The decision to adopt and introduce a parrot into your family is a big one, after all it is a life-long commitment and requires a lot of work and care; but we have summed up all you should know-both good and bad-into one helpful guide which you will find here.
In this article, we will take an honest look at what it takes to keep a parrot: the good, the bad, and tough as well as the joyful parts. This means looking at the costs associated with keeping a parrot, the time you must invest, and the best and worst aspects of taking care of one of these beautiful birds. We give you the truth, so continue reading to see what it’s really like.
Why Keep A Parrot in the First Place?
When you are considering whether or not to keep a parrot in your home, it is important to understand why people keep these amazing pets to begin with.
To appreciate this, there are a few things you should know about parrots, and why they are loved among companion bird enthusiasts around the world.
A parrot is a pet that provides a wonderful companion, they will delight you with their intelligence and ability to learn, and their huge personalities will be a serious enhancement to your life.
One thing we would like to stress early on is that parrots should always come in pairs-these birds are so social that they need a friend to interact with to prevent psychological problems.
Parrots Are Smart
We cannot stress enough how intelligent these birds are.
The brain of a parrot is highly developed, and they think fast.
They are experts in navigation, superior with language, form relationships and make friends, solve problems with no hands-just a beak-and adapt to their surroundings with relative ease.
Their brain is small, but size doesn’t matter here.
Consider the case of Alex. Alex was an African Grey who was studied very closely by Dr. Irene Pepperberg.
Alex had a repertoire of nearly 100 words, and could name objects, and even had a primitive understanding of numbers.
It was proven that Alex was not doing this by memory. He understood what he was seeing. His intelligence, compared Dr. Pepperberg, was like that of 5-year-old human being.
Even in the wild, parrots amaze people. In Australia, wild cockatoos have been known to unscrew the fastenings from microwave towers-only using a beak!
Forget screwdrivers-these intelligent birds use their natural gifts to amuse themselves. The beak is an amazing tool and a parrot will astound you with his ability to use it.
Parrots also gain the idea of object permanence. We as humans do not come with this understanding, which is the idea that even if an object is not present, it still exists.
Some parrots have been known to become good at the “cup game”.
This game involves placing a small, safe object under some cups and then moving the cups around in a random order.
Parrots, with enough training, will come to understand that the small object you placed under the cup is still there, even though he cannot see it.
- Parrots are highly intelligent. Some are even smarter than dogs! Read more on that here!
- Parrots will gain object permanence with training.
- The beaks of parrots are powerful tools. Read here about the parrots with the worst bites (videos included)!
There Are Many Parrots to Choose From
Parrots are varied and numerous. There are many different parrots to consider keeping. Each parrot will have different cage needs, and just like humans, every parrot has their own personality.
As you consider the pros and cons of keeping a parrot, it is beneficial to examine the various species of parrots and how their temperament fits into your family, space in the home, and lifestyle.
These parrots are perhaps the most intelligent of all the companion parrot’s species. These can measure about 10-14 inches depending on the specific breed.
Greys are really good talkers but remember: some parrots do not talk and should not be forced to do so. These guys can be a bit shy sometimes, but they will warm up with nurturing and training.
Their brains are active and require much stimulation. It is advised you have experience with larger parrots to keep this type and have a calm home.
Before getting such a beautiful parrot, we recommend reading our article on African greys and families: Are African Greys Good Family Pets – 7 Facts You Should Know!
Whether it’s a parakeet or something like a budgie, this is a smaller variety of parrot. They are rather quiet but certainly do love to chatter a lot as the day goes on.
This creates a lot of noise in your home. They do have some ability to speak, and parakeets that are hand-fed can be held easily.
Parakeets can be trained but be sure to offer a treat, so they are rewarded for their hard work. It does not require a lot of space to keep this species, and they are great for apartment dwellers.
Keep them away from drafts.
These are a good choice for beginner bird keepers. Here are a couple of articles you should read if you might want to get a parakeet of any kind:
- 20 Reasons why budgies are awesome pets!
- These 7 Facts show how amazingly friendly Cockatiels are!
- 20 Reasons why Indian Ringnecks are incredible pets!
Conures have big personalities and can be anywhere from 10-20 inches. Many people love the Sun Conure for its peppy personality, and its yellow, green and orange feathers.
Green cheek conures and blue crowns are other popular pets. These guys love to be around humans, and if they are used to hands, they like to cuddle.
They like to play with their toys and climb. One thing that is alarming at first but funny once you see it is the way in which they sleep on their backs. Your conure is not hurt-just napping!
