Parakeet Care: Everything You Need to Know (2020)

Tori Rhodes
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Birds require devotion and attention

And you cannot be out of town if you own a pet parakeet. This is because they need care at least twice a day, especially in their first years. You also need to spend at least one hour a week to keep their cage clean. It is also good to put some toys inside their cage to entertain the bird.

Choosing a parakeet

There are so many kinds of parakeets! How can you decide which one is best for you?

If you want one that needs a lot of interaction, choose a budgerigar or a cockatiel, and if you want one that has a higher chance of talking, choose a Moluccan cockatoo or Carolina parakeet.

As for temperament, take a look at the shape of the bird’s beak. Budgies tend to have wider, flatter beaks, and this shape indicates a more self-sufficient bird, which can make for a good pet for a child.

Parakeets can have flatter beaks as well, but a parakeet with a beak that’s long and curved seems a bit more interactive.

Budgies will typically bond to their owners, where as parakeets will often bond to one person at a time. However some parakeets have been known to bond to more than one person.

Find the right breed

Not all parakeets are created equal. Some are calmer, some are more active, some are more vocal, some are larger and some are smaller.

Therefore, a choice of a parakeet also depends on what you really want out of your pet.

If you want a bird that mimics the chirps of baby talk, you may want to consider the ringneck.

If you want a bird that is a more petite and can fit in your hand more easily, look to Scarlet or the Amazon parakeets.

If you want a bird that is extremely active, look to the Indian Ringneck.

If you are looking for a companion that will sit on your shoulder or in the palm of your hand, consider Pionus parrots.

But it goes beyond just the physical appearance of the bird.

The lifestyle you have in your home should also be the guide for you to pick a parakeet.

Are you an active and busy person? If so, a parakeet that doesn’t need a lot of your time and that will be content living in a small cage in your home would be a good choice.

Will you be around most of the time when the budgie is active?

Do you work long hours? If yes, then get a more active budgie as it will be more bored in your absence.

Find the right birds

Depending on the species, the size of the bird may vary. These birds love to chat with each other. And likewise, they love to chat with their owners as well.

It is important to know how big the bird gets. If you are looking to purchase two or more parakeets, they should be a similar size or else the smaller ones will feel intimidated by their bigger housemate.

Size is not the only factor you need to consider when picking out parakeets for your home.

Look out for other things like the bird’s gender. Females tend to be bigger and louder than their male counterparts.

Also, ensure you are okay with the way the birds sound in general. Some may not like being in a home where the birds echo through the house with their chirping.

Buy a pair of parakeets

First and foremost, parakeets are social animals and therefore have a natural tendency to flock together. They are known to form strong social bonds and usually form flocks that rival the strength of the most vocal clique in your high school. Many times, when a parakeet is suffering from depression, they’ll fly over to a flock of other parakeets instead of staying home alone.

So it is a myth that parakeets don’t like to be around each other.

In fact, they love to flock together. Most times, it is housed more than 2 and needs to be socialized regularly to avoid conflict.

Sometimes, for your parakeets’ benefit, you might want to put them in separate cages. Most times, this is the only way to stop them from arguing all day and getting overly excited when you come home.

There is a variety of parakeets that loves hanging out with other parakeets, so you should check them out.

Diet

Seeds and berries make up the bulk of a parakeet’s diet in the wild. Your tame parakeet will relish as much of the same as you can provide.

Safflower seeds, sunflower seeds, and peanuts are a good option to start with. Sprinkle the seeds on the tray or platform of the cage. Your parakeet will help himself to his full heart’s desire.

Mix in some pellets (cage feed) along with the seeds. The pellets contain the balanced nutrition your parakeet needs to remain healthy. Also chop some fruits, like apple, berry, banana, grapes, papaya,and peach for your parakeet to nibble on.

Mango also acts as a natural laxative for your parakeet, so including this in his diet will also help regulate his digestive system. Boil some broccoli in your parakeet’s drinking water. This too helps in reducing the smell in their droppings along with making it more fibrous to aid digestion.

What do parakeets eat?

Parakeets should be given a seed-based diet. You can feed them a blend of different types of seeds and grains, such as millet, hemp, buckwheat, and sunflower seeds, as well as a variety of dry fruits, such as apples, pears, and dry grapes. Also, include fresh vegetables and lean meats in their diet. Good quality pellets should also be offered. When feeding your parakeet, always take into consideration the growth patterns of each bird species and adjust the quantity accordingly.

