Active, playful, curious parakeets love to chew. They'll chew anything they can get their beaks on -- cage bars, swings and perches, ladders, cardboard and paper -- including the paper that lines their cages. You can either roll with it or give him alternatives to chew on.
Parakeets are curious little birds. They explore their environments inside and outside their cages, and one way they do that is by chewing. The way an object -- or paper -- reacts when they chew it tells them a lot about it. Paper on the bottom of the cage looks different from day to day -- more black one day, more white another and maybe even has pictures. Paper towels and newspaper tear differently than cardboard boxes and tissue rolls. Frayed edges and corners that stick up are just too much for your 'keet to ignore.
Way of Playing
Even with plenty of toys in their cages, many parakeets will still chew the paper on the bottom of the cage. They don't know that one's a toy and the other isn't. Everything that reacts is a toy to a parakeet. Keep different types of toys in his cage, and change them frequently so he doesn't get bored. Make sure one is a chew toy -- soft wood he can chew or a papery toy to shred. Replace them as they become worn to keep him from concentrating on the paper so much.
Chewing on things is a natural habit that helps parakeets keep their beaks trimmed. Although the paper on the bottom of the cage won't trim his beak, it satisfies his need to chew. In the wild, parakeets must forage for their food, so rooting through the debris on the cage bottom is natural. Watch and you'll see him pick up empty seed hulls, nibble, and toss them down again. To discourage paper chewing, move the paper to the very bottom, beneath the grate. Or make him fun toys that he must forage through to find a treat -- like paper pieces, balls or food treats wrapped in small bundles of paper.
What to Watch For
When a 'keet likes to chew the cage's paper, it's important to keep the cage squeaky clean by changing the paper every day. Note if he's exploring the droppings, as this can make him sick. Moving the paper underneath the grate will allow the droppings to fall through out of reach. If he's lethargic at the bottom of cage, sitting there for long periods rather than actively chewing, he should see your vet right away to rule out illness.
Barbara Bean-Mellinger is an award-winning writer in the Washington, DC area. She writes nationally for newspapers, magazines and websites on topics including careers, education, women, marketing, advertising and more. She holds a Bachelor of Science from the University of Pittsburgh.