Beware. This guide was rushed out to get the beginning steps out for a friend. It will be updated as soon as all the dust settles to make it perfect. Stay tuned!
Pros of Owning:
Parakeets, also known as budgies, make a very good pets for many people. They are small and super easy to take care of. They talk, they entertain, most really like people since they are super social and you can teach them tricks. Their bright songs and playful antics can keep you entertained for hours but they are small enough that they don’t require long walks or lots of play space like other pets. They will enjoy all the time they can get with you.
Cons of Owning:
- Parakeets are very small birds. They can be injured or even killed by accident through rough handling. If you have small children or cats, these fragile birds are probably best viewed only at the pet store and not brought into your home.
- If left alone too long without interaction they will start screaming and pulling out their own feathers due to stress. If you don’t have at least thirty minutes over the course of a day to play with them it’s best to get them a friend or two, or just consider getting another kind of pet. The more time you spend with them the happier everyone will be.
- They live to be seven to fourteen years old. Which can be a good thing or a bad thing. Make sure you’re in it for the long haul. They need you. The better the care, the longer the life!
What to Look For:
So, you have chosen to bring a bright, happy song maker into your home. Here are some tips to find a lasting friend.
- Look for a bright eyed, lively bird that doesn’t seem dirty around his nose or bottom.
- Young birds are good as well. They will have black eye and bars on their heads.
- For beginners, friendly and well-adjusted birds are best. Ones that come right up to you and seem happy to be with you. Everyone deserves love but unless you have a lot of time, save the high maintenance kids for the experienced.
- Playful, high activity level: They do nap quite a bit so if a favored bird seems lethargic, come back at another time of day to see if it’s more perky and healthy later or earlier in the day.
- They are social creatures, so perhaps find two that are already friends so they can keep each other entertained while you are away. You can tell birds are friends if they rub their faces together.
How to House Them:
Obviously the bigger the home the happier the bird, but make sure their home is no less than 20 inches deep and wide per bird.
- Get a home that is made of stainless steel. Other metals can be toxic to parakeets.
- Avoid cages with the tapering top as little toes can get stuck when climbing around.
- Horizontal bars are preferred so they can climb around and fly.
- Wider is better than taller in these playful climbers.
- Lots more information on this can be found at Wiki How.
- You’ll want water and food bowls that attach to the cage. Climbing and playing will likely knock over or foul ones that are not attached securely.
- An extra bowl for snacks is a good idea to keep the food supply fresh and clean.
- A good supply of old copy paper or paper towel to catch the droppings. They are smaller but still need cleaning daily, more or less depending on how messy your friends turn out to be. A clean bird is a happy bird!
- Get toys!
They love bells, light weight colorful toys, swings, ladders, exploring hollow things and mirrors. Tearing things up is fun too so make sure they have lots of soft paper-wood toys to play with. A new, cheap toy every payday for the first little while will go a long way to settle your new friend into its home. Once you have a good supply of toys you can trade them out regularly to keep the cage clutter down while still adding some variety to life. Toys are great fun as long as there is still room to fly and climb!
Note: bird toys are made for a variety of birds. Some may not be appropriate for your little friend. Make sure any rings are big enough they can get in or small enough that they can’t. Middle sized is begging for something to get caught. Chain’s are also not recommended for this reason. Just keep an eye out for toys that will not catch climbing toes. When in doubt, stick with cotton or rope.
Where to Put your Bird House:
Cage placement in your home is very important. A corner of the room about chest high is great for them to feel part of the family without being too exposed to the world at large. Keep them away from vents, drafts and kitchens. Sudden temperature changes and smoke can be very bad for your friend. Birds exchange oxygen on inhale and exhale so they are much more sensitive to toxins in the air than we are. Keep those nice scented candles, air fresheners and oils far away. If you need to spray something, take the bird to another room so the little droplets in the air don’t cause your friend any stress! Water is the ONLY thing that should be sprayed near a bird, and then not in its face.
Once you select your new friend or friends, a vet visit is a good idea. The vet can check for bacteria that birds can transfer to humans, check for health and answer any questions this guide does not. They can also let you know if vaccinations are a good idea.
If you are going to board, travel or have friend visits with other birds, the polyomavirus vaccine is recommended. Your vet can advise if this is right for you or if there is anything further your friend will need.
