Parakeets can be amazing pets that happily bond with their human flock members. While the common name “parakeet" can refer to many small parrots, the most familiar pet parakeet is the budgerigar, or budgie (Melopsittacus undulatus). These colorful, long-tailed, slim-bodied parakeets are native to Australia but have been bred in captivity since the 1850s. Today, they are the most popular pet bird in the world, and parakeet care has been refined to ensure these birds have healthy, happy lives. Knowing more about budgies can help you decide if a parakeet is a good pet for you and your family flock.
Why Parakeets Make Good Pets
These small birds measure just 10 to 12 inches from the top of the head to the tip of their long, tapering tails. This means a parakeet can be perfectly comfortable in a smaller space, and they don't need as much extensive care as larger pet birds, such as macaws, would. Parakeets are social, interactive birds that love to play and are easily tamed. They can be noisy, but their chittering, chattering, and whistling is rarely overly disruptive — a budgie will only be uncomfortably loud when they're stressed or anxious. A parakeet typically lives five to eight years and may live up to 15 years if in exceptionally good health and well cared for. This lifespan is ideal for many pet owners, without any worry of possibly outliving a bird and needing to arrange for their care with other family members.
A cage measuring 18 inches deep, 18 inches long, and 24 inches wide is a minimum size for a parakeet, but a larger cage will be more comfortable and keep the bird happier. Ideally, a pet parakeet should have as large a habitat as the available space or their owner's budget allows. However, these smaller birds can be comfortable so long as their cage has enough space to turn around, spread their wings, and fly from side to side.
Horizontal bars are best for a parakeet habitat, as these birds are active climbers and will happily explore their space. Bars should be no more than one-half inch apart, or the bird may get stuck or try to escape. Doors should use clip latches to stay securely fastened since parakeets are smart enough to puzzle out simple latches and gates for a sneaky getaway.
The habitat should have several perches at different heights, and parakeets tend to prefer higher perches. Ladders angled against the sides of the cage will provide perches and fun climbing for these active birds.
Parakeets are seed-eating birds, but a varied diet will help a pet bird get the proper nutrition. Pellets formulated for small birds are ideal, and
adding millet sprays or seed mixes as a treat will give them more variety. Small amounts of finely chopped fruits, vegetables, and nuts are also great additions to a budgie's diet, and the bird should always have access to clean, fresh water. Do not overfeed your pet parakeet. These small birds don't require huge meals, and uneaten food can quickly spoil and cause illness. Obesity can be a problem with parakeets if the bird is overfed and doesn't get adequate exercise.
Bonding And Playing With Your Parakeet
Toys, playtime, and training are all essential parts of good parakeet care and exercise, which will help you create a personal bond with your pet. These social birds love interaction but can be shy and hesitant, especially when young. It is important to be patient and gentle with a parakeet, and as the bird grows accustomed to you and learns to trust you, even more interaction will be possible. Talking, whistling, and singing with your parakeet is a fine start to socialization, and using treats as motivation can help parakeets learn tricks. These birds are fast learners and will soon learn how to step up and down. More advanced tricks, similar to what might be taught to a dog, include teaching a parakeet to roll over, wave, play dead, fetch, or even do fun activities like riding on miniature skateboards or dancing. Daily training sessions will strengthen the bond between you and your parakeet, but keep sessions to no more than 10 to 15 minutes to avoid stress or boredom. To build the strongest bond and achieve the best training results, spread several sessions throughout the day. When you aren't around, your parakeet will need toys to entertain itself. These colorful birds love colorful toys, and moving parts such as spinners, bells, or balls are especially attractive to parakeets. Swings and ladders are other toy options, and layered play centers are perfect for climbing on and foraging through. Every few days, rotate toys in and out of the cage to stimulate the bird with new activities for more interesting play.
Is Your Parakeet Happy And Healthy
Ultimately, good, thoughtful care will help keep your parakeet happy and healthy. The bird should be active and noisy but not overly frantic or loud, and they should be responsive to your presence and interactions. The bird should eat well and preen regularly. The parakeet's feathers should be in good condition, and there should be no obvious signs of poor health such as bald spots, crusty eyes, or nasal discharge - if these are noticed, it is critical to consult an avian veterinarian immediately for diagnosis and treatment. A budgie can be a fine pet bird to enjoy, and with proper parakeet care, these beautiful, social birds will quickly fly into your heart as you create a bond and enjoy being part of each other's flock.
Bird Adviser - Are Parakeets Good Pets?
ParakeetCare.org - About Parakeets
ParakeetCare.org - Parakeet Cages Pet
Helpful - How to Socialize Your Parakeet
Parrot Website - 25 Tricks to Teach Your Parrot