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Getting to know the Parakeet.

Parakeets are friendly birds that have made great pets for bird-lovers all over the world. A parakeet is more than just a pretty thing to look at, though. Bringing a parakeet home means making it part of your family. These social birds will want to play, chew, talk, and be in a home where they can bond with people. They also have regular needs for which you will have to provide. If you are willing to put the time in to socialize and care for one, though, a parakeet may be the pet for you.

You’ll need to account for a parakeet's lifespan before deciding to get one. A healthy parakeet can live for 15-20 years, which is more than many cats or dogs and most small mammals, but less than larger birds like parrots. If you plan to travel or make lifestyle changes in the future, a parakeet might not be the best pet for you. While personality varies from bird to bird, most parakeets share two values: they are social, and they are stubborn. When a parakeet is let out to play, it will want to socialize with you. It will also want to chew and peck around the house, and will leave droppings anywhere, including on the furniture and on you. Parakeets are intelligent and can be hand-trained. Consider if this is something that appeals to you or not.

Parakeets cannot be housebroken, so cleanup is a huge part of taking care of the pet. You can put down towels and papers when you let the bird out to play to help minimize cleaning, though. Parakeets don’t squawk all of the time, but they will make a loud screaming noise at least once a day for several minutes on end, up to half an hour. If there is someone in your home who needs lots of sleep, like a child, or is otherwise sensitive to noise, a parakeet might not be the right pet. 

Parakeets are friendly, social bird, meaning that they need daily attention. You need to be able to commit time every day to cleaning your parakeet’s cage, changing out food and water bowls, and socializing with it by playing, talking, and hand-training.

The exact amount of time you spend with your bird will depend on your commitments and your schedule, but they should receive at least an hour of social time a day.

Burge's parakeet

Parakeets are very social. Unless there is someone in the home in the house to socialize with most of the time, your parakeet will probably want a friend. Think about whether you are ready to keep 2 birds at one time, which will double the noise, social time, and clean-up, but also double the love and affection. Parakeets are easily stressed, and susceptible to hurting themselves or weakened immunity when anxious. If you move frequently, or have an active household such as one with small children, it may be difficult to keep your parakeet healthy. Parakeets tend to prefer a temperature between 65° F and 80° F (18° C and 26.5° C). If you live in an area where it tends to get very cold or very hot, your parakeet may require you to turn up your climate control systems, which could boost your energy and/or gas bills.

Indian Ringneck parakeet
Indian Ringneck parakeet

Consider your other pets. Having a cat, dog, snake, or other predatory pet could be a risk for your parakeet. While many homes have multiple types of pets, it requires very careful attention to every interaction. Think about the demeanor of your current pets. Even a well-trained cat or dog who just wants to play could accidentally hurt your parakeet.  If you are going to bring your parakeet into a home with other pets, be sure you have a secure cage with bars too small for the other pets to get in. Do not leave the parakeet out unattended at any point. While some choose to keep parakeets in small cages, they are typically much happier in larger environments.

Make sure you have room in your home for a cage that is large enough to fit your parakeet, it’s food and water dishes, multiple toys, and multiple perches, and still give the bird room to fly. The general recommendation is to buy the largest cage you can afford.

Parakeets aren’t birds that can be left alone if you travel or are away from home frequently. Think about whether you have someone you trust to come feed and check on the bird.

Avoid getting a parakeet if someone in your home has health issues. Consider if you or anyone in the family has a weak immune system. Birds can carry diseases that don't make them sick but can be passed onto people, such as giardia and campylobacter. If someone in your home has a weak immune system, a pet parakeet may not be appropriate for your circumstances

On top of initial set-up, keeping a parakeet will require you to regularly buy food, chew toys, treats, new bowls, and supplements like mineral blocks. These are not typically high-cost items, but you still need to be prepared to regularly spend money on your bird.

Even a healthy-looking parakeet should see an avian vet every year to make sure the bird is doing as well as it looks. On top of that, you may have unexpected vet costs if you notice your parakeet show symptoms of an illness. Be prepared to spend money at least once a year on vet visits, and have a way to pay for unexpected illness.

In the U.S., the cost of visiting an avian vet can range from $50 to $200 per appointment, not including medication or off-site work such as lab work, depending upon the vet and the bird’s condition.

What Are the Differences Between Parakeets and Budgies?

The truth is that Parakeets and Budgies are actually one and the same. The birds that we commonly call Parakeets in the United States are known as Budgerigars or Budgies to the rest of the world. While some may claim that Parakeets and Budgies are not the same, their taxonomy is precisely the same.

English Budgie parakeet
Australian Budgerigar parakeet

In Joseph M. Forshaw's book, Parrots of the World, the Parakeet is simply listed as a "Budgerigar" with the scientific name, Melopsittacus undulatus. This scientific name in Latin is the same given to the parakeet. So they are in fact the same species. 

While it is still very fuzzy as to how these birds got the name "Budgie" which is short for its proper name "Budgerigar," there are several theories. One is that it comes from the Australian slang word, "budgery." 

No matter what the origin is of these delightful little birds, they are the third most popular companion animal in the world listing right below dogs and cats. They have been popular for centuries and are a native of Australia where they live in the dry grasslands and are extremely tough little birds. They generally move about in large flocks finding water during times of drought as well as searching for their diet of grains, grasses, seeds, and insects. They are considered a fairly savvy bird to be able to survive under the conditions they do. 