Set up yearly appointments to help keep your bird healthy and your questions answered.
The right food can make or break your little friend. Seeds are a favorite to these little guys but it’s like potato chips. High in fat and not much else so limit the seeds to maybe right after play time to encourage them back into their cage for a rest. They need a variety of pellets (top 8 list here), bite sized fruits and veggies, chopped-shell less nuts and calcium.
- Veggies: Romain lettuce, broccoli, shredded carrots, cooked corn, peas, spinach, celery, kale, beets, asparagus, squash, sweat potatoes, beans
- Fruits: grapes, apples, mangos, bananas, oranges, coconut, pears, kiwi, melon, berries
- Keep both fresh. Prepackaged or dried may add ingredients unsafe for your friend.
- Nuts: almonds, pistachios, peanuts, walnuts, pecans
- Plain, whole grain breads with little additives.
- Calcium: cuttlebones, hard boiled eggs
- Must be available at all times
- They seem to hate dirty water, so a bottle may be a good choice to keep it full and clean at all times.
- For fun you can put their fruit in a bowl of water to encourage them to stay hydrated and give them a healthy treat!
Birds are prey animals. As such they don’t like you to know when they are sick and injured. Even if a bird is sick for a very long time, some owners won’t even know it until they come in to a bird that can’t move. You’ll want to make it a habit during feeding time to just look over your friends. Make sure they are bright eyed and clean, eating normally and can move easily. Daily checks will make it easy for you to tell when something changes or is just slightly off so you can consult a vet before it becomes life threatening. Also watch for change of behavior or fluffing feathers a lot.
- A clean bird is a happy bird: Clean the cage before every meal time by removing old food, changing bottom paper if needed and checking toys for excessive damage. Remove uneaten fruits and veggies in a timely manner so they don’t spoil.
- Bathe your bird about twice a week. Most birds will just bathe themselves if you put a bowl of lukewarm water in the middle of their cage. You can even have a bird only spray bottle that has never had chemicals in it and just squirt them daily, which is great in hot temperatures. Just don’t spray directly in the face. Not many people like that!
- They need ten to twelve hours of sleep a day. Covering them at night will help them sleep better as they will feel safer and protected and a little bit removed from the bustle of the house. A dark cover to block the light is perfect, just remove it slowly in the morning. I hate it when people turn on a bright light when I’m sleeping! Give them a moment to adjust.
You will have to put your bird in a car at least once to get it home, but hopefully also yearly to get to the vet so it’s best to plan ahead.
- Just like you would get a carrier for dog or cat, a carrier for your bird is also necessary. It should be small and bare inside.
- Paper to catch droppings or a towel/blanket for comfort.
- Nothing that can swing or fall when the car bounces.
- A detachable water/food dish to put on once they are at their destination. Also, if this is a long road trip, make frequent stops every few hours for rehydration and snacking en rout but nothing that can get tossed around in a bouncy car.
- The carrier must be secured to something. Seatbelts usually work just fine but rope or bungie cords can also work. Play with this in advance and not while your bird is waiting. It will save everyone some heartache.
- Water: bring a spare water bottle no matter the length of the trip just in case. Short car rides sometimes turn into long ordeals.
- Keep out of drafts or direct sun.
- Back seat may be a better choice to keep them out of drafts. Close vents to their area either way or cover the carrier to keep temperature fluctuation to a minimal.
- In summer, cool the car before adding your friend. In winter, warm it up first.
- Cover the side of the carrier that’s close to the window to lessen their stress when cars fly passed at high speeds.
- Play soft music in the car as calming background sounds.
- If you are traveling by plane:
- Contact the airline as soon as you book your flight to see what is needed. All have different requirements.
- Same with any hotels or residence you will be staying at. Check with them when booking or arranging lodging to make sure your bird will be welcomed.
- Freeze water in their water bowls so they can have drinks as it thaws in transport and it wont get all over.
- Can secure fruits to the carrier to provide nutrition and hydration at the same time.
- Travel to other countries is hard enough. If you are taking your bird, check the laws and regulations to get them into that country and then back into yours. Sometimes there is paperwork, health certifications or quarantines required and sometimes it takes a lot of time to prepare. Your vet tries hard, but they can not keep up with every law from every country. There are consulting services or information on the countries government page to assist you with this.