Within the fabulous world of birds there are hundreds of species, but not all of them can be kept at home. However, one of the most loved by bird watchers is the parrot, a perfect companion animal.

Types of parrots and grouse

What’s a parrot?

In the past all types of parrots were grouped into a single family, known as Psittacidae, but due to the enormous variants that have emerged over the years and the subfamilies, gradually the name psittacoidea was left to the common parrot. These are spread over the different continents, each one with a characteristic that makes them unique.

As a general rule, parrots measure between 30 and 40 centimetres, have a curved beak with a lower jaw with some mobility and a large cranial capacity, which makes them one of the most intelligent birds along with the agapornis. They are very good flyers and can grab the branches of the trees and climb them with great skill thanks to the claws of their legs.

parrots looking

The intense coloration of the feather is another characteristic of the parrot. Generally the predominant colour is green, but in some species they have other shades such as blue, red or yellow. Most species are monogamous, walking in tree cavities or as in tunnels dug out.

Some species can mimic a wide range of sounds, including the human voice, which has earned them a great reputation among bird lovers.

The life expectancy of a parrot, how long is it?

Compared to other birds that live in captivity, parrots are actually animals that are quite long-lived. Although life expectancy depends on the species of parrot it is.

For example, a macaw parrot can reach 100 years of life if it is cared for, although its average life expectancy is usually 80 years. If it is a cockatoo, it usually lives between 60 and 20 years, while grey parrots and amazons usually live 50 years. In the case of the conuros the hope is usually about 30 years.

posing parrot

Although it is a long life expectancy, 70% does not reach the maximum life expectancy, due to pollution of the city environment, poor nutrition or accidents while walking around the house, such as biting a cable, banging on a window pane….

The parrot as a pet, is it good?

Parrots have been pets of humans for many years. But, to the big question if a parrot is better than any other animal, the answer would be yes.

Of course parrots have their character and can sometimes be very aggressive if they see it necessary. In addition, they may develop preferences for some types of people, which may lead to them developing a behavioral problem that may lead them to act in one way or another in order to attract attention. In the case of having a parrot for the whole family, you have to be very careful that it only shows affection with one member of the family.

green parrot

It should also be noted that a parrot is not an animal intended for young children, as they do not have sufficient knowledge and skills to care for it. The parrot must always be in the care of an adult who can meet its needs.

Female or male, how should I know?

When you want to have a parrot at home, it’s normal to want to know if it’s male or female, especially if you’re thinking about parrot breeding.

Normally, females are a little more aggressive than male parrots, so observing the behavior of the parrot would be easy to distinguish. But if this is not enough, you can see the size and color of their feathers. When they are adults, the males are larger than the female, especially the head, in terms of colors, have brighter and more colorful tones than those of the females.

four birds

Of course the simplest way would be through the parrot’s pelvis, since females have their pelvic bones further apart to lay their eggs.

Choosing the right place for your cage

Before thinking about buying a parrot, first of all you need to know if you have a suitable place in the house where to place your cage. Many novice owners make a big mistake by misplacing their parrot’s cage, which is why they live much less time.

The first thing to consider is height. The cage should be located at about the same height as the owner’s eyes. For what reason? If the cage is too high, the bird will look down when it goes to receive its owner, which will make it believe it has the singing voice in the home and will not tolerate being disturbed or “punished” when it does something that its owner does not like. Instead, if he is below the eyes, he can understand that he is the one who is dominated and has to obey.

cage of a bird

That’s why it’s best to be at a point similar to your eye level, so that you feel on an equal footing with your new owner. In the event that the parrot is very aggressive or dominant, you can lower the cage to understand that it is not in control. However, care should be taken if you have other animals at home, as it is a very frightening animal, so the cage should also be at the height necessary to which dogs or cats can not reach.

The cage should also be located in a place where it receives the right amount of necessary sunlight. It is not a good idea to give it directly, except for one hour a day at the most, and it should also be a place where it does not receive strong currents of air during the winter and can be quiet, away from noise. Therefore, places such as balconies or kitchens are completely forbidden. The living room can be a good place, especially because they like to watch TV and can learn a word by watching the shows.

