10 Things to do if you have a parrot as a pet

If you’ve decided to have a parrot as a pet, it’s important to keep in mind that these birds are very smart, curious and social. They need some specific care to stay healthy – both mentally and physically.

Let’s go over 10 of the most important aspects of pet parrot care that parrot owners can’t forget.

1. Spend quality one-on-one time with your parrot every day.

Probably the most important thing to do if you have a parrot as a pet is ensuring it gets enough attention. In the wild, these birds live in flocks, which is why they’ve evolved to be extremely social. Without social stimulation, a pet parrot can become so stressed it turns to incessant screaming or even self-mutilation behaviours like feather plucking.

A parrot that doesn’t receive personal attention from you every day will not only become lonely but also likely increasingly difficult to handle. Sure, you can buy a second bird so they can keep each other company, but this can lead to all sort of other problems, especially if your parrot is bonded to you. 

In the end, it doesn’t really matter how many parrots do you have. Try to spend some time with them every day which will keep them stimulated mentally and maintain the bond with your companion parrot(s).

2. Spend a few minutes training your parrot every day.

During the time that you spend with your pet parrot, consider dedicating a few minutes to training. Seriously, you’ll be amazed what even just five minutes a day can do for your relationship with your bird!

Try teaching your bird the following to make handling it easier:

  • Step up to your hand
  • Come here
  • Stay where you are
  • Go to your play stand/cage

Once your parrot has these down (and it will in no time) you can also consider doing some other tricks like fetch. It’s not just fun: it also stimulates your parrot’s brain.

Not sure where to start when it comes to training? The article on positive reinforcement should help get things going.

African grey parrot in shallow focus.
Parrots like this African grey are highly intelligent and can be trained to do a variety of tricks with the right methods.

3. Allow daily time out of the cage.

You should provide your pet parrot with the biggest possible cage you can fit into your budget and home. However, a big cage doesn’t mean that your parrot doesn’t need daily out of the cage time (just like daily out of cage time doesn’t justify a small cage).

Unless you have an aviary, the only way your parrot will be able to properly exercise is outside of its cage. This is crucial in preventing obesity and other related health issues.

Additionally, out of cage time offers valuable mental stimulation by giving the bird more things to explore and the opportunity to hang out with you.

4. Provide your parrot with plenty of mental stimulation.

Yes, we’re not done talking about mental stimulation! Part of having a parrot as a pet is understanding that these birds are so smart that they really need to be kept busy almost constantly. If they can’t exercise their brains they can become stressed, start screaming or even harm themselves.

So far we’ve discussed a few great ways to keep your parrot’s brain busy: training, daily interaction with you and out of cage time to explore the house.

Some additional things you can do are:

  • Fill your parrot’s cage with plenty of fun toys.
  • If you really want to keep your bird busy, consider foraging toys, which will challenge your pet to work for treats and enrichment.
  • Chewing toys are also great: parrots just love destroying stuff and chewing helps keep their beaks from overgrowing.
  • Rotate toys regularly to keep things new and interesting.
  • Feed a varied diet (see below), regularly offering new and unknown foods or ways to present the food.
  • Leave the TV or radio on for your bird. Talk or sing to it whenever you pass the cage or play stand. They might even love to see you do a little dance!

5. Feed a healthy and balanced diet.

Contrary to popular belief, parrots need more than just seeds and nuts to stay healthy. Variety is key! All of the following are excellent:

  • Fresh veggies like carrot, pepper, broccoli and more.
  • Fresh fruits like banana, apple, pear and more.
  • A high-quality pellet food.
  • A high-quality seed mix.
  • Sprouted seeds Parrot Food Mix.
  • Some cooked unsalted pasta, quinoa, lentils or wild rice.
  • (Washed) foraged foods like bird-safe branches, dandelion leaves, clover and wild grasses.
  • Occasional treat like nuts, sunflower seeds or palm nut butter.
Macaw parrot with a variety of fruit and veggies.
Your parrot should be eating plenty of veggies and some fruits in addition to its regular pellets and seeds.

6. Have an avian vet on standby.

We cannot stress this enough! Even before you get your pet parrot, make sure you look up the number(s) of one or multiple local avian vets and stick ’em on the fridge and your phone.

You can find more info about avian vets here!

7. Have a basic parrot first aid kit on hand.

Parrots’ high intelligence levels lead to a huge dose of curiosity which in turn can, unfortunately, result in accidents. These birds are experts at getting themselves into trouble.

If your bird gets injured, you should of course immediately contact an avian vet. However, it’s also very helpful to have a few items on hand for immediate care. Consider a first aid kit containing things like:

  • Blood clotting powder
  • Tweezers
  • Latex gloves
  • Scissors
  • Saline solution
  • Sterile gauze
  • Gauze pads
  • Cotton buds

8. Make sure your parrot gets plenty of sleep.

If you have a parrot as a pet you might be tempted to let it hang out all evening with you. However, it’s very important that your parrot gets about 12 hours of undisturbed sleep every night!

A lack of sleep can cause behavioural issues like screaming. Additionally, during springtime, it can exacerbate hormonal behaviours like aggression.

Yellow pied budgerigar parrot.
Everything on this list applies to small parrots like budgies just as much as it does to larger species. They, too, need lots of attention, proper care and a varied diet. They can even be trained very easily like their big cousins!

9. Keep the cage clean and safe.

Your parrot will thank you! You can use kitchen paper at the bottom of the cage and change it daily. Food and water bowls should also be cleaned every day.

Clean regularly poopy perches and toys, cleaning them with warm water and some vinegar or use a bird-safe disinfectant the F10 SC. The rest of the cage can get a full scrub on a monthly basis; you can even take it outside and use a power washer to really remove any and all built-up grime.

Whenever you clean the cage, take a look at all toys and other accessories. Are they still safe? No splinters sticking out or sharp edges caused by chewing? Replace anything that looks like it could potentially cause harm to your pet.

10. Never stop reading, learning and asking.

This last point is probably the most important of all. The primary part of pet parrot care is to never stop learning and be receptive to new info.

It can be confronting when you learn that something you were doing for a long time is actually not ideal, but you should be open to changing your habits. Talk to other parrot owners, fact check everything and test different options to see what works best for you and your parrot.

Join a Facebook group where you can ask questions and share opinions. Parrot Essentials has an Exclusive Facebook Group available to customers only.

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