Foods to avoid

Parakeets are polite, so they don’t eat all the food from the bowl at once. However, they can snack on some of it and then enjoy a treat or two before finishing the rest. This means that they can consume the same food over and over again, and this can cause constipation if they eat foods with little fiber.

Avoid feeding your parakeets behavior-modifying foods: Azalea, cabin fever bush, dogwood, hydrangea, lantana, privet, and any food with round green seeds you can’t identify.

Onions, raw or cooked, can damage the kidneys, and peas, raw or cooked, can cause problems with the digestive tract.

While parakeets love their vegetables, they should get them cooked or only as a treat due to the high levels of potassium found in greens and beans.

Max’s Super Sprout Munchies, Max’s All Bound, and Max’s Super Birdie Mix are all good examples of seed-based foods that have the right amount of nutrients and calories rich in fiber which helps fuel their helpful digestive systems.

While you are checking the greens produced in your garden, you can seek out a few other edible garden treats that your parakeet is sure to love.

Treats

Parakeets love eating, and they love food that gives them a lot of energy. They want to eat food that is easy to digest, so avoid meat and protein.

Fruits and berries that are high in sugar and carbohydrates are the best options.

When feeding your parakeet treats, be sure not to spoil them. You should only offer your bird a treat as a reward for playing or as an added encouragement to use its training. Be sure to only offer the treats you know your parakeet will eat, and avoid any food that you don’t think he likes.

You will also want to avoid feeding your parakeet sugary or fatty treats. These are the two things that almost every parakeet will eat. You should also provide a healthy serving of these fast and easy treats as well.

Be sure to check the ingredients before you offer any sweet treats. Parakeets are known to be susceptible to diabetes and hyperglycemia, so avoid anything that is high in sugar.

Water

Every couple of days your pet bird will want to bathe in warm water. I recommend using a shallow dish. And as I stated earlier in this book, try to keep your Parakeets water dish away from drafts. Additionally, hang your bird’s water dish from a hook on the side of the cage. This will allow your Parakeet to bathe in privacy. I also recommend removing your bird’s water dish at night. This will prevent your pet from accidentally getting too much water.

Heat: Try to keep the temperature in the room where your Parakeet hangs out between 62-72 degrees day and night. Parakeets are very sensitive to cold and extremely sensitive to drafts. If your bird experiences a drop in temperature below 60 degrees, your bird will undergo a hibernation period. Even in the best of conditions, your Parakeet may decide to hibernate occasionally. To stop a hibernation period, you can provide a heat source with a ceramic infrared bulb. This will place the heat source inside the cage but close enough to keep your bird warm. These are a relatively inexpensive and can be purchased at just about any pet store.

Housing

The best cage for a budgie is a large aviary with multiple escape-proof ladders and a high perch 180 to 200 cm (5 to 6 feet) from the ground. At the bottom of the cage the floor space should be at least 300 cm by 180 cm (10 feet by 6 feet).

Because they are social animals, it is recommended that you get a pair of budgies and keep them together in an aviary.

They may establish a dominance hierarchy if housed separately. It is also important to realize that a male and female budgie should not be housed together unless you are able to provide the female with a safe place to hide, such as a nesting box.

A budgie is a very active bird. It needs regular exercise and activity to be happy, so as the owner it is important for you to ensure that you provide your budgie with the physical and mental stimulation it needs.

Cage

A cage is generally the number one purchase for any new parakeet owner. There are a lot of different types of cages out there which we will cover. But make sure you take some time to learn about them prior to making a purchasing decision.

The recommended size of your parakeet’s cage is at least 24 in square. Anything smaller will result in a very cramped bird. Parakeets have the desire to flap their wings and be active. A cramped cage will cause stress and this negative emotion will likely escalate to aggression and biting. So be sure to get a bigger cage. You can buy cages that are 40 inches in length, 18 inches in depth, and a 26 inch height. You can get creative with your cage decorations as you have a lot of vertical cage space. Be sure to check out your vet’s recommendations as to which parakeet food is the best starting point for a balanced diet.

Cage accessories

Most parakeet cages come with a lot of accessories. However, they are not all important. Here are the most important ones.

Food Bowl

For parakeets a shallow dish is best. It should be large enough for your parakeet to fill it and it should sometimes be filled to the top. Be sure to change the food and water bowl on a regular basis.

