Parakeets are one of the most common domestic pet birds to have at home, because of their beauty, how relaxing their song is, and how easy it is to care for. An animal with a lot of history with the human being.
Types of parakeets
Where do parakeets come from?
Parakeets are native to Australia, being the species registered as such in 1804. When this small animal was discovered, its beauty soon led to thousands of these animals being captured for commercialization. However, the long transport trips and the ignorance of the feeding of these animals caused the death of more than 95% of the captured animals.
Although the most common parakeet is the green, blue or yellow parakeet, during the two centuries of breeding the breeders have achieved the birth of new colors such as gray, pios, or purple.
What are the most common characteristics of the parakeet?
Parakeets, as a general rule, measure 18 cm from the head to the tip of the tail, although some varieties are slightly larger, and they weigh around 35 grams. The wild variety, the best known, has smooth light green underparts, with a yellowish head and a black stripe on the back of the head. However, its throat and forehead are plain yellows with a purple spot on the cheek and three black specks framing each side of the base of the throat.
In the center, it has black spots, which are only visible when it spreads its wings. Its downward curved beak is greenish-gray and its legs are bluish-gray, with two toes forward and two back. This makes it easier for them to stand on tree branches, cables, and feed on seeds.
What is the behavior of parakeets?
Unlike other birds, parakeets are very social animals. They usually live in flocks, although they are quite territorial even among their own species. With humans they do not usually have many sociability problems, being able to get used to being with them and treating them as one of their own.
When the parakeet lives in captivity, there are a series of guidelines that help the owner to know what the status of their parakeet is. For example, when grooming and cleaning the plumage with the beak, placing each feather in its place, the animal will be grooming itself, a sign that it feels comfortable in its cage. Of course, it will also clean its beak and emit its classic chirp, its song. Although some parakeets are shy and have a hard time singing.
It is not the only signal that this animal will make. The position it takes is also a message to its owner. If he is on one leg it means that he is resting, but if he stretches one wing and one leg at the same time, it means that he needs exercise, but the cage is too small for him or that he feels quite trapped.
In the case of lifting the plumage, giving its body the shape of a ball, it is a sign that the animal feels cold and needs warmth. In these cases, it must be moved to a warmer place in the house or where it can be exposed to the sun. Not enough, in the case that the wings are separated from the body, with the beak slightly open, it is a sign that they are very hot. In these cases, it is best to put a cup of water in the cage for them to bathe and cool off.
If frightened, these animals stick their plumage to the body, keeping it stiff and breathing rapidly. It is normal for them to stretch their necks up. They may have been scared by something they heard outside the cage or because they did not wait for their owner. In the case of leaving it free, it is not advisable to chase it to return it to its cage. It will return by itself.
Unlike other animals, parakeets love noise, especially in the general environment. So if the television or radio is turned on where there is one of these copies, it would not be strange to see him looking at it. Interestingly, although they love noise, they are very skittish, so you have to be very careful when treating them.
How do parakeets act when they share cages?
Parakeets are sociable animals, but also very territorial. If you are going to have more than one copy, they must live together from the beginning.
Two males will fight each other to see who is the owner of the cage. Who will eat first, who will drink first, who climbs on a pole… they won’t kill each other, but they will do a lot of damage. In the case of females, it is normal for them to fight each other, as it is in their nature, especially if there is another male in the cage.
For this reason, these animals have to live together from an early age or buy a cage large enough so that they can move freely and each has a territory.
Distinguish the age and sex of a parakeet?
Although it may not seem like it, distinguishing the age and sex of a parakeet is very simple. Age is determined by the lines on the forehead. Young parakeets have lines covered in foreheads, while adults have smooth lines. Also, the young have feathers of less intense tones. Another way is the color of the eyes; young parakeets have a completely black eye, while adults have a white ring with a black dot.
