Plastic, RVS/stainless steel, ceramic or bamboo food dish
Plastic, stainless steel/RVS, ceramic and bamboo are all safe materials for lovebirds. However, when using it for food and water bowls, you need to take more into consideration.
Because plastic is a porous material, it is harder to clean and bacteria will build up. This is why it is better to use RVS/stainless steel, ceramic or bamboo food/water dish. If your lovebird is a bowl flipper, it is best to use a heavy ceramic dish.
Is a plastic food/water dish safe?
When purchasing a cage for your lovebird, it often comes with food/water bowls that are made of plastic. Because of this, it is considered a good material to use as a dish.
The truth is different though.
Plastic is a durable material that is lightweight and is cheaper for a manufacturer to make and add to a birdcage compared to other materials. This makes the cage more appealing for the customer. It’s cheap and comes with everything you need.
These plastic food/water dishes come in many shapes. Rectangular, square and sometimes has a perch. Often, they also have corners, unfortunately it can become easy for bacteria to build up in these corners especially with wet food.
Next to this, plastic is a very porous material. This makes it hard to clean as the plastic will collect and trap the bacteria.
When using a plastic dish for water, it can also build up bacteria. This is because lovebirds love to dunk things in their water bowl including food. Leaving the water bowl with food in it for too long will result in a slimy layer on the water. When you see this, immediately remove the bowl and scrub it clean.
If you have plastic food or water bowls, don’t just throw it away. Make use of it in other ways, like a toy box (after cleaning it properly). Add small foot toys to it or small pieces of paper for your lovebird to play with, or teach your lovebird to bring its foot toys to it.
For those who have a 3D printer. Do NOT 3D print a food/water bowl for your lovebird. The material can easily chip and is not safe for your bird.
|✘ Hard to clean|
✘ Bacteria will build up easily
Properly cleaning a plastic food/water bowls
When using the plastic dishes for food, it is important to properly look after them. This means cleaning them after each meal. Even when you only give your lovebird dry food to eat.
Fill your sink (or a bucket) with hot soapy water.
Put the dishes in the hot water and let it soak there for 5 minutes.
Get yourself a toothbrush you have NOT used for anything else. Preferably one with harder bristles.
Scrub the dish thoroughly, especially in all the corners.
Rinse the dish properly. Not a speck of soap is allowed to be left on the dish.
Place them on a paper towel to dry if you are washing multiple bird dishes.
Dry the dish with a paper towel.
After having washed all the bird dishes, clean the toothbrush. Then put the toothbrush you used in a place where it cannot be used for anything else than cleaning your bird’s dishes.
Pros and cons of RVS/stainless steel bowls
Many bird owners swear by RVS or stainless-steel bowls. It is more durable than plastic and not porous. This is what makes them easier to clean and less of a bacterial problem.
Stainless steel is also lightweight. Because of this your lovebird might lift the bowl up. Many of these types of bird food dishes come with a holder that can be screwed to the cage. The bowl often hangs on this holder. Making it easy for your lovebird to lift it if it wants to.
Unlike the plastic dish, the RVS/stainless steel bowl is rounder. I have yet to find a square, rectangle or any other kind of shape. Because of this, the food will not get stuck in a hard to reach corner.
From my experience I can also add that RVS/stainless steel bowls is more durable compared to their plastic counterparts. I dropped the plastic food container that came with Apache’s cage and now it has a crack in it.
Lastly, it is important to consider the shininess of RVS/stainless steel. It acts a little like a mirror and your lovebird might become overly obsessed with it as it sees it as its mate. There are matte versions of it though.
✔ Doesn't break easily
✔ Can be washed in the dishwasher
✔ Can be hung anywhere in the cage (depending on what type you buy)
|✘ Might be a bit more expensive|
✘ Might be flipped over
✘ Can have a mirror effect
Ceramic food/water bowls are safe for lovebirds as well
An alternative to stainless steel and plastic is a ceramic food/water bowl. These can come in many shapes and colors.
Despite the shape they are easier to clean. Many of them are dishwasher safe. Check the label to be sure.
A ceramic bowl is too heavy for your lovebird to lift. So, if you have a bowl flipper, you might want to consider a ceramic food/water bowl.
Because of their weight, ceramic bowls usually stand on the floor of the cage. Not every lovebird will like this. Next to that you need to make sure to not place them under a perch. You don’t want your bird to poop in their food or water.
Even though your lovebird cannot lift a ceramic food bowl, you can. When you carry it, don’t drop it. Ceramic food dishes are fragile, dropping them might break them.
✔ Many can be washed in the dishwasher
✔ Cannot be flipped over by your lovebird
|✘ Might break when dropped|
✘ Can only be placed at the bottom of the cage (risk of poop)
The upcoming dish material; bamboo
A food dish made of bamboo is lighter than a ceramic one, but heavier than plastic. To me personally it looks a little like plastic from a distance. However, bamboo is much more hygienic compared to plastic. In fact, bamboo is antibacterial.
Unlike plastic and ceramic, bamboo won’t crack or break as easily when you drop it and is a very durable material. Your lovebird won’t be able to break it easily with their strong beaks.
Unfortunately, bamboo food dishes for lovebirds are a little harder to find compared to their counterparts. What I have been able to find, is a tad too deep and narrow for my lovebird. At least, this is my experience so far. I can find bamboo being used for other pets, so who knows what the future will bring.
What I personally also like about bamboo material, is the fact that it is environmentally friendly. Especially when compared to plastic.
✔ Environment friendly
|✘ Harder to find, but you could try bowls meant for other pets|