When many people think of a parakeet as a pet, the small budgie parakeet (Budgerigar) is often the kind that comes to mind. The budgie is one of the most popular parakeet species. Besides being very friendly and playful, it is hardy and easy to care for, and one of the least expensive types of parakeets.
A great experience with a budgie parakeet often leads to becoming a bird enthusiast, and a desire to explore other exotic parakeets from the Psittacidae family.
No matter what kind of parakeet you get though, they all have some characteristics in common. All types of parakeets will stay very busy. They will be on the go, climbing and flying from perch to perch, chewing on toys and chewing on anything else they can reach.
Parakeets are intelligent little birds and they are generally easy to tame. They are relatively good at learning to talk and adept at learning tricks. Most exotic parakeets are also fairly easy to breed, and many can be sexed by sight. Once a pair is harmonious, many types of parakeet will bond with their mate for life.
Parakeets in the wild live in many diverse habitats. They are found throughout Australia, Asia, tropical and subtropic regions of Africa, Central and South America. Though all parakeets belong to the family the Psittacidae, the parakeet genera are found in various parrot sub-families.
In the pet industry, some of the Central and South American parakeets are more commonly known as conures. In the scientific world birds may be included as parakeets, or they may be included in with conures. This varies between different avian experts so it can get confusing. Many of the types of conures belong in the genus Aratinga. But even in this genus, there is some disagreement among ornithologists as to the number of species and subspecies. It ranges between 15 to 21 species and 55 to 57 subspecies!
There is a very wide variety of parakeets. The types of parakeets consist of about 120 species with many sub-species.
Parakeets are small to medium sized parrots. They vary in size from about 7" up to 18" (18-45 cm) in length.
Parakeets are very colorful birds. The exact color range is dependent on the types of parakeets but their feathers can be brilliant. Colors range from lush greens to brilliant yellow, reds and oranges, blues and more.
The word "Parakeet" means long tail, these birds generally have slender bodies and long, tapered tail feathers. They have a hooked upper bill that they use to climb, hold things, or to dig. They also use their beak to chew, break seeds, and peel fruit.
Most parakeets have an unfeathered cere at the top of their beak that surrounds their nostrils. The coloration of the cere on some parakeets, such as the Budgerigar, is different for the male and the female making it easy to sex them.
Parakeets are fairly intelligent birds. Each species has its own set of calls with some birds being quite adept at mimicking sounds they hear. Some will repeat words, phrases and even whistle.
How Long Do Parakeets Live :
Pet parakeets are known to live longer than parakeets in the wild. The average life span of parakeets is unknown on most species. But the question, how long do parakeets live, can be answered with some generalities.
It is known that some of the smaller parakeets such as the Budgie Parakeet or Budgerigar, the Bourke's Parakeet, and the Elegant Parakeet may reach about 10 years.
The larger parakeets such as the Ringneck Parakeet and the Regent Parakeet may reach up to 25 years.
Care and feeding:
Parakeet food consisting of a good seed mixture supplemented with sprouted seed, various fruits, green foods, commercial pellets, millet spray (for small parakeets), and for some, occasional mealworms are generally regarded suitable. Different seed mixes for parakeets are available, depending on its size and the strength of its bill.
Foods available for Parakeets include formulated diets, either pelleted or extruded, seed mixes, and Parakeet mixes which offer a mixture of both pelleted food and seeds. There are pros and cons to feeding only a formulated diet as well as feeding only a seed diet.
A formulated diet provides a good nutritional base so does not require the addition of vitamins, however it does not contain the phytonutrients (antioxidant pigments) that are found in vegetables, fruits, grains, and seeds.
Phytonutrients are believed to boost the immune system, help a body to heal itself, and to prevent some diseases. Also parakeets can become bored with it due to the lack of variety.
A seed only diet offers much more variety but requires additional vitamin and calcium supplements. Parakeets need not only nutritional requirements met but also variety for psychological enrichment.
There are parakeet seed mixes for birds the size of a budgerigar. A single small parakeet will eat about two tablespoons of seed a day and a half a cup of fruits and vegetables.
Cockatiel mixes are for birds that are a bit bigger than the small budgie parakeet size. A medium sized parakeet will eat about three tablespoons of seed a day and 3/4 cup of fruits and vegetables.
Conure and small parrot mixes work well for the larger parakeets. A larger parakeet will eat about four tablespoons of seed a day and a cup of fruits and vegetables
Supplements are very important and can be put in an extra dish and rotated for variety.
Fruits and Veggetables:
Some of the supplemental fruits include apples, grapes, bananas, pears, cherries, mangos, oranges, papaya, melons, peaches, and berries. Many garden vegetables that are good include spinach, watercress, field lettuce, poppy, chickweed, dandelions, carrots, corn on the cob, peas, zucchini, green peppers, endive, and sweet potatoes.
Additional proteins can be offered on rare occasions and definitely when your parakeets are brooding. Some proteins are cottage cheese, hard boiled eggs, peanuts, monkey chow, and even dog food.
Foods to Avoid: Do not feed avocado as it can be toxic to birds. Other foods that are indigestible to birds are raw and green potatoes, all the cabbage family, grapefruit, lemons, plumbs, rhubarb, and dried fruits that have been treated with sulphur dioxide.
Vitamins can be added to the drinking water or the food about 2 or 3 times a week, offer sparingly or not at all if they are being offered a wide range of other supplements.
A cuttlebone or mineral block is important for their beak. Bird sand or gravel and oyster shell provides important minerals and can be offered in a separate dish.
Give your parakeet fresh drinking water every day. You can also add soluble vitamins and minerals to the water.
