How would you feel about a caged bird in a retail store you were shopping in?

I own a shop, and am at it for long hours. Since the economy’s gone pear shaped there have been long stretches without any clients walking in. The notion that having a pet at the shop might be nice came to me and I’ve been giving it quite a bit of thought.

It has to be something small, and would have to stay in the shop, not commute with me. I can’t have a cat that stays here because the hair would be a problem. What I carry in on my clothes from home is already too much. A friend of mine breeds and shows those hairless ones, but I couldn’t afford what they go for, and besides they look sort of unfinished to me, and not quite what I’m after.

Reptiles are out because I don’t think I’d ever get comfortable feeding them live things.

I thought about a Guinea Pig (which I learned during my research is more porperly called a cavy). The thing that keeps me from choosing that is that I would want to clean the cage rather often to prevent the shop from smelling of rodent and I’m concerned that my teeny tiny restroom with it’s itty bitty sink would make that more than a little challenging. Hamsters could have a smaller space, but are nocturnal so I’d only ever get to watch them sleep.

We have a fish tank at home and I like looking at the fish but they really function more as decorations than as pets for me. And tank care would be similarly tough since I can’t fit a bucket, or anything larger than a 16oz coffee cup under the faucet.

That brought me to birds. I could house a pair of birds in a cage that takes up more vertical space than horizontal.

Birds make noise, though. I’d see the sounds as a form of company when I’m here alone, but I’m concerned about offending clients. The shop is small and the cage would be in full view of the part where customers are.

If you went into a shop and a bird was chirping (or possibly talking - I’m told you can teach parakeets a few words. I’d try and teach mine “50% deposit”) would you find it charming or offputting? I cannot afford to run anybody off.

So, in this thread I’m looking to hear what you think about birds, but also if any of you can suggest an option I haven’t considered I’d appreciate it.

I’d think it was kind of cool.

I wouldn’t mind caged birds in a store.

I hate birds in cages. It really depresses me for some reason. There’s a great used bookstore in town near the U that has a bird (and a couple dogs too) and I just don’t like to go there. They’ll probably have the books I want, but it’s the bird.

I don’t really think it’s appropriate to keep pets in a shop unless the place is pet-related. Even if the pet’s area is tidy, I feel like the merchandise is less clean due to animal hair and dander in the air, plus the owner’s need to set out pet food and clean up poo.

Birds are noisy, and birds, bird cages, and bird food have a smell, and these are turn-offs while trying to do peaceful browsing.

I find it sad too. I would shop at a store that had a bird with a cage where it could go when it wanted to though…so probably not a little song bird but a Cockatoo or a parrot that was “free range” if you will and was a pet of the shop owner (the same for dogs, cats, ferrets or what have you). I would also feel incredibly sad if I knew that the pet stayed at the shop during the closed hours all alone (even if there were two or three of them) and untended. I think pets need to be with their people and have that “family” interaction.

When I was a kid we used to go to a shoe store that had a couple of ducks living in a terrarium in the front window. I wonder if my adult disdain for shoes grew out of the fact that no shoe store since has ever been as cool?

That being said, I think your bird issue depends on what type of shop and the clientele.

When I was a kid one of the stores in our town had a bird. I loved it. All of us kids did.

Our hobby shop had a cat. Nobody had a problem with him. They did have to sell some plastic models with crushed boxes at a slight loss though.

Caged birds are a really hot button issue for me. I don’t discuss it with people because I know I am alone in my opinions. I choose to just keep my mouth shut.

But since you asked…

I couldn’t keep a pet bird, it would just break my heart. I would never be able to look at it and not see a tortured captive. Whenever I see a bird in a cage I think what bad karma it must be to deny the gift of flight to another living creature.

“I’d rather brave the cold,
on a leafless tree,
than a prisoner be,
in a cage of gold.”

To deny a beautiful creature the gift of flight for my own amusement seems pure hubris.

I couldn’t do it, myself.

It might depend on what kind of shop it is. For example, a quiet used book shop? It would be charming. A hardware store? Not off-putting, but somehow incongruent.

Reptiles are quiet, many are non-smelly, but people find them off-putting. Perhaps a tortise?

I would like to underscore the fact that birds, even a pair of parakeets, are loud and messy. I know this from personal experience. If they are happy, healthy parakeets, especially male parakeets, they will be talking to each other, their mirror friends, or whatever, almost all the time. The seed hulls, feathers, and feather dander go everywhere. Is this a responsibility you really want to take on?