In addition, when they gain confidence with the family, the parrots consider the humans in the house their’flock’, and must be located close to where the vast majority of the family activity takes place.

Choosing a cage, what is there to know?

Since you already know you have a good place to place your parrot, now it’s time to buy the cage, which is important to be big enough for the parrot.

If you are going to buy a small parrot, a cage of 40x37x45 centimeters will suffice if you are going to be alone and 60x42x50 centimeters if you are going to be in pairs. For a medium sized parrot, a 70x60x80 centimeter cage and a 100x80x120 centimeter cage will suffice if accompanied. Finally, for a large parrot, the cage has to be 90x80x100 centimeters if it is going to be alone and 120x100x150 centimeters in the case of choosing two parrots.

cage of parrots

In terms of shape, it’s best to make it rectangular. Many people think that a circular cage is the best thing for a parrot, but the truth is that they don’t like this type of cage at all, not even those shaped like a “little house” because they can’t hold on to the bars. The bars should be no more than 1 – 2 centimeters apart to prevent them from sticking their heads in and getting stuck together.

And what does the parrot have to have in its cage? Although many cages are already equipped with toys, it is best to remove them all and install a few fresh branches of trees so that they can be bitten or set down. A couple of wooden hangers help them to sand their nails, as well as having other objects such as a plush toy with which to fix their feathers, a bell, a rope… From time to time we will have to change the toys so that the parrot does not get bored of always being with the same toy.

Cleaning the cage, which products to use?

At least a couple of times a week, the floor of the cage should be cleaned to remove faeces and food debris from the parrot, and three times a month it should be thoroughly cleaned. However, what kind of products should be used?

bird in nature

  • Bleach: One of the most common disinfectants, and one of the most effective to kill all types of viruses, fungi and bacteria. Ideal for cleaning the floor of the cage into which the faeces fall. However, it should be noted that when mixed with water its disinfectant power is reduced up to 200 times, so it is best to apply it directly, let the cage dry well for a few hours while the parrot moves around the house.
  • Phenols: You may not use them much, but phenol-based disinfectants are also very good at killing bacteria. They are especially good for cleaning the walls and floor of the cage.
  • Ammonia: Another very good product to kill viruses and bacteria that may be reproducing. Once you have cleaned the cage well is when you need to apply it and then remove it with a little water and let the cage dry at room temperature, to make sure you have finished with all the bacteria.
  • Formaldehyde: One of the best disinfectants available for cleaning parrot cages. However, to apply it, it must be done in a well-ventilated room, with the parrots outside the cage. Once the cage has been cleaned, allow it to dry for about two to three hours.

You can follow these simple steps for proper disinfection:

  • Clean and remove all the dirt from the cage, rinse it with clean water and then disinfect it with the disinfectant of your choice.
  • Apply the disinfectant all over the cage to leave it clean of viruses and bacteria.
  • The parrot must be outside the room where the cleaning is being done.
  • The room in which it is cleaned must be well ventilated and rubber gloves must be worn to avoid danger.
  • After about 15 minutes after applying the disinfectant, rinse everything with water and allow it to dry at room temperature before storing the parrot back inside.

Being a friend of the parrot, what’s to be done?

Once the parrot arrives home, it is normal to feel a little intimidated. They are locked in a cage in an unfamiliar area and at first may seem very fearful, which leads to them being aggressive.

So what can be done to establish links with the parrot?

  • Looking away: When you look directly at a bird, you feel threatened. So when you’re going to make first contact, look away when the bird is looking at you. Once the bird is staring at its master, it must also be looked at directly.
  • Become a statue: Sometimes the parrot stands still when its owner is looking at it. In that case, you must also be a statue and remain still, longer than this one.
  • Blinking: Parrots don’t blink when they’re scared. Therefore, the owner must send you a series of messages to gain your trust. If the parrot is frightened when you look at it, you have to blink. If the parrot blinks again, it shows confidence.

