So You Want to Get a Parrot
It’s Saturday afternoon and you’re walking through the pet shop, when suddenly, a flash of bright color catches your eye. You glance over to see a magnificent macaw stretching out a brilliant blue wing. You hurry over, and the macaw stretches up to greet you. Ecstatic that it seems to like you, you reach down and stroke it’s head, and to your delight, the bird whistles softly and snuggles into your hand. Feathers fluffed, the macaw stares up at you with doleful eyes, urging you to bring it home. You can hardly contain yourself, but do you know what you’re getting into? Any parrot is a lot of work...
Before anything, take a peek at the price tag. Large parrots cost anywhere from $400-1500, just for the bird, and the cage will cost $400-1000, depending on the size and shape you choose. Then there are toys. Birds can go through toys faster than you can imagine, and large toys for these rambunctious animals cost $10-20 each if you get them pre-made from a pet store. Your bird will require 10-15 toys, too, because you’ll have to rotate them out of the cage so your bird doesn’t get bored with them, and don’t forget that some toys can be demolished in less than a day. You’ll also need food, of course, which is always a large expense because so much of it is wasted. Birds tend to only get about half the food in their mouths, and get the other half on the floor and all over their cages. Possibly your bird’s biggest expense would be vet bills, though. What if your bird gets sick? A vet bill for your bird will be very large, and it would probably cost more to take your little bird in than it would for your dog.
You think you can cover that? Well, before you rush into a purchase, think about time. You’ll have to spend at least 3-4 hours per day with a large parrot, but even the smallest of parrots requires a minimum of an hour a day out of the cage. One other thing a lot of would-be owners don’t realize about parrot-keeping is the amount of scrubbing involved. Parrots are extremely messy animals, and tend to spill and shred anything they possibly can. You can block off at least a half hour per day for cleaning up your feathered friend’s messes. Just imagine the spilled water, thrown food, and shredded toys all over your floor...and that’s not even counting the feathers. And you didn’t realize that they need fresh fruits and veggies regularly? Those will have to be peeled, chopped, and thoroughly washed, and they should be organic, too. Another block of time is toy making. Those spendy toys you bought will be in pieces pretty soon, and you’ll have to remake them by picking apart the usable pieces and tying them together again to form fun puzzles and things to hang on. With all those time commitments, you’ll spend somewhere between 3 and 8 hours per day on your bird, and remember that these are very long lived animals--some even live 80 years. If you work full time, this may not be a good idea, as it is a lifelong commitment.
You think you’ve got the time? Well, what about the knowledge? There’s a lot you have to know in order to be a good owner for that adorable, fluffy, bird. Training is one thing to consider, because clearly, you can’t use traditional methods of training such as a choke collar or just giving it a whack on the nose. Bird training is different. Do you know what to expect as your sweet baby bird matures? Many parrot species have a tendency to turn aggressive when they reach maturity. One more possible issue is screaming. That calm, quite parrot can become very loud, very fast. If you live in an apartment, things may not work out too well. Are you prepared for all of this?
Parrots are very challenging animals to keep as pets. They’re not bred to be tame, like cats and dogs, so essentially, they’re wild animals. Thousands of parrots are put in shelters all the time, because people were taken in by adorable, little parrots, only to find out that they couldn’t care for these amazing birds. So stop, take a breath, do some research, and think before you acquire one of these majestic creatures.
By Julianna Hoza