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Keeping Mammals in an Aviary

By: Hsin-Yi Cohen BSc, MA, MSt - Updated: 7 Jul 2020 | comments*Discuss
Mammals Birds Aviary Design Rabbits

If you love birds, but would also like a few small cuddly friends, you might be interested in investing in a large aviary which can also house small mammals. Providing you choose your species carefully and design the aviary with their needs in mind, you can create an environment which is both easy to maintain and allows your pets to all live together in harmony.

What Can I Keep Together?

It is best to avoid rodents such as rats and mice, even tame, pet-bred types, when considering housing mammals with birds. Ideal choices are rabbits and guinea-pigs as they will generally just ignore any birdlife in their environment and are very unlikely to hurt them, even if the birds ventured onto the aviary floor.

The larger parrots should be avoided as their powerful claws and beaks can deliver serious injuries. While they might not intend injury, their cheeky natures and natural inquisitiveness may lead them to inspect the mammalian tenants and lead them to be potentially dangerous, such as pecking eyes. In addition, their resemblance to natural predators could frighten the rabbits and guinea-pigs, causing them constant stress.

However, the smaller members of the parrot family – such as cockatiels and budgerigars – would be fine and all the finch-type birds, such as canaries, would be ideal as they spend most of their time on their perches.

How About Feeding?

Food for the different species can be separated, with bird food placed in containers located high in the aviary – either attached to the cage wall or the branches – and food for the rabbits and guinea-pigs placed in bowls on the ground. The birds will probably help themselves to some of the rabbit and guinea-pig mix, in particular picking out the seeds but as these are usually types the birds would eat anyway, it will not do them any harm.

How do I Keep Things Clean?

Perhaps one of the key concerns for many owners is maintaining hygiene in the aviary. There is a strong chance that small mammals living in an aviary will suffer the indignity of bird excrement on their fur! However, this can be reduced if the mammals do not spend a great deal of time in the areas directly underneath the bird perches.

Rabbits can actually be toilet-trained to use a specific area and many have even been taught to use a litter tray. Even if not trained, rabbits will tend to favour one spot, away from their sleeping quarters. It is important to make sure that a suitable substrate, such as sand, is used and regularly cleaned. Flooring substrate in particular areas, such as those directly under perches, may need to be removed and replaced more frequently to ensure that the mammals have as clean a ground cover as possible.

What About the Aviary Design?

In general, the larger the better but as a minimum, the ground space should be equivalent to that of the largest guinea-pig or rabbit hutch with a similar height above – enough to give the birds rooms to fly around and exercise. Ideally, the aviary environment should also be segregated into two parts, half with perches and half kept clear so that the mammals can retreat to areas without the threat of birds defecating overhead. Shelter, in the form of covered hutches or even just dense grass to hide in, also needs to be provided for the mammals, particularly if they are initially frightened by any overhead flying by the birds. Make sure there is good circulation throughout the aviary, particularly at ground level as this will have a significant impact in the health of your small mammals.

Keeping small mammals together with birds is a popular choice for many pet owners and can actually mean less work overall as you will only need to clean and maintain one area, whilst also providing the animals with additional interest and stimulation in their environment.

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Please never mix animals without first consulting a good exotics vet! To be honest keeping mixed species in an aviary is a terrible idea. Rabbits should absolutely not be kept in an aviary with birds. They will get ill from the birds droppingd. Birds also make a mess with their food - rabbits will eat this and it will make them gain weight and could even cause a fatal GI blockage. Rabbits should not easy grains, seeds etc (despite it being in some low quality 'muesli' mixes -these too are in fact dangerous to rabbits). Rabbits and guinea pigs should not be housed together, rabbits are far bigger and will often fight. They can also pass infection to them as rabbits carry a harmless bacteria that is not so harmless to guinea pigs. Just a few of many, many reasons this is a terrible idea. What a foolish, irresponsible article. At best it will ultimately make one or more animals ill, at worst it will be fatal. Ask a *good* exotics vet if you're still considering this.
R - 7-Jul-20 @ 5:37 AM
For those of you who don't know rats are extremely dangerous to keep with birds. They WILL kill them and eat them. Mice might not kill larger parrots such as cockatiels but if your birds nest they'll eat eggs and chicks. Please never house rats and mice with birds.
Birbs - 8-Jan-20 @ 2:16 AM
can you please check you wording as it sounds like you are saying that rabbits and guinea pigs can be housed together which they absolutely CANNOT
Cornealia - 4-Nov-19 @ 5:30 PM
Hi I only just discovered this page! I just wanted to ask could there be possible parasite risk between rabbits and birds? As I keep 2 rabbits, 2 budgies and 1 dog. They each stay in different rooms... For now.. However I've been I've only found out that the budgies have red mite :( . Can the dog or rabbits pick up the red mite? I can't seem to definate answer anywhere!
Sylveon - 6-Jul-19 @ 12:46 AM
So it's ok to have 2 bunnies and ( say ) 4 budgies, lovebirds or cockatiels in the same outdoor aviary ?They'll have plenty of space, nooks and crannies, a small attached shed and natural wood. The bunnies won't pick up infection from the bird poo ?
Jillybags - 21-May-19 @ 2:56 PM
Good day. I’m in the prowess of building a biggish outdoor enclosure (for lack of a better word “cage”)It will have a running stream of water, a big tree in the middle, surround and top sunlight, and separate nooks and crannies (in the tree and in the ground) for different animals. I am situated in Johannesburg South Africa so our winter months is not extremely cold. The enclosure will measure 8meters in height, 8meters in whith and 13meters in Length the floor will be grass with a digging depth of 1meter should an animal want to dig (sorry for the metric system). My question is this. What animals would I be able to keep in this enclosure and have them co-exist. I would like to keep the following, so if someone can please let me know if some of them won’t get along. Guinea pigs Big Partots (macaw, African greay or cockatoo) Small parrot (Parakeets) Finches Budgies Camelions Pigmy Marmoset monkey Chinchilla Koi in the stream/pond Camelions Bearded dragons Turtle Iguana To feed, maintain, entertain and give attention to the above animals would not be a problem. I would just like to know if any of the above mentioned can not live with any other mentioned above. (Example: will a monkey hurt a camelion if it finds it ) anyone’s help on the above would be greatly appreciated.
Chris - 17-Jan-19 @ 3:31 PM
I have a fancy mouse, 2 button quails and 2 budgies. The questions and the budgies have been together for a while now but we want to put the mouse in the same environment. Is this workable?
Nia - 5-Oct-18 @ 8:03 PM
Hi building a brick aviary with thermolite breeze blocks.will they be ok for lovebirds as they might pick at them cheers shaun
Shsun - 22-Aug-16 @ 11:49 AM
What kind of plants can be placed in the aviary that is suitable for guinea pigs and budgies?
Calla - 4-May-15 @ 9:38 AM
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