As for how to differentiate a male from a female, the key is in the wax, or what is the same, the upper part of the beak around the nostrils. The males have this completely blue area, while the females have it from a white to cream-colored tone, except in their heat stage, which has it brown.
What cage should you buy for a parakeet?
The most important question when taking care of one of these animals is: what cage to buy? Yes, your parakeet may get used to living around the house a little freely, but most of its time will be spent in a cage. That is why it is important to choose it well.
The minimum size of the cage has to be 50 cm wide if you are going to house a single parakeet. In the case of housing two, it is best to be one meter wide. Now, why so wide? And high? Well actually the height will oscillate by about 30 cm, but this is not so important. The reason is that parakeets take advantage of horizontal space more than vertical space to move. Ideally, the cage has horizontal bars since these animals like to climb the walls of the same to take a look outside.
Now, what about the cage shape? Many make the terrible mistake of buying a cage that is round or that simulates the shape of a mansion. Buying this type of cage the only thing that causes is that the parakeet is disoriented. Therefore, it is best to buy a square or rectangular one. It is also not recommended that the bars of the cage be white, since this makes it very difficult for the parakeet to see. The distance between the bars must be at least 1 cm because if it is smaller, the legs or the beak could get caught. And the more doors it has the better, to put the drinker and the feeder.
Once the cage has been chosen, the real headache comes with the accessories. By default, the cages already have a series of accessories such as the feeder, a perch, or toy. But many fail at one thing: the feeder. As a general rule, the feeders are hung outside the cage and are transparent. They are not recommended for parakeets, since it is forced to put its head through a hole to feed. As if that were not enough, by being transparent, they make the parakeet believe that they can escape out there, so they will empty the feeder to try.
For this reason, the best feeders are those that are hung inside the cage, removing the exteriors and covering the holes that are exposed. They fill easily and are fairly easy to clean. With the drinker, it is with the least worries. It will be enough to choose a tube drinker, made of dark plastic, and place it for the parakeet to drink.
Many choose to leave the perches that the cage brings, but they make a terrible mistake. These are made of plastic, in white tones with grooves. These stretch marks cause wounds in the potatoes of the parakeets and are not very good for these animals to perch on them. It is best to change these bars for some natural branches. It is not necessary to buy it, since any tree branch, properly cut, can be used.
They offer a better holding place for the parakeet, are more resistant, and do not cause injuries to their legs. Also, these same branches are used to clean the potatoes and the beak when he wants to preen.
Like other animals, parakeets love toys, because it helps them get out of their monotony a bit. The one they like the most is the swing, but they also like having a rope or a ladder. It is not necessary to fill the cage with toys, as this will stress the animal. Besides, mirrors or toys that can reflect light must be avoided at all costs, because this will be annoying for the parakeet and will stress it.
At the base of the cage, it is advisable to place a newspaper, which will make cleaning easier. In summer, it is good that inside the cage the parakeet has a cup or a glass of water, where it can cool off, but it must be removed once it has finished.
Where to place the parakeet’s cage?
Another very important question, where to place the parakeet’s cage? The biggest mistake most owners make is placing it in the kitchen, an area where they are exposed to fumes and vapors that are deadly for them. Nor can they be placed near a television or under fluorescent tubes, since the vision of parakeets detects rapid flashes that are annoying and could end up driving them crazy.
So where to put the cage? The living room, near a window and away from the television is a good place. It is one of the very busy rooms in the house and they allow you to hear outside noise as they love noise. At first, they may feel scared, but little by little they will get used to the environment and they will love that area. An area where the sun shines in the morning but is dark at night is perfect. Besides, they can be helped to sleep better by covering them at night with a dark blanket, taking care to leave a free space for air to pass through, and thus not suffocate.
In the case of choosing to hang the cage, it must be at least level with our eyes. This helps them see everything from above, which is what they are used to. In the case of placing the cage on a table or a special foot, they must be high so that the animal does not feel strange.
