All About Pets: Parakeets make wonderful pets

By Alyssa Landau, Columnist, The Friday Flyer


Let’s talk about the world’s most popular parrot. Which one do you think it is? If you guessed a parakeet, then you are absolutely correct! I am going to give you the inside scoop as to why these beautiful birds are extremely easy to tame, what is in their diet, what you need in order to make yours happy and much more.

Parakeet Q & A

? How big do parakeets get? These lovable birds can grow up to seven inches long and that is a measurement from its tail to its head.

? Are they loud? Of course they will squawk and chirp nosily when they are frustrated or happy and talkative, but they are nowhere near as loud as other parrots.

? What colors do they come in? That’s a hard one to pinpoint, because parakeets can acquire over 70 colors and patterns ? with more developing each year. Color does not have any effect on the temperament. They come in blue, yellow, white, green and a mixture. The normal color is actually green, and the other colors are mutations that occurred in nature. Because the blue and yellow are more captivating to the human eye, they have been bred to have more of these colors. However, if they were to have these colors in the wild, predators would spot them easily, which would not be good for the parakeet.

? How can I tell a male from a female? ? You can decipher this by their nostrils, which are near the cere, the fleshy part just above the beak. If the cere blue they are male and if pink or brown they are female.

? How is their temperament? Parakeets are very docile and can be easily tamed. Sometimes they are scared when handled but once they get used to your affection and touch, they become docile. During the day, healthy parakeets tend to sing songs. When lights are off, they are more quiet.

? How long do they live? ? A parakeet can live between 12 to 15 years, depending on conditions and treatment.

? What do I need? ? You will need a cage that is big enough so it does not feel like a prison. I recommend a round cage versus a rectangle or square. I have found that the cages sold for cockatiels are larger and makes for a happy parakeet. The smallest size you could get away with would be 36 inches wide, 24 inches deep and 48 inches tall. Make sure the bars are not big enough for the bird to stick its head through.

You will also need a bowl to keep the water and food. Make sure they are stainless steel or ceramic, not plastic. Parakeet toys include swings, ropes, acrylic and foot toys. You will also need a perch. Parakeets use their feet during the whole day, so a perch helps to exercise their feet and keep their toenails trimmed.

Your parakeet also will need cuttlebone, which is a central bone from a squid. It provides calcium and they absolutely love it. Also get millet, which is a long treat consisting of seeds!

? Lastly, what do they eat? ? They need a seed-based diet, but cannot thrive on the seeds alone. The seeds should make up about 15 to 30 percent of their diet. Buy the plain-looking seeds, not the colorful ones. Spend that saved money buying them fruits and vegetables. Fruits you can feed your bird are apples, bananas, grapes and plums. Some vegetables are broccoli, corn, kale, yams and red peppers. Try many to see what they like! Tip: The 99-cent Store sells fruits and veggies for only a dollar!

I hope I have informed you enough about the joys of the parakeet. Remember to always do your own research before buying any animal and have fun with it!