Sandpaper is a common addition to budgies’ cages. Some owners use it to line the cage floor, while others wrap it around perches to keep the claws a comfortable length.
This should allow budgies to grind down their claws and make it easier to clean up any mess. However, it becomes a problem when your budgie starts eating sandpaper.
When bored, a budgie will chew sandpaper and seek enrichment by shredding anything in its cage. Also, a budgie may lack minerals and decide to supplement its diet with sandpaper.
Also, your budgie may want to remove sandpaper through ingestion because it’s hurting its feet.
The paper and glue used in sandpaper aren’t toxic, but they can lead to digestive blockages when eaten in large amounts. Swap it for a safer cage liner even if your budgie isn’t eating sandpaper.
Sandpaper can cause bumblefoot, which leads to painful lesions on the bottom of the feet.
Can Budgies Eat Sandpaper?
Ingesting non-food items, especially in large quantities, will damage your budgie’s health. This is most likely a problem if your budgie has an eating disorder called pica.
Sandpaper refers to any material with a sheet of paper or cloth with an abrasive material glued to one side of the sheet. This abrasive material can be made from different substances but is usually synthetic or natural minerals.
The common minerals sandpaper is made from aren’t sand or glass, but one of the following:
- Aluminum oxide
- Silicon carbide
Even if these materials are non-toxic, they have no nutritional value. The paper or fabric they’re secured to may lead to an intestinal blockage if your budgie consumes too much.
Is It OK For Budgies To Eat Sandpaper?
Budgies shouldn’t eat non-food items, such as sandpaper. Whether it’s from the excess of useless minerals, the paper itself, or the glue, the budgie may experience the following:
- Blockage of the stomach, crop, esophagus, or intestines
- Upset stomach, leading to diarrhea or constipation
- Lack of appetite for essential foods, leading to a nutrient deficiency
Why Do Budgies Eat Sandpaper?
Sandpaper is unsafe to eat, but that doesn’t mean budgies know to stay away from it. Some will eagerly tear into any sandpaper in their cage for fun, while others will eat it.
Abnormal behaviors are often a way for a budgie to let you know there’s a problem:
Budgies are intelligent parrots that form complex social bonds, learn words, and solve puzzles. So, if your budgie is kept in a boring cage with no stimulation, it’ll grow bored.
This can lead to stress, depression, and misbehavior, but it can lead to your budgie creating its own fun. While chewing on sandpaper isn’t the most entertaining activity, it’s better than doing nothing.
Common symptoms of boredom in budgies include:
- Minimal or excessive vocalizations
- Destructive behavior
- Lack of appetite
You can prevent boredom by keeping your budgie engaged.
Providing it with more toys, a bigger cage, and spending more time together will be beneficial. As long as your budgie is kept busy, it’s less likely to feel the need to eat non-edible items, such as sandpaper.
Budgies intuitively know when they lack nutrients, so budgies sometimes become picky eaters.
However, if budgies aren’t provided a diet that meets these needs, they may seek out nutrition in other ways. A common sign of this is pica, which refers to abnormal eating behaviors.
Specifically, budgies will compulsively eat non-food items, like sandpaper. Some budgies will even target sandpaper above all else once they realize it has mineral content.
Budgies most commonly grow deficient in calcium, so offer your budgie the following:
Sand Sheet Removal
A budgie may dislike sandpaper and want it removed, so it’ll clean out its cage by tearing and eating it.
Some budgies dislike sandpaper because it’s irritating on their feet, which can cause open wounds that struggle to heal. Budgies don’t have thick skin on their feet, so they may remove it via ingestion.
Unfortunately, many owners line the cage floor with sandpaper, believing it’s safe. Although well-intentioned, it’s surprisingly dangerous for budgies.
Why You Shouldn’t Line A Budgie Cage With Sandpaper
Sandpaper is often recommended to owners in the belief that it wears down budgies’ claws. However, sandpaper has unintended consequences for the feet.
Alongside perching and climbing, budgies wear down their nails when walking and playing with toys. Also, budgies keep their nails trimmed through nibbling.
Your budgie may need a claw trim, but this can be performed during regular veterinary exams.
Is Sandpaper Bad for Budgies?
Sandpaper can make the bottom of your budgie’s feet sore, leading to bumblefoot.
Also known as pododermatitis, this condition leads to sores on parts of the foot where the budgie bears its weight. Bumblefoot will make walking and perching more difficult.
According to Veterinary Pathology, researchers determined that the death of 10 flamingoes was due to complications from pododermatitis. The lesions on their feet got infected, resulting in death.
Bumblefoot starts with the reddening of the foot due to irritation. Then, it escalates to exposed tissue and ulcers. This can lead to dead tissue, which can cause permanent lameness.
If the problem isn’t addressed, swelling and infection can occur. At worst, bumblefoot can lead to a bone infection, which is usually fatal.
To prevent bumblefoot and intestinal blockages from eating sandpaper, avoid sandpaper entirely.
Here are the alternatives to sandpaper:
Newspapers are perhaps the cheapest way to line your budgie’s cage.
Avoid newspapers that have glossy ads. According to Letters in Applied NanoBioScience, the ink can be harmful when ingested.
If your budgie eats paper, only use plain, unprinted newspaper.
Butcher paper comes in large rolls that you can cut to size. The usual brown butcher paper is fine, but for those who are concerned about dyes, plain white is available.
Paper Cage Liners
There are paper cage liners made specifically for budgies’ cages. Paper cage liners can come in tear-off rolls and pre-cut sizes for further convenience.
Sandpaper is bad for budgies as it can harm their feet and digestive tract. If your budgie is eating the sandpaper in its cage, this is a warning that you should remove it.