Treat Bowl

This is a metal or plastic bowl for treats. People sometimes use them to mix pellets and water when preparing a drink or food supplement. Treat bowls should not be considered a permanent feature. Parakeets are clever enough to rather chew off their cage bars than eat just from that little bowl.

Exercise Equipment

Many cages come with a plastic climbing / exercise ladder. Parakeets love to climb so it may be a nice feature, but know that the ladder is often too flimsy to be any challenge.

If you own a separate climbing cage, remember to place it next to the cage on which you’re going to place your parakeet. The climbing cage should not hang freely, it should be supported from above to prevent a parakeet from hurting itself.

Toys

You can pick simple toys like a bell or even a small mirror. If you have a pet cat, you may place a small bit of string in front of the mirror. The bird will try to catch the string, and the movement will alert the parakeet that food is coming.

Health

Your parakeet’s health is very important. Birds are naturally more susceptible to several health issues, due to their aestivation nature, and you need to monitor their health and take action immediately in case of trouble.

It is ideal to have a vet who is specifically experienced in bird health to call upon in case of anything happening to your parakeet.

Call your vet immediately to address any health issues and the preferred course of action. If you don’t have the above, you can always approach local bird lovers who may have experience with birds.

To ensure good health, your parakeet needs to eat the recommended diet, drink a lot of fresh water, and enjoy the benefits of regular grooming and outdoor trips.

Another very important aspect of health is the amount of light you are exposing your parakeet to. They need bright light to trigger the day and night cycle they are accustomed to. They are rarely able to adjust to a completely nocturnal lifestyle.

Since the majority of pet store workers are restricted by store hours, they tend to keep their stores super bright. This is not healthy for the parakeet. Keep their cage in a place that gets bright sunlight for a few hours in the morning, but is not exposed to direct sunlight for the rest of the day.

Signs of a healthy animal

A healthy and alert parakeet will be bright eyed with smooth, clear feathers, and it will move about freely. A healthy animal will show signs of active grooming and preening of feathers

A healthy parakeet will have a bright, round red crop, and may occasionally move it when he’s excited. It should never stick directly out due to it being a sign of dehydration. (If it sticks out at all, then you should keep a close eye on the condition of your pet and have it checked out with a vet.)

You should be able to get a finger between a parakeet’s keel bone and its abdomen.

Feathers that are soiled or dull should be cleaned by bathing or flushing. This will help your parakeet look his best and feel healthier.

If you’re keeping a single parakeet, you will hear them if they are ill as they are very vocal. If you have a larger group- the chorus of birds will warn you of a problem before they become visibly ill. You will need to watch the whole flock closely for signs of disease.

Medical needs

Parakeets frequently pose a host of health problems in their owners.

These problems may be in the form of different kinds of infections, inflammation, itching, cancers and many other problems.

Other than the standard vaccinations, it is important to maintain the health of parakeets by changing the environment.

Avoid keeping them in an environment where the humidity is high. The increased moisture reduces oxygen levels.

If they are to be kept in such conditions, it is necessary to supply them with a tunnel. This social bird must be kept in pairs or small groups.

Parakeets can then be provided with newly cut hay, plant leaves, bird buds, flowers and other fresh green vegetables.

It is also important to ensure that they are not overcrowded. This leads to crowding, stress, and illness.

The ideal number is between four and ten birds.

In case of any illness, use anti-inflammatory medicines such as Amacrin, Baytril, Florfenicol, Orbenin, and Tylosin.

Parakeets are friendly birds and their mood can be observed through their behavior.

If they are constantly fighting, looking stressed, and seem irritated, they need to be isolated.

In case of any unusual behavior, you should get the bird examined by a veterinary surgeon.

Common diseases

One of the most common diseases that affect parakeets is a respiratory disease called chlamydiosis. All birds are susceptible to this disease but it is especially common in young birds that haven’t been treated with the correct vaccination protocol. Chlamydiosis is caused by the bacterium Chlamydia psittaci and is mostly transmitted through the air.

The symptoms of chlamydiosis include:

  • Respiratory disease
  • Swollen eyes
  • Lethargy

Respiratory disease such as pneumonia, which can be fatal.

Blood Pressure Issues

As the name suggests, a rectal prolapse occurs when the rectum leaks into the cloaca, the opening where the digestive and urinary systems meet. Sometimes the material that protrudes looks like a small piece of liver.

How to prevent this from happening:

Feed a balanced diet consisting of fresh fruits, vegetables, and pellets.

Provide adequate and sufficient opportunity for the bird to exercise and ensuring it doesn’t gain extra weight.