Different species prefer different kinds of baths and some do not want a bath at all. The personal hygiene of your parakeet - for those species that like it - can include a bath or shower two or three times a week to help keep it's plumage in good shape. Bathing can be accomplished with either a flat earthenware dish that your bird can step into and use it's beak to throw water on itself, or by spraying your bird with a light mist of lukewarm water. Use either a hand held shower sprayer or a hose with a fine spray head.
The wings should be kept trim if you want to discourage flight and to prevent the loss of your pet through an open window or door.
The beak needs to be trimmed if it becomes overgrown or deformed. There are many mineral blocks, lava blocks, and other beak grooming items available at your pet store to help your bird keep it's beak in shape.
A variety of concrete type perches are also available to help keep the nails trim, but they should be trimmed if they become overgrown. Bird nail trimmers and styptic powder to stop the bleeding are also available at pet shops and online.
You can find parakeet food, parakeet cages, everything you need for your pet: Bird Supplies
Parakeets in the wild are fast, long distance flyers and need a home that provides them with room to fly and exercise. As a general rule, the larger the cage, the happier your parakeet. Parakeets kept in a cage need to be let out for exercise daily.
As a minimum, parakeet cages should be large enough so that the bird's head does not touch the top, its tail does not touch the bottom, and it has enough room for unrestricted movements.
Small Parakeet Cages:
A cage for a pair of small parakeets should be at least 39"x20"x32" (100x50x80 cm).
Medium and Large Parakeet Cages:
A cage for a pair of medium parakeets should be at least 59"x32"x59" (150x80x150 cm) and bigger still for the larger species.
These sizes will provide room for lots of movement as well as horizontal exercise and vertical climbing. This also provides space for perches, food dishes and a variety of playthings. You will need dishes for food, water, treats, and grit.
Provide two perches starting at 1/2" (12 mm) for the smallest parakeets, with larger diameters for larger birds. Perches can be round or square as well as various sized fruit tree branches. Natural perches from willow, poplar and fruit trees are good for the bird's feet and for it's beak. The gnawing it will do on the perches will also alleviate your pet's boredom. Place one perch up high for roosting and one low by the food, water, and grit dishes.
Where to Place Cockatiel Cages:
Place the cage where it will be away from harmful fumes and drafts. Keep the cage well ventilated and have good lighting. Most parakeets need a humidity level of 60 to 70% and 12 hours of daylight. To provide you pet with a sense of security, you can cover the cage at night.
An aviary is ideal for parakeets as they need to fly. The longer and wider space is, the happier the parakeet. Be sure there are horizontal bars for climbing as well. Spacing of the bars for the smaller species starts at 1/2" (12 mm) with up to 3/4" (20 mm) for the larger parakeets.
An indoor aviary is a cage set up in a room. A good size for two small pairs is 47"x32"x67" (120x80x170 cm). When estimating the amount of room they need to fly figure about 21 square feet per bird, with more space for larger birds or flocks.
A bird room is an inside aviary with sand or corn cob covering a tiled floor.
An outdoor or breeding aviary needs to have a protected shelter that can be heated and cooled where necessary. The aviary will need plenty of perches or branches.
Plants are both attractive and functional, but beware of poisonous plants as well as plants with spines or thorns. Some poisonous plants and woods include: laburnum, acacia, rhododendron, boxwood, buckthorn, cherry, horse chestnut, privet and oleander.
The basic cage care includes daily cleaning of the water and food dishes. Weekly you should wash all the perches and dirty toys, and the floor should be washed about every other week. A total hosing down and disinfecting of an aviary should be done yearly, replacing anything that needs to be freshened, such as old dishes, toys and perches.
Parakeets are very social with good personalities. They are friendly to people and like lots of attention and handling. Both males and females make equally good pets.
Parakeets are flock oriented birds, which contributes to their needing a full-time companion. It is best if you can keep them in pairs or in small flocks. Pairs of breeders should be housed separately, however, as many species become aggressive during this time.
Tamin and training parakeets is pretty easy. Parakeets become accustom to their new environment fairly rapidly. Consequently very little time is required for parakeet training, they can quickly become easy to handle. Repetition, patience and time are the keys to successful parakeet training!Activities:
Exercise and play are important activities for the physical well being and psychological health of your parakeet. Being designed for long distance flying, parakeets need to fly! If you keep your parakeet in a cage, you should let it out to fly a couple of hours each day.
They also love to climb and chew! Natural perches and fresh twigs from willow, elder, poplar, chestnut, linden, hawthorn, and fruit trees work well for this, as does knotted hemp rope. Provide your parakeet with lots of activities! Parakeet toys and other playthings they will enjoy include climbing ropes, wooden ladders, chains, bells, parrot swings, and wooden or other bird safe toys.
Parakeet breeding of many species is relatively easily. The sexing of parakeets is easily done by sight for some species, but not for all. An example of this is the Budgie Parakeet. The color of the cere on the Budgerigar male is different than that of the female. Many parakeets will mate for life and are monogamous. Pairs of parakeet breeders should be housed separately from other parakeets as many species can become aggressive during breeding time.
Parakeets, depending on the species, become sexually mature between 5 and 36 months. Most species will lay in a nesting box. Offer two nest boxes per pair of birds. When breeding parakeets (and when they are molting), you need to increase their vitamin supplements. Also during breeding, increase fatty seeds to about 20% and provide additional proteins such as hard boiled eggs and soaked white bread. Keep the temperature between 55Â?°- 65Â?°F. Humidity needs to be raised to 80% just before the eggs are hatched
Most female parakeets will lay one egg every two days, and start sitting after the second egg has been layed. Generally the female sits on the eggs and is fed by the male. It takes approximately 20 days for the eggs to hatch, and about 4 or 5 weeks for the young to leave the nest. The young parakeets will be independent a few weeks after that.