or can damage its feet. You must altogether avoid sanded or sandpaper perches.

Perches aren’t just for perching; they are vital in maintaining beak and claw health. Your cockatiel will chew on wooden surfaces to clean, sharpen, and grind down its beak.

Do Cockatiels Need A Bath?

Cockatiels love to bathe now and then. In the wild, cockatiels bathe to clear the dust from their feathers. Also, baths help our cockatiels to keep themselves cool.

Besides being a form of hygiene, baths are a great way to play for our cockatiels. The baths even encourage the cockatiels to preen and maintain their feathers.

Having said that, a permanent bath is not a strict option in a cockatiel’s cage. You can let your cockatiel enjoy sink-baths with you once every week.

If the local climate is arid and humid, I advise you to let the bath bowl stay in your bird’s cage.

Besides this, you must ensure that the bathing dishes are shallow and wide, with no more than 1-2cm of water. Your cockatiel should be able to fit in the dish and move around comfortably.

Do Cockatiels Need A Bed?

Cockatiels do not need a unique bed or a bird mattress to sleep. Cockatiels often sleep on branches hidden within a tree’s canopies in the wild. However, a perch will suffice for your domesticated cockatiel.

Building a nest isn’t a requirement for cockatiels, but some won’t decline a comfy bed. Some cockatiels may sleep there if you fill the nest with soft, warm material and give them privacy.

Do Cockatiels Need A Night Light?

Cockatiels do not need any form of night light. You just need to ensure that your cockatiel’s room is in complete darkness when it is time to sleep.

I would recommend you to turn off the lights every night before you go to sleep. Besides this, you can even choose to cover your cockatiel’s cage to ensure a good night’s sleep.

However, if you feel that your cockatiel is prone to night frights, a light can be beneficial. This will ensure your cockatiel doesn’t wake up in total darkness and feel unable to observe threats.

Do Cockatiels Need A Nest?

Cockatiels require a nest for three main reasons; privacy, resting, and breeding. However, pet cockatiels will not build their nests, so you will need to provide them with nests.

If you want to breed your cockatiels, you will need to get a specific nesting box where they can lay and protect their eggs.

You can get your cockatiel a nesting box that can be bought from a store or homemade, it is a good idea to make sure I either have a back or top that opens.

Do Cockatiels Need A Heat Lamp?

Cockatiels might need a ‘bird-safe’ heat lamp if they stay around shallow temperatures.

However, you must be careful. As the heat lamps emit radiation, it can be harmful if you use them roughly.

Furthermore, you don’t have to use it if the temperature doesn’t dip that low.

A cockatiel’s ideal temperature range is 70-80°F (21-27°C). They can tolerate colder temperatures but will become less comfortable around the 60-degree mark.

Do Cockatiels Need Toys?

Physical and mental stimulation is essential to keep your cockatiels happy and healthy. Studies even suggest that stimulation improves cockatiels’ welfare and quality of life.

It is essential for you to understand that toys play a crucial role in this enrichment.

In the wild, cockatiels indulge in foraging for food and exploring their environment. Toys do the same for them.

Besides keeping your cockatiels active and engaged, toys keep your bird entertained. A cockatiel without proper enrichment can become bored, destructive, and depressed.

You can categorize your cockatiel’s toys into four groups:

  • Foraging toys: Cockatiels are natural foragers, and toys that encourage this behavior are ideal for keeping them stimulated throughout the day.
  • Puzzle toys: These toys will be even more mentally challenging for the cockatiels as it forages.
  • Chewing toys: These are important for mental enrichment and beak maintenance.
  • Play toys: These can encompass everything from bells and ball toys to rope ladders for climbing.

You will see that your cockatiels will eventually grow bored of their toys, so rotate them weekly to keep things fresh. You might also have to replace toys as they become damaged.

Do Cockatiels Need A Mirror?

The basic idea of providing your pet cockatiel with a mirror is to create the illusion of having companions. If you have a solo cockatiel, then there are chances that it will become obsessed with its reflection.

Besides this, there’s a risk of this developing into destructive behavior, frustration, and depression.

Therefore, I would recommend that you don’t give your solo cockatiel a mirror. In multi-bird cages, mirrors pose less risk.

Besides this, here are some factors that you must consider before placing a mirror in your cockatiel’s cage:

  • Make sure the mirror is not broken. Also, check out that the mirror does not have any sharp edges.
  • Never keep a loose mirror. Your cockatiels might hurt themself.
  • Clean the mirror whenever you clean your cockatiel’s cage.
  • If you feel that your cockatiel is stressed due to the mirror, remove it.
  • To attract your cockatiel’s attention to the mirror, you can try using mirrors of different shapes and sizes. Also, keep changing the location of the mirror every alternative day.

Do Cockatiels Need A Cuttlebone?

You should get your cockatiels to have a cuttlebone in their cage.

Cuttlebones are a great source of minerals that can be hard to get from your bird’s diet alone. Besides this, cuttlebones also help to wear down your bird’s beaks to prevent them from becoming overgrown.

There are chances that your cockatiels will not like the taste if the cuttlebones. In these cases, you must consider grinding cuttlebone into a food bowl or replacing it with a mineral block.

Food And Water Containers For Cockatiels

Your cockatiels surely need food and water bowls. You need to choose these containers wisely.

You will generally get a pair of containers when you buy the cage for your cockatiels. Still, most of the time, they are not good enough.

Make sure that the food and water bowls must be cleaned and have their contents changed out daily. I recommend that you have food and water dishes that can be accessed externally from the cage.

Besides making the process easier, it will prevent your cockatiels from becoming more anxious. From my experience, I can tell you that reaching into the cage makes feeding and water replacement easier.

Furthermore, you need to ensure that the locking mechanism over the food and water dishes is cockatiel-proof.


Hello, I am Mohini, the founder of this blog. I am a qualified Animal Nutrition. I am here to help everyone understand their pets better.

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