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Talk to me about parakeets

post #1 of 15
Thread Starter 
My 4 yo DD is an animal lover. She wants a pet badly. We don't want to get a dog or cat (DS is allergic). DH grew up with a lot of pets and thinks we should get a parakeet. There is a local source for hand-raised birds, and they have some young birds that are ready now.

What would I be getting into with a bird like this? How messy would one bird be? How noisy? How many days could it be left alone - long weekend? Do they really live 15-20 years?

I am very leery of getting a pet as I feel like we are just coming out of toddlerhood, and our family is finally taking camping trips and going on other long weekends. I'm not ready to be stuck again. If we take the plunge and get a pet, it needs to be easy.

Thanks for any thoughts.
post #2 of 15
I personally can't stand birds. I've had parakeets before and found them loud and messy. Never again. How about a hamster? They're not very messy, if you have silent wheels, they're pretty quiet. They don't live for very long and you can really have fun with them. We have 7 of them now Luckily, they don't live that long

If you want a REALLY easy pet, get leopard geckos. You can go a long time without feeding them, they don't make any noise at all, you can hold them and they're easy to give away when you're done with them.
post #3 of 15
Thread Starter 
Thanks for the info - I am wondering about small rodents too. We take home the guinea pigs from the kids' school and they are kind of boring, although DD likes to snuggle them. She loves rats, hamsters, pretty much anything. DH is pretty anti-rodent but the short life span is appealing to me, frankly.

Are the hamsters smelly? What do they eat? DS is allergic to hay and the grass pellets that the guinea pigs require and I wouldn't want to subject him to that all the time.
post #4 of 15
Parakeets can be fairly messy and while they don't rival the larger parrots noise wise, they are somewhat noisy. Also, they should be kept in at least pairs.

I do not think they are ideal pets for young children or for someone who wants a bird that they can really handle. Unlike larger birds, parakeets require a LOT of work to become extremely tame. Mine will step up, but they dislike being petted, dont want their necks scratched etc. The extent of our interaction is that they will sit on my finger. And they don't even do that for long. I grew up in a household full of different parrots, and to get a really interactive pet, you want a larger bird. A cockatiel would probably be the most ideal if you don't have the experience or commitment for a larger parrot.

They also need large cages- the ones you see in pet stores are almost all far too small. My current cage is 30inches X 18inches X 18 inches for a pair. You wouldn't go much smaller for a single bird.

They also need a lot of toys, which you rotate in and out of the cage. Many bird toys are designed to be chewed up and destroyed and they can be expensive. Its not fair to only buy the non-destructible ones because most birds have a natural urge to chew. The same with perches- they need a variety of sizes and textures and they should also be rotated. If they only sit on the generic round dowel perches they can develop foot issues.

Another issue with parakeets and all birds is they need a varied diet. All seed diets can cause issues for birds. Many birds are smart and learn which seeds are their favorites, and then pick them out and only eat those. A diet of just one or two seed types is obviously not balanced, but you can't force a bird to eat the other seeds if he doesn't want to. You can feed pellets, but they also aren't ideal for parakeets, and since they're designed to meet the needs are many different species, may not be completely balanced. For budgies (parakeets) a mix of seeds and pellets seems best- but getting them to switch to pellets or trying any new food is a challenge! They should also get some other foods- fresh veggies, fruits, breads etc. Its important for their health, but you have to work really hard to get them to eat it, sometimes it takes months of giving them the new food daily before they will try it and accept it as part of their diet.

You asked about life span- They can live up to 20 years, although if not cared for properly, the average pet lives more like 10 years- still a long time! They are prone to fatty tumors as they age.

I've left my alone for a weekend, but wouldn't go much longer than that. If I'm leaving for longer I have someone check on them and change their food and water.

Another consideration is that only the males talk, and only some of them.

You said your DS has allergies, has he been around birds? The feathers and dander can be problematic for people with allergies.

About rodents- I think rats are GREAT pets. They have nice temperaments (get a young one) and are very clean. When we had them they were like little dogs- they all come running over to the side of the cage for chin scratches and dog biscuits when we entered the room. Boys tend to love to cuddle. They can even learn tricks, or be litter box trained. They have short life spans and are large enough for a 4 year old to safely handle (but you do need to watch their tails- they are delicate and they should not be handled by them) They aren't smelly and can be left for a weekend. With rats the best feeding option is rat pellets. I really like Oxbow Regal Rat for food. They are omnivores and will greatly enjoy your leftovers as well- they even eat chicken bones (and love them- they are safe for rats). They do require a fairly large cage. This site is great for rat info http://www.ratsrule.com/ They have a cage calculator, and I've also made their homemade rat diet, which could be fun for the kids. Rats should also always be kept in at least pairs- they are high social creatures.

