Pet Parakeets

How to care for and breed budgies

Pet Parakeets

By William Berg - Last Updated on July 17, 2013
Close up Pet Parakeet.

Pet Parakeet. Picture by Kirk

Parakeets are a small bird that originally came from Australia. The word parakeet actually means, “long tail”. It is a small species of parrot. One of the most well-known is the Budgerigar Parakeet also known as a Budgie. This is the type of parakeet sold most often in the U.S. But there are over 120 species and sub-species.

Parakeets can be found in a wide variety of beautiful colors. They have become a popular pet bird due to their small size, and low cost. They are usually no bigger than eight inches.

However, parakeets do require specific care as does any pet. You need to know what you’re committing to before you purchase any type of pet. Parakeets are considered an exotic pet and will not want the kind of handling that a cat or dog would. They are social, though, and require daily interaction.

Parakeets can live anywhere from eight to ten years or more so they are a long-term commitment.

Where to buy a parakeet

You can purchase parakeets at pet stores, bird shows, and from breeders. The best option is usually a small, private breeder. You’re often able to visit and see the environment where the bird was raised. They are generally healthier than breeders who raise large quantities of birds

Before you buy a parakeet you need to decide why you want to own a bird. Some people want to purchase the most beautiful bird and keep it mainly as a decoration. If this is the case, it’s often good to buy two birds so they can keep each other company.

If you want to interact with the bird then you’ll be more concerned with personally than appearance.

How to Choose a Healthy Bird

  • There are several things you should look for when buying a bird.
  • Choose a bird that is active. A lethargic bird is probably sick or unhealthy. Do not buy a bird that is sitting on the bottom of the cage.
  • Make sure the eyes are clear without any discharge.
  • The feathers should look health. Don’t buy a bird that is losing his feather or has a bald space.
  • The beak should look healthy and not malformed.
  • Check to see if the bird has correctly formed feet that are not scaling or look bitten or chewed on.
  • The nostrils should be dry.

Sexing a Parakeet

The top part of a bird’s beak is called the cere and is where the nostrils are located. Males develop blue or purplish ceres while females are tan or brown.

Pros of Owning a Parakeet

  • You can usually purchase the bird and all supplies for less than $100.
  • Parakeets generally have few medical problems.
  • They are active and intelligent pets. You can train them to sit on your shoulder. Some can be taught to talk.
  • Because they require only a small space and do not need to be walked outside as a dog would; they are considered good pets for people living in apartments.

Cons of Owning a Parakeet

  • Parakeets can be noisy. If constant chirping is going to bother you than do not get a bird.
  • Even though they’re small animals; the mess they make can be quite large. They scatter seeds, feathers, and droppings in a large area around their cage.
  • Parakeets are not good pets for small children. Children younger than six do not have good muscle control and can squeeze the bird too hard.

Feeding Your Parakeet

Parakeets will eat mostly seeds. But you can also give them fruits and vegetables. Some of their favorites are mangoes, carrots and broccoli. They will also eat nuts. Pellets are also available that provide them with the nutrition they need.

Getting Ready for Your New Pet Parakeet and the Equipment Needed

You need a cage of adequate size. Inside the cage you need an assortment of toys, bells and ladders to keep your bird activity and entertained.

The cage needs a water container. Your bird needs to always have fresh water so keep this filled and changed quite often.

You will also need something to hold the bird’s food.

Keep the cage away from open windows. Also, Teflon is toxic for birds so it is best to not put their cage in a kitchen.

Training Your Parakeet

Your parakeet will probably be a little skittish at first. They are not usually ready to be held in the beginning. You need to give your parakeet time to adjust.

If your bird becomes extremely anxious then start by just standing quietly near their cage and let the bird get use to your presence. Talk softly to the bird and let it adjust to the sound of your voice.

After your bird has gone a few hours without food; put some seed in your hand and put you hand slowly into the cage. You might want to just sit down because this could take a while. The bird will, eventually, take some of the seed from your hand. It might stretch its neck so it doesn’t have to get too close to you at first. In time, the bird will start to realize your presence is a good thing since you bring food and treats.

Eventually, try just putting your finger into the cage. The bird will sit on your finger and allow you to pull it from the cage. Some birds enjoy sitting on your shoulder or even head. Birds enjoy it when you rub their feathers. It’s best not to take the bird out of its cage for more than fifteen or twenty minutes a day at first. It might become stressful for the bird if it’s out for too long at first.

When you let your bird out of its cage for some exercise be sure you prepare. Close all the windows and turn off ceiling fans. You may want to shut the doors so the bird has limited access within the house.

Your Parakeet’s Health

There are a few signs you can watch for that will tell you bird is sick. If an active bird suddenly become lethargic and inactive it is probably ill. Watch for any discharge from the eyes or beak. Also, if you bird stops eating it may be sick.

When you see any of these signs take your bird to a vet who is an avian specialist. It’s a good idea to find one of these in advance so you won’t have to try and track one down once your bird is sick.