Practical - Index > Companion Animals > Pet Care > Parrots

Keeping Parrots as "Pets"

Moluccan Cockatoo - Photo by Dee Thompson

Once a parrot has bonded to humans it usually prefers to be with humans and shows no interest in other parrots. Humans create this bonding by hand feeding babies. It can create neurotic birds.

If a parrot is truly comfortable in a human flock it will select one person to pair with (parrots are monogamous) and it will attempt to start a family (a male will burrow to create a nest, a female will lay unfertilized eggs). When no family is created it can be very frustrating for the parrot and lead to feather picking and other signs of nervousness and depression. I don't believe feather-picking ever occurs with parrots in the wild.

There are few captive parrots that get the constant stimulation from human flocks that their intelligent minds require, or that they would get in the wild.

Of course, it would be nice to have a law passed that required parrot owners to spend at least 4 hours per day interacting with their parrot, but it's not likely to happen.

Our Position

Whether captured in the wild or born in captivity, parrots are not domesticated animals like cats and dogs. They are still wild animals. Their natural curiosity, sensitivity, intellect, playfulness, and ability to form bonds with humans can tempt people to keep them in captivity. Unfortunately, the traits that make parrots so intriguing are the same ones that make them extremely difficult to live with as companion animals. Many parrots find themselves displaced as their natural behaviors and needs clash with human expectations. Before you buy or adopt a parrot, consider the following facts:

•  Parrots bite and chew — you and your home!

•  Parrots are messy and active!

•  Parrots scream, but many do not talk!

•  Most parrots won't learn cute tricks!

•  Parrots are social and need daily attention!

•  Some parrots never bond with humans!

•  Parrots need to be served a varied diet!

•  Parrots are sensitive to household products!

•  Parrot cages, toys, and vet visits are expensive!

•  Large parrots can live up to 80 years — will you?

Educating yourself about parrots before bringing one into your life is crucial to solving the displaced parrot problem! Only people who thoroughly understand that parrots are wild animals and who can commit to meeting their demanding needs should consider providing a home for one. Only then will all parrots kept in captivity be properly cared for and appreciated for the wild animals they are, the pet market's demand for "impulse purchased" baby parrots will decrease, and the displaced bird epidemic will become a thing of the past.

Recommended Flyer

The facts about keeping PARROTS AS PETS

The facts about keeping PARROTS AS PETS

Recommended Articles

Avian Welfare Issues: An Overview by Denise Kelly, Eileen McCarthy, Krista Menzel & Monica Engebretson

Birds as Pets: What You Should Know by the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS)

Bye Bye Birdie: Parrots’ Demands Often Prompt Owners to Take Flight By Laura Lafay

Exotic Birds Are Not Pets, Really by Morgan Henderson, originally published in The Philadelphia Inquirer

Free as a Bird? by Dr. Lorin Lindner & the Animal Protection Institute (API)

More Beautiful Wild: Captive Birds by the Animal Protection Institute (API)

Parrots and People…A Relationship of Conflict by Tami Myers and Mary Margison, The Beak Retreat

Should Wild Animals Be Kept As Pets? by the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS)

10 Things You Need to Know Before Adopting a Bird by Monica Engebretson, Animal Protection Institute (API)

The Top 10 Reasons Birds Are Surrendered to MAARS by Midwest Avian Adoption & Rescue Services (MAARS)

Treating Parrots As Birds, Not Mammals by Greg Glendell

The True Nature of Parrots by Denise Kelly, Joan Rae & Krista Menzel

Why People Give Up Birds by The True Parrot


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