For the owner who lives in an apartment or condo and has limited space, the parakeet, or budgie, might be a perfect choice for an avian companion. Their vocalizations don’t tend to travel through walls, their cages are small and affordable, and a bite won’t send you to the emergency room.
However, despite their tiny stature, a parakeet requires the same level of care and commitment as would a macaw, just scaled down to size. While they don’t live for 50+ years, a fact many parakeet owners regret, they require daily care and maintenance in order to remain healthy and friendly. Your parakeet could be with you for 10-15 years if you take your duties seriously.
SELECTING THE RIGHT CAGE AND ACCESSORIES
Most parrots spend the majority of their lives inside their cage, therefore, it must be a happy place for a parakeet to be, and one that assures you that your bird is safe in your absence. Think of it as your bird’s bedroom. There should be many things to do to keep it entertained and mentally occupied while you are away and it should offer your bird security and privacy.
Many people feel that the cage should be accessorized in a way that makes things easy and comfortable for their bird. We disagree. We believe that, since your bird spends so much time in a cage, it should be set up in a way that promotes activity and exercise.
Life in the wild requires lot of climbing, reaching and flying. We encourage you to provide the same opportunities in your home by purchasing the largest cage you can that is appropriate for a parakeet so that there is room for flight within. It keeps their muscles well-toned and allows them to do what they were designed to do.
Place toys and foragers in an out-of-the-way place that is awkward for them to reach instead near perches that make it convenient. One of the biggest health concerns for birds according to vets is obesity and to avoid that your bird needs activity.
A cage for a parakeet should be NO LESS than 18″ x 18″ x 24″. Consider that the bare minimum. Bar spacing should be no larger than 1/2″ apart. You would be surprised how many injuries occur when a parrot sticks its head through bars that are spaced to widely apart and find themselves stuck there.
Your parakeet will spend its entire life on its feet, so perch selection is important. Place a variety of perches in the cage all with different sizes, shapes and textures to promote good foot health. The just-right perch is the one that the foot wraps 3/4 of the way around. This might be the one your parakeet chooses to sleep on at night.
Select toys that vary in texture and color and are appropriate for a parakeet. While large parrots can sometimes utilize smaller toys, it generally isn’t safe to give large toys to a small bird. There are many places that can trap wings, feet and heads. Parakeets seem to most enjoy toys that are made of raffia and other natural shreddable materials and brightly colored plastic toys.
Be sure to change the cage bottom papers several times a week and keep the interior of the cage and perches free from dirt and old food that will collect bacteria.
THE PARAKEET DIET
Many people make a mistake in believing that small birds only eat seeds. In fact, you may have been told that when you purchased your parakeet. That information is wrong and will lead to health problems because your bird’s dietary needs are not being met. All animals need the nutritional advantages of fresh fruits and vegetable, grains and legumes. The parakeet is no different.
Additionally, your bird will need a healthy, organic pellet and fresh water changed at least once daily and served in clean dishes.
Please click HERE for information on how to feed your bird properly and how to convert your seed only eater to a great diet!
Parakeets love to bathe. Some prefer a misting with a spray bottle, others enjoy a good soak in the “tub” when you offer them a shallow bowl of water. In the wild, parakeets like to roll around in the grass after a rain shower. In our homes, many parakeets will appreciate a bowl of wet greens, such as parsley, to crawl around in. Your parakeet will need to bathe 2-3 times a week, and more often if it prefers.
GENERAL HEALTH CARE
A bird’s physiology is completely different from that of our cats and dogs and you will want to have an avian vet on hand for your parakeet’s health maintenance and in the event of an illness or emergency. Your bird should see the vet once a year for a “well-bird exam” – the avian equivalent of a yearly check-up, to be sure his overall health and diet are on track.
As an owner, your greatest advantage to continued good health is your gram scale. A weight loss is an indicator of illness and when you weigh your bird frequently (and record the results in a journal), you will be able to catch a problem before it escalates into a serious matter for your bird, and save money on exorbitant vet bills.
Other indicators of illness are abnormal droppings. If they change in color, consistency, frequency or if an odor is present, and they remain that way for more than a day or two, you must call your vet for an appointment.
Other indications to alert you to illness in your parakeet are: changes in physical appearance, drooping wings, perching at the bottom of the cage, loss of appetite, discharge from any orifice, fecal matter stuck to underside, lack of vocalization and inactivity.
Your parakeet will be an important member of your home for many years to come and you are entirely responsible for its health and well-being, both physically AND mentally. He/she will grow to love you and will want to spend time with you and the rest of the family. Do be sure to allow a lot of out of cage time, in a safe environment, to keep your relationship thriving.
Parakeets are very intelligent parrots with the potential for having the most elaborate vocabulary of ALL of the parrot species. They are easy to train and eager to learn. Training provides the perfect opportunity for interaction and bonding with all members of the family, even the kids!