Although the sun turns out to be very beneficial for these animals, special care must be taken to leave them in direct contact with the sun’s rays. They also cannot be in an area with many drafts, as this causes them to catch a cold. You have to try the different areas of the house to choose the best place for the parakeet.
It is usually not highly recommended, but there is really no problem moving the cage from one place to another. During the day you can leave the parakeet in a sunny area, but at night in a dark area where the animal is comfortable to sleep. Of course, you have to avoid sudden movements so as not to wake them up during transport.
What happens if you decide to keep the parakeet’s cage outside?
Who has a garden and a lot of free space, it is not strange that he prefers to have the parakeet outside the home. In these cases, the cages have to be large, so that they can move freely without any discomfort.
It should not be located in a place where it receives the sun directly without having the possibility of shelter, nor where there are strong drafts. It should also be taken into account that it has protection against the rain, such as a roof over the cage and inside it a shed in which to shelter.
Once they are located outside the house, in this case, they do not have to be moved from there. In a flat, they get used to how the territory is right away, so there are not many problems, but when it is outside, they do not like changes very much. For this reason, you have to choose a place where you can be well all year round or acclimatize it for them. Unlike those that are bought or brought from abroad, the parakeets that are born in the cage will not have problems acclimatizing to their new environment.
The big problem with having them outside is predators like rodents. You have to protect the cages well so that they cannot reach them, and watch out well that there is no one in the area. Or this could not only cause the death of the parakeets but also have a huge plague in the house.
What can you feed a parakeet?
The seeds are the basis of their diet, especially those of oats, but they also eat birdseed, wheat, and millet. However, there are other types of food that they like. An example is lettuce, which must be given in small portions. Good food to give them in summer, since it contains water and that helps them hydrate.
Other vegetables they can eat are carrots, spinach, and chard, which provide vitamin A for their development. The apple is very good for its high water content, although parakeets prefer the banana for its flavor. In other words, you have to look for foods that are rich in vitamin A while they are growing, which are rich in calcium and especially iodine.
If their diet is based on seeds, it should be noted that they tend to leave the shell, so the food in the feeder must be changed daily or they will not want to eat. Although it is not highly recommended, you can also give them some bread, pasta, or cooked rice from time to time, as well as cheese and a little egg. Some also give them a little cooked meat but it is not the most recommended for the animal.
What do you have to do to raise and reproduce a colony of parakeets?
Raising a parakeet colony requires a lot of work, perseverance, and effort. Especially if you want to have many or try to create different color combinations.
Having already a male and a female comes the important part: breeding. Parakeets can breed very young, with five months, but it is best to wait until they are at least one year old. The reason is simple: when they are young, they can suffer diseases or disorders when they dedicate themselves to breeding. The fertility of the parakeet begins at an early age and can last up to six years.
Parakeets can breed at any time of the year, however, the best season is spring when temperatures are neither too cold nor too warm. They must not be shedding and be healthy. It is not recommended that they have offspring more than three times a year, because they can be exhausted and their offspring are of inferior quality.
With all this clear, what can be done to motivate parakeets to breed? Some parakeets breed on their own, but some things can be done to help them. For example, they will need something to make their nest with, which they make from non-poisonous tree wood, so leaving the twigs inside the cage will motivate them to make one. Another option is to make a homemade one, but this is something that parakeets do not like very much, so it is best to let them do it themselves.
Once they have the nest and are the couple, during their mating season the courtship will begin, and after three or four days copulation. After that, the female will spend the whole day in the nest until she lays the first egg. The eggs are laid every other day and on average there are about 6. Once all the eggs are laid, the female will incubate them for about 18 days. Since there has been a difference in laying between each egg, the new chicks will hatch every other day.
During the time that the growth of the little ones lasts, it is normal for the parakeets to be quite protective, so at that stage, it is best to only deal with changing their water and food. They can even attack if someone gets too close to their young.
