Parrots have been considered desired companions for many years because of their brightly coloured appearance. Their cognitive abilities also make them highly interesting pets, and some parrots have amazed us with their skills to solve problems and even mimic human speech. Are you thinking about adding one of these extraordinary birds to your family? We have some tips for you!

From the tropical forests right to… your home!

Parrots can be very rewarding pets, as they are highly social, smart and can establish strong bonds with their owners. Nevertheless, they are also challenging animals to keep, as they present unique physical, social and behavioural needs. It’s also important to make sure that your parrot has been obtained legally – unfortunately, many birds are captured from their native home and imported, a trade that is mostly illegal, environmentally destructive, and cruel.

Which one is better?

There are more than 300 species of parrots – from small parakeets to large macaws. These species present different characteristics, and there is plenty to choose from… Also, while some species can have shorter lifespans, others may live up to fifty years! And you’ll have plenty to learn because each species has particular needs that must be satisfied.

If you are considering getting a parrot, first seek professional advice to help you find the right match according to your expectations and lifestyle. 

How to house my parrot?

Parrots are well equipped with long, strong wings… Which means that they are meant to fly! Therefore, rather than a “twenty-four seven” accommodation, your parrot’s cage should be used as a resting place. It is very important that you allow your pet the opportunity to fly in a safe environment whenever possible. Also, remember that regular exposure to fresh air and sunlight is fundamental to keeping your parrot healthy.

What should I feed my parrot?

A parrot’s diet is mainly composed of seeds, although nutrition should be adapted according to your parrot’s species, age, and health status. Nutritional diseases are one of the most frequent problems in captive birds, stressing the importance of a proper, balanced diet. Some human food may be toxic or inappropriate for your parrot, so seek advice from your vet if you are not sure what to feed it.

Living versus surviving: the role of environmental enrichment

Like humans, parrots also have cognitive needs that should be fulfilled to improve their welfare. Giving the parrot opportunities to express natural behaviours such as communication, play and forage are essential to prevent stress and diseases.

Needy, chatty friends

Parrots are social creatures, and they truly cherish the companionship of humans or other birds. And you should provide a daily chance for interaction between you and your pet. These birds primarily use vocalization to communicate, so be ready for some long, noisy conversations!

No space for boredom!

Parrots are highly intelligent and require continuous challenging tasks to ensure their wellbeing.

Chewing wood toys and cardboard rolls can be used to provide endless occupational activities. Feeding time is excellent to promote enrichment through puzzles where food can be hidden – this will give the opportunity for mental stimulation, as parrots need to find strategies to catch food and they feel highly rewarded when they achieve this goal. If they are not provided with enrichment and entertainment, they will find it where they can, often damaging or destroying furnishings as they bite and chew on whatever they find.

Be prepared for poorly polly too

It is important that your parrot is registered with a vet; this should always be a vet who is familiar with birds, and if possible with parrots or even the specific species. While any vet has an obligation to see your parrot in an emergency, a more experienced avian vet is able to do a lot more than most general practitioners.

Take-home messages

Parrots are usually noisy, messy and needy companions. Caretakers should have sufficient motivation and knowledge to keep up with their needs and guarantee their welfare.

Some species can have long lifespans, and the owners must be prepared for a potential long commitment to looking after the varied needs of the parrot for many years.

Environmental enrichment is paramount! Parrots who are allowed to express natural behaviours and are kept occupied are happier, fitter, and less likely to develop diseases.

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