Parakeets are sociable, curious little things. In captive settings, they need the right supplies, or they won't enjoy as fulfilling a life as they should. They need more than just food. Toys, perches and more help keep parakeets stay healthy of mind and body.
Arguably the most important thing you can give your parakeets, the birdcage is their home inside your home. This is where they spend most of their time, and where they're protected from potential threats like hot stove tops, ceiling fans and other pets. While parakeets should come out for socializing and playtime daily, they need to live most of their lives in their shared cage to keep themselves safe and to keep your home clean. While a lone parakeet can live semi-comfortably in a cage as small as 1 cubic foot, when you have more parakeets -- which you generally should, as they not accustomed to solitary living -- the cage should be bigger. As many as three or four parakeets can live in a cage that is 2 feet wide, 1 foot deep and 1 foot tall, but the bigger the better. Scale up horizontally, not vertically, as these birds tend to stick to the top half of the cage no matter how tall it is. Make sure that you have at least one perch for every bird, and choose ones in different textures, so that they can enjoy some variety.
Cuttlebone and Toys
Parakeets have active minds, so keep them sharp by stocking the cage with toys. Keep several in the cage at a time -- at least one or two for each bird -- and switch them out every couple of days for cleaning. The cage should have a variety of toys in it at all times, and alternatives on the side, because these birds thrive on variety and may become bored with the same old playthings. Introduce new toys occasionally to keep them stimulated. A cage needs a cuttlebone, which the parakeets will share to maintain their beaks and get spare nutrients like calcium.
Of course, a bird has to eat, so keep the pantry stocked with seed formulated specifically for parakeets. Also give them fresh fruit or veggies, like strawberries and carrot pieces, on a daily basis. If you give your birds naturally dehydrated fruit, they may dip it in their water dish to make a soupy snack. Remove uneaten fresh foods once a day, and give fresh water on a daily basis. Parakeets are accustomed to communal living and will happily share a single dish of food and one of water, so simply make seed available according to the number of parakeets you have and the instructions on the package. The birds shouldn't have just any fresh foods, so consult with your avian veterinarian for information on what a parakeet shouldn't eat -- avocados, for example, are a toxic no-no for these birds.
You need some supplies to keep your parakeets' cage nice and clean, or else both you and your pets will be left dealing with a smelly, unpleasant mess. Line the bottom of the cage with paper -- not printed newspaper, which can have toxic inks -- and remove it regularly to keep things nice and fresh. A single parakeet should have his cage lining changed at least twice a week to keep waste levels down; the more birds you have, the more frequently you should change the lining: If you have more than two parakeets in the cage, you should change the lining daily. When you scrub the cage, you can't use just any commercial cleaner, as parakeets have sensitive respiratory systems and the chemicals in your cleaner may be harmful even after the fact. Choose a natural cleaner without harmful ingredients instead.
Tom Ryan is a freelance writer, editor and English tutor. He graduated from the University of Pittsburgh with a degree in English writing, and has also worked as an arts and entertainment reporter with "The Pitt News" and a public relations and advertising copywriter with the Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh.