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Caring for Your
Pet Parakeet (Budgerigar)

Cage

The cage you select will probably be your petís home for its entire life. Select a cage that provides room to fly for exercise. The cage should be as large as your space allows and wider than it is tall. Round or very tall/narrow cages are not appropriate.

Parakeets can adapt to any temperature, as long as they are out of drafts. Placement of the cage in front of a window can result in wide fluctuations in temperature, and should be avoided.

The cage should be cleaned frequently to provide a healthy environment for you and your pet.

Feeding

Bird Seed: Bird seed is the core of the parakeetís diet, but shouldn't be served exclusively because it is not a balanced diet. Purchase the seed from a pet shop, or feed store. Any of the small hookblll diets prepared by Kaytee, Abba, Kellogg, or Scarlett are excellent products. Avoid buying seed sold in the grocery store. It is often several years old, and has little nutritional value.

Pelletized Foods: Nutritionally complete food pellets have been developed for pet birds. Most birds have been raised on a seed diet, and are reluctant to eat pellets. Despite this challenge, feeding pellets is beneficial. You may wish to try mixing them with the bird seed, or soft food. This will encourage the bird to eat them.

Protein/Calcium: Parakeets need more protein than is contained in bird seed. Feed mashed hard boiled eggs (boil for 30 minutes to kill all bacteria) one or two times a week. For added calcium include the shell. Remove the egg after a short time in the cage to prevent spoilage.

Vegetables: Pet birds need a high level of vitamin A to prevent respiratory problems. Any orange or dark green vegetable is high in vitamin A. These include broccoli, kale, baked sweet potato and carrots. Serve them daily.

Fruit: Some parakeets will eat fruit, such as apples and oranges.

Vitamins: Vitamins may be added to the water or soft food (mashed egg). Putting vitamins in drinking water results in an excellent medium for the growth of bacteria. If this approach is used, the water must be changed frequently, and the bottle thoroughly washed with soap and water each day.

Grit:Some breeders and veterinarians believe grit should not be fed. They believe it may become impacted in the crop and kill the bird. However, many do think it is needed for the bird to properly digest the food. If you do offer grit, it should be removed immediately, if the bird appears ill. A sick bird will sometimes gorge on grit and become impacted.

Cuttlebone: This