Posted by Beth Anne Quinlan, PhD Avian Sciences on 8/22/2020 to Companion Birds
Many people love parrots and consider them to be the ideal pet. Their beauty, intelligence, cheerful disposition, ability to converse, and relative ease of care attract many to invite these wonderful creatures into their homes. Several times a week, someone asks me what type of parrot they should get. I believe the more important question is “should you get a parrot?”
The 7 most important things you should consider before opening your home to a parrot.
- Do you have the time to devote to a parrot? A parrot is a social creature. In the wild, they spend a large part of each day interacting with the other birds—their family. In captivity, you are their only social interaction. You need to be ready to devote several hours each day to playing with your bird. You also need to take the time for the basics, such as cooking for your bird each day, washing the food and water dishes daily, changing the paper or corncob litter daily, and scrubbing the cage weekly. If you don’t have the time for this, a parrot isn’t the right pet for you.
- Are you in a stable home situation? If you are planning to add human family members, including and especially children, to your household, your bird will consider them to be intruders. Your parrot is territorial. Once adopted, your parrot owns the home and you become a guest. Super sweet parrots have been known to turn on their owners and/or attack new family members when they feel their territory has been invaded.
- Your parrot will never grow up, but will probably outlive you. Are you prepared to spend the rest of your life with something that is as curious and determined as a two-year-old but has the attitude of a teenager? Remember that the parrot will never change.
- Is your home parrot-proof? Teflon and other non-stick coatings are toxic to birds; you will need to cook without these surfaces. Anything made of wood looks like a perch or chew toy and may be subject to damage. Keyboards have fun little parts (keys) that can easily be removed. Your new bird will see snakes when he looks at lamp cords and may snap them in two.
- Do you like quiet time or live in a building with a common-wall neighbor? Most parrot owners will tell you that parrots need to be vocal at least 20 minutes a day to maintain their mental health. In nature, parrots call loudly to one another to be certain they know where the rest of the flock is located. Your new bird may do this every time you leave the room. With time and patience, you can train your bird to vocalize less often, but there will still be screaming outbursts.
- Birds, especially cockatoos, are dusty. Your parrot will molt and regrow his feathers once or twice a year. These feathers emerge from the skin in a keratin sheath that looks like a porcupine quill. Your parrot will preen himself regularly, breaking the keratin and leaving a fine dust in the air. You will need to dust your home two to three times as often as you currently do.
- How clean do you want your home to be? Parrots are messy. All food becomes soup. Today, your parrot may eat only orange colored foods and considers carrots his favorite treat and tomorrow, all orange colored foods are scary and should be thrown from the food dish and onto the floor. Paper and parrot toys will become shred and land on the floor—it’s great fun for your bird. Unlike children, parrots cannot be trained to clean up after themselves.