The Parakeet is also known as Budgerigar or Budgie is a very popular pet amongst bird enthusiasts. He is an intelligent bird with an impressive ability to mimic human speech. Friendly and full of life, he is easy to tame and loves being around his favourite humans.
Where did Parakeets come from?
Wild Parakeets originally came from Australia and are commonly found in large flocks in grasslands. It was John Gould, an English naturalist, who introduced these Australian native birds into Europe in 1838 where they quickly became greatly favoured as a pet.
In 1894, exporting of Budgies was banned which led to the rise of Parakeet breeding business in Europe. In the 1920s, the Parakeet was exported to America and became extremely popular during the 1950s.
Parakeets in the UK
The parakeets are commonly found in England; Kent, Sucess and outskirts of London are some of the areas they are frequently sighted. In 2002, the Parakeet population is around 5,800 in the London area alone.
What is a Parakeet?
The Parakeet is a small bird that grows about 18 cm and weighs 0.03 to 0.04 grams. He comes in a wide variety of colours and patterns. There are over 70 mutations recorded but more is developed each year. Colour variants include albino, blue, yellow, pied, and the standard green.
Young Budgies sport a bar of markings on their forehead. It recedes as they grow older. Their eyes are black which turn grey once they reach their senior years.
Determining the Parakeet’s gender is easier if they are fully grown. It happens when they are around 6 to 8 months of age.
Adult male Parakeets have a bluish cere, which is the fleshy part surrounding their nostrils. Fully-matured females’ cere comes in tan or beige.
READ: 8 Best Pet Bird Breeds
Parakeet Cage Size
The Parakeet weighs around 0.03 to 0.04 grams and can grow up to 18 cm. The recommended minimum cage size for the Parakeet is 20 x 12 x 18, but if you can provide a larger enclosure, it would be even more favourable to your pet. This gives him more space to fly around and play.
Be sure that the spacing of the cage bars is half an inch or less. It prevents the Budgie from getting stuck or escaping from the cage.
Consider placing a floor grate inside the enclosure if there is none. This inhibits him from walking on his droppings. Perches should also be available and should be placed on different levels in the cage. Choose different sizes, shapes, and textures of perches as it keeps your Parakeet’s feet in good condition.
On the bottom of the cage, put bedding such as aspen wood pellets, corn cob bedding, shredded newspaper, or recycled paper. Avoid using cedar or pine shavings as they are toxic to parakeets. Bedding should be spot cleaned weekly. Complete removal and changing of bedding must be done every month.
The cage should be cleaned at least once a week. Use a special disinfectant for bird cages which you can find in pet stores Make sure to rinse off residues using a damp cloth and let it dry. Food bowls and water bottles should be washed every day. Boil the food bowl in a pot of water to eliminate bacteria.
How to care for a parakeet
Keeping a Parakeet as a pet will require you to free him out of his cage and allow him to fly around safely in a secure area in your home. This should be done daily. Offer him various toys like chew toys, foraging toys, and puzzle toys to keep him entertained. This promotes exercise and mental stimulation.
Rotate and change the toys each month to prevent him from easily getting bored. Stay away from toys with mirrors. Parakeets love mirrors that they would be so engrossed by it and stop socialising with people.
Bathe your Parakeet every two to three days. Birds easily catch respiratory problems so make sure that the room is not chilly before washing him. Turn off the fan or air conditioner to prevent him from feeling cold.
In a shallow container, pour lukewarm water. If necessary, add at least an inch of room temperature water to lessen the heat. Put a towel underneath the cage to catch the splashes of water when he is bathing.
If your Parakeet does not like bathing in a shallow container, use a bottle spray instead. Fill the bottle with warm water and spray it on his body. Be extra careful not to spritz on his face.
Once he is done, he will fly around inside the cage to dry himself. Never use a towel or a blow dryer to help him dry. This can be extremely traumatising for your Parakeet bird.
Instead, place his cage near a closed, sunny window to hasten the drying process. Do not turn on the fan or air conditioner unless he is completely dry.
Are Parakeets good pets?
Parakeets are easy-going and gentle pets. What makes them good pet birds is that they are quite easy to tame. Compared to other types of parrots, they are also less chatty. Once you have gained your Budgie’s trust, he will be very devoted and affectionate towards you.
