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How to Choose the Right Cage Size for Cockatoos

Nicole Cosgrove

If you’re looking at purchasing a Cockatoo, it’s vital that you get everything they need before you bring them home. But the last thing that you want is to spend a ton of money on a cage only to realize that it’s too small after the fact and you can’t return it.

That’s why we created this comprehensive guide to walk you through everything that you need to know to get the right-sized cage for your Cockatoo the first time. We also highlighted a few essential features that you should look into before purchasing any cage for your Cockatoo.

divider-birdcageMinimum Cockatoo Cage Size by Bird Size

Not all Cockatoos are the same size, so it stands to reason that they don’t all need the same size cage. So, we broke down the cages into three different Cockatoo size ranges. This way, you know exactly what you need for your bird.

Small Cockatoos

Small Cockatoo side view_syamjith_photography_Shutterstock
Image Credit: SyamijithPhotography, Shutterstock

Small Cockatoos stand between 12 and 14 inches tall, and they don’t need as large of a cage as other birds. The smallest acceptable cage for these birds should be 2 feet deep, 3 feet wide, and about 5 feet tall.

Just be sure your Cockatoo can fully extend their wings inside, and keep in mind that they would appreciate extra space to move around.

Medium Cockatoos

Medium Cockatoo side view_ Timothy Christianto_shutterstock
Image Credit: Timothy Christianto, Shutterstock

Medium-sized Cockatoos sit between 14 and 15 inches tall, and because of this, they’ll need a slightly larger cage than the smallest Cockatoos. Cockatoos this size need a cage at least 30 inches deep, 4 feet wide, and 6 feet tall.

Large Cockatoos

Large Cockatoo side view_YULIYAPHOTO_Shutterstock
Image Credit: YULIYAPHOTO, Shutterstock

Sometimes Cockatoos have wingspans well over 2 feet, and if you have one with such a massive wingspan, they need an extremely large enclosure. At a minimum, these cages should be 3 feet deep, 4 feet wide, and 6 feet tall.

But even these massive dimensions can be a bit tight for these birds, so consider your bird’s particular needs before deciding on a cage.

Can You Have Too Large of a Cockatoo Cage?

The simple truth is the larger cage that you can supply, the better. In fact, if you can get a full aviary, that’s ideal! But since most people can’t afford that, a full-equipped cage that is much larger than what your bird needs and has extra features is the best thing to do.

If you’re opting for a minimum cage size now, that’s fine, but consider upgrading when you get an opportunity down the road. For a Cockatoo, no cage is too large. The larger the cage is, the happier the bird is.

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What to Look For in a Cockatoo Cage

While choosing the right-sized Cockatoo cage for your bird is a huge part of the decision-making process, it’s not the only thing that you need to look out for. Here, we broke down a few different features that you should keep an eye out for when selecting a Cockatoo cage.

Sulphur-Crested Cockatoo in a cage
Image Credit: Nasar Lagenda, Pixabay

Bar Spacing

Too much space between each bar is about more than keeping your Cockatoo inside the enclosure — it’s also about keeping them safe. If there’s too much space, they can accidentally push their head through the bars, and this puts them at a high risk of injury.

The bar spacing should be 1 inch between each bar, regardless of the size of your bird. The bar spacing shouldn’t increase with the size of the cage, so it shouldn’t prevent you from getting a larger cage.

Locking Mechanisms

All Cockatoos are known for their creative spirit, and nothing is more fun than trying to get out of their enclosure. Be sure that the locking mechanism isn’t too easy for your Cockatoo to pick. Otherwise, you’ll find yourself tracking down your bird after they’ve escaped for extra exercise.

Slide-Out Trays

Cleaning your Cockatoo enclosure isn’t fun, but if the cage that you opt for has slide-out trays, it’s a million times easier. Instead of reaching inside and trying to work all the waste out of the cage, all you need to do is pull out the tray and clean it!

Seed Guards

These helpful little guards keep your Cockatoo’s mess in their cage until you’re ready to clean it. Without seed guards, you’ll need something around the entire cage. Otherwise, their food and other debris will find a way to escape and make a mess everywhere!

Play Top Cages

It doesn’t matter how long you plan to keep your Cockatoo out of their cage, they’re still going to spend most of their time in there. So, why not give them somewhere to play and stave off boredom? That’s exactly what a play top cage offers.

While a play top cage isn’t a necessity and doesn’t do anything for you, your Cockatoo will greatly appreciate the investment.

Don’t Substitute Cage Size for Exercise

It doesn’t matter how large your Cockatoo cage is; they still need plenty of time outside of their enclosure to stay happy and healthy. So, just because you bought a large cage, that doesn’t mean you can cut back on the time that your Cockatoo spends outside of it.

Getting a larger cage for your Cockatoo isn’t about you — it’s about keeping your pet bird happy and healthy.

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Final Thoughts

While you don’t want to keep your Cockatoo in their cage more than you have to, when they’re in there, it’s best to give them as much space as possible. While we understand that larger cages take up more space and cost more, you still want to give your Cockatoo as much space as possible.

So, while we highlighted the minimum sizes here, if you can get a larger cage for your Cockatoo, go for it.


Featured Image Credit: Akarat Duangkhong, Shutterstock

Nicole Cosgrove

Nicole is the proud mom of Baby, a Burmese cat and Rosa, a New Zealand Huntaway. A Canadian expat, Nicole now lives on a lush forest property with her Kiwi husband in New Zealand. She has a strong love for all animals of all shapes and sizes (and particularly loves a good interspecies friendship) and wants to share her animal knowledge and other experts' knowledge with pet lovers across the globe.