Parrots as pets

Some of the most exotic and beautiful birds that are suitable as pets are parrots. They come in a variety of colors and sizes. What people do not realize is that they have a wide range of personalities and needs. Not all parrots are the same. What people also do not realize is that each type of bird is a separate species with their own health needs.

Some parrots are very active and need a lot of interaction with their owner. Some are very quiet and do not interact as much. Some are one person birds and may not tolerate other people handling them, and some are very sociable.

Sweetpea my parrotlet

For example, some of the smallest parrots are budgies, cockatiels, lovebirds and parrotlets. They are smart, energetic and cheery making them good pets.

Often people keep lovebirds in pairs. However, if birds are kept in pairs or in a group, they often bond with each other rather than humans. If you do not have a lot of time to spend with your bird it may be kinder to have two so that they can keep each other company.

No matter which parrot you choose, they all have basic needs. If you are going to have only one bird, you must socialize and handle the bird on a regular basis to ensure that the bird bonds with humans and is easy to handle. This is important so that you can maintain your bird or give it medicine as needed.

Petey the budgie

Teaching your bird to do tricks is fun for the bird as well as for you. Birds that are not handled and are left alone for hours a day can become neurotic and may pull out their feathers or develop other destructive behavior.

You must keep in mind that normal parrot behavior includes being part of a flock, foraging for food, pairing up with a mate and guarding his territory. Therefore some birds will bond with one person, as a replacement for their mate. The bird may accept other family members or frequent visitors as part of his flock. Your bird may consider his cage or the room he is kept in as his territory. If your bird is given freedom outside of his cage or room, he may shred and destroy objects to satisfy his need to search for food.

Birds show affection by preening your hair, nibbling on your chin or ears, and often screech a plaintive call when the love of their life leaves the room.

When parrots become upset, they will bite hard enough to leave a wound or they may destroy their cage. Because birds are very smart, they can get into mischief. They do enjoy playing with different things and by pecking at a cage door they may solve the mystery of how to open it to let themselves out when they want. Of course this newfound freedom will be used to have a delightful time to play and destroy whatever they see fit. Therefore you need to parrot-proof your home or the room where your parrot stays.

It is important that the parrot owner meets the needs of their bird by providing opportunities to explore, such as hiding treats in a small cardboard box that the bird can shred to find the treat. Also stashing treats in your bird’s toys keeps him occupied and busy solving the mystery of where the treat is.

Choosing the right bird for you can be challenging. As a rule, budgies, cockatiels, lovebirds and parrotlets are easier birds to keep as pets. They are small and happy birds. Most of the larger birds such as macaws, cockatoos, African greys and Amazons are high maintenance birds and require someone who is experienced to successfully own them.

An important thing to consider is the life expectancy of the species of parrot that you want to get. Some parrots live for 80 – 100 years. Can you make arrangements for your parrot if you are unable to care for him any longer?

I have personally owned several budgies and parrotlets and was able to clicker train all of them to do tricks. Clicker training a bird is a very successful way to shape behavior and have fun with your bird. For example, my parrotlet Sweetpea would pick up paper clips and put them in a box. All my birds would come when I called or signaled them. One of my budgies would gather small toy balls and put them in a tight group on command. The possibilities are limited only to your imagination.

If you have other pets you need to consider the safety of both the other pet and the bird. A large bird can seriously hurt a dog or cat. And a dog or cat can kill a bird. Both dogs and cats can be taught to leave a bird alone or not hurt the bird. I have both dogs, cats and birds, and they have always gotten along. Petey my budgie loved to sneak up on one of my dogs while she was sleeping and pull one hair on her tail. Then he would fly back to the desk lamp and, it seemed like he would laugh. The dog would go back to sleep and he would do it all over again. However, it takes dedication on your part and training for all the animals for them to live together safely.

Where to find the right bird is often an issue that people have. The last place you should buy a bird is a pet shop. Instead you should locate a dedicated breeder who has healthy birds. There are several ways to find a good breeder. Look for a bird club for the species of bird that you want. Also locate a bird rescue. Those people will know breeders and you may find that you can adopt a bird from them. Your avian veterinarian will also be able to help since dedicated bird breeders have their birds examined yearly.

No matter what type of parrot you choose, there are a few important things you must research before you get your bird.

1. Find a good avian veterinarian in your area. Birds need yearly wellness care the same as other pets.

2. Understand the dietary needs of the bird you plan to purchase.

3. Make sure you have a very large cage for your bird. Even the small birds need more room than the typical small bird cage offers. Your bird will be spending most of his life in that cage.

4. Decide if you want more than one bird.

5. Research which toys are suitable for the type of bird you are getting.

6. Outfit your bird cage with more than one food and water cup.

7. Provide various size natural branch perches for your bird. They should not be limited to the standard wooden dowel perches. They need various sizes to ease their feet. Also include more than one ladder for the bird to climb on.

8. Get a good book about bird care so that you can recognize any illnesses.

9. If you have other pets, consider their impact on your bird and the bird’s safety.

10. Decide on the location of the bird cage before you get your bird. It should not be isolated or in too busy an area. Have an alternate location if the bird does not adjust to the original location.

With planning and care you can have a wonderful parrot for a pet. Even the smallest bird, such as a budgie can live for 15 years. I keep my budgies in my office and enjoy listening to them sing to music. It is fun to see which type of music they enjoy the most. Parrots are lots of fun.


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