The recipe for parakeet care is simple—pick the right cage, gadgets and food and mix with lots of love and attention to keep him happy and healthy. The hardest part may be picking the right bird, since parakeets are not always who you think they are.
It’s All in the Tail
The term "parakeet" identifies more than 100 different types of small- to medium-size parrots of varying sizes and colors. Parakeets are distinguished from other small parrots, such as the stubby-tailed lovebird, by their long tail feathers. Several species of parakeet are bred in captivity, bond well with humans and make fascinating feathered friends, such as the Indian ringneck and monk parakeet. However, the budgerigar or budgie is likely the most familiar and might be the only bird you picture when you hear “parakeet.”
Whether you've chosen a petite, 6-inch budgie or one of his larger cousins, the general rule is to buy the largest parakeet cage you can afford. He'll need fresh water daily and a quality pellet food or blend of seeds and grasses designed for his metabolism. He won't do well nutritionally if you choose food made for another parrot species. Parakeets also enjoy sampling fresh fruits, leafy greens and other healthy snacks, such as shredded carrots. You'll need a few extra minutes in the morning to toss any leftovers and clean his dishes thoroughly with soapy water before refilling them. Other early bird chores include replacing the paper liner at the bottom of his cage and a quick wipedown for any messy perches.
During the Week
Parakeets typically enjoy a bath three or more times a week. Just place a parakeet-sized bathtub in the bottom of his cage in the morning and remove a few hours later so he'll dry by evening. Constantly fluffed feathers or a slight runny nose are sometimes early warning signs of illness. If you check him regularly to make sure he's acting his usual self, and call his vet if not, you may help prevent a life-threatening illness, such as pneumonia. His cage needs a thorough cleaning once a week – remove all perches, the tray at the bottom and accessories for washing and rinsing. This is a good time to check cuttlebones for wear and replace as necessary.
Parakeets aren’t as obsessive about their humans as some parrots, such as the cockatoo, but they are inquisitive, intelligent, social birds who require regular interaction to thrive. You can build a friendship with your parakeet by stopping to chat regularly, training him to perch on your finger and hand-feeding him treats. He can also learn to talk or spend time outside his cage on your shoulder once you’ve earned his trust. Your bird buddy will also need an interesting mix of ladders, bells, mirrors and other sturdy parakeet toys to investigate every day. Just keep a watchful eye on the toys and remove any damaged items immediately.
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