Budgies, with their colorful plumage and talkative and social nature make perfect companions. However, just because they are considered to be low-maintenance or easy-to-keep pets, doesn’t mean that they need any less care or attention than a cat or a dog.
This may lead you to wonder if you should keep a budgie alone or in pairs in a cage as pets.
Do budgies need a companion? Yes, budgies need at least one companion. To keep only one budgie means risking your pet becoming lonely. Budgies especially need a companionship if they are left home alone for part of the day while you’re not home.
As budgies are social birds, they are used to preening each other, serenading each other and playing together. They also need a lot of exercise to keep them from getting overweight and keep them healthy.
Having more than one budgie, then, makes it easier for them to exercise while playing. There are, however, pros and cons to keeping budgies of different sexes or the same sex together.
Can you get another budgie if you only have one budgie?
Yes, you can get another budgie if one of your budgies dies, for instance, or if you decide to get your budgie a cage mate to keep them company while you’re out during the day.
While it’s relatively easy to introduce a new bird, you do have to take certain steps and precautions when introducing a new budgie.
Once you have the new budgie, it’s important to make sure that they are healthy. A trip to the vet is always a good idea, even if you have bought the budgie from a reputable breeder.
When the vet gives you a clean bill of health and you take your new budgie home, you can follow the following steps:
When you bring your new budgie home, make sure that they have their own cage that they can live in temporarily.
Place the two cages next to each other. This will ensure that the budgies can get used to each other without one of the budgies feeling threatened in the new environment.
Once they are used to each other, slowly introduce your new budgie into the new cage for “visits” until both are used to the idea of sharing the same space. The first visit can be short, with the visits becoming longer and longer until they will stay together permanently.
These steps can also be followed if you are introducing a third budgie into a cage. You’ll see that the budgies will soon find where in the pecking order of the flock everyone will be. This is especially the case if you’re introducing a new budgie into a flight with a number of other budgies.
Should you keep a pair of budgies of the opposite sex if you’re not planning on breeding them?
Yes, you can keep a pair of budgies of the opposite sex if you’re not planning to breed them. There is, of course, always the chance that they will breed and produce chicks.
Budgies are one of the bird species that mate for life, and studies, including one published by Animal Behaviour in 2011, have shown that budgies can still recognize each other after being separated for 70 days and will remember their mate’s call as well.
If you know you won’t be able to handle chicks — keeping an eye on them and, more importantly, finding them forever homes — you need to really think about whether you want to keep a pair of the opposite sex.
If you do suddenly find yourself the godparent of an unplanned clutch of eggs, you can ask your vet for helping to ensure that you know exactly what to do (and not do) to ensure that the chicks that hatch remain in good health.
You will also need to keep an eye on the female to ensure that there are no complications when she lays the eggs, for instance, egg binding. (Egg binding is when a female is unable to expel the egg from her body. If not caught early, birds suffering from egg binding can become critically ill.)
Female budgies lay eggs in clutches of 4-6 eggs and incubation of the eggs are 18-23 days after the initial egg is laid. This means that you will have to find forever homes for up to 6 birds at a time.
If this sounds too daunting, a pair of budgies of the same sex may be a better option for you.
Can you keep two male budgies or female budgies together?
Yes, two budgies of the same sex can be kept together, however, you should be aware of the following when choosing whether you want to keep two males or two females together.
Keeping two male budgies is preferable to keeping two females, as they are less territorial and should get along very well, even serenading one another.
Make sure that your cage is big enough to house two budgies comfortably — that is to say, they should be able to stretch out fully and even fly around a bit from perch to perch. Budgies need their exercise as much as you or I!
As they are not as territorial as female budgies, you can get away with only having one food and water bowl, etc. as well as having fewer fights.
Keeping two female budgies together can be problematic because they are a lot more territorial than the males of the species. Because females are so territorial, they preferably need a larger cage than their male counterparts to ensure that there are no fights about territory.
It is also a good idea to give each of them a food and water bowl, identical perches, and even the same toys in order that they don’t end up fighting. You will, however, see what they need and prefer as their personalities develop and you get to know them.
The females may still lay eggs even though there isn’t a male budgie to fertilize them. You should, therefore, be aware that egg binding may still occur in one or both of your budgies even though they are not a breeding pair, be sure to keep an eye out for symptoms of illness.
That way you can take your budgie to the vet before they become critically ill.
When you keep two budgies of the same sex together, you will see that they will still bond, preen and feed each other and will, most likely, get on well. There are always exceptions to the rule, of course, as all budgies still have their own personalities.
What should you do if your budgie’s companion dies?
The good news is that many budgies accept a new cage mate when given time to adjust. Take your time to introduce the new budgie to the cage and allow them time to get used to one another and to bond.
Remember, just as you need to get used to your new pet and their personality, your other budgie will also have to get used to it.
Budgies can live for 10-15 years and grow very close to their cage mate(s). It is, therefore, a big loss for them when their friend dies.
You will probably notice that they mourn their friend’s death and may even become depressed. We show you that budgies grieve like humans in this article!
The remaining budgie may call for its mate, search the cage for them, and may even lose their appetite. This mourning behavior may last longer than a week.
Even though it may be difficult and sad for you, you need to give your remaining budgie the attention they need. If you let your budgies out for exercise every day, for instance, it’s good to also keep to this routine and not suddenly change it.
It is also a good idea to get your remaining budgie checked by the vet to ensure that they haven’t contracted a disease and that illness was the reason for your other budgie’s death. Illness is usually the reason why budgies may shortly die after one another.
If you’re thinking of getting a new budgie, a check-up by the vet is especially important to rule out any underlying conditions that may have a negative impact on your new budgie.
You will also have to decide whether you want to get a male or female budgie in place of the budgie that has died. You may want to consider getting a budgie of the same sex as the one that died to ensure as little disruption for your remaining budgie as possible.
All that’s left to do then is to slowly introduce the new “roommates” to each other and enjoy their company for many years to come!
How do I know if my budgie is stressed? If a budgie is stressed, they will show some or all of the following symptoms:
- More vocal than usual
- More “puffed up” than usual, not because of preening or feather ruffling
- They may pluck out their feathers
- They may stop eating
- They may start behaving in an odd way
Which birds can be kept with budgies?
Budgies can be kept with, and get along well with other small birds; including cockatiels, small parrots, lorikeets, and even zebra finches. By keeping budgies with other birds, you can still give them the social interaction that they need to keep them from getting lonely.
Do cockatiels need to be kept in pairs?
Cockatiels, like budgies, are social birds and should rather be kept in pairs or groups. You can either keep a male and female together or cockatiels of the same sex — either way, they get along well with each other.