Five Reasons Why Parakeets Make Such Great Pets
The parakeet is the world’s most popular pet bird. When the first specimens were brought to Europe from Australia in the 1840s they were an instant hit. The reasons for their popularity are clear to anyone who has spent time in the company of these wonderful little birds. They are pocket-sized parrots, with all the personality of their bigger cousins – clever, colourful, and with the seemingly magical ability to learn human words… sometimes!
1. Parakeets don’t require much
Budgerigars are also easy to look after, and being small birds they have modest appetites, so they’re an inexpensive addition to the home. Their diet is based on seed, and as long as you source a good mix, without added colours or chemicals, the birds will thrive. They will also enjoy some fresh greens and other vegetables, but only in small quantities.
This reflects the birds diet in the wilds of Australia. They gather in large feeding flocks and seek out grass seeds. Most of these are fresh, of course, and in captivity the seed should be as fresh as possible too.
In terms of equipment, a good cage and basic accessories are all you need. You can give them simple things to play with, too, like ping-pong balls and bells. All very cheap, and incredibly cheerful.
2. Parkeets Have Fantastic Personalities
Beautiful as a pet canary or finch may be, you can’t train them beyond the basic perching-on-a-finger level. Parakeets, however, can take on board an amazing variety of skills, from coming to your hand when you call, to negotiating tunnels, skateboarding, and manoeuvring a ball around obstacles.
The key to these skills lies in bonding with your bird. It’s more than simply taming – it’s a human and bird friendship, the kind of connection you can only form with an intelligent animal. Parakeets are not alone in this, of course – the whole parrot family is renowned for its grey matter. But in a bird as small as a parakeet, intelligence appears even more remarkable.
3. Parakeets Can Talk To You!
Parakeets talk, pretty much all day, with various moods that you soon come to recognise. Not all the ‘talking’ consists of recognisable words – in fact many, if not most birds, never master human words. But it doesn’t really matter. It’s great fun if your bird takes on board a few words and phrases, but even without them parakeet sounds are a source of great pleasure.
Female parakeets are less inclined to speak than males. Of these, around half may pick up human words. They have more chance of learning if you start teaching them in their first nine months. Some require lots of time and effort, while others seem to soak up words with relative ease. Talk-time tends to be after a good feed or a spot of exercise. The parakeet will settle on his favourite perch and begin to chatter. The bubbling, clicking, whistling babble of speech sounds voice-like even when there are no human words in the mix. It’s a lovely, soothing backdrop to the day.
4. Parakeets Don’t Like Vets!
In other words, budgerigars are generally very healthy and robust birds. As long as they have a super-healthy diet and a clean environment (cages should be spruced-up once a fortnight), they will be strangers to the vet.
Parakeets also let you know on those rare occasions when they’re not feeling well. They will stop chattering non-stop, will sleep during the day, and will look sad and ‘droopy’ on their perch. Because, of course, there are potential illnesses, as there are with any animal. Give them a daily visual check – if they’re looking as happy and chirpy as usual, all is well. If you have any doubts, run through our checklist of possible problems, and have a word with a vet. Chances are they will never have met your bird before!
5. Parakeets Come in Endless Colour Patterns
Although there are just three basic colour combinations – green and yellow, blue and white, or a mixture of these – the variety of patterns within this mix is incredible. In some birds the white dominates, with other colours bursting through like flowers in a snowy meadow. Some birds have striking primary colours, while others have pastels, sometimes fading to just a hint of translucent colour. There are all-yellow parakeets, all-white ones, birds patterned in just greys and blacks, and, of course, classic green and yellow parakeets looking exactly like their Australian wild cousins.
Whichever variety of parakeet you bring home, you are guaranteed a bird packed with enough personality to fill a dozen birds twice its size. And this will be a long-lasting friendship, as a healthy and well fed parakeet can live up to 15 years. Enjoy your time together!
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