Parrots are a popular choice for family pets, and for good reason. These colorful birds have been kept as companions since ancient times, and they can make wonderful additions to any home.
Parrots can be many different colors and sizes, from the large Macaws to the tiny Budgerigars. They can be green, blue, yellow, red and more. Parrots are highly intelligent and can be taught to talk, sing, and even do tricks.
Parrots are among the most popular birds in America today. The Parrot family includes about 40 species of birds. Most people think of parrots when they hear the word “bird”, but there are more than 1,000 species of parrots worldwide.
Need some color in your life, and want a pet that’s not only smart, but long lived? A Parrot could be the pet you are looking for. Birds in general are great pets because they are largely self sufficient if you don’t have a lot of time. As long as you have others to keep them company they will be OK without you always available. If you do have an abundance of time you’ll find that they love being showered with attention. They are social and get along with most larger family pets.
Given enough time Parrots can figure most things out. Because Parrots are so smart, most owners will entertain themselves and their birds by giving them puzzle games. They love these games because it helps them use their amazing minds, and they’re usually rewarded with treats. The owners love these because it is a lot of fun to watch them try to figure things out to get the treat rewards.
Parrots require a large cage, one that should include perches and toys. They enjoy having access to fresh air, and will do best if they can fly out of their cages regularly. Parrots like to spend time outdoors, and will appreciate being able to go outside and explore their environment.
Many different types of Parrots can mimic human speech or phrases. You can have a lot of fun teaching them things and having conversations with them. They’ll quickly be able to tell you what they want, making your job as the pet owner much easier knowing that they want to play, or want a specific food.
They can be quite noisy, and if you live in an apartment or other shared living space, it’s important to consider how your neighbors might feel about the noise. They’re known to chew on furniture and other items in the home. It’s important to make sure they have plenty of toys and other items to keep them occupied.
Overall, Parrots can make wonderful family pets if you’re willing to put in the time and effort to give them the care they need. They are intelligent, entertaining birds that can bring a lot of joy into your home. If you think a Parrot is right for you, then do some research and find out more about these amazing birds before making your decision.
Information about Parrots
- Average Length: 10 to 26 inches
- Colors: Gray, White, Yellow, Green and Multi-Colored
- Grooming Needs: High
- Tolerance to Heat and Cold: Yes
- Good Pet: With early socialization and training, yes
- Safe with Children: With training because their powerful beaks and loud noises can be a concern for families with children
- Good with Other Parrots: Yes
- Good with Other Pets: With training they can get along well with dogs and cats but not with smaller pets like mice, hamsters and guinea.
- Suitable to live in an Apartment: Depends on the species. Some species like Cockatoos can be very loud.
- Good for Less Experienced Pet Owners: No, they need a lot of attention.
- Training: Training them requires building trust and being consistent.
- Exercise Needs: High
- Weight Gain: Normal
- Health Concerns: Psittacine Beak and Feather Disease (PBFD), Psittacosis, Feather Picking, Sour Crop, Avian Polyomavirus and Nutritional Deficiencies
- Allergies: None
- Average Life Span: 10 to 50 years
Physical Appearance of Parrots
All parrots have a curved beak and zygodactyl feet. Zygodactyl feet means they have four toes on each foot, two pointing forward and two backward. Macaws, Cockatoos, Budgies, and all other Parrots have curved beaks and zygodactyl feet.
Parrots can be a variety of sizes and colors. With around 400 species of parrots and their mutations, they can vary greatly in their physical appearance, size and lifespan. Macaws can grow up to 24 inches long while the Black-Capped Conures are just 10 inches long.
African Grey is one of the most common Parrot species kept as pets. They have gray feathers on their body, but many of the feathers will be a lighter gray or even white at the tips. There are two subspecies that fall under the African Greys; Congo and Timneh. Congos are slightly larger and have shiny black beaks and red tail feathers. The Timneh Greys have ivory or off white (sometimes a peach or light pink) upper beak, and a black lower beak. Their tail feathers are a blood red to a deep maroon.
Young African Greys look similar when they are young but the sex of the bird will be obvious once they’re 18 months old. The tail feathers of males will be deep red while the females will have a little silver on the tip of their tail feathers. The males also have dark coloring on the undersides of their feathers while the females will usually have lighter feathers.
Another popular pet Parrot species is the Yellow Naped-Amazon. Their body’s feathers are a bright green with small patches of red on their wings. They get their name because of the yellow on the back of their neck (also called a nape). Some will have a yellow patch on the forehead and crown. Their beaks and feet can be black or gray. Both males and females look similar.