What diseases can a parakeet have?
Parakeets are not free from disease. Some are hereditary, others suffer from poor diet, and some because of the environment. The normal thing is that the parakeet feels down or has stopped singing, which helps to know that something is happening to it. But, sometimes, these can be seen by a change in their plumage or the appearance of spots.
- Cold: If the parakeet’s cage is located in an area with many drafts, or in which there are sudden temperature changes, it is normal for them to catch a cold. It is not fatal, and it will be enough to give them a little heat to recover.
- Scabies mites: Scabs will appear in the area of the beak, and sometimes even on the legs. It is not a fatal disease either, but it will bother the animal. It will be enough to smear a cotton swab with olive oil and apply it to the affected area for it to recover.
- Crop catarrh: These cases occur when the parakeet has been fed adulterated or green food, such as lettuce, without washing it properly. Your parakeet will feel sad, its feathers will bristle, and its skin may turn purple. Also, you will stop eating and drinking. The most common thing is that after the 3 – 5 days that the disease lasts, the parakeet dies, so it is necessary to give clean grains and previously washed vegetables.
- Gastro-intestinal catarrh: It is more common to see it in the youngest specimens when the quality of the grain is of poor quality. The parakeet becomes depressed, does not eat and its stools are white. They must be separated from the rest of the animals in the cage so that they do not become infected, placing them in an environment with a mild temperature and clean food.
- Asthma: Parakeets can also suffer from asthma. It is quite difficult to cure, but not impossible. Luckily it does not cause death. A piece of licorice or a few drops of Tolú syrup must be placed in the drinker’s water.
- Bronchitis: Germs, gases … it is common for parakeets whose cage is located in or near the kitchen. They breathe with difficulty, opening their beaks to breathe in air, and are usually still with their eyes closed. It is best to put them in a sheltered but ventilated area.
- Epilepsy: It is very normal in very young specimens. The symptoms are to jump from one side to another strangely and crazily, being in the end paralyzed. It is a disease that has no cure, although some experts say that showering them with cold water and drying them in the sun helps them relax.
- Constipation: Parakeets will not be able to have their bowel movements, although a little lettuce can help them heal. It is usually caused by a situation of great stress.
- Fractures: Not very common, but these animals can also break a wing or a leg. In these cases, it is best to take him to the vet so that they take the pertinent precautions before he is incurable.
- Melancholy: Although a parakeet can get used to living alone in its cage if it had a partner before it is normal that after its death it feels very lonely. The normal thing is that the melancholy disappears when putting it with another partner.
- Obesity: Can a parakeet get fat? Yes in the case of consuming foods with a lot of fat. It is not fatal, but the best thing is that they have a cage with devices in which to do some exercise, such as the swing, and change the diet to vegetables.
- Paralysis: Sometimes some of the parakeets may have trouble performing some movements. This is usually due to a lack of vitamins or a lack of sunlight.
- Paratyphosis: Parakeets feel depressed, staying in their jumpers with ruffled feathers and closed eyes. It is usually fatal, although it can be helped to recover with two to five grams of iron sulfate in water.
- Pepita: Under the tongue, the parakeet will grow a small tumor that will prevent them from eating. But it is not fatal, because by opening their beaks and holding their tongues with tweezers, they can be disinfected with a liquid-based on crushed onion and strong vinegar. Although it is best to leave it in the hands of a professional.
- Piojillo: Small organisms that live under the feathers. Parakeets affected by these parasites usually have ruffled feathers and are restless. You have to spray the parakeet with 90º C alcohol so that it can eliminate them.
What are the steps to follow to train the parakeet?
There is a big difference between the parakeet being fond of the owner and the latter being trained. It is not something easy to achieve, but it can be achieved. The most important thing is patience and perseverance.
