New Mexico's Pet Resource SPRING 2008

Is a Parrot the Right Pet For You?

by Harry C. Richardson

Are you thinking of adding a parrot to your home? A first parrot often is purchased on impulse, which is always a bad reason to buy an animal. Longevity also needs to be considered. Parrots live 70-80 years. Are you ready for that type of commitment? Here are some recommendations to guarantee you and your parrot have the best chance at a successful relationship.


As a rule of thumb, the larger the bird the more time, attention and care it requires. Providing a clean, safe, loving environment for a parrot can be greater than it is for other pets.

Cleaning. Parrots require more care and labor intensive cleaning than most people think. Only a parrotís poop hits the papers. Everything else they eat or play with is scattered on floors and walls. The mess isnít personal. A parrotís nature is to be destructive and toss half of its food to the forest floor sharing its harvest. Parrotís have the ability to destroy anything and, unlike puppies, never grow out of the chewing stage. The beak that can open a hard shell nut can just as easily remove a diamond from your ring or shred your curtains, furniture, or art work in the blink of an eye.

Cage size. A cage should be as large as you can afford but at least large enough to allow the bird to stand on a perch and flap its wings unobstructed. Parrots require their beauty sleep. They should get 10-12 hours of sleep in a quiet, dark place which might be difficult to provide in todayís busy households.

What to feed. Most birds have unique diet requirements. As a prospective owner, you need to research diets to insure you can provide the required diet for the bird you are considering. Seed only diets may shorten a birdís life while some birds donít eat seeds. When owners provide all-you-can-eat parrot buffets, it may lead the parrot to eat too many seeds and fruits without getting enough of needed greens, vegetables, grains and sprouts. Whenever possible organic foods are the best choice.

Training a parrot. Parrots are only a few generations away from their wild parrot roots. Since parrots are prey animals, they are distrustful and fearful of things in their immediate environment. Parrots have a long memory. Everything you do affects how secure they feel with you. Parrots need to receive your undivided attention at a particular time each day. Parrots are noted for their ability to communicate and learn at the level of a small toddler. Just like a toddler, parrots can use their intelligence to manipulate their environment and care givers.

Parrots understand and respond to loving kindness. Parrots donít understand punishment. They canít relate what they did to offend you with the punishment that might follow. Punishment only increases their fear and distrust of people. If you make learning fun, you will have a friend for life who will learn anything you take the time to teach him. Reward them when they are doing something right and build on their positive behaviors. Parrots have emotional outbursts which are usually fear based. During such outbursts, they are likely to bite the hand that feeds them or any other hand in the area. Biting, screaming and plucking their beautiful feathers out are just some of the reasons many parrots donít get to live out their lives with their first owner.


A quality air filter limits the bird dust that settles on everything in the area like new fallen snow benefiting both you and your birdís respiratory system. Most parrots wouldnít choose to live in the desert so donít forget to add extra humidity to your birdís air. Speaking of air, the reason miners took canaries into the mines was because canaries were the first to be overcome by deadly gas. Most homes have common toxic fumes from items such as non-stick cookware, candles, air fresheners, household cleansers and smoke. Parrot proof your home before bringing home your new feathered friend. Many parrots outlive their owners with larger birds living 80 years and more. It is important to consider this fact and make a plan as to who will care for your bird when you no longer can.

If you arenít sure you are ready to commit to another life partner, perhaps you could foster a parrot for a local parrot rescue organization. The rescue will provide you with the education and training you need. Be careful, though, once a parrot has touched your heart, itís easy to adopt more birds than you can manage. Does your feathered friend need another bird for companionship? A parrot raised around people usually would rather have your undivided attention than another bird competing for your affection.

If you have an interest in other bird or parrot topics, send your question to: Parrot Questions, c/o PETroglyphs, 7601 Vista del Arroyo NE, Albuquerque, NM 87109 or email to Weíll forward them to the experts.

Harry Richardson provides a much needed service to pet lovers as a parrot and pet sitter in Albuquerque and the surrounding areas. His business, Parrot Valet,, specializes in keeping a petís routine when the client cannot. Harry Richardson has been married for over 30 years and has two grown children. He and his wife share their lives with three dogs and three parrots.

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