Parrots are beautiful, highly intelligent and social birds and their ability to mimic human speech and interact with people makes them very popular as pets. BUT, parrots are not domesticated animals. They are inherently wild birds and born to live in jungles and rainforests not in cages. So, if you plan to adopt a parrot – especially a big one – and lock it in a cage without giving it the appropriate attention, be prepared for a lot of trouble!
In nature, parrots live in large families, called flocks, which consist of 30 up to, sometimes, 1000 birds the flock! They need constant attention and care and if they are bored they will become very noisy, unpredectable and aggressive.
Species and sizes
First of all, we need to make clear that parrots have species, not breed – they are not dogs to have a breed! Now, as for their species, there are around 350 parrot species in a huge range of sizes and colours. Most common parrot sizes begin approximately from 8.7 cm and reach up to 100 cm, while their weight ranges from 64 gr up to 1.6 kg. The biggest parrot species is the Kakapo which weighs up to 4 kilos. Kakapo is a nocturnal parrot that means it sleeps all day and search for food at night. It is the only parrot which cannot fly. Recently, Kakapo was declared officially endagered species, since only 124 Kakapos has been left in New Zealand. In a world of 7 billion people another one animal comes close to extinction…The smallest parrot, on the other side, is the buff-faced pygmy parrot which is native to the forest of New Guinea and which is 8.6 tall and weighs no more than 12 gr!
Parrots as pets. The most popular species and what you should know
Macaw, Amazon, Lovebird, Parakeet also known as budgie(the best pet parrot due to its small size) and the African Grey are the most popular parrot species which make a good company as pets. However, wild-caught parrots are not an ideal pet if you live in an appartment, work a 10-hour shift or you have small kids in the house.
Unfortunately, hundrends of parrot owners worldwide don’t make the appropriate research before they bring their feather friend at home thus, they end up giving up their parrots to bird shelters and other organizations because they don’t know how to properly treat these smart birds. So, before you make the decision to adopt a parrot – especially a big one- you should know that:
Having a parrot as pet is a life-long commitment! Cockatoos and Amazons reach the age of 75, Parakeets and Lovebirds live 15-25 years, Macaws live up to 50 years in captivity and the African Grey can live up to 60 years. Are you prepared to take care of it for so long? What about when you want to travel? Can you imagine travelling with a 15-year-old loud Macaw in a 1-meter-tall cage…?
Parrots are noisy pets, need lot of time outside their cage, many toys to destroy and, much of your attention. They are very clever birds with good memory but they need to use their brain doing something. A bored or unhappy parrot can become very noisy, destructive and quite aggressive to the point of throwing its food all around, biting you, even plucking its own feathers! Sounds bad?
Do not expect from your parrot to start a conversation with you! Parrots learn to vocalize by listening and then repeating it back. They mimic sounds they hear in nature and they can copy human words, mimic human laughter or crying. Their ability to ”speak” depends on its species but almost all parrots can learn at least one word through repetition. According to National Geografic ”the most accomplished user of human speech in the animal world” is the African Grey! If properly trained the African Grey parrot can learn many words or small phrases and even learn to count. The African Grey parrot named Alex, not only could count but it also knew colors and shapes!
Cost of owning a parrot
Well, it depends on which parrot species you want to have. Buying small parrots, such as Parakeets and Lovebirds, usually begin from 15€ and can reach up to 250€, while bigger parrots start from 500€ and reach up to 4000€. Of course, according to the parrot species you choose, you should also buy the appropriate cage AND stand AND toys AND seed mix And pellet food!
For small parrot cages you’ll pay from 35 to 120€, for medium sizes from 130 to 250€ and, for large parrot cages you may pay from 500 to several thousands of euros. The gyms and tree stands range from 35€ and reach to 980€ and their toys range from 3.5 to 80€. As for the seeds and pellet the prices begin from 5€ for small parrots and reach up to 71€ for Macaw and African grey. Also, you need to include the vet care that will cost you around 100€ for examining the parrot and for blood test. You didn’t expect that cost, eh?
To recap, owning a parrot is fantastic for people who have plenty of time to spend and enough room to share with this beautiful feather friend but, parrots are not ideal pets for those who want a quiet and easy-going pet! The best home for these colorful and fantastic animals is the nature itself. Macaws, for example, are made to fly up to 30 miles each day in rainforests. Locking this animal in a ”comfortable” cage will simply be no comfort at all. Imagine yourself be locked in a room 2 x 3 for the rest of your life…And you should also know that many wild-caught parrots die every year because they cannot survive the transport from nature to pet shops. So, if you realy care about animals, it would be better to adopt a stray cat or dog and join an organization for animal welfare rather than become another one human who will contribute to the illegal, in many cases, trade of wild animals that leads to the extinction of the already endagered species.
Did you know that…
- it is normal for your parrot to squawk loudly for about 30 minutes every day?
- a parrot bite can be severe enough to require medical attention and it will leave you with a pretty scar?
- a large Macaw has the bite strength of 500 to 700 pounds per square inch and that even the small Senegal parrot has powerful bite to cause you an injury? Their beaks are made to smash nuts, remember…?
- parrots use their beaks not only to smash nuts but, also to scrape meat from bones?
- most wild parrots live in warm weather but there are some which prefer snowy climates?
- parrots are monogamus and spend their lives with only one mate?
- favorite treat of many parrots is the lettuce and snails?
- parrots are zygodactyls, meaning they have four toes on each foot, two pointing forward and two backward?
- parrot eggs resemble chicken eggs and both male and female sitting on them during incubation?
- the most hunted and killed parrot was the Carolina Parakeet? During 18th century the parrot was hunted and killed by hat makers who wanted to use its colorful feathers as ornaments for their hats. In 19th century the extensive deforastation in Southern United States along with the systematic hunting of farmers in these areas caused a severe hurt in Carolina’s population and finally in 1918 it went extinct. Today, there are around 15 skeletons of Carolina Parakeet housed in museums…