Is a Parrot the Pet for You?

Parrots are cool beings. They can become a member of the family. Research has shown the parrots have the intelligence of a 5 year old child and the emotional equivalence of a 2 year old child. They are witty and charming and can be a source of great joy. So why shouldn't every family have a parrot? Parrots are great if you know what to expect. If you have done some homework and given serious consideration to the long term needs of a parrot in your family. Parrots live an average of 50 or 60 years in captivity. Some larger species can live as long as 75 or 80 years. It is likely that a parrot will outlive the original owner. Plans need to be made for the parrot's future just as you would for a child. Many people buy a parrot expecting that the bird will learn to talk and be a great companion. Baby parrots are adorable and love to be handled. When taken home they need to be loved and held and hand fed. They are a lot like a new baby and can be spoiled by an adoring human. Babies are always adorable whether it is a bird or a puppy. But inevitably babies grow up. A spoiled demanding parrot is difficult to live with. The reality is many parrots never learn to talk. Some only learn a few words at best. Parrots are often an impulse purchase. Most people have never seriously considered what life will be like with a full grown parrot. Many parrots spend their lives being bounced from home to home, from owner to owner. So what should be considered when buying a parrot companion? Ask yourself these questions first. Can you afford as much as $1200.00 for a pet? How much will a cage cost? Do you have room for a properly sized cage? Do you have time to spend socializing with your new pet? Can you afford a proper diet? Parrots are fairly expensive compared to most pets. You can expect to pay upwards of $300.00 to $1200.00 for a hand fed parrot. You will need to purchase a cage large enough for the bird's adult size wing span. Your parrot needs at least enough room to spread it's wings in any direction and never touch the cage bars. For macaws this could be as big as 6 feet high and 4 feet square. A cage this size will cost at least $400.00. Parrots need to spend time out of their cage everyday. Play stands and swings are a must. Parrots need to climb and they need to chew. You can expect to have to provide toys that can be chewed and destroyed on a regular basis. A full grown macaw can be very destructive. Even toys made of hardwoods will be chewed into splinters in a matter of an hour. Without toys to chew they will chew whatever they can get a hold of. Window panes, woodwork, furniture, and walls. Some bored or neglected parrots will even resort to chewing their own feathers or plucking them out altogether. Parrots are loud, very loud! In their natural habitat, at the crack of dawn, parrots call out loudly to signal to the flock that it's time to go foraging for breakfast. The same goes for evening when it's time to gather together to rest at night. Pet parrots also like noise. If you have a noisy household you can expect the parrot to join in. Loud conversations, laughing, arguing, kids playing, and dogs barking are all incentive for a round of screaming. This isn't a behavior problem, it's a natural part of life with parrots. My birds like to holler with the vacuum cleaner and the Dust buster. Even a healthy diet can be expensive for some households. Parrots need fresh fruits and vegetables as well as a balanced parrot food. Seed is not healthy for parrots. It would be the equivalent to feeding your children potato chips for every meal. Most experts recommend feeding a good extruded diet. Zupreem and Harrison's are my preference. You can expect to pay about $15.00 for a 3 lb. bag. If you considering bringing a parrot into your family do your homework. There are many, many different breeds, sizes and temperaments. Spend some time with someone else's birds. Some pet stores that breed and sell parrots are glad to have you come socialize with the birds. Parrots need to be trained to be good companions. Experienced bird parents are a good source of information. Make sure you learn how to train your parrot to be a good companion. There are lots of books on the subject. The internet is also a great resource. Just as you should with a cat or dog, please make an informed, educated choice. Animals deserve better.