With their cheerful chatter and colorful plumage, parakeets make wonderful pets, especially for first-time bird owners.
Parakeets are sweet, social little birds that enjoy interaction with each other and with their human companions, and can be taught to talk. Although they are relatively easy to care for, they do have special requirements.
Here's some basic information to help you decide if a parakeet is the right pet for you.
"Parakeet" is a broad term for a variety of small and medium-sized parrot species. The most popular of these is the budgerigar (or "budgie"). Native to Australia, budgies (hereafter referred to as parakeets), have an average lifespan of five to eight years, but can live longer with proper care.
A parakeet's immediate surroundings are crucial to its wellbeing. They need plenty of room to climb and fly, so purchase the largest cage you can. Parakeets fly horizontally, so make sure you choose a cage with ample horizontal measurements.
Metals such as brass and zinc can be toxic to birds, so a stainless steel cage is the best and safest option for housing your parakeet. Parakeets like to climb, so make sure the cage you choose has horizontal bars.
You'll also need to provide a perch and toys for your parakeet to keep him busy. Toys with mirrors, bells, and ladders help keep his little brain happy and stimulated. Toys alone aren't enough, though.
Parakeets are social, and need daily interaction, including plenty of time out of the cage, so be sure you can devote enough time and energy to a parakeet before you add one to the family.
Purchasing a pair of parakeets is also an option, as they will keep each other company. However, as a pair, they will be more likely to bond with each other, and less inclined to bond with you, although if you interact with them regularly, you can become part of the flock.
High quality feed is a must for your parakeet. A strictly-seed diet is a big no-no, as seeds can breed dangerous bacteria over time, and can endanger the life of your parakeet.
Instead, a parakeet diet should include pellets, mixed seeds, and a variety of fresh fruits, and veggies. You will also need to provide your parakeet with a cuttlebone and mineral block, which offer calcium and other essential nutrients.
Like any pets, parakeets require regular veterinary care, so be sure you're willing and able to provide that before you buy one. Parakeets are prone to tumors, mites, bacterial infections, and other conditions related to nutritional deficiencies.
A good avian vet can help you avoid some of these common pitfalls and prolong your parakeet's life.
With safe, clean surroundings, daily interaction, a high-quality diet, and regular veterinary care, a parakeet can flourish in your home.