Anyone who has owned a pet bird of any type has experienced the pain of shelling out sometimes vast sums on new cages that are often much smaller than your pet would like. Cages for larger parrots, in particular, can run into the thousands of dollars even for a basic set-up, and these cages rarely afford any room for customization. But with a few simple tools and a considerably reduced price tag, you can fashion roomy and attractive bird cages and aviaries from just PVC pipe and wire mesh.
Things You'll Need
- 1 ½ inch diameter PVC pipe
- 8 3-way PVC joints
- 4 T-style PVC joints
- 4 90-degree PVC joints
- PVC cutters
- Steel mesh (see warnings, below)
- Wire cutters
- Zip ties or steel wire
Decide on your dimensions and cut your pipe. For the purposes of this article, our cage will be four feet wide by three feet deep by five feet tall, with a door opening that is two feet square. The front of the cage (where the door opening will be located) will have a horizontal stabilizer bar to support the door frame. You will need four four-foot lengths of PVC, four three-foot lengths, two five-foot lengths, and four 29 ½-inch lengths for the main body of the cage, as well as two 23-foot lengths for the horizontal support bar. The door will require two two-foot lengths and four 11 ½-inch lengths.
Connect a four-foot pipe to a three-foot pipe with a three-way joint and allow them to rest flat on the ground in an L shape. Connect an additional four-foot and three-foot pipe to create a rectangle. Make sure that the empty openings on the three-way joints point up. Repeat with the remaining four-foot and three-foot lengths so that you have two rectangles.
Connect both of the five-foot lengths of PVC vertically to the rear of one of the rectangles. Connect two 29 ½-inch pieces vertically to the front of the same rectangle, then cap them each with a T-joint, followed by the next two 29 ½-inch segments. Place the second rectangle over the top, completing the main frame of your cage.
Construct the door opening by connecting the following in sequence: a two-foot length to a 90-degree joint, add an 11 ½-inch segment, a T-style joint, the next 11 ½-inch segment, a 90-degree joint, the next two-foot segment, another 90-degree joint, an 11 ½-inch segment, the final T-joint and the final 11 ½-inch segment. Connect the corner with the last 90-degree joint. The T-joints on the opening should point outward. Now connect the door opening to the 23-inch pieces of PVC with the T-joints, and connect the entire thing to the T-joints on the front of the cage.
Cut your stainless steel mesh with the wire cutters in sheets to fit the cage sides. Attach with wire or zip ties. Cut a separate two-foot x two-foot piece of mesh for the cage opening. Secure on one side with zip ties or wire, and use clips or more wire to hold the door closed.
Tips & Warnings
- Planning is everything on this project. If you alter dimensions, make sure to check your math and check it twice. Also keep in mind that PVC joints will change the overall dimensions slightly, so allow wiggle room of an inch or so when factoring in support bars or splits in the segments.
- Never use any type of zinc-coated wire with birds that chew or use their beaks to climb, such as parrots. Anything sold as "galvanized steel" is probably zinc-coated, and can result in deadly toxic metal poisoning. Sandblasting or coating the mesh with non-toxic paint can help in some situations, but as avianweb.com points out, "The only safe mesh is a stainless steel mesh."
- Always supervise large birds in PVC cages, as some birds will eventually gnaw through even industrial strength PVC.
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