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Hospital Cage at Home


When a bird is very ill, it needs to be kept in a "hospital cage" in order to recover more quickly. This needs to be set up as soon as possible once your bird shows signs of illness.

It is important for this hospital cage to have smooth sides so that your bird cannot climb and remains at the bottom of the cage.  A deep plastic storage container works well as a temporary hospital cage for larger birds such as Amazons and macaws. A 30 gallon or larger aquarium with a screen top is another good choice, but is much heavier to move around for cleaning.  Small birds, such as parakeets and cockatiels, often do well in a 10 gallon tanke with a screen top, or a small plastic sweater box.  Place food and water in shallow dishes on the bottom of the bird's hospital cage.  Do not provide any perches as a sick bird is not stable enough to perch above the ground.

Make sure that the hospital cage is warm so that your bird may recover more quickly.  Your bird needs a spot in its hospital cage that is at least 95 to 105°F.  If you use a 30 gallon or larger aquarium, extra heat may be provided by a ceramic heat bulb or a red incandescent light bulb hung over one end of cage and left on at all times.  A 60 watt ceramic bulb (such as Zoo Med's 60 watt) or a 60 watt red light bulb will usually provide enough heat.  A smaller aquarium may need a smaller wattage heat source.  You may need to adjust the height of the heat source so that the tank is not too hot or too cold.  If you use a heat pad designed for heating home terrariums, make sure it is only under one-half of the cage.  (Pay attention to the manufacturer's recommendations as heat pad designed for human patients may not be suitable for this purpose and can be fire hazards.)  Please use a thermometer to make sure it is not getting too warm or too cold.  Watch closely for the first 24 hrs to make sure the cage is not getting too warm or too cold.

There are many commercially available home incubators for birds needing extra warmth.  You may call the different pet stores to see if they have any available for purchase.

Copyright 2010
Kevin Wright DVM, Diplomate ABVP (Reptile and Amphibian Practice)
Arizona Exotic Animal Hospital
744 N Center Street
Mesa, AZ 85201
(480) 275 7017

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