Parakeets, also know budgies, are animated feathered pets hailing from the exotic grasslands of Australia. As you consider becoming a pet parent to a budgie, you may want to budget for veterinary care, healthy food and comfortable shelter.Then all you need is love -- and that's a freebie.
First, Buy the Bird or Birds
If you are home much of the day and willing to pay plenty of attention to your bird, then a single parakeet will do nicely. If not, you may want to consider getting a pair. Parakeets love company, and they will not make the move to breed unless you set up a special nesting box in their cage. A pair of males will get along together as well as a mated pair or two females. If they are adults you can tell their sex by looking at their colored nose bands, called cere. Adult females have a brown cere and most males have a blue or, less often, a pink cere. You can adopt these little guys through Petfinder.com or your local Humane Society for free, or a small re-homing fee. At the local big box pets stores you can find common parakeets for sale starting at about $30.
Feeding Care and Cost
A bird's got to eat, and as a new parakeet parent you've got to feed him. Seed mixes are a staple feed that will provide both nutrition and variety for your hungry guy, but it can get messy as your bird eats the seeds he likes and scatters the less desirable (yet nutritious) kernels aside. High-quality pellet feed that has all the necessary and tasty seed ingredients ground up and baked into nuggets can be another way to go at about the same cost with fewer cleanups. Your budgie also needs and enjoys daily rations of green, leafy vegetables like lettuce and broccoli, and small portions of fruit like apples and melon. A regular supply of fresh water will keep him hydrated throughout his busy day. You can expect to spend about $75 a year to feed your new pal.
Cage Selection and Cost
Your new bird will likely fly away and leave you unless he is contained in a suitable cage. Try and buy the largest and sturdiest cage you can afford. He will require a cage that is big enough to allow him (and perhaps a friend) to spread his crazy wings and fly short distances. Parakeets prefer tall cages with lots of perches, feeding dishes and a couple of swings around the perimeter of their homes, giving them access to the center for flight exercises. Equip your parakeet's new home with fun toys like mirrors or balls, keep them clean and rotate in new toys from time to time. Bird droppings have to end up somewhere, so keep a fresh liner made of newspaper or a paper bag cut to size, bird cage paper or a picture of your ex at the cage bottom. Expect to pay anywhere from $50 to $500 for the cage and about $30 annually for toys and accessories.
Veterinary Care and Cost
ASPCA experts recommend you schedule and annual exam for your bird with an aviary veterinarian, one that specializes in the care of birds. Your veterinarian will conduct necessary health tests, monitor his annual weight gain or loss and check for early signs of illness. Your parakeet is adept at masking illnesses and may only appear unwell when that illness reaches an advanced stage. So get that boy to the vet as soon as you notice any unusual behavior like sneezing, labored breathing or hanging out on the cage bottom with his feathers fluffed out. Annual veterinary care and lab tests normally run $100 to $200.
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