Taking the parrot out of the cage, is it dangerous?

The truth is that many owners raise their parrots freely around the house, so it’s not really dangerous. However, when he’s been in his cage for a while, there can be danger.

Before you can get him out of it you have to have a lot of trust with one of the family members. Along with body language, one way to gain their trust is to feed them by hand, like agapornis and parakeets. She may bite at first, so it is advisable to feed her with gloves. In the event of an attack, do not remove your hand, as this will make you feel in control. You also have to be very careful, because you may learn to get out of the cage on your own.

Once you have their trust, the parrot will eat by the hand and even land on your arm. Once this is done, he can be removed from the cage or let himself out. At first, it should be left loose in the room where the cage is, with the windows closed, so that you can stretch your wings and get to know your surroundings. Later you can let him explore the rest of the house.

To get him back in his cage, he can use his favorite food as bait and when he gets hungry he can go home himself. You should avoid feeding him food outside the cage, because then he may not want to go back to the cage.

What diseases can a parrot have?

Like all other pets, the parrot is not free from disease. It is true that if you take good care of him, you don’t have to suffer from it, but you should never let your guard down. The most common are:

gray bird

  • Abnormal plumage molt: Parrots molt their plumage, but do not have a specific season to molt like other birds. It is normal for feathers to fall on their own to make way for new ones, but you may find that you are pulling out your own feathers, leaving parts of your body bare or wounded. If you notice this behaviour, take it to your vet as soon as possible.
  • French moult of the plumage: The prancean moult is a disease produced by a pathogenic agent called Polyomavirus. It is passed from parent to child through food regurgitation and sometimes leads to the death of the animal. The parrot loses its wing and tail feathers, has edema under the skin and abdominal distention.
  • Pneumonia: If the parrot’s cage is not properly located and often receives strong air currents, it will end up suffering from pneumonia, which will lead to leggy eyes, nasal secretions and noisy breathing.
  • Parasites: Just because the parrot is protected behind bars does not mean that it is free from the attack of parasites, both internal and external. The external ones can be the mites of the environment or even lice, which will cause restlessness and nervousness to the animal, with feathers falling and will not stop scratching. In this case, they should be periodically de-wormed. If you are an inmate, you should talk quickly with your vet to find out what treatment to follow.
  • Colibacillosis: It is a disease produced by the bacterium Escherichia Coli, which is transmitted by direct contact with an infected bird. It is the leading cause of death for these birds. Among the different symptoms, the parrot will be tired, despondent, lose its appetite and be very restless. The sick animal must be isolated and maintain a thorough hygiene of its cage, changing the trough and drinker daily, in addition to a series of antibiotics to fight infection.
  • Coccidiosis: This disease is caused by an infestation of internal parasites known as coccidiosis. These can enter the pet’s body through ingestion of contaminated food or water. Among the different symptoms, the parrot will suffer from diarrhea, which may be watery and accompanied by blood, and will feel depressed and tired.
  • Salmonellosis: This is caused by the bacterium Salmonella Typhimutium, which enters the body through contaminated food or water. The bird will have inflammation, diarrhea with very bad odor and lesions on several of its organs. It is necessary to go to the veterinarian quickly to prescribe the treatment for its cure.

Feeding the parrot, what is there to give him?

As a general rule, the ideal diet of a parrot is composed of vegetables and fruits as the main component along with some dry food.

The fruits must be given based on the sucrose and glucose content. Those that are rich in sucrose, such as bananas, peaches or melons, do not have to be eaten more than two or three times a week, especially bananas which are also very rich in glucose, being much superior to other types of fruit. You also have to be very careful with mangoes, cherries and grapes because of their glucose content. When you give fruit to it, you should make it a small assortment, because if you give it piece by piece, you may end up hating it.

head of a parrot

Vegetables do form a large part of the diet of these animals. The green vegetables you can eat are spinach, broccoli, chard or escarole. You may get lettuce, but not often because it can cause diarrhea. If you choose roots, give them carrots, garlic or radishes. Other foods that can be given are artichoke flowers and cauliflower, tomato or red pepper.

