Owning a parrot is very rewarding. However, as any parrot owner knows there is a lot more to ownership than meets the eye. Here is a 12-point checklist of advice and guidance on owning a parrot.
How big should your parrot’s cage be?
Your parrots cage should be as large as possible. The diameter should be at least twice the wing span of both wings when stretched open, and the height should be at least one and half times the height of the bird, from head to tip of the tail.
Where should you keep your parrot’s cage?
Locate your parrot’s cage in an area where your parrot likely to receive lots of family interaction, but not get startled. All parrots need stimulation, and whenever left alone in the house, a radio or tv left on is always worth considering for this purpose. You should avoid locating your bird near a kitchen due to the increased risk of exposure to toxic fumes.
Entertainment and toys for your birds
Provide your bird with entertainment and toys. Parrots are intelligent birds, and can be prone to psychological disorders if they become bored. Ensure the toys you buy do not have parts that can be removed, will not get tangled around your bird, and are not toxic.
Register with a specialist avian vet – pronto!
Whether you’ve just bought your parrot, or whether you’ve owned your parrot for years, you should register with an Avian vet. Traditional ‘cat and dog’ treating vets often won’t treat exotics, and sadly referral fees can be high. Referral fees occur because the vet you’ve been referred to may charge you a higher rate as they also need to report findings back to the original vet you saw. This is an unnecessary cost for you, which can be avoided.
Purchase pet insurance.
Should your parrot become poorly, the last thing you want to be worrying about is escalating vet fees. It’s a worrying time, and you just want your bird to be better.
Birds are very sensitive to fumes
Birds are very sensitive to fumes. Exposure to Polytetrafluoroethylene (PTFE) fumes, more commonly known as Teflon can be fatal. It is often used on non-stick cookware. When PTFE is over-heated, it can break down, causing fumes which are highly toxic to parrots.
Other common household items can also be toxic to birds. This includes perfumes, deodorants and room scents. Careful research should be conducted before bringing items into the home.
Your parrot’s diet
Your parrot’s diet should include a range of fresh fruit and vegetables, fish and meat. You should never just rely on parrot pellets from the pet shop. You should fully research the food that parrots can eat. Some foods can be toxic, for example chocolate and avocado.
Perches for your parrot
You should provide natural perches inside your parrot’s cage, in order to enable your bird to flex its feet. Fruit or sycamore branches are recommended by experts like the Parrot Society.
CITES regulation and parrots:
Some parrot species are listed on Annex A of CITES (Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species). If listed on Annex A, the vendor should hold, by law, an Article 10 certificate and the bird should be rung with a closed ring or be microchipped.
Microchip and ensure your bird is rung
Parrots can easily escape, or at worst, be stolen. By ensuring your bird is rung, or microchipped, you are providing evidence that your bird is yours. The details can help reunite you with your bird, should it be lost or stolen. You should record the identification details, and keep them in a safe place. The Parrot Passport designed by the Parrot Society is a great place to keep the information. You should also keep pictures of your bird, especially of unique identifiable features. If your bird is lost or stolen you can contact the National Theft Register for lost and found animals run by John Hayward – this central database logs the information of lost pets, and can be vital in helping to reunite lost pets with owners.
If you’re buying a parrot, ensure you know its history. Ask whether the bird has had any previous illnesses or temperament issues, and ask about previous owners. If the bird has had multiple owners, it could mean that those owners have had problems with the bird. Or sadly, as a result of multiple ownership the bird may have developed psychological issues. Bird’s are very sensitive, and bond with their owners. Multiple owners could affect the bird’s mental health, resulting in potential physical problems.
This checklist is just the tip of the iceberg in terms of parrot care information. With the right knowledge, love, care and attention you and your parrot should have a long and happy life together.