Do Parrots Make Great Pets? What You Need to Know!


Parrots are one of the most popular domesticated birds in the world. These tropical feathered fowl awe onlookers with exotic beauty, unmatched intelligence, and larger-than-life personalities. But are they a great fit for your household?

All parrots differ with needs and require special care, but they all have one thing in common—they are a big commitment for owners. Let’s discuss a few well-known parents and learn what it’s like to own one, too.

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Common Pet Parrots

Here’s a list of a few parrots you can choose from if you’re shopping around for your next bird.

1. African Grey

African Grey Parrot holding a leaf
Image Credit: Daniel Albany, Pixabay
Personality: Sharp, calm, gentle, intelligent
Lifespan: 20-25 years
Size: 13 inches
Care Level: Intermediate
Suitable for: Single owners, homebodies
Price: $1,000-$1,500

African greys are one of the most intelligent animals on the planet, ranking with great superiority over other birds. Some professionals have compared their intelligence to that of human children. Gentle and reserved, these parrots are top favorites for bird lovers everywhere.

These birds require much attention and training. Since they have such hard-working brains, they require mental stimulation continuously. Be ready to have long training sessions, spend lots of one-on-one time with them, and challenge them daily.

Some outlive their owners or get passed to different homes. While this can happen to any bird, African greys form intense bonds with their owners—so rehoming can be very mentally damaging.

Fun Fact: African Grays have intelligence comparable to a 6-year-old child.


2. Macaw

macaw parrot perching
Image Credit: Richard Bernico, Pixabay
Personality: Playful, active, talkative
Lifespan: 60-80 years
Size: 2-3 feet
Care Level: Intermediate
Suitable for: Multi-person households, patient owners
Price: $1,000-$5,000

Many claim macaws are a little challenging to handle but definitely worth the trouble. These parrots are highly vocal, so they aren’t suitable picks for people who don’t like all that extra noise. However, if you don’t mind the squawks, these guys will fill your day with companionship.

These birds grow to be incredibly attached to their owners. They love being in on all the drama and gossip in the household—but be careful what you tell them. No secret is safe. They’ll shout it out for the neighbors to hear.

In all seriousness, this parrot is as lovely as it is charismatic. The macaw might be too large for some households, but they truly are amazing birds if you have space.

Fun Fact: In the popular animated movie Rio, Blue (played by Jesse Eisenburg) was an endangered blue macaw.


3. Cockatoo

Umbrella Cockatoo
Image Credit: Nigel Dowsett, Shutterstock
Personality: Fun-loving, goofy, spirited
Lifespan: 10-50 years
Size: 12-14 inches
Care Level: Intermediate
Suitable for: Active households, older children
Price: $500-$3,000

Cockatoos are a pretty recognizable parrot—with their flashy headdress feathers and all. Their combs have hints of yellow, but they have snow-white bodies and cheerful expressions.

Once a cockatoo gets attached to its family—forget the rest. These birds are highly social and even pretty decent with strangers or company. Cockatoos are incredibly goofy and spontaneous, creating laughter and smiles wherever they go.

Because they are ornery to the core, they do require a patient owner—and one who has no sense of personal space. These birds will stay attached to you at all times and follow you around just like your dog does.

Fun Fact: Cockatoos are often called Velcro birds, meaning they want to be attached to you at all times.


4. Cockatiel

Cockatiel in a branch
Image Credit: jlkramer, Pixabay
Personality: Peaceful, cheery, good-natured
Lifespan: 10-14 years
Size: 12-14 inches
Care Level: Easy
Suitable for: Single owners, multi-person households
Price: $80-$150

If you’re looking for a beginner-friendly parrot, the cockatiel is one of the most docile parrot-type birds you can own. These guys are rather quiet and easy to have out of the cage. They will happily sit on your finger or shoulder while you go about your day.

They work well in groups or pairs, forming strong bonds with each other as well as their humans. They are also much smaller than most parrots, meaning you don’t have to worry about such a large enclosure taking up space in your home.

Cockatiels are low-maintenance. You have to ensure you feed them correctly and offer appropriate housing, but they are otherwise a cakewalk—requiring daily attention but not endless hours of time. They can make fabulous pets for all ages above six.

Fun Fact: Cockatiels are very talented whistlers, learning to mimic many songs.


5.  Conure

Cinnamon Green-Cheeked Conure front view_Jida Xiu_Shutterstock
Image Credit: Jida Xiu, Shutterstock
Personality: Feisty, social, talkative
Lifespan: 30 years
Size: 10-12 inches
Care Level: Beginner/Intermediate
Suitable for: Large families, busy households
Price: $375-$500

Conures can be some of the most rewarding pet parrots. They have all the perks of the larger parrots in a compact size. These brave birds take on the world despite their small stature, and they can be quite vocal about that when they want to be.

They are a little saucy from time to time—being very particular and somewhat moody (especially with strangers). But most of the time, they’re outgoing and curious birds who love participating in all the action around the house.

Conures might be the chihuahua of the bird world, but they will warm your heart with their love and affection.

Fun Fact: There are over 100 different species in the conure family, making them one of the most versatile breeds.


6. Budgerigars

budgie birds
Image Credit: baby_bimi, Pixabay
Personality: Sweet, docile, chipper
Lifespan: 5-8 years
Size: 7 inches
Care Level: Beginner
Suitable for: First-time owners, responsible children
Price: $25-$150

Budgerigars, also known as parakeets, are one of the first birds a person might own. The earlier you own your budgie, the more they will form a strong bond with you. They are generally very sweet and docile—and they love singing you songs on the daily.