The most important thing is that the parakeet is young, as they are easier to train as they are more docile. It is also important that the character of the parakeet is cheerful and playful. This is what to look for when buying a parakeet. Be very careful to buy what is sold in stores such as “trained parakeet”. These only have had their feathers cut so that they cannot fly and thus they are forced to stand on one of our fingers so that they can get out of the cage.
Once you have the parakeet, you have to wait for it to adapt to its new environment, which will take a few days. It will be noticed that he is already better adapted to the environment when he begins to sing or move around the cage. Already accustomed to his new home, you have to earn the trust of the animal.
It is normal for them to be afraid and believe that we are going to hurt them, so the first of all will be to place the cage in a place where there are usually people and get used to them. Besides, it is necessary to approach the cage at first only to change their food and water, speaking with a soft tone of voice.
Already accustomed to the atmosphere of the house and our voice, it is time to climb a new step in confidence. Do not put your whole hand in the cage, as this will scare. First of all, you have to get it to put it on your finger.
To achieve this, you have to offer him a treat that he likes on his fingers, such as panizo, lettuce, or carrot. Day after day he will gain more confidence until in the end, he is on the finger. Once this is achieved, we will have to caress her belly with our fingers. It requires a lot of patience, and in no case should the animal be forced to climb on the finger.
Little by little, you have to take the parakeet out of the cage on your finger, but without it coming out at first or it will end up flying away. This could be a big problem since many parakeets will not want to return to their captivity when they know freedom.
What to do with the parakeet when it is out of the cage?
Making the mistake of leaving a free space for the parakeet to escape or removing it too early from the cage on your finger will make it decide to explore its new environment. It is actually recommended that the parakeet gets out of the cage to exercise the wings a little.
The normal thing is that he collides with furniture and walls since it is an environment that he does not know well and will be a little nervous. Also, do not have sharp objects, stoves, or fans that can stress the animal while exploring the area. The parakeet has to get out of its cage by itself and not by force. In these cases, the best thing is that the parakeet is used to the hand of its owner so that it can return to the cage when it has already done enough exercise.
There is no need to chase it when it is out of the cage or try to catch it. Simply drop some of your favorite treats in your hand and let it go straight to your hand. Then bring him closer to the cage so that he just gets inside. Since he knows there are food and water in the cage, he may just return to it on his own.
What is there to know before buying a parakeet?
The most normal thing is to buy a parakeet in a pet store, but unfortunately, it is not the best of ideas. The reason? In stores, they do not usually worry much about the health of these animals and it is not uncommon for one of them to be sick or be a very stressed animal when living with many others.
But if you opt for this acquisition, the ones to avoid are:
- Those with smooth plumage without clearing, with tail feathers not forming the type of silhouette of young birds.
- That they have the feathers hollowed out and are at the bottom of the cage, allowing them to be removed easily. It IS a sign that they are sick.
- If you have sticky or dirty feathers around your anus, as well as dirty feet and claws, they are not in good health.
- The beak has cracks and the holes in the wax are dirty. They may make harsh noises and gasp for breath.
- The normal thing is that the skin is pink, but if they have yellow it is that they suffer from adipose degeneration.
How do you clean the parakeet?
Parakeets are very clean and neat animals, but it is not enough for them to groom them with their beaks to keep them clean. In summer, placing a cup of water helps them cool off while they wash, but in winter it is also good for them to have a place to do it.
You don’t have to worry too much about how long the toenails are, as the cage bars and the swing and perch poles will keep them of reasonable size. If you decide to cut them, this must be left to a professional. Of course, if it is done once, it must be done always, since the nails will grow curved after the first cut.
Cleaning the cage is important to do it a couple of times a week. Placing the newspaper at the base of the cage makes it a bit easier to clean. If the parakeet is a bit trained, it can get used to getting out of its cage during the cleaning task, so that it can stretch its wings. The feeder must be cleaned once a day, to remove the shells from the birdseed, while the water must be cleaned from the tube three times a week to eliminate possible microbes and bacteria.