Temperament of Parrots
Parrots are social and intelligent birds. They are also playful and energetic, especially Yellow Naped-Amazon Parrots. Most Parrot species are intelligent, but African Greys are regarded as most intelligent.
Most Parrot species are affectionate and will develop a strong bond with their family. Some types like the African Greys tend to bond closely with only one family member and may not like the company of others.
If Parrots do not get the attention they need, they can become aggressive and bite. Around young parrots everyone should be careful during their bluffing stage. The bluffing stage is a period when you will see them biting and becoming aggressive. This unfortunate behavior is due to hormonal changes when they are attaining sexual maturity. The bluffing stage is more prominent in the Yellow-Naped Amazon Parrots and typically happens when they are between 4 to 12 months old.
Parrots are usually good at talking and mimicking sounds that they hear. Sometimes the Yellow-Naped Amazons can get too loud which can become irritating for their owners. Parrots are usually the most noisy in the early morning or the evening.
Parrots are very intelligent birds which can make it easier while training them. Training is an important part of caring for your Parrots because it helps with controlling their less desirable behavior. Some Parrots can live for up to 60 years which makes training all the more important early on.
Bird training should start right away, right after you get them home. The first step is to develop a strong bond with your bird. To start establishing trust and developing a bond with them, spend a few minutes talking to them every day. After a few days, move on to giving them treats inside the cage with your hands.
Once they are used to taking treats from your hand, you can take your Parrots out of their cage to begin training. It is best to do their training in a quiet place free from distraction so that your bird can focus on what you want to teach them.
Clicker training can be an effective way to encourage or prevent your Parrot from doing different behaviors. Parrots can even be trained to remember words and mimic human speech. If you want them to repeat your words, repeat the same words again and again. Reward them with a treat when they speak the word or phrase.
Avoid punishing your birds for bad behavior because it can scare them, and make it harder to train them. Keep training sessions with them short. Even though Parrots are very intelligent, they don’t have much patience.
Their Compatibility with Children
Parrots are social and playful birds and can be good pets for children. Children enjoy watching their birds mimic their speech and move around their cage. At the same time, parents should be careful while letting the parrots and children interact. These birds have powerful beaks that can hurt children if they bite. Some Parrots make loud noises and quick movements that can frighten children.
Until you know how your children will act around a pet we always recommend that an adult always supervise their interactions to ensure there are no problems. Some Parrots, especially the African Greys, are obsessed with their human companions. Their desire to be with their family can lead to them feeling jealous of attention given to other animals or children.
Best Habitat for Parrots
Parrots are active birds and need a large cage to exercise and play. The size of their cage should be large enough to let them spread their wings without touching the edges. For the African Greys and Yellow-Naped Amazons, you’ll want a cage at least 3’L x 3’W x 3’T so that they can move around comfortably. A larger cage will be better if you have the space for it, and adding additional birds will also necessitate a larger cage.
If you plan to get a larger Parrot as a pet or to keep two or more parrots together then a larger cage or an aviary will be needed.
The cage should have a large entry door so that your birds can move in and out easily. The bar spacing on their cage should be between ½ to ¾ inches for the Yellow Amazons and African Greys. This spacing should keep them from getting their heads stuck between the bars.
Parrots will need 3 to 4 perches inside their cage. It’s best for your birds if the perches are all different sizes. The diameter of the perches should range between half an inch to one inch. Natural wood perches are best for birds because these are safe for them to chew on. Chewing on the perches will also help to keep their beak and nails trimmed. Avoid using perches made of sandpaper because it can hurt their feet. Don’t use plastic perches because if your birds chew on it they might eat plastic bits that break off.
For substrate any type of paper usually works well. Newspaper, butcher paper, paper towels and paper bags are good options. They lay flat on the cage, letting you monitor the quality of your bird’s droppings. Paper is also cheap and easy to replace. Avoid using wood chips or cedar because these can be toxic for birds. They have a scent that can cause allergic reactions in some birds, plus they’re a lot more expensive than using newspapers.
To keep your birds entertained they should have several toys kept inside of their cage. Chew toys are a great choice to keep in their cage and it will keep them occupied. Most birds love to chew on things and chew toys also help keep their beaks trimmed naturally. Ladders and ropes are also good additions to their cage so that they can play and exercise.
A Parrot’s cage can get messy quickly because they use their beaks to play with their food and chew their perches. Because they play with their food will, a lot of uneaten food or other waste at the bottom of their cage. The substrate should be spot cleaned every day. Regular cleanings reduce the chances of spreading infectious diseases and goes a long way towards keeping everyone healthy. The substrate should also be replaced once a week.