Cages which take up a lot of vertical (as opposed to horizontal) space are not a good way to house birds. They tend to not use the vertical space because they hang out in the top part of the cage for safety and security. The droppings tend to accumulate on the stuff you put in the lower part of the cage. If you are going to keep birds, you should get them a cage that will give them enough horizontal room to run around and get exercise, especially since it sounds like you would not be able to let them out of their cages to play, ever.

In short, given your situation, I wouldn’t recommend it.

I hate birds. My grandma bought me a pet bird when I was a kid. It freaked me out. Bit at me. I made sure to be nice to it and take care of it properly but ugh. It’s poo stunk bad even when I cleaned the cage regularly. And the noise…oy. A neighbor kid let the bird out when I wasn’t around and it flew away and presumably died.

But I am just anti-bird minus like ducks and swans. Some birds are really beautiful but I just don’t want to be near them. And personally I would not like to shop in a non-pet store with a squawking bird.

That was more or less the effect I was hoping for. A cat would pose problems here, as I said. I wish it were that simple because I do get the occasional mouse running through.

Hey! that’s a real possibility. I will research them next. Thanks!

A “free range” bird would, I think, be impractical because I have no way of predicting or controlling when a customer might open the door and escape would be too easy.

I’m all but decided against it now, and am not trying to sway you to my opinion but, I’m at work more hours than I’m home, and certainly more waking hours. Most people’s pets are home alone while they’re out at work. This arrangement would just be the flipside.

I’m thinking that a DS with Nintendogs is the way for me to go.

Personally, I like having animals in my environment, and the sound of the birds wouldn’t be a negative at all. However, you have to look at the trade-offs. I very much doubt the bird(s) would bring you any new business, and I can guarantee it would lose some. There are people who would avoid the place because of them.

There are plenty of vegetarian reptiles. Iguanas, for example. My iguana lived off of leafy greens, ground zucchini, flowers (he loved clover and hibiscus), and a banana every now and then as a treat.

I can guarantee you, though, that a lizard would lose you customers. When Oscar (my iguana) was 3 feet long or so, he’d ride around on my shoulder, and there were people that would just flat freak out. When he reached 4 feet, I couldn’t go near crowds of people anymore with him. I’d have to stay on the outskirts where someone wouldn’t be startled by him.

I love animals in stores that I shop in. My hometown has bookstore cats, computer repair guy cats, hardware store cats, shoe store cats, and kitschy tourist store dogs. (The store is kitschy. The dog is a Labrador.) My regular barber brings her dog in with her. And when I walk into the store, I enjoy petting and playing with the animals. I will go to that hardware store because I might see the cat.

But if you have a bird, I can’t pet it. I can’t feed it snacks. I can’t ruffle its ears, rub its belly, or scritch its forehead. And the bird isn’t something that’s been bred for millenia to be a pet, it’s something two steps this side of the wild. And if I try to pet it, it might bite me. So while I wouldn’t avoid your store because of the bird, it wouldn’t draw me the way another animal might.

I live with a Cockatiel (Nymphicus hollandicus) and when his wings are clipped he will not fly out of an open door which I have found out over the years through less than optimal experimental circumstances.

As mentioned above (except that conurepete mentioned a tortoise which would be a large land-dwelling creature), a small tank with turtles in it might be good. I believe you can have small turtles in tank with some very shallow water and they would have a mostly vegetarian diet, but I’m not an expert on the subject.

A caged bird has an unpleasant image associated with it, and some people might get sad seeing it.

My suggestion: have a tarantula. It will help get rid of insects. And when people see the sign on your front door: “Please close door to prevent the loose tarantula from escaping” they will just have to come inside to see if they can spot it. Make it a promotion: “if you spot the tarantula you get a 10% discount on any one item”.

I love shops with cats. In general, interaction with animals is a bonus. I’d be an enthusiastic patron of a shop with critters of pretty much any sort, so long as I was pretty confident they were well cared for.

I have pet birds, but they’re not really caged. They have their own room with sleeping cages in it, but they’re out all day. When we come home, we take them into other parts of the house as well (always supervised). I read the Straight Dope from the bird-room computer, so I sit with them and talk or pet them or let them sit on me and play with my hair or collar.

That said, our birds probably could use even more stimulation in their lives; we have several other animals who also need our time and attention.

Generally I find the idea of a bird in a workplace sad because the human(s) won’t be interacting with the bird with their full attention; they’ll mostly be working, and then they’ll go home, and the place will be lonely.

I concur that a “free-range” uncaged bird will be at risk in any environment not specially screened for bird-safety issues. Ask my friends, whose beloved bird is in the animal hospital as I type this because he was stepped on.