Peggy McLeod, owner of Feathers & Fur Pet Care of Belchertown, MA has plenty of good advice for those who are interested in keeping an exotic bird. McLeod, who has worked with exotic birds and pets for 16 years, provides home visits and has her own specially constructed bird room for boarding.
McLeod said that the first, last, and most important thing to do before bringing an exotic pet into your home is to research the pet’s needs very carefully. You also need to consider how that pet will integrate with you and your family. For example, many birds, if they have only been socialized to you, may express aggression towards new family members. “Buying an exotic pet on impulse is one of the worst mistakes for you and your pet,” said McLeod. “You also want to set up for your pet before you bring it home,” she added.
The Mess Birds Make
Birds are very messy and they chew a lot. You need to have a large enough cage for your bird’s size, and consider if you are going to allow your bird to play outside of the cage (recommended). “Having a large enough space is the most important aspect,” said McLeod. You can train your parrot not to defecate anywhere but their cage, but they will have accidents. If you have antiques or other precious objects in your home, you’ll not want them in the same room as your parrot.
Bird Habitats in the House
McLeod said many people will simply have a cage in their living room, or create a space that is very easy to clean where you and your bird can interact easily. McLeod said most people learn not to have very much in the way of carpeting near their bird. “It is also best to have a humidifier and an air purifier (filter not ionic). “Birds need plenty of humidity and have very sensitive respiratory systems,” she said. For example, the toxins from a burned Teflon pan can kill your bird. You also need to be aware of how toxic your cleaning products are. If you are having carpets cleaned, keep your bird in another room until the air clears of fumes.
You need to be aware of fans, wood stoves, or other dangerous objects if you plan to allow your bird outside the cage.
Birds also require variety in toys, perches, and plenty of safe things to chew on.
If your bird and most especially parrots become bored, they often will start to “pick” or over-groom themselves to near baldness.
A Few More Words to the Wise
Parrots and birds, such as finches, parakeets, or cockatiels are not decorations. Many are more intelligent than dogs and cats. Keep in mind, they are the only living creature that can learn human language and actually respond back with our own words, as proven by the famous African Grey, Alex.
Some bird owners have their bird’s wings clipped before bringing them home (and sometimes after). If you have other pets or young children and you plan to allow the bird outside of its cage, clipping their wings is a poor idea as they will have no means of escape if endangered.
All birds and even all parrots are not the same. They come from different parts of the world and have different character traits. An important thing to remember is that larger parrots live for a long time – 50 to 70 plus years. Medium parrots, 30 to 40 years, and smaller parrots such as Quaker Parrots, 25 to 30 years. “Nutrition and veterinary medicine has come a long way, allowing these birds to live for a long time,” said McLeod. You need to plan accordingly for a pet that may outlive you.
If you are an avid bird owner, you may create a room that also has walls that are very easy to clean, such as vinyl. Yes, they projectile poop sometimes, so the walls would be easier to clean and the added humidity won’t create a mold problem.
Lastly, if you are considering any exotic pet, be aware of how they socialize, if they tend to bite and how to prevent that behavior, and how much noise and mess you are willing to live with and clean up after. That way, you and your pet can have a healthy and enjoyable life together.