Conures tend to be very loud and screech during the day. They are not good for people living in close quarters. We show you how loud conures are in this article (video included) – They can be compared to macaws!
They may nip if you do not handle them regularly!
You can train these intelligent parrots and it is advised you do – otherwise, they think they are in charge. If you have some experience with small companion birds, you can keep a conure.
These lovely birds include the Senegal and Meyer’s parrots. You will commonly find Red Bellies and Jardines as commonly kept pets.
They are about 5 to 13 inches in size, depending on the breed. Coloration is mostly gray and green, and you will see beautiful accents of orange, blue and yellow, too.
These parrots tend to be quieter than other species. They do have some ability to talk, as well as mimic, especially the red belly.
If you socialize and handle them well as babies, they may end up as birds that like to snuggle. If not raised with compassion, they can end up anti-social and aggressive.
To train these birds means you must gain their trust, so be patient and gentle.
People in apartments can keep this bird without too much worry about noise, but it is advised that you have some experience with companion birds first. If you are living in an apartment, you want to make sure to get a rather quiet bird. Here are 5 pet birds that are not too loud!
- Every parrot has his or her own personality
- You should choose a parrot based upon your skill level
- You should also choose based on your living situation
Am I A Good Candidate?
Much like adopting a cat or a dog, you have to carefully consider if you are the right person to adopt a pet parrot.
This is a pet that is going to become another family member; one that you must always be there for and take care of.
Your parrot will depend upon you not only for food and water and cleanliness but for mental stimulation and friendship.
Do keep in mind that you must be ready to devote your efforts to two birds at minimum, as pet parrots should always have a second bird to socialize with when you are away.
In short, this is a very serious but very rewarding commitment, so be sure to carefully evaluate your own ability to do this.
Plenty of Time (and Some Money)
Generally speaking, the act of housing, feeding and taking care of a pet bird is usually less than a dog or cat.
However, parrots live far longer than cats or dogs, and this results in more veterinary costs over the years.
For a parakeet, one of the smaller parrot species, the first-year cost is about $300. You will then have to consider the parakeets’ annual vet visits (price varies depending on vet), plus any other vet visits that may arise in the care of your pet.
You will have to make sure that you have a cage, which is about $80, as well as toys, food, perches, and cuttlebones for beak health. This altogether costs about $120.
If you plan on keeping a larger breed, such as a macaw, you will need a much larger cage, which is about $300 for a good quality enclosure.
It is best to buy new unless you are getting it from a reputable source, as broken or rusted cages present health hazards to your pet.
Plenty of Patience
Your parrot will absolutely provide you with moments of joy and laughter. You will be amazed at what these lovely creatures do every day, and you will be glad to have them.
However, you have to understand that you will become frustrated with their behavior at times.
They can be very noisy during the day, which is hard if you work from home, have a young child or baby that needs a nap during the day, or work third shift and must sleep in the day time.
Parrots also tend to destroy things. We go into this later on but understand that the beak of a parrot is a very powerful gift, and they can and will shred papers, toys, even their cuttlebone.
Images of pet birds having torn up toilet paper, perches and even wood are all around the internet.
Be prepared to have something destroyed as your relationship goes on and keep your parrot well-stimulated with plenty of toys so they can burn off their energy safely.
This can be a point of frustration for inexperienced bird owners, so if this worries you, reconsider your decision to buy.
Training your parrot can take lots of time, too-especially depending on the breed. Your parrot may not be “warmed up” to you at first and may even be frustrated when you try to train them.
Sure, you would like your parrot to dance, speak and mimic, and play the cup game. But you must be willing to take it slow and learn at the parrot’s pace-and do not give up on him.
Plenty of Love
Every parrot has their own personality and way of being, just as your family members do.
And just as you love your family members even though they can be crazy, you have to do the same for your parrot.
This ties back into having patience. Your parrot will no doubt do things that leave you feeling frustrated, almost as if he or she doesn’t want to be in your home at all.
It can be hard not to get upset about his or her actions.
On the same token, you have to be ready to socialize with you parrot to get him or her used to the world.
This means that you should take him or her outdoors with the right gear, like a parrot lead, around people who are calm and know how to appreciate birds.
You can also have others you trust scratch your bird on his head or side of the face. Showing him love is a great way to get your bird socialized and friendly to others.
You can also take your parrot to pet stores that host other bird meetups to talk to other companion pets.
These are just a few ways to show love to your parrot, aside from handling him, caring for him, and keeping his cage clean.
The Pros and the Cons
Now it’s time to get into the meat of the issue-just what are the pros and cons of keeping a parrot? We have it all here, for you.