Although fruit and vegetables are very good for the bird, it also has to eat dry food for an ideal diet. In this case, you should choose a quality feed, depending on the size and species of the parrot.

In addition, by giving it to them in smaller amounts, they can also be given other foods such as pasta, legumes such as chickpeas or lentils, a mixture of seeds, cereals such as rice or oat flakes, strips of boiled chicken or fish (not very often), unsalted whole grain bread, boiled potato, boiled egg, or homemade crackers that do not contain animal fat.

As you can see, a parrot eats almost everything. However, there are a number of foods that are totally prohibited for these animals, such as sweets because of their high industrial sugar content, salted foods, avocado (deadly to parrots), coffee, parsley, milk (unless fermented), or unboiled pumpkin and potato. All of these foods should be out of the parrot’s reach when out of the cage.

Helping him raise, how do you do it?

Parrots as such have been living with humans for more than 15,000 years, being one of the oldest companion animals along with cats and dogs. Taking care of them can be easy, but what about raising them? In this case you have to put in a little more of it to get them to reproduce.

natural bird

In these cases, it is necessary to be more careful, taking into account a series of very important factors. To begin with, at the time of reproduction the female and male should be calm and feel safe, so if you have a cage with plenty of birds, it is best to move them to another module so that no one disturbs them. In addition, they must be well fed, so that the eggs receive the necessary nutrients.

The nest should be located in a high place. You can buy one in a specialized shop or give the parrots the necessary equipment to make it. Once they have it, the female will stand on the nest and may lay between 3 and 6 eggs. After an average of 23 days, sometimes 25, the chicks are born without being able to fend for themselves. So you have to provide the parents with everything they need to take care of them.

exotic birds

When the chick has one and a half months to live, it leaves the nest, and from two months on, it begins to become more independent. At this age, the parrot must be separated from its parents so that it can begin to fend for itself, so it is advisable to have a module in the cage for the young.

Teaching the parrot to speak, what is there to say?

The reason why many people end up buying a parrot as a pet is because they like to hear it talk. And it’s no wonder, since parrots have a great capacity to assimilate sounds and then repeat them. However, it is not an easy task at all.

To begin with, you need to know that males are better at talking than females, and their singing and vocalization skills are better. For him to learn to speak, he must be in perfect health and be a young specimen.

speaking parrot

Ready to teach the parrot how to talk? Well, for that, you have to earn your trust first. This can be achieved by giving you a place to play and plenty of activities to do, while being in contact with your owner. But you have to be patient, as it may take a while to get in touch with the owner. If you try to get him out of the cage, which will help him to gain confidence with you, he may try to escape the first time, in this case you should never try to capture him or yell at him to get him back in the cage. It is best to leave it to your own devices, closing doors and windows, so that you can explore the environment and, when you get tired, return to the cage.

Once you have earned his trust, it is time to start teaching him to speak. The best time of day for this is in the morning or at dusk. The first words to teach him are some that are easy to relate to an action, such as “eat” when you give him a treat, “I love you” when you caress his neck, or “good day” at dawn. To do this, you have to repeat the word along with the action so that it is recorded daily, which can take a week or a month. For example, if you want her to say “rich” after eating, while you give her her favorite treat, she repeats “rich” for about 5 – 10 minutes, and so on every day until she repeats it.

If the parrot is very easy to learn, you can teach it some more complicated words, such as the name of your favorite treats or the name of one of the family members. In addition, she can be taught to obey an order, such as “get in” to sit on her hand or “go to sleep” when it’s time to go to bed so she can go back to her cage alone.

Doesn’t look so hard, does it? However, there are many parrots who never learn to speak, although they are able to imitate some sounds they hear through the television, as well as the doorbell or the telephone, even the whistle of a microwave or the singing of other birds. In these cases you can teach them a tune.

The most important thing for the parrot to learn is perseverance and not giving up on the first day. You have to work a little with him every day, leaving him time to rest between lessons so that he doesn’t feel stressed.

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