Your pet parakeet is an important member of your family. If your little bird remains healthy, he can survive 5 to 10 years, sometimes up to 15. Parakeets come from tropical regions worldwide and need to be housed in warm temperatures. It is easier for a parakeet to succumb to sickness and disease at cooler temperatures. Since parakeets are lively interactive pets, any behavior changes you observe may be indicative of sickness and you should take your parakeet to see a veterinarian.
Parakeets have active personalities. They are smart and need to be stimulated with activity to maintain good health. When a parakeet becomes sick, he may become subdued. He may sleep excessively, cease grooming himself or remain in one spot for long periods of time. Time spent hopping and flying diminishes and his usual peppy personality may become dull. He may develop a general lack of interest in his surroundings and decreased alertness. If an injury is present, your parakeet will favor the area of injury by reducing movements made delinquent by the injury, such as flying or walking for wing or leg injuries.
Changes in Posture
If your parakeet suddenly changes his sitting posture or location, he may be sick. Usually, an active healthy parakeet sits on a perch in an attentive posture, moving often. A sick parakeet may remain in one position for long periods of time or he may no longer perch, but sit in the bottom of his cage. Also, parakeets normally keep their feathers smooth and tight to their bodies. Sick parakeets tend to sit in a hunched position with ruffled feathers. Feather ruffling is used by your bird to maintain body heat when he is sick.
Your normally happy parakeet may become sullen and grouchy when he's sick. This change in behavior could be the result of sickness or pain. He may become irritable and easily agitated. It's possible he may resist handling and try to bite you. A parakeet that is usually happy to see you, but suddenly decides to bite, should be examined and observed for sickness.
Changes in Physical Behavior
Observing normal breathing patterns, vocalizations and self-grooming activities will allow you to detect changes in such behaviors that may indicate sickness. Faster than normal breathing, or labored breathing that includes unusual sounds, indicates sickness. If your parakeet is normally talkative and ceases to talk, or has a sudden change in voice, you may have a sick bird. Shivering indicates sickness, as well as a lack of self-grooming. Parakeets should never shiver and usually groom themselves often.
Eating Habits Change
Pay attention to your parakeet's normal eating and drinking behaviors. Your parakeet has a fast metabolism that requires him to eat often, and he will lose weight quickly if he is eating less. If he is sick and refuses food or water, he will quickly become weak. A parakeet is not likely to survive more than 48 hours without eating and drinking. Feed him his favorite foods and give him sugar water or lemonade to entice consumption until you can visit your veterinarian.
Based in Michigan, Keri Gardner has been writing scientific journal articles since 1998. Her articles have appeared in such journals as "Disability and Rehabilitation" and "Journal of Orthopaedic Research." She holds a Master of Science in comparative medicine and integrative biology from Michigan State University.