Hamsters are another good choice. They are smaller than rats, but have about the same life span. Some can be skittish, but most are good tempered. I would not recommend any of the dwarf hamster species for young children- stick with normal hamsters. They generally eat seed based hamster mixes. They are not smelly. I should qualify that, I find female hamsters have a distinct musky odor, but many people do not notice it at all. If it worries you, males have no odor. Hamsters can also be litter box trained. A good silent wheel brand is called the Silent Spinner- well worth the money. Avoid wheels with rungs or wire mesh- I've seen numerous hamsters really scrap up and bloody their legs on those. For a noisy wheel, a little veggie oil on the axle really helps. Also, hamsters love to make nests, but avoid cotton wool type nest products- they can get wrapped around legs and stuck in cheek pouches. Plain toilet paper works fine and is greatly appreciated. They, and all rodents, should have a water bottle as bowls will quickly become soiled. Hamster MUST be kept alone. In pairs they will fight, sometimes to the death. (occasionally they will live peaceably, but just as often they appear to do fine, and then turn on each other one day) Hamsters in stores can be kept in the same cage because they are young- after they hit a certain age they become territorial. Hamsters should also have something to chew on in their cage or their teeth can overgrow. You can buy little wooden sticks for this purpose, but many hamsters wont use them, I find small edible dog bones like Greenies or Nylabone Edibles work much better. Actually, I had to ration the greenies because my hamster liked them so much. Also like parakeets, most cages on the market are too small. a 20 gallon long aquarium is about the minimum size. However, it is very easy to make a large and wonderful cage out of a clear plastic storage bin. I can help you with that if you're interested. This forum was always really useful to me- http://hamsterhideout.com/forum/index.php?act=idx
post #5 of 15
Oh, I have to agree about the rats being great pets. Our friend has one that is much friendlier than our hamsters. As soon as you pen her cage, she comes to your hand and goes up to your shoulder, then she hangs out under your hair. Very sweet and I haven't noticed a smell.

Hamsters aren't too smelly if you clean the cage once a week. Ours eat hamster food, pumpkin seeds, apples, carrots, etc. All of ours are kept in separate cages and they each have a piece of fleece that they put into their nests. They love those fleece "blankets" and if one of the kids moves it, they shove the whole thing in their mouths and move it back to their nest.
post #6 of 15
Thread Starter 
Thank you so much for the info. The rats are appealing to me... but I have had two friends who thought they got same-sex rats and voila! babies arrived. Not what I want to have happen.

DH refuses to get a rodent - or I should say refuses to be involved in the care/feeding of a rodent. He is going to get a hand-raised parakeet (budgie) this weekend. Only one. We found a nice large cage on craigslist that we will probably get for it. We'll see how it goes. (We unfortunately have bigger issues, and I am not going to "fall on my sword" over these pet decisions.)

I am concerned about my son's allergies, but I guess if it's a problem we will cross that bridge when we come to it. I am certain we can rehome it within our school community. I have not had DS tested for birds - just cats, dogs, guinea pigs - of these, he was not allergic to the pigs, just their hay.
post #7 of 15
I love my parakeets. I used to HATE birds but these little guys have been growing on me. Definately get two. We have a really large cage which makes them really happy. Where I got my most recent parakeet they gave me a list of all the things they can eat beside seed and it is mostly everything-fruits, vegies, I gave them some Dave's Killer Bread and they loved it.
post #8 of 15
I think you should really consider getting two. Our solo parakeet was really depressed until we got her a new mate and she has perked up 100%.
post #9 of 15
I didn't have a parakeet, but a quaker parrot (small but pretty smart), and we traveled with her everywhere we went. Her cage at home was huge, but we bought a little travel cage for weekend trips and whatnot. She went camping, to the IL's, on holiday, she even evacuated with us during Hurricane Katrina!

