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What to consider before purchasing a parakeet?

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A parakeet (or commonly refer to as a budgie in the US; though it is just one of many species of parakeets), as with any house pet will require numerous things.

First, you will need a good-sized cage. Most of the bird cages sold as “parakeet cages” are far too small.  A small, active bird like a parakeet would fare much better in a flight cage, which gives them room to fly from one side of the cage to the other, as opposed to one that is very tall. Never consider to getting a round cage as they are dangerous and they tend to feel uncomfortable in them.

You will need an adequate supply of food. A good pellet should be the basis, combined with some seeds, and plenty of fresh vegetables and fruit. Water is obviously a must as well. It’s best to train your bird to use a water feeder bottle, as that will keep them from making “pellet soup,” or otherwise they will soil or poop will get into their water bowls.

You will need plenty of toys of an appropriate size parakeet. While mirrors are a common toy, however some parakeets will feel they are getting their social needs from their reflections and will be less willing to interact.  Keep in mind that destruction is part of a parakeet’s play and that you need to expect to rotate and replace these toys frequently.

You will need to give your parakeet a lot of interaction, especially if they are the only bird in the house. Parakeets are social creatures and cannot be left alone in a room by themselves for a prolonged period of the time. Keep in mind that the average parakeet that was most likely raised by their parents and they are not tamed. You will have to train them using kindness and positive reinforcement.

You are going to have to expect to do a lot of cleaning. One of the functions parakeets serve in the wild is as seed dispersers. This means that they will frequently take a few bites of a particular item and then throw the rest away. They will also hull their seeds before eating them, leaving behind lots of bits of hull, which they also throw. They have incredibly fast metabolisms, which means they poop a lot. So, remember to stock up on some cleaning supplies.

You are most likely going to need to buy a replacement tray and be very careful with your use of many common household items. Non-stick coating in tray pans emits toxic fumes when overheated and/or damaged that can be harmful to birds. Instead, consider ceramic, stainless steel, or cast iron for your cooking needs. Non-stick coatings can be found on any number of other items, like space heaters, hair dryers, paint, carpet, furniture and all sorts of things. Some of it obviously won’t get heated under normal use, but plenty of them do use heat and you have to be very careful. You also cannot use other items that emit fumes like scented candles, plug-ins, scent diffusers, and so on. In order for parakeets to oxygenate their muscles properly for flight, they utilize their air much more efficiently than we do, their high metabolisms, and their smaller body sizes, they become overcome and much more sensitive to their surroundings than we are.

Keep in mind that not every parakeet will talk a lot. While they are one of the species best known for talking and many can learn a lot of phrases, many others may not. However, it’s also something to keep in mind that if you do end up with a talker, you have to be careful what you say around them, as you don’t know what they’ll end up picking up, especially since parakeets are more likely to pick up thing said with a lot of emotion-watch your mouth when you drop that box on your foot in the same room as the bird. Among other things, parakeet screams have high pitch tones which makes the sound of a smoke detector, and yells at the kids to “go potty” and “hurry.” Annoying beeps and electronic sounds seem to be among the noises most likely to be picked up, even among parakeets that never talk at all.

Keep that in mind, a parakeet’s lifespan is short. Inbreeding has shortened their lives significantly. They are unlikely to live for more than five or six years before cancer or some other health problem will claim them. Parakeet are a short-lived species due to the amount of inbreeding done to produce the wide variety of color mutations seen in the domestic trade.

Parakeets are incredibly smart, but with the emotional development of a toddler, they never outgrow it the way a human toddler does. You have to be prepared to deal with mess, destruction, and noise. It can also be hard to find appropriate vet care, and oftentimes expensive when you do find one. Please be sure that you have enough time and attention for a parakeet before purchasing one and later don’t put in enough time to take care of them.

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