Parakeet (budgerigar) care

Four parakeets sitting on perch

Parakeets are a smaller member of the parrot family, and with proper care can live up to 20 years. The parakeet has become a popular pet due to its often striking colors and ease of taming.

Parakeets are very social birds and prefer to be kept in pairs or small groups. The genders in a group or pair can be mixed. If you do not want to breed your birds, it is suggested to keep them in groups of the same gender.

Medical needs

Wings and nails can be trimmed to ease the taming process. Many veterinary clinics offer this service. Clipping wings and nails should only be attempted after proper instruction provided by your vet. Parakeets, being a smaller bird, have only a small amount of blood in their bodies and can easily bleed to death if a feather or nail is trimmed too close to a vein.

Diet

Parakeets have a very active metabolism and can easily become ill if they go without food for 24 hours. Parakeets should be provided with a staple diet of fresh parakeet seed or pellets daily. Be sure to check the food dish daily, as they will only eat from the top of what is offered. In addition to a pellet diet, parakeets should be offered chopped dark green and yellow veggies as well as a variety of fruits, hard cooked eggs, and grated cheese. Remember to remove fresh foods after two hours to prevent them from spoiling. If the bird's stool becomes runny, it could be due to receiving too much liquid from the fresh fruits and vegetables. If this becomes an issue, restrict the fresh foods for a day to see if the issue resolves. Millet Spray is also an excellent supplement for Parakeets. 

Parakeets need fresh water every day. Be sure to wash and rinse the dish thoroughly each day to prevent bacterial growth. Supplemental powdered vitamins can also be sprinkled on the food. Refrain from adding them to the water as it can support growth of bacteria. Cuttlebones should also be provided to supply your parakeet with calcium and prevent overgrowth of the beak.

Housing

For parakeets, the length of the cage is more important than the height. Ideally cages should be about 14” long, 16” high, and 17” wide. Perches are a necessary addition to any parakeet cage. Remember to use perches that are the correct size for your parakeet’s feet. If they are too large, the bird will not be able to easily grip the perch and could be injured. Providing a variety of shapes and textures of perches will help exercise a parakeet’s feet. The placement of perches is also important. Try to strategically place them so droppings do not contaminate the food or water, and to keep the tail from hanging in the water dish. Toys such as climbing ladders, ropes, and bells can help keep your parakeet entertained.

Parakeets are very social birds and do well if kept in a colony setting. They will, however, be more difficult to hand tame since they will get their needed attention from the other birds rather than the people in the home.

Remember that birds are very sensitive to temperature. Care should be taken in placing the cage away from windows and drafty areas.

Handling your parakeet

Many parakeets can become hand tame. It is easiest to begin hand taming with a young bird. You will need to experiment to find a treat that your individual bird really enjoys. If the parakeet is scared of your hand being near the cage, start by feeding these treats through the bars to coax them near you. It may take some time for your parakeet to learn to trust you and understand that you do not intend to hurt it. Once the bird has become accustomed to you being near the cage you can use the same process to tame it to sit on your hand.

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