As noted on an earlier post featured here on Pet Hooligans, birds make wonderful pets for both young and old alike. However, it is important to remember that birds are extremely different from dogs, cats, and other domesticated animals. As such, care and interaction with birds, especially highly intelligent parrots, will be slightly different. When I got my first parrot, I had no idea what an intense, thought rewarding, experience owning one would be. Parrots aren’t for everyone, and if you are considering acquiring one, here are a few things to think about:
1. Parrots are extremely loud and messy
This is the one thing that most parrot owners are never fully prepared for, and they often get upset with their pet parrots when they scream for hours on end or they drop most of their seeds instead of eating them. The fact of the matter is that both functions, squawking loudly and dropping seeds, serve a purpose in nature and are deeply ingrained instincts. Yelling loudly is a form of flock communication and dropping seeds helps to replenish the forest through pollination.
2. Because of their high intelligence, they require constant stimulation
Parrots, particularly Amazons and African Grays, are one of the most intelligent species on earth. Research has even proven that their ability to talk goes beyond mere mimicry. Studies done on the test subject Alex demonstrated that parrots have the cognitive ability of a four year old child. As such, it is extremely important that you keep your parrot stimulated as much as possible. They require several hours of focused human interaction a day, and they also need interesting toys to keep them busy while you are away.
3. Although bonding well with owners if obtained young, parrots are not domesticated
The bond between a human and a parrot is a remarkable one, but it is important to remember that parrots are not, nor probably ever will be, completely and officially domesticated animals. Since breeding cycles are so slow, it is impossible to breed out some of the wilder instincts. As such, be prepared for biting and general crankiness.
4. Finding a reputable breeder is difficult considering the lack of regulation
Although dog breeding has been heavily regulated since the expose of puppy mill several decades ago, parrot breeding is hardly regulated at all. As such, it is much more likely that you will buy a parrot that was bred in cruel conditions. This often results in parrots with serious trauma problems that can result in feather-picking and other self-destructive, depressed behaviors. When getting your parrot, be sure to visit the location of breeding, talk to the breeders, and make sure that they are very knowledgeable about your particular breed and aren’t running another parrot mill.
5. Parrots live forever
Parrots live much longer than most commonly-kept pets, with many living up to 80 years or more. While this is wonderful news for you and your family—children won’t have to go through the heartbreak of seeing a family pet die while they are young—it can also be a curse in many ways. Be sure that you plan for who will care for your parrot if the bird happens to outlive you.
Although parrots aren’t exactly the easiest pets to care for, the joy of owning one is a reward that keeps giving. As long as you research keeping parrots as pets thoroughly before buying one, you’ll be sure to have one of the best pets ever!