Exercise is healthy for all living creatures and parakeets are no exception. Provide safe toys that keep them active and happy by encouraging indulging in physical activities like climbing, flapping wings and swinging.

Red flags

A sick bird will often show signs of being sick. Here are some of the most common signs you should keep an eye out for.

Your parakeet:

  • sneezes
  • has discharge from its beak
  • is quiet
  • isn’t eating or drinking
  • has eye discharge
  • has a hunched over back
  • has a constant fluffed, drooping appearance
  • seems lethargic
  • has sores or visible injuries
  • has distorted feathers
  • seems unable to perch
  • has difficulty regulating its body temperature
  • has changed its behavior
  • has sudden weight loss

Other red flags you should keep watch for include your parakeet’s droppings. If you keep an eye on them, you will be able to tell how your parakeet is feeling by its color and amount. Any abnormal stools indicate illness.

Maintenance

Clear water dish – As a parrot owner, you might have figured out by now that parrots love to be as clean as possible. A bird bath can be provided by using water from the bottle. Just fill the water bottle with water and hang it upside down so that the bird can be able to drink water from it.

Keep the food container clean – Water and food container must be kept clean at all times. Parakeets are highly prone to infections so these containers must be cleaned thoroughly and dried before serving fresh food for the parrot.

Cleaning the cage – Remember that parakeets are highly sensitive to changes in the environment. Apart from this it is also important for the cage to be thoroughly cleaned on a daily basis.

Watch the pecking order in the cage – If you have more than one parakeet at home, there is a high chance of them fighting for food or even the cage itself. All of this can easily be prevented if you allow them to hold on to their favorite perches and put their personal toys into their cage.

Maintain ambient temperature – Be sure to maintain the correct ambient temperature in the cage for your pet parrot. Also be sure that the cage has enough space for the parrot to move around easily.

Cage cleaning

It is a very common mistake to underestimate the importance of cage cleaning in parakeet care.

During the day, a lot of your parakeet’s time is spent cleaning and preening, which means your bird can get into some fairly dirty places. That is why you should keep the cage close to its daily cleaning.

Cage cleaning doesn’t have to, nor should it, include washing the cage or other significant disassembly.

The easiest way to clean the cage is to give it a good scrubbing along all of the edges, corners, and lid, then wipe it down and rinse the bottom with a water spray bottle.

Rinse the floor of the cage frequently with your spray bottle or simply wipe it down with a damp cloth.

This will prevent the buildup of droppings (mostly surrounding the water and food bowls), which can make the ammonia levels in the air a lot stronger.

And ammonia can harm your bird’s respiratory tract.

Grooming

Experience and research suggest that parakeet owners are more likely to groom their parakeets than cage them. Your parakeet will likely spend a great deal of time out of his or her cage, and you will need to examine him or her closely.

Ideally, you should be bathing your bird once a week. This is a great opportunity to trim his nails and examine his wings and feet. You want to see unclipped and unkempt nails because this is one of the first things a veterinarian looks for when examining a parakeet.

If you notice any wax on your parakeet’s beak, you should clip that off as well. Excessive wax on the beak (as well as in the ear) can cause feather loss.

Periodically, you should also look at your parakeet’s eyes. If you spot an eye infection, your bird is likely to act abnormally. You should notice this and act quickly.

Finally, you should occasionally look for fleas. While the occasional flea is nothing to worry about, a flea infestation can cause irritation and even illness.

If you notice your parakeet scratching often or scratching in a specific area, you should treat for fleas. The product of choice is Frontline, applied once a month. Health Concerns .

Mix up food

The way to do this is to start with a base of mixed seed and mix in different branches of the supplement tree.

Use about 1 part of the seed mix to 6 parts of the supplement mix daily. In this way your parakeet will always receive the widest range of vitamins and minerals.

Mix up toys

Parakeets love to play with toys and interact with its owners. S/he will especially love a chance to play and interact with you, so try to keep yourself going in front of your bird each day and play, socialize and teach him things.

Visit the vet

As with any other pet, the first step to take when considering a parakeet is visiting the vet. Being small, parakeets are a good choice for beginners, although they are generally very healthy.

Visiting the vet is important because parakeets have distinct health issues that only a professional can identify, such as Yellow-headed or Psittacine Beak and Feather Disease.

This disease is caused by a virus and is easily transmittable to other birds, so it’s safer to have the vet take care of it. Flying Parakeets can’t do it themselves because the symptoms of this disease come after it’s too late and the virus is contagious.

