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How to Make a PVC Gym

Written by Lisa, peachee

After seeing the outrageous prices for pre-fabricated gyms, getting discouraged that free shipping online only meant in the United States and not being a steel worker to make my very own stainless steel contraption, I set out to find a simple, fast, cheap gym that I could make myself.

I succeeded in finding many gyms that people had made out of PVC piping and they seemed to fit all the criteria I was looking for. After making my own PVC gym and testing it out on my parrot, I am happy to say I can call it a success.

I have to put a little bit of a disclaimer on this as I only tried it with a small parrot. I doubt PVC could withstand a macaw or cockatoo beak so I will be on the lookout for a suitable gym for your fids.

For those of you who feel the same way I did and own a bird incapable of destroying PVC piping, I will now share my secret so that you and your feathered friends can enjoy the wonders of a gym that is easy to make, easy to move and best of all, easy to clean!

These instructions are for a two-level gym, not nearly as fancy as many I had seen with multi-levels, ropes, toys and such. The reason I went for a two-level gym was because no matter how many nice toys hang out towards the bottom, they serve only one purpose; to catch falling poop. Birds tend not to hang out on the bottom of anything so a gym would likely be no different (except in the case of smaller companion birds - budgies, cockatiels and lovebirds may all appreciate extra levels). If this "design" doesn't suit you, use your imagination and come up with your own variation of the PVC gym.

As for cost of materials and time to make it, it is very doable. Depending on the size of your bird, the cost will be anywhere from $40-$80; much less than the ones you would buy from a pet store. It took me about 4 hours to complete the whole thing from start to finish. This was all done with minimal cursing, minimal injuries and an end-product I can be proud of.

Supplies (all bought at Rona)

Note: 1 inch (1") is 2.54 cm, and 1 foot (ft) is 30.48cm.

  • 20-40ft of PVC pipe (20ft - budgie size gym, 40ft - African Grey size gym). Available in 1/2", 3/4" and 1" for varying sizes of bird feet
  • 18 "T" shaped connectors (make sure it is the right diameter for the pipe size you bought!)
  • 12 "L" shaped connectors
  • VetWrap, sisal or jute twine (test any to make sure your birds won't chew/ingest pieces).
  • PVC pipe cutter (here is a photo you can bring so they know what you are talking about!)

HINT: To use the PVC cutter, which has no instructions and was really not OBVIOUS to me, you clamp it down on the area you want to cut. Tighten it a little bit (just to be snug) and turn the whole thing around the pipe. It creates a groove. Tighten it some more and turn it again. It should take about three turn of the cutter before you get through the piece but it really isn't as hard as I thought it would be. Wear gloves so you avoid developing large blisters!

Instructions

As step-by-step as possible for anyone who, like me, really needs handiwork broken down to the last finishing touches.

  1. Start with the base. Cute 8 pieces at 8" each, giving you a base that is 20" x 20". If that is too big, alter the sizes as you want. I thought 2ftx2ft would be good and it's WAY bigger than expected. Measure it out on the floor of wherever you want it first (I did not...).
  2. Connect the pieces in a square using 4 T connectors and 4 L connectors:
  3. Cut 4 pieces as tall as you want your first level to be (I did 28") and attach those pieces to the T connectors on your base. To the top of those pieces, add one T connector to each.
  4. Cut 16 pieces at 3.5" each and connect those in a square with the existing T connectors in addition to 8 more T connectors and 4 L connectors.
  5. Cut 4 pieces as tall as you want your next level to be (I did 20"). Connect those into the T connectors that haven't been used in the first level square. Add an L connector to the top of the 4 pieces.
  6. Cut 5 pieces at 8" each and insert 4 of them into each L connector. In between the 8" pieces, place the last two T connector you have. With the last 8" piece, place them in between the two T connectors.
  7. Drill holes for hanging toys in the center 6" piece and holes for the food and water dishes (or you can zip-tie toys and dishes securely).
  8. Wrap the whole thing in whatever material you want, lay newspaper below and ENJOY!

Hopefully, that made sense and you can now do it too!

For more toy ideas, check out our Homemade Toys section as well as the article on Homemade Bird Toys.

Don't forget to read the toy material safety article before creating this toy!

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