I am not a long time owner of birds. I've had two for about six months.
They are parakeets, by the names of "the Admiral" and "Spot". Don't ask.
I'm okay with most of the stuff, like giving them perches that have a sandy texture and a varying diameter.
I've also given them two feeding trays so that Spot doesn't have to compete with The Admiral at feeding time.
My problem is with the cuttlebone.
When does it need to be replaced?
The cuttlebone consists of a hard back with a softer interior. I understand that they use the cuttlebone for two purposes: to abrade their beaks and to obtain calcium.
It is difficult to keep the cuttlebone pinned to their cage wall for more than a few days at a time. They are always knocking it off.

Also, as time goes by, they remove the material in the interior part of the cuttlebone. It doesn't take them long to do this, usually not more than a week or so.
I have been reattaching cuttlebones to their cage wall until the hard back itself has become so denuded that it is impossible to do so.

I have several questions.
Should I replace the cuttlebone when the softer interior material has been removed, or should I wait, as I have done, until the harder backing material itself is destroyed?
Is there an alternative to using cuttlebone that will serve its purpose?
The birds are capable of abrading their beaks on the sandy, concrete-like perches that I have provided. If that is sufficient is it possible to provide calcium in some other fashion that doesn't require as much maintenance from me?
Actually, I just had a thought. Instead of using the pincer fork type attachments that usually come with cuttlebone, perhaps tying the cuttlebone to the cage wall using something like hobbyists unstranded electronic wiring would work better. It will not come loose although the knuckleheads like to chomp on everything including the wire. (I understand when I say this that I am a knucklehead also, although I cannot fly).
So anyhow, I'm still learning about the proper care of birds and I would appreciate hearing from you on this subject.

Thanks,
Innominate
We have six birds in five cages (whew!). We use wooden clothespins to affix them to the cage. Yes, sometimes they're knocked off. Just put 'em back on. An alternative would be to use calcium blocks, or better yet, in addition to the cuttlebones. Cuttlebones to me are like bars of soap: when they get a certain size, chuck 'em. With two birds, have two cuttlebones. We buy ours in the bulk section of bird food etc.
On 30 Jan 2006 20:58:32 -0800, "innominatetwice"
It is difficult to keep the cuttlebone pinned to their cage wall for more than a few days at a time. They are always knocking it off.

I never use that metal thing that comes with them. I attach em to the cage with cable ties.
On 30 Jan 2006 20:58:32 -0800, "innominatetwice"
When does it need to be replaced?

Toss it when the soft interior is gone.
Is there an alternative to using cuttlebone that will serve its purpose?

Mineral blocks, either the cast (plaster of paris-looking, preferably with additives), or natural (sometimes called Manu stone). Cuttlebone and mineral blocks (both) is even better.
Yes, you can wire or cable tie the cuttlebone to the cage. Rather than wrap wire around the cuttlebone, I prefer to drill a couple of holes in it a couple of inches apart and wire through the holes. USUALLY, the birds won't immediately bisect the cuttlebone where the wire goes through. Space the holes so that they are slightly wider than 2-4 cage bars, depending on the size of the cuttlebone and bar spacing.
Wood toys are also good for beak conditioning. If you provide wood, watch them for a bit to be sure they aren't ingesting the wood. For this reason I personally avoid the "flavored" wood products. Leather is also good, so long as it's vegetable-tanned.
Bob
I am not a long time owner of birds. I've had two for about six months.

How do you know the sexes of these parakeets?
I'm okay with most of the stuff, like giving them perches that have a sandy texture and a varying diameter.

I wouldn't use "sandy" perches; equate it to you walking on lava-rock for a couple hundred days. It would hurt.
I've also given them two feeding trays so that Spot doesn't have to compete with The Admiral at feeding time.

That doesn't mean anything.
My problem is with the cuttlebone. When does it need to be replaced? The cuttlebone consists of a hard back with a softer interior. I understand that they use the cuttlebone for two purposes: to abrade their beaks and to obtain calcium.

Yes, they not only use the cuttle bone for calcium but to scrape their beaks. But once it gets down to the bare shell, there's nothing much there.

Buy a mineral block. You'll find much the same problems as with a cuttlebone but it may last longer. If the birdes go after it, it will eventually fall to the bottom of the cage.
Just make sure the food you feed has sufficient calcium and get your head around the fact that they will tear up cuttle bones and so on. Give them other things that will provide calcium such as kale greens and pieces of hard cheese. Birds like to tear things up. It's very much part of their charm Emotion: smile
Jill
I am not a long time owner of birds. I've had two for about six months.

How do you know the sexes of these parakeets?

When I purchased them, at the advice of one of the sales clerks, I asked for a male and a female. Since then, from the Internet, I have learned that they may be sexed by observing the color of their ceres. Neither one is pink and I now believe they are both male. Other than that, I don't know.
I'm okay with most of the stuff, like giving them perches that have a sandy texture and a varying diameter.

I wouldn't use "sandy" perches; equate it to you walking on lava-rock for=a couple hundred days. It would hurt.

I bought the concrete-like perches after reading, again on the Internet, including in groups like this, they need perches with:

=B7 Varying diameters so that they don't use the same muscles in their feet over and over again and,
=B7 An abrasive surface so that their claws would not become overgrown.

If there is a better alternative to this, please let me know.
I've also given them two feeding trays so that Spot doesn't have to compete with The Admiral at feeding time.

That doesn't mean anything.

Well, it doesn't mean anything as far as providing them with Calcium is concerned. But it probably makes Spot's life less stressful.
My problem is with the cuttlebone. When does it need ... two purposes: to abrade their beaks and to obtain calcium.

Yes, they not only use the cuttle bone for calcium but to scrape their beaks. But once it gets down ... and pieces of hard cheese. Birds like to tear things up. It's very much part of their charm Emotion: smile=20 Jill=20

Innominate
Try a leather perch for their feet!
Stick a leather slab inside the empty cuttle bone
Rich
the leatherman