By Jenny Drummey
Newspaper is the recommended substrate for your parrot’s cage. Please don’t use cedar chips, sawdust or other dusty junk that can harbor bacteria and fungus and cause problems for parrots such as aspergillosis or other lung issues. While it’s cheap or free and does the job, newspapers are becoming harder to find as news goes digital. I have recently come to embrace kraft paper wholeheartedly as a newspaper substitute with great results.
Kraft paper is made by a machine out of wood pulp and comes in rolls in standard widths with different lengths. I measured my cages and found that a 30 inch wide roll would work for all of them. I purchased a roll and a paper cutter and have not turned back.
Kraft paper makes clean up easy and quick. While most cage bottoms require multiple sheets of newspaper, kraft paper can be torn to fit the cage bottom. The fiddly bits don’t slide between the multiple pages and can be easily collected in one piece for cleanup. Kraft paper can also be cut in a continuous sheet to extend up the cage sides to catch more tossed food, toy pieces and poop.
It’s quicker to tear off kraft paper than unfold page after page of newspaper. Plus, no newspaper means no newsprint which can stain your hands and your bird’s feathers.
Kraft paper is sturdier than newspaper, so it doesn’t move as much as newspaper does when a bird takes off. It can be used under newspaper for extra protection under your parrot’s typical “morning poop” spot. I find its consistent look more attractive too.
It makes poop monitoring easier. Droppings stand out on the plain brown background and there’s no guess work as there might be if your bird poops on a colorful photo or ad. It’s a little less absorbent than newspaper too, so the amount of urine in each dropping is visible longer, which is helpful when evaluating the amount of urine (the clear stuff), urates (the white stuff) and feces (the green, worm shaped stuff).
Additionally, kraft paper can be used for other things: To wrap packages, to make covers for kids’ schoolbooks, or to cover work surfaces, table tops, or floors. It’s tough and tear resistant. Basically, anywhere you need quick clean up, kraft paper is ready to serve!
Now for the only (but biggest!) drawback: the price. The paper cutter (measured to fit the roll) cost $43. My 30 inch roll is 640 feet long and cost under $40. After using it for two months I am nowhere near the end. I have four birds, and one of my cages is a double cage, so I am using it for essentially five cages, plus under trees and play stands. I change papers every day. My guess is that the roll with last another 2-3 months, so my cost is roughly $10 per month. And, yes, that’s a lot of money. However, home delivery of the Washington Post is $15 for 4 weeks, so there’s no doubt that kraft paper is the more economical method for me. And if you have fewer birds or smaller cages, you will use much less paper then I do.
Small rolls of kraft paper can be purchased at dollar stores. Test it with your flock to see if this awesome option is right for you.
We’ve been lining our Congo Grey’s cage with kraft paper for more than 30 years, and I highly recommend it for all the reasons given above. Once a week I tear off seven sheets and stack them in the bottom of the cage, removing the top one (covered with droppings, feathers, food bits, etc.) every morning. A roll of paper costs less than $30 from Uline and lasts about 15 months. I bought the paper-cutter roll holder so long ago I don’t remember the price, but it’s incredibly sturdy and still works fine.
If you go to the newspaper you can buy the end rolls. These are rolls of unprinted newspaper that are to small for printing. Every paper is different but the cost is minimal iin the 2-5 dollar range and some of the rolls are fairly large and it is good for the same thing. Been using the for several years in the cages.
Jenny, Wonderful suggestions and we will give it a try. We like to go to estate and yard sale on weekends and we passed up on 2 of the paper cutters. Daahhhh, we won’t pass the next one. Is there a particular brand you found? If I look for some on amazon or eBay, do we have to watch out for “bad” paper quality and do you know if there a certain ml. thickness we should use?
I’ve used 40 lb. kraft paper as a cage liner for decades, and it’s worked fine.
Great blog I enjoyed rreading
I understand this is an old post but I have a question. I have been using from Uline 40lb Kraft paper but it is not acid free. Is yours acid free? I do not allow my parrots to chew on any paper or plastic. People are using butcher paper that is acid free. In your photo yours look like white butcher paper. Is the brown Kraft paper with acid safe as I now just read it contains sulfites. Not happy. Can you please show me a link of where you buy your paper and which one.