Although the Parakeet is a sociable bird, he may be timid during his first day in his new home. Give him time to take in and adjust to his new environment. Avoid touching or handling your pet bird as it can frighten him away.
Instead, visit his cage every day and talk to your Parakeet in a gentle voice. This will not only soothe him but also encourage him to mimic what you say. With that said, only use words you don’t mind him repeating.
When he has grown accustomed to your presence, slowly get him used to your touch. Do this by placing your hand in the cage. Let it lay still and don’t move it around. At first, your Parakeet may squawk and flap his wings in alarm.
Do not move your arm so that he will understand that you are not going to harm him. Once he’s calmed down, place food treats such as seeds or fruits in your hand.
He may be hesitant to approach at first but eventually, he will get interested. Encourage him to initiate contact by continuing to hold out your hand whilst talking to him. If he gets used to the presence of your hand, place your finger on the edge of the perch and let him approach you.
By offering treats when training a Parakeet, he will eventually perch on your finger. Remember that earning your Budgie’s trust may take days or weeks, so just continue repeating this process every day until he feels safe and comfortable to bond with you.
Children and Parakeets get along well, however, close supervision is required when they interact to avoid accidents. Mishandling the Budgie may cause broken bones and other injuries.
Excessive noises during playtime may cause him stress as well. This could lead to the development of unwanted behaviours such as plucking his feathers. Therefore, it is also necessary to teach younger children the importance of gently handling a pet bird.
Are Parakeets smart?
The Parakeet is one of the smartest talking parrot breeds. Some even have larger vocabularies than bigger parrots like the Quakers, Amazon parrots, and African Greys. The Budgerigars can learn and mimic whistles, words, and phrases.
One Budgie is known to have mimicked over 1,700 words. Note that male Parakeets are more vocal compared to their female counterparts.
What do Parakeets eat?
A Parakeet’s diet consists of seeds, pellets, vegetables, fruits, and water. Be sure to provide your pet bird with fresh water every day to keep him hydrated. Change it once a day to prevent bacteria contamination.
A combination of pellets and seeds should make up 75 per cent of his diet. Around a teaspoon of pellets and seeds mix is sufficient.
Twenty per cent of a Parakeet’s diet should be comprised of veggies, especially dark leafy greens like kale, spinach, and parsley. Fruits should only take up 5 per cent of his diet and should be given sparingly. Melon, apples, kiwi, grapes, banana, and oranges are some fruits that are safe for Budgerigars to eat. Be sure to remove pits and seeds to prevent the risk of choking.
Provide him with a cuttlebone and mineral block too to gain calcium and other nutrients and minerals.
How long does a Parakeet live?
The Parakeet has an average lifespan of 5 to 10 years. If properly cared for, they may even live longer. Providing him with a spacious cage, healthy and well-balanced meals, and a clean and relaxing home environment will increase his longevity.
Health concerns can greatly affect the lifespan of Parakeets. Parakeets are vulnerable to several health issues such as:
- iodine deficiency
Getting your Budgie regularly checked by the vet will reduce the chances of contracting these health conditions. It is important to know the early signs of illnesses to provide timely medical care. Difficulties in breathing, lack of energy, sneezing, frequent scratching of the body and discharge from the eyes, nose, or mouth are red flags that indicate your pet bird may be sick.
Cost of Parakeet Ownership
How much does a Parakeet cost?
The cost of buying a Parakeet is around £15. Expenses for food may range from £300 to £400 a year. You may need to pay £30 to £100 for his cage. Providing him with basic items such as food and water bowls may cost £40 to £70.
You’ll have to spend around £40 for toys, perches, and stands. A vet check-up may cost you £30 whilst microchipping costs £20. Getting pet insurance for your Parakeet will add about £8 every month.
Parakeet Breed Fun Facts
- Although Budgerigars come in a variety of colours, their only natural colour is green. Other colour variations are achieved through breeding.
- The Budgie has a third eyelid but it is rarely visible. It lubricates the eyes and clears out debris and dirt.
Do you want to have a lively Parakeet as your family pet? Check out the Parakeets for sale section.