Parakeet can be very rewarding pets to own, and they make great companions. It is important to understand how to meet their needs, however, in order to give them a comfortable and healthy life and create a strong owner-parakeet bond you can both enjoy. Parakeets are social birds that require significant companionship.
A parakeet, which is more properly called a budgie, can easily get enough exercise being out in a small room. The bird will love to fly around, just make sure to take the necessary steps to bird-proof your home. If you’d prefer, you can have a veterinarian, bird groomer or bird-owning friend show you how to trim you bird’s flight feathers to limit his mobility for a few months.
Colors and Markings
The normal wild coloration of a budgie is a light green with black bars on their wings, back, and head. Typically mature females have a tan or beige cere (the fleshy part around the nostrils), and the males have a bluish cere. Young budgies also have bar markings on their foreheads that recede with age, and their eyes typically have dark irises that gradually become gray with age. Through selective breeding in the pet trade, a huge variety of colors and patterns are available, including violet, blue, yellow, pied, albino, and the classic neon green.
Unlike other parrots, budgies are widely available at nearly all pet stores, so care is necessary when selecting a bird. Where possible, it’s better to buy a bird directly from a breeder. It is best to choose a young budgie that has been handled regularly if you want to tame your budgie easily. You can expect to pay more for a hand-reared or very young bird, but it may be worth the extra cost since it will make the hand-taming process quicker and easier. Pet stores typically have older birds, so hand-taming them may be more of a challenge.
Look for a bird that is bright, alert, and active. The feathers should be smooth, shiny, and lay flat on the body. The vent should be clean, dry, and free of fecal matter. The scales on the feet should be smooth, the nails and beak should be smooth and not overgrown, and the nostrils should be clear and clean with no clumping of the feathers surrounding them.
Budgies are active and playful and should have a large cage that allows room for toys, sleeping, eating, and flight. Minimum dimensions for a cage are 20 inches long by 12 inches deep by 18 inches high, but bigger is always better. The spacing of the cage bars should be half an inch or less to avoid escapes and to prevent your bird from getting stuck. Horizontal cage bars offer the best opportunity for climbing and exercise. Place at least a couple of perches at different levels, with enough space for your budgie to comfortably move between them. Offering a variety of perch sizes, shapes, and textures will also help keep your budgie’s feet in good shape. A nest to sleep in, dishes for food and water, various toys, and things to chew should all fit inside the cage.
Even if they have a large cage, budgies will still need playtime and socialization opportunities outside of the cage. The flight is very natural and important for a bird, but you should only allow your budgie to fly in a very secure and safe area. If you have concerns about being able to control your bird’s flight area, consider having the wings trimmed some to decrease the flying abilities.
Like most parrots, budgies are social birds, and thus many owners keep budgies in pairs so that they can entertain one another. Budgies seem to be happiest when kept in pairs. A single bird can be fine as long as you are able to spend a significant amount of time interacting with them on a daily basis.