Handling

Regardless of the size of your parakeet, there is always a risk of getting hurt so you should never just go ahead and handle your parakeet. Doing so will get you to get bitten and you can wind up contracting a disease.

There are some things that you can do to make the bird more comfortable with you or to help you handle it better.

For example, you can put the bird on your finger but you should choose one that has the nails cut short.

This is, however, a good way to get a parakeet used to you because they get used to your scent.

When you’re ready to pick the bird up, you should make it appear as if you’re taking it where it needs to go.

You can go somewhere you know that they like or that provides the bare minimum of danger. For example, just do this for a few seconds.

Once you’ve succeeded to get the parakeet onto your finger or your hand, you can try to bring it close to your head so that you can stroke its back. This is a good way of getting your parakeet comfortable with you.

However, this trick is best if you’re doing it for the first time but it can be very risky in the long run.

Socialize

I’m sure you don’t want to keep your parakeet in the cage all day long; neither will he want to be in there all day.

With some preparations, you can easily help your parakeet to be more social as well as to have a lot of fun.

First of all, you need to introduce your parakeet to the outside world.

The best way to do this is to set up a bird play house inside the cage. This will allow your parakeet to gain some experience in exploring the outside world.

The outside world holds a lot of excitement for parakeets.

The best place to explore is a backyard surrounding the cage. Your parakeet will navigate the enclosure with ease by the time he is accustomed to it.

That’s why you need to provide some accessories to your play house.

Canvas toys and wooden perch are enough to keep the parakeet busy.

At first, the parakeet will be much interested in looking around the outside world rather than playing with the toys. You need to provide some bird training to make the most of the parakeet’s exploration.

You can entice the parakeet with some goodies as well.

Let them occasionally out of the cage

Remember to close all doors, windows and blinds, especially during the summer, so they can’t escape.

Some parakeets will go with you, happy as can be, just sit on your shoulder.

Others just want to get back into the cage as soon as possible.

Taking your parakeet out of the cage throughout the day for short periods will allow him to stay socialized and prevent boredom.

Your pet may stay inside the house with you when you’re there as long as there are no dangers (other pets and children running around the house).

Teach them to speak

If you are interested in making a talking bird, then you should start with hand-raised parakeets. They are already tame and this will make them easier to teach.

These can be easily tamed by putting them in a fine cage. Place the bird in a place where there is a lot of activity and have it interact with several people.

The frequency at which you interact with the bird is very significant. 30 minutes of 3 to 4 sessions of interaction should be enough but you may increase if the bird is responding well. This means that the bird is comfortable and it is OK to touch it and is not frightened by the presence of the human.

Pair the bird with another one that is already tame so that it gets used to the presence of a fellow bird.

The next thing to teach your parakeet is to pronounce the letters.

Speak the letters with a low tone and imitate the sound that the letters make when you read and speak them.

If you get it right, you should reward the bird with food. This exercise should be repeated several times until the bird learns.

Now that your bird is used to the presence of humans, it is now a good time to start using the keyword with the bird. Choose a keyword that is easy for the bird to pronounce and easy to remember for you.

Sleeping

As parakeets have very active day, they don’t sleep for a long period of time. Go to their cage at least once a day if you have an indoor pet parakeet.

At nighttime, parakeets will sleep at least 12 to 8 hours. Keep in mind that they will start to fall asleep in the evening when they start preening themselves.

How to know if your parakeets are happy and healthy?

Parakeets are among the most popular pet birds in the world. They make a wonderful pet choice depending on your level of interaction with your birds.

Hand-raised parakeets make wonderful companions and will interact and respond to you in ways that will truly delight your days.

But when it comes to nutrition alone, the most important thing is to stick to the basic nutrition guide I have outlined below.

Parakeets Eat Seeds for Life

This is perhaps one of the most common questions about parakeet diet. Parakeet owners often ask how long their companion will need feed on seeds. Well, the answer is for life.

But that doesn’t mean that you can’t keep your parakeets healthy by providing them with a balanced diet.

When you talk about food for parakeets, the most important thing to determine is the ratio of protein, fat, and carbohydrates. The protein and fat in a parakeet’s diet should be more than carbohydrates.

This is important because of the levels of glucose in grains. Too much glucose can cause spikes in blood sugar level which may have a toxic effect on the parakeet over time.

This is why it’s important for you to provide your parakeets with a balanced parakeet food.