Parrot Care

Parrots as Pets (Part One)

This is part one of a three part series looking at all aspects of keeping parrots as pets.

Introduction
Parrots are stunning, intelligent birds, and they make fantastic and rewarding companions, however, they require a lot more thought and attention than a typical family pet.

This article takes you through some of the points to consider before purchasing a parrot, but it is only an overview, and you really should do thorough research on specific species and their requirements before taking the plunge and buying a parrot.


This article will concentrate on some of the characteristics of parrots that make them a challenging pet, and make clear the responsibilities you will face as an owner. The aim in not to put you off making a purchase, but to make sure that after the purchase you have a happy experience. Characteristics differ between species, and once you understand the implication of each characteristic it will help you select a parrot that you can take good care of.

We will look at:

  • Longevity
  • Size
  • Intelligence
  • Mimic skills
  • Noise
  • Cost
  • Cleaning requirements
  • Suitability of your location
  • Weaning
  • Legal requirements
  • Feeding

Disclaimer: my favorite is the cute little Meyers Parrot, and I am totally biased when I say you really should check this breed out when you are choosing your new pet!

Longevity
Some parrots live to be as old as 100 with larger species tending to live longer than smaller ones. Thus you need to either select a species that matches your lifestyle, or if your heart is set on a large parrot you need to make arrangements for its care in the event that you die. This is no easy task as older parrots as pets can develop behavioral issues when they are switched to a new owner, especially if they were not trained properly. It is your responsibility to raise your pet in a way that maximizes the chances of a smooth transition. Lifespans of 60 common species are indicated below:

Species Estimated
Lifespan (years)
Budgie 8
Lovebird 15
Lineolated Parakeet 12
Bourke’s Parakeet 12
Orange Fronted Conure 15
Half Moon Conure 15
Green Cheeked Conure 15
Mustached Parakeet 18
Plum Headed Parakeet 18
Derbyan Parakeet 18
Green Rumped Parrotlet 20
Pacific Parrotlet 20
Mexican Parrotlet 20
Green Naped Lorikeet 20
Dusky Conure 20
Blue Streaked Lorikeet 20
Black Capped Lorikeet 20
Chattering Lorikeet 20
Cockatiels 20
Jenday Conure 21
Sun Conure 22
Red Bellied Parrot 23
Senegal Parrot 23
Gold Cap Conure 23
Nanday Conure 25
Blue Crown Conure 25
Meyer’s Parrot 28
Alexandrine Parakeet 28
Caique 30
Hawk Headed Parrot 30
Jardine’s Parrot 30
Quaker Parrot 30
White Capped Pionus 40
Dusky Headed Pionus 40
Bronze Winged Pionus 40
Hahn’s Mini Macaw 40
Blue Headed Pionus 40
Maximilian Pionus 40
Cape Parrot 40
Uncape Parrot 40
Noble Mini Macaw 40
Yellow Collared Mini Macaw 40
Severe Mini Macaw 40
Eclectus Parrot 45
Illeger’s Mini Macaw 45
Lilac Crowned Amazon 50
White Fronted Amazon 50
Red Lored Amazon 50
Double Yellow Headed Amazon 50
Blue Fronted Amazon 50
Yellow Naped Amazon 50
African Grey 60
Cockatoo 80
Military Macaw 80
Blue and Gold Macaw 80
Catalina Macaw 80
Green Winged Macaw 80
Harlequin Macaw 80
Scarlet Macaw 80
Hyacinth Macaw 80

Size
The smallest parrot is the South Pacific Pygmy Parrot which measures just three and a half inches, the largest is the Hyacinth Macaw which measures just under 40 inches, and with over 370 species there are parrots of all different sizes in between.

hyacinth_macaw_parrots_as_pets

Obviously a large parrot requires a larger cage, and the process of choosing the appropriate cage is described here, but in summary it is best to buy the biggest cage that your budget allows. At a minimum the diameter at the most narrow point of any cage must be twice the parrot’s wing span, and the cage height should be at least double the height of the bird.

Don’t make the mistake of thinking that a smaller bird requires less attention or care, as this simply isn’t the case. Whilst smaller birds tend to live for shorter periods, they require all your love and attention during their lifespan and are just as intelligent as larger birds.

So the size of your parrot is a factor that you need consider in relation to the cost of the cage, and lifespan.

The height of 60 common species is presented below.

Species Height (inches)
Green Rumped Parrotlet 5
Pacific Parrotlet 5
Mexican Parrotlet 5
Lovebird 6
Lineolated Parakeet 6
Bourke’s Parakeet 8
Orange Fronted Conure 9
Red Bellied Parrot 9
Senegal Parrot 9
Meyer’s Parrot 9
White Capped Pionus 9
Half Moon Conure 9.5
Caique 9.5
Budgie 10
Green Cheeked Conure 10
Green Naped Lorikeet 10
Dusky Headed Pionus 10
Dusky Conure 11
Blue Streaked Lorikeet 11
Gold Cap Conure 11
Bronze Winged Pionus 11
Mustached Parakeet 12
Black Capped Lorikeet 12
Chattering Lorikeet 12
Jenday Conure 12
Sun Conure 12
Hawk Headed Parrot 12
Jardine’s Parrot 12
Hahn’s Mini Macaw 12
Blue Headed Pionus 12
Maximilian Pionus 12
Lilac Crowned Amazon 12
White Fronted Amazon 12
Plum Headed Parakeet 13
Cockatiels 13
Quaker Parrot 13
Cape Parrot 13
Uncape Parrot 13
Red Lored Amazon 13
Nanday Conure 14
Noble Mini Macaw 14
Eclectus Parrot 14
Double Yellow Headed Amazon 14
African Grey 14
Blue Fronted Amazon 15
Yellow Naped Amazon 15
Blue Crown Conure 16
Yellow Collared Mini Macaw 17
Illeger’s Mini Macaw 17
Cockatoo 18
Severe Mini Macaw 19
Derbyan Parakeet 20
Alexandrine Parakeet 23
Military Macaw 27
Blue and Gold Macaw 34
Catalina Macaw 34
Green Winged Macaw 34
Harlequin Macaw 34
Scarlet Macaw 34
Hyacinth Macaw 39

Related articles:

Parrots as Pets (Part Two).

Parrots as Pets (Part Three).


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