If you don’t properly socialize your parakeet, they can be a little flighty or fidgety, especially when handling them. The key is to spend as much time with them as possible, introducing them slowly to your lifestyle.

Once your budgie feels at home, they will shower you with affection and whistle you lots of love songs. These soft-hearted birds are a pleasure for all age groups.

Fun Fact: If a budgie has a blue cere on their beak, that means they are a boy—if it’s brown, you have a girl!


7. Parrotlet

green rumped parrotlet
Image Credit: Chelsea Sampson, Shutterstock
Personality: Independent, affectionate, headstrong
Lifespan: 15-20 years
Size: 5 inches
Care Level: Intermediate
Suitable for: Single owners
Price: $100 to $400

A parrotlet is an ideal choice for someone looking for all of the wonderful traits of standard parrots—only miniature-sized. They are bossy but lovable in their own way.

Parrotlets need daily attention. This is not the kind of bird you can get out of a cage once a week. If you don’t socialize and bond with your parrotlet, it can become angry and destructive.

If you’re looking for a mini parrot with a fiery personality and lots of affection to dole out, the parrotlet is for you—as long as you can commit to their somewhat high-maintenance needs.

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Owning a Pet Parrot

Before you commit to buying a parrot, you should know about overall care as much as you can. Here are some environmental and dietary aspects to consider.

Enclosure

You know what they say—birds aren’t meant to be caged. That being said, all parrot owners have to offer a safe place their birds can call their own.

As far as size goes, all bird cages should be taller than they are wide. Smaller parrots, like budgies, need an enclosure that is at least 12” x 18”. However, like a macaw, a giant bird needs a habitat roughly 34” x 26”.

All parrots benefit from perches. This allows them to observe all of the odd goings-on around the house.

An African Grey Parrot
Image Credit: abramsarai, Pixabay

Diet

Most parrots are omnivorous, meaning they eat lots of plant matter—and sometimes insects or worms. Each species will have its own specialized dietary favorites and portion recommendations.

Here are some birdie delights:

Raw or steamed veggies

  • Darky, leafy greens
  • Broccoli
  • Chicory
  • Chard
  • Parsley
  • Sweet potato
  • Carrots
  • Pumpkin
  • Dandelion greens

This is box title

  • Apples
  • Bananas
  • Papaya
  • Citrus
  • Mango
  • Pomegranate
  • Grapes
Gray Macaw Side view_Pixabay
Image Credit: Torfi007, Pixabay

Legume sprouts

  • Garbanzo beans
  • Red lentils
  • Buckwheat groats
  • Mung beans

Cooked whole grains

  • Brown rice
  • Spelt
  • Kamut
  • Barley

 

Just as there are plenty of scrumptious food choices, there are many to stay away from. You should never feed your parrot certain food items.

Toxic Foods

  • Avocado
  • Tapioca
  • Chocolate
  • Peanuts
  • Pits or seeds
  • Meat

Parrots require most of their protein from whole grain sources. Always follow specific guidelines on the exact species you own since menu items and amounts vary between parrots.

Health

Traditional veterinarians who treat dogs and cats often don’t specialize in treating exotic animals, like parrots. Before you bring home your parrot, you should secure an exotic vet around your area.

Like any other pet, your parrot should have a routine exam annually. Your vet can check them out, making sure everything is functioning correctly. If there are any noticeable health issues present, you can handle them before further development.

Parrots can suffer from a variety of ailments. It’s important to know what they are and what to look for symptomatically.

yellow crested cockatoo
Image Credit: Martin Pelanek, Shutterstock

Grooming

When it comes to bathing, birds take a very hands-off approach. Just place some lukewarm water in a small container that they can’t tip over, and let your parrot go buck wild. They will splash around, preening themselves without assistance. It might be one of their favorite activities!

However, you do have some grooming responsibilities. It’s your job to make sure their nails, beak, and flight feathers are trimmed to perfection.

Training

You can train your parrots to do all sorts of tricks, and they respond well to commands. They need some time out of their enclosure every day to interact and play.

You can encourage good exercise and training by encouraging wing beating, climbing, and mimicking.

Parrotlet Standing_Ear Iew Boo_Shutterstock
Image Credit: Ear Iew Boom, Shutterstock

Breeding

If you plan to breed your parrot, it’s absolutely essential for the well-being of all involved to know exactly what you’re doing. Even having an experienced person guide you through can be an excellent way to familiarize yourself.

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FAQs

Where can I buy a parrot?

Where you purchase a parrot depends on what kind you’re looking for. Many common parrot types wait in pet shops for their forever homes. Others come from breeders that specialize in the species.

What parrots are best for first-time owners?

While only you can decide what parrot works best for you, some are beginner-friendly, while others are much more challenging to own. The best parrots for beginners include cockatiels, budgies, and conures.

Are parrots hard to take care of?

If you lack experience, some parrots can be quite tricky to learn to care for. They are emotional creatures that thrive on companionship as much as they do on environment and diet. One of the most challenging things to ensure is that they have enough to do.

Bored, lonely birds can turn into squawking, aggressive, nervous creatures.

Is owning a parrot expensive?

Owning a pet parrot can be expensive, depending on the supplies you buy and the type of parrot you own. For example, a macaw will be pricier to feed than a small conure.

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Parrots as Pets: Final Thoughts

As you can see, there are plenty of stunning parrots you can choose from. Some are high maintenance while others are straightforward to take care of—it depends on the species.

When it comes to owning a parrot, compatibility is the most significant factor. Consider lifespan, essential care, and affordability before you commit.


Featured Image Credit: robert84ak, Pixabay



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