The word, "Parakeet" is a term used to describe a group of birds number several dozen that are small in size and have long tail feathers and slender bodies. Other parrots referred to as parakeet are the mustache parakeet, the grass parakeet, the Monk parakeet also known as the Quaker Parrot, as well as the Indian Ring-necked Parakeet. All of these birds are indeed small parrots and they all have long tail feathers.

The Budgerigar was first recorded in history by the famous botanist and zoologist George Shaw in 1805. British by birth, he became quite interested in the natural flora and fauna of Australia when he began working in the natural history section of the British Museum. People were colonizing Australia at the time and specimens of both plants and animals were being sent back to England for further study. He was the first to publish his findings with scientific names of the budgerigar as well as the platypus, the echidna, the wombat, and the black snake.

The first budgies arrived in England in 1840. Captive breeding began about 1850 when an interest in keeping these birds as companion birds had begun. The first color variation using selective breeding was recorded in 1870 and after that many variations were developed that still survive to this day. 

There are different varieties of these birds available. They come in a sea of beautiful color mutations, and selective breeding has given types like the English Budgie a distinctive look that's all their own.

Parak Mustache Parakeet
The Budgerigar parakeet

While people are normally accustomed to seeing a variety of colored budgies for sale in pet shops, the only natural color of budgies in the wild is the yellow/green variety. All other budgies, including the blue budgies, white budgies, and others, are color mutations bred specifically for the pet trade. There's nothing wrong with these birds, but don't expect to see a blue budgie in the wild. 

Since they're small, budgies are relatively inexpensive to care for and feed. But contrary to popular belief, a diet consisting only of seeds is not good for a small bird like a budgie, and can even cause health problems. Instead, veterinarians recommend a budgie diet that includes pellets and fresh fruits and vegetables including leafy greens. It's OK to feed budgies seeds as part of this diet, as long as they're getting enough nutrients from other foods.

The Pacific Parrotlet is also known as the parrotlet, pocket parrot, Pacific parrotlet, celestial parrotlet, and Lesson's parrotlet.  Colorful, charming, and intelligent, parrotlets have become increasingly popular pets. Their small size and quiet nature make them an ideal choice for people who live in apartments or condos or anyone who can't house a larger bird.

Nicknamed "pocket parrots" in the pet trade, these tiny birds are the smallest members of the parrot family. They are just as intelligent as many larger species. Some learn to talk quite well, although they're not especially noted for this ability. When properly tamed, they make perfectly affectionate and absolutely adorable pets.

The Pacific parrotlet can be found in Central America and South America. They're most prevalent in Peru and Ecuador where they enjoy the tropical forests.

Pacific Parrotlet parakeet

It's common for these tiny birds to gather in flocks of 100 or more, with some being so large they look like clouds of smoke in the sky. Parrotlets will spend hours each day in the trees where they forage for fruit and seeds or on clay cliffs that supplement their diet and prevent health issues.

Parrotlets are "true" parrots and their closest relative is the Amazon parrot. Although the two species differ greatly in size, owners often report striking similarities between them. This applies to their appearance as well as their temperament.

Parrotlets have not been bred in captivity long, so many of their natural instincts have not been bred out of the species. While Pacific parrotlets are the most common species to be kept as pets, others are popular as well. Among these are the Mexican parrotlet (Forpus cyanopygius cyanopygius), the spectacled parrotlet (Forpus conspicillatus conspicillatus), and the yellow-faced parrotlet (Forpus xanthops).

Quaker Monk Parakeet
Quaker Parrot Nest Box

The Quaker Parrot (Monk Parakeet).

The Quaker parrot is a small-sized parrot about the size of a cockatiel with a heavier structure. These bright green monomorphic birds are found in the sub-tropical regions of South America.

These intelligent, gregarious birds are a perfect source of amusement for their owners. Owners should be cautious while choosing a cage as these birds are adept at finding ways to open their cage locks. Their cage should be large and spacious, coupled with wooden or natural perches so they can fly about from branch to branch. Because of their tendency to escape, the bars should be spaced at a distance of five-eighth of an inch.

Highly fascinated by toys, any newly included objects in their dwelling catch their attention at an instant. Therefore, it would be a good idea to decorate the cage with different chewable bird toys of varied shapes, size, color, and purpose. Try bringing in new toys at frequent intervals to prevent them from getting bored with the same stuff. You can also place swings and ladders in the cage.

They are the only species of the parrot family to build their nests with sticks. In fact, some of them are even fond of making nests with anything they get in hand like pencils, toothpicks, shredded paper and so on. While choosing nest boxes for these birds make sure you have some of their favorite nesting materials handy which is safe for them.

They tend to suffer from the problem of fatty liver, mostly when they have an improper diet.

Moreover, intense destructive behavior can cause them to pluck their feather that may reach the extent of self-mutilation, affecting the physical and mental health of these parakeets. They are known to be carriers of psittacosis, which affects their immune system, also causing a respiratory problem. Other problems suffered by them include papilloma, gout, and pox.

Quaker parrots are considered to be a threat to agriculture, which is one of the reasons for its ownership being illegal in many states of USA.They are named “Quaker” because of the manner in which they quake or shake their head. Some are also of the view that the grayish pattern on their face resembles the Quaker outfit. This bird is also called monk parakeet as it has pale-colored feathers on top of its head resembling a tonsure of a monk.

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