The process of building or buying an aviary comes with many considerations, including what to put on the floor. You want your aviary to be sanitary and enriching, and choosing the right flooring is an integral part of that.
Now, what should be put on the floor of an aviary?
You should put soil, sand, concrete, pine bark, or gravel on the floor of your aviary. A sand or gravel layer with a concrete topcoat provides an easy-to-clean surface with good drainage. Concrete is easy to hose down, best for hooked beaked birds. Blue metal gravel is affordable for amateurs.
What To Put On the Floor of an Aviary
When you’re setting up an aviary, it’s essential to choose a flooring that’s hygienic and appropriate for your environment.
There are pros and cons to every kind of flooring, and there are also opportunities to combine flooring types.
Whether or not you want to build your aviary yourself, you’ll need to consider these types of flooring for the enclosure.
Soil floors, covered in grass or not, make for a bird-friendly flooring choice.
Birds love to explore earth floors. However, they can also become very damp and develop parasitic worms, and mice and rats can also burrow into these kinds of floors.
These floors can be challenging to clean.
If you do build your aviary directly into the soil, make sure that the side panels of the aviary are rooted at least 30cm (11.81in) into the ground.
That way, you can prevent predators from digging through the soil to get to your birds.
You can also build sand flooring by covering the ground or a concrete slab with four inches (10.16cm) of sterilized play sand.
You can sterilize the sand by rinsing it with a mixture of one teaspoon of bleach per gallon of water, and you can mix agricultural lime into the sand for further protection against bacterial growth.
Agricultural lime also prevents odors from developing.
Concrete flooring has the benefit of being very easy to clean, especially if installed at an angle for good drainage.
You can also install a concrete slab on top of a layer of sand or gravel, which improves water drainage further.
Because concrete flooring is easy to sweep and hose down, it’s the best choice for hooked beaked birds like conures and cockatiels.
It also prevents the development of parasitic worms, which sometimes live in damp soil floors.
Pine Bark and Chips
Pine bark and chips are popular with some breeders because of their natural look and top-notch water drainage.
You can clean pine bark floorings fairly easily with a rake, which scrapes away dried on droppings.
However, pine bark also provides a habitat for cockroaches and other small insects, which you need to be aware of before choosing this flooring.
If you do have pine bark flooring and it becomes damp and moldy, be sure to replace it as soon as possible. Moldy bark flooring can cause serious health problems for your birds.
It’s also essential that you choose pine bark and chips and not pine pellets, which become like sawdust when wet and cause respiratory problems in humans and birds.
Blue Metal Gravel
Blue metal gravel is a popular choice for aviary floors because it’s easy to clean and dries quickly.
Blue metal gravel is also inexpensive and easy to lay down, making it a good choice for amateur aviculturists.
Indoor vs. Outdoor Aviaries
Deciding whether to keep your birds in an indoor or an outdoor aviary can be difficult because there are advantages and drawbacks to each.
An outdoor aviary will give your birds the stimulation and enrichment of an outdoor space, where an indoor aviary will have more protection from the elements.
You can get the best of both worlds to a degree by choosing an indoor aviary in a sunroom or other place exposed to the outdoors regularly.
However, you’ll still need to make compromises, and you need to consider what this means for your flooring options.
Like the PawHut Wooden Hexagonal Aviary, some aviaries are built with a baseboard so that you can use them either indoors or outdoors.
These still allow you to have some freedom in deciding what kind of flooring you’d like on top of the baseboard, but if you choose to put the aviary indoors, you don’t need to worry about burrowing predators.
Some options, like soil, are only available for outdoor aviaries. Transplanting soil floors indoors is likely to be messy and won’t have the proper drainage necessary to avoid becoming damp and muddy.
Tips for Setting Up an Aviary
When you’re putting together an aviary, make a sanitary and enriching space for your birds, as the wrong materials can cause serious problems for you and your birds.
Follow these listed guidelines to ensure that you’re creating the best possible aviary for your birds:
- If you’re laying sand or gravel on the floor of your aviary, it’s a good idea first to lay down a layer of chicken wire. This step keeps vermin like mice and rats from burrowing into the enclosure.
- Clean your flooring regularly with a rake or a hose. If you use water to clean your aviary, make sure that you allow the surface to dry thoroughly afterward.
- Build your aviary out in the open, not under a tree. Trees allow predators to access the top of the aviary where the birds are roosting. Trees also encourage wild birds to roost near the aviary, leading to wild bird droppings contaminating your birds’ food and water.
- Make sure that your aviary gets plenty of light and drains well. Dark, damp aviaries can lead to serious health problems and parasitic growth.
- Build the aviary within sight of your house so that you’re aware of any disruptions to your birds and so that you can enjoy them.
- Make your aviary big enough so that all of your birds have room to explore. Larger birds need the most space, but all birds do well having as much aviary space as you can provide.
Building vs. Buying an Aviary
Building an aviary is a rewarding experience that allows you to customize every feature of your enclosure.
However, there are also some decent aviaries on the market that you can purchase pre-made and ready to install.
Whether you’re building or buying an aviary, you’ll need to make sure that certain conditions are met.
The frames should be sturdy, made of wood or steel, and the wire mesh should be small enough to keep snakes at bay, at most 1cm x 1cm (0.39in x 0.39in).
Your flooring options will be the same whether you’re buying or building.
Buying an aviary reduces the risk that you’ll have a defective enclosure and is the safer option in most cases.
However, it can also be more expensive. Either way, you need to make sure that your birds are safe from the elements and out of reach of predators.
An aviary makes for an enriching addition to a house or yard, and you can either build them or buy them. All aviaries require a type of flooring that allows for good drainage and is easy to clean, like gravel or concrete.
However, birds also find natural earth floors to be enriching, and there’s also an appeal to the natural look of pine bark floorings.