It’s important to clean their food and water bowls daily and make sure your birds have fresh water. If you are using a soap or disinfectant to wash the bowls, make sure they are completely dry before placing them back inside the cage.
Remove broken or damaged perches, toys and other cage parts from the cage when they are seen. Rotate the toys and give new toys to your Parrots each week. New toys will go a long way towards keeping your birds from getting bored.
For deep cleaning remove your bird, their toys, the perches and other cage parts once a week and clean the cage with a disinfectant. A 3% bleach solution should remove anything bad that’s in the cage. Carefully wipe the floors, bars and other cage parts with the cloth. Make sure the cage is completely dry and the smell of bleach has evaporated before placing your Parrots back inside their cage.
The Attention a Parrot Needs
Parrots are companion birds and need daily attention from their family. All Parrots may not be cuddly but they do look forward to receiving attention and being handled by their family. They should be given 2 hours of playtime a day and an additional 2 to 3 hours of outside cage playtime. Attention and playtime will help them exercise and keep them from gaining weight.
Parrots like Yellow-Naped Amazons need social interactions to remain healthy. If they are not given the right amount of attention they can screech or become depressed.
Depending upon the species of Parrot, they can live up to 60 years! What this means is that parrots are a lifetime commitment for their owners. If you are not ready for a lifetime pet, then you will want to rethink having parrots as a pet.
Avian sour crop, which is also known as crop stasis or gastric stasis, is an uncomfortable digestive condition that can affect birds. It occurs when food moves too slowly through the crop and ferments, leading to a build-up of toxins in the bird’s system. This condition can be caused by a variety of factors, including:
- Poor diet: A diet that is low in fiber or contains too much fat can cause food to move more slowly through their crop. This can lead to fermentation of the food and the development of Sour Crop.
- Stress: Stressful situations can cause a bird’s digestive system to slow down, leading to stasis.
- Parasites: Parasites, such as worms or mites, can cause inflammation in their crop, leading to stasis.
- Injuries to their crop: Physical damage to their crop, like from being pecked at by other birds, can lead to sour crop.
- Infections: Bacterial and fungal infections of their crop can cause fermentation and stasis.
Avian Nutritional Deficiencies are a serious problem that can have long term consequences for the health of your pet bird. Nutritional deficiencies can be caused by a variety of factors, including an inadequate diet, poor food selection, overfeeding, or the lack of essential vitamins and minerals in your bird’s diet. Common signs of nutritional deficiencies include weakness, lethargy, feather plucking, poor feather health, and reduced appetite.
If you suspect that your bird may be suffering from a nutritional deficiency, it’s important to take steps to correct the problem quickly. The best way to do this is by consulting with an avian veterinarian or nutritionist who can give you information and advice on the best diet for your pet bird. In some cases, vitamin and mineral supplements could be necessary. It’s important to ensure that your bird has access to fresh fruits and vegetables as well as a balanced diet of seeds and pellets.
Psittacosis, also known as parrot fever or avian chlamydiosis, is a contagious bacterial infection caused by the Chlamydia psittaci bacterium. Chlamydia psittaci is mostly found in birds from the Psittaciformes family, such as parrots and macaws.
Symptoms of Avian Psittacosis
The symptoms of avian psittacosis can vary depending on the species affected, but may include:
- Respiratory distress
- Decreased appetite
- Weight loss
In some cases, birds can also have neurological signs like tremors, seizures or paralysis. Birds with psittacosis can have difficulty breathing and might have signs of eye discharge.
Psittacine Beak and Feather Disease (PBFD)
Beak and Feather Syndrome is caused by a newly identified virus called circovirus psittacus (PsCV). The virus is spread from bird to bird through contact with saliva, feces or feather dust. The virus has also been found in feed, water and cages that are contaminated with infected bird droppings.
Infected birds usually have symptoms of the disease within 6-12 weeks of contact with the virus, and it can take up to a year for all symptoms to manifest.
Symptoms of Beak and Feather Syndrome
Symptoms of Beak and Feather Syndrome include:
- Feather loss
- Discoloration of the feathers
- Deformed beaks
- Overgrown claws
- Swollen joints
In more severe cases, beaks can become fused together or a bird may develop difficulty balancing or walking. The virus can also cause weight loss and weakness in infected birds. In extreme cases the disease can lead to death.
