Since there are persistent rumours on the internet that cork is supposedly harmful for budgies, here is some background information on the subject of cork.
What is cork anyway?
Cork is a pure natural product obtained from the bark of the cork oak(Quercus suber).
Cork bark is water-repellent (hydrophobic), very elastic and only poorly combustible.
This consists of suberin (45%), lignin (30%), polysaccharides (12%), tannins (6%), minerals (5%) and various waxes (2%), suberin and lignin being fibres that pass through the birds’ digestive tract undigested.
Cork in the digestive system
Budgies love to nibble on cork and shred it with gusto, as most budgie owners probably know. This naturally raises the question of what happens if pieces of cork are swallowed in the process, which then pass through the digestive tract undigested (see above).
When cork crumbs are swallowed, they first land in the bird’s crop.
However, bird parents feed even small chicks with whole grains without constipation. Thus, cork crumbs should usually enter the digestive tract without any problems.
Cork crumbs swallowed by the crop enter the digestive tract, which they then pass through undigested.
It is well known that budgerigars ingest larger stones (grit) from time to time in order to be able to crush the grains in the gizzard. These then remain there for a while and are eventually excreted. Just like the grit stones, the undigested cork crumbs leave the bird’s body naturally without causing digestive problems.
Of course, since nostrils are always near cork when it is shredded, it would be theoretically possible for mold spores to be inhaled.
Of course, when buying cork should therefore always pay attention to good quality and clean goods.
However, one must not forget that cork is water-repellent (hydrophobic), which should normally prevent or greatly reduce the formation of mould.
If you want to be on the safe side, you can of course also clean the cork, although moss and lichen that grow on the cork do not actually need to be removed.
- If you are concerned that small insects, such as mites or spiders, could be in cracks and crevices of the cork, you can use the cork for 30min. at 100°C sterilize in the oven. Even if the cork is then 100% insect-free, this has the disadvantage that it usually becomes hard and brittle. Alternatively , you can also try it with warm water and a little citric acid, vinegar or baking soda, which should usually be enough.
- In addition, you could rinse it vigorously in the shower beforehand and scrub it with a nail brush, for example, if you absolutely want to remove the lichens.
- If stained, such as bird droppings, cork is easily cleaned and disinfected with baking soda or vinegar water and a brush.