Pro 1: They Are Intelligent
Your parrot will amaze you with his ability to learn something new. We are still learning just what these birds are capable of.
In this manner, they make pets that are delightful, smile-inducing, and so much fun to be around.
You have to be very active in making sure your pet gets lots of mental stimulation, however, as well as positive ways to burn off the high energy that is typical of parrots.
Lots of toys, natural wood blocks, and time spent bonding will be the way to handle this.
Pro 2: They are (Somewhat) Easy to Care For
By no means is it an easy task to care for a bird. However, they are easier than dogs or cats in some aspects.
Birds can be placed into their homes when you are away at work, or simply need to clean the house without tripping over your pet.
Birds do not need to go outside in the cold to relieve themselves, nor do you have to potty train them. Daily-cage cleanings are easy once you get the hang of it.
But remember, birds are not meant to live in cages. Their homes are a place to feel safe and rest. Birds need ample time out of their cages.
Pro 3: They Love to Train
Parrots so enjoy learning and training with their human keepers. And, it helps them convert their energy to a positive space instead of a destructive one.
Parrots even learn things when you don’t teach it to them directly-think about appliance sounds, common words that your family says (watch those curse words!) or even a sound like a giggle or belch.
You have to train him on a regular basis, as this helps them learn and also prevents emotional problems from forming.
Also remember that some parrots do not speak, even if they are around humans a lot.
Pro 4: Grooming Is Pretty Easy
Your parrot preens himself, and that is how he ends up with those shiny feathers! A cuttlebone placed in the cage will aid in beak health, and some perches even help with nail trimmings. You must have your vet trim the nails down occasionally, or you can learn to do it yourself as well.
Be sure you also spray your parrot daily with a misting bottle, or have him get into the sink with tepid, filtered water. Some parrots even like shower. Read our shower guide to learn how to take a shower with your bird!
Pro 5: They Are Social Butterflies
Birds are super social, which is great because they love to spend time with each other and you.
However, you have to be ready to devote this time to your parrot and treat him or her like a member of your own family.
You should allow him out of the cage and include him in your daily activities, like watching TV. Be warned that birds often find one family member and bond-so watch him around your family.
Con 1: Parrots Are Not Tidy
Parrots are not conservators of food. In the wild, they pick pieces of fruit up, take a few bites, and plop it on the ground.
They spread seeds in this manner. In the jungle this is fine. In your home, not so much.
Parrots also love to shred things and destroy them, and pillows, shirts, papers, and wooden blocks are no exception. You will no doubt be cleaning these messes up.
Lastly, parrots love to preen, so there will assuredly be feathers, dust, and other debris near the cage and around your home. Be sure you are prepared for this.
Con 2: Parrots Are Wild at Heart
You can take the parrot out of the jungle, but you can’t take the jungle out of the parrot.
Dogs and cats have been domesticated. However, a parrot has the same DNA his brothers in the jungle have.
The loud sounds, the act of foraging, the constant sounds-these are simply things that you cannot change about your parrot.
Unlike dogs which can be trained to be quiet, parrots will do the things they were born to do.
Con 3: Parrots Live Long
This is both a wonderful and a bad thing. Dogs and cats can live about 20 years, give or take. Parrots? Try thrice that age! A parrot living to the age of 60 with proper care is not uncommon. Take your own age into consideration when deciding if this is right for you. Who will care for the parrot if you do not outlive him?
Con 4: Parrots Are Loud
Do you like to sleep in? Do you like to have some quiet moments in your house? Well, think twice about certain breeds of parrots, as they can get very loud. Parrots do not just talk, either-they screech.
They whistle, bark, meow, click, and make other sounds they’ve picked up.
One owner even talked about how, after residing next to a fire hall for years, her African Grey still made the siren sound years after they had moved!
Parrots make a loud screech at night because he is trying to call back the flock to roost for the evening.
This can and will be heard by everybody within a mile or so, as this is the product of years of evolution. Keep this in mind if you have neighbors or roommates.
Con 5: Parrots Have LOTS of Needs
Parrots need lots of attention from you. They need much affection.
They spend lots of time with mates, and this bond is one that the birds have for life, breaking only when death of one of them occurs.
Your parrot, with lack of your attention or the attention of a friend, will screech to get your attention. He or she may become aggressive or violent.
He or she may even starve or harm itself when not enough emotional and physical attention is given.
To keep a parrot is a huge undertaking. It is a great responsibility and will present you with many bumps in the road along the way.
But these “bumps” are overshadowed by the supreme intelligence and colorful personalities of these lovely animals.
Birds are great friends and even better companions. Think carefully, and we wish you good luck either way.