Still, I probably would not get another bird as a pet.
post #10 of 15

We have had parakeets, hamsters,mices,voles,guinea pigs,dogs,cats,chickens,frogs,and toads. I think that is it lol. I really liked the parakeet but it is not a pet for the young.I guess none really are. I resuced a girl who was self-pecking.Kind of like a person who cuts themselves.Anyway a loner needs a mirror and/or a fake bungie. I got my girl 2 boys(one at a time),but the boys died eventually. I think my bird lived 6 or 7 years. She was loud and messy,but I did like her.


Oh we had fish too.Nice but I hate cleaning the tank. We had a syrian hamster and her urine smell was very strong.She also had a habit of raising her butt,so her pee would go up and over the cage edge. Guinea pigs were ok. Mice ok till they bit.Frogs and toads are neat. Anole(sp) lizards are cool,but need a light or heat rock.Oh we have a rabbit too.She was nice till she grew up and now she bites.Pretty boring pet but if she wan't a biter she might be fun. We are going to try a rat next time we get a pet.Boys should be easy to tell apart as their testicles are pretty big. I get girls when I get pets.We found our vole in the yard.I thought it was a fat mouse.Turned out to be a pregnant meadow vole.Was neat to watch the family and then release them.

post #11 of 15

I just got a new budgie/parakeet to be a mate for one who just lost her mate. It has been so fun. I used to hate birds, but now I think I may be a bird person smile.gif

post #12 of 15

Avoid cockatiels unless you want to be cleaning ALL.  THE.  TIME.  I had parakeets while growing up.  While they did scatter seed and feathers, it wasn't too bad (of course, my Mom did all the cleaning, so perhaps my memory of how much work they involved is biased!).


We just adopted out our two cockatiels to a couple that run a bird rescue organization.  I just couldn't take the cleaning anymore.  We'd had them for 8 years, since they were just weeks old (and ds was 4.5 years old).  It wasn't the seed scattering (there wasn't that much).  It wasn't the feathers (ditto).  It was the damned powder they put out.  It coated anything and everything in the room.  It has a slight oily feel to it and sticks to furniture and fabric.  I had to dust and vacuum daily and it still accumulated. 


Also, be warned, if a cockatiel bites, it can draw blood.  This might make it the wrong choice for a small child.


That all being said, we were able to go on week-long trips without having anyone watch the birds for us.  They used water bottles (the type used for rodents) instead of water bowls and we would fill their seed bowl to the top.  A radio and the lights on a timer and they were fine.  



post #13 of 15

I think budgies are pretty good pets for kids.

They are busy little entertainers. Our two are adorable and funny. They have a big cage, toys and branches. They crawl, fly, lick everything, hang upside down and chatter chatter chatter. In the morning when they hear me wake up they get really excited and start to 'talk'. They like it when I open the curtain and the window so that they can talk with the outside birds.

We call them our circus freaks.


They are not the greatest for handling, we use a towel to pick them up. The yellow one is pretty docile (I think its a male) and the blue one is crazy angry, she screams and bites like mad, lol. We think that one is a girl.

We had an umbrella cocaktoo temporarily, I much prefer the budgies even if they don't speak human.


I do agree with having two. They are so much more lively and fun to watch when there is two. I had one budgie as a kid and he was pretty darn quiet, I bet he was scared and depressed being on his own.

post #14 of 15
Thread Starter 

thanks everyone for your thoughts on this.


I thought we were getting the bird last weekend but it was not done weaning.   DH goes to pick it up tomorrow.


He thinks that if we get two birds, they will bond with each other and not be friendly to us humans.   And if there is only one, then it bonds to the humans and is friendly to us.   I'd rather get two if we're going to get them because I worry about the bird being alone a lot.     


He is pretty experienced with animals - he had budgies one at a time, cockatiels two at a time, and two different kinds of small parrots one at a time, while he was still living at home with his mom.   They also had dogs, rabbits, reptiles and other small animals.   Plus he used to work at a zoo with the keepers. 


grahamsmom, do they need the human voices from the radio so they feel less lonely or what?

post #15 of 15
Originally Posted by greenmansions View Post


He thinks that if we get two birds, they will bond with each other and not be friendly to us humans.   And if there is only one, then it bonds to the humans and is friendly to us.   I'd rather get two if we're going to get them because I worry about the bird being alone a lot.     


 I was thinking about this today as I watched our wee birds socialising with each other.

It incredibly sad and selfish to deny, what is naturally a social creature, the companionship of its own kind because of a human belief that it will 'bond better' with the humans.

What about all the hours the poor thing spends in ISOLATION, during the day and at night, and while you are away on vacation?

Please tell your husband I say this :)

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