Feather plucking is sadly an all too common behavior among pet birds, and it’s often caused by a combination of physical and psychological factors. Physical causes of feather plucking can include parasites, skin irritation, hormonal imbalances, allergy sensitivities, dietary deficiencies, or medical issues such as liver disease. Psychological causes can include boredom, stress, fear, lack of environmental stimulation, or overly close human-bird bonding.
Symptoms of Avian Feather Plucking
Symptoms of Avian Feather Plucking can vary depending on the underlying cause. In general, feather plucking can cause bald patches, particularly around your bird’s neck, chest and wings. The affected feathers may be thin or brittle, and might look broken or jagged. Some birds might also have signs of distress such as vocalizing excessively, pacing or panting.
Parrots can also get infected with Polyomavirus, a deadly infection. Avian polyomavirus (APV) is a type of virus that affects birds. It belongs to the Polyomaviridae family, which consists of small, non-enveloped viruses with double-stranded DNA genomes. APV can cause a wide range of symptoms in infected birds, such as respiratory disease, gastrointestinal problems, and neurologic symptoms. In some cases, APV can lead to death in young birds.
Symptoms of Avian Polyomavirus
The most common symptoms of APV include respiratory symptoms, such as coughing and sneezing, and gastrointestinal signs, such as:
Other signs may include:
- Weight loss
- Poor feather health
- Neurological symptoms
In some cases, APV can cause death in young birds.
Bathing and Cleaning
Your Parrots should be bathed once a week. Bathing will help keep their feathers clean and prevent skin allergies. They can be cleaned a few different ways, with a handheld shower to mist them or put a ceramic bowl filled with water inside their cage. Make sure that you never add soap to any of the water for the birds. Soap can be toxic for them, all they need is lukewarm water and they will clean themselves.
If your Parrot enjoys bathing, you can mist them more frequently. Misting will encourage your birds to preen their feathers which will help them stay clean.
Try to bathe them during the daytime. The temperature during the day is warmer than the evening and daytime bathing will reduce the chances that they’ll feel cold. If you are worried about the cold during the winter you can reduce the frequency of their baths.
Keep your Parrots in the sun or a warm location after bathing them. It will help them get dry sooner and keep them from getting sick.
Trim their nails once a month. Use a bird nail clipper to cut their nails. Avoid cutting too far because you can end up cutting the blood vessels in their nails. If you accidentally cut the blood vessels, use styptic sticks to stop the bleeding.
If your Parrot has an overgrown beak it may need to be trimmed. You can consult your vet about this. If needed your vet will be able to trim the beak for you. Trimming a Parrot’s beak is nothing you should try at home. There is a large blood vessel inside their beak, if it is accidentally cut it will be terribly uncomfortable for your bird, and make a huge mess.
Parrots eat a variety of seeds, fruits, nuts, plants and vegetables in the wild. Domesticated Parrots should be given a pellet diet mixed with seeds. Feeding them only seeds and nuts can cause your Parrots to gain weight because seeds have high fat-content. They also lack all the nutrition that your Parrots need.
Pellets contain fewer fats and give your Parrots all the nutrients that they need. Pellets should be 75 percent of their diet. The rest of 20 to 25 percent should consist of fruits and vegetables. Treats should not make up more than about 5 percent of their diet. The Parrots need to be fed ⅓ to ½ cup of the pellet-seed mix while fruits and vegetables should not be more than ¼ cup every day.
For fruits, mango, melon, pomegranate and berries are all great choices. Vegetables like arugula, watercress, kale, carrots, peppers and sweet potatoes are all their favorites and very healthy.
Wash the fruits and vegetables carefully and chop them into small pieces before feeding them to your Parrots. Any uneaten fruits and vegetables should be removed after one hour.
For treats, you can feed them nuts and fruits. If you are giving them fruits as treats make sure it is unique and not something that you always feed them.
They should also have fresh clean water inside their cage at all times.
Can Parrots be Kept in Pairs?
Yes, Parrots can be kept in pairs but we recommend to keep opposite sex pairs. A male and female will get along well but be aware that they will breed if kept together. Parrots kept as pairs tend to enjoy each other’s attention and may not be as interested to interact as much with their family. Avoid keeping same sex Parrots together because they can get aggressive or fight with each other.
Maryna is an animal expert that has had dozens of animals in her life over the years. She has never found an animal that she didn't love immediately. It seems like every year she finds kittens that have been abandoned by their mom and she nurses them to health and finds homes for them. She contributes her vast knowledge about animals and family pets to our website and we're forever grateful to have her working with us. She's also an amazing graphics designer and has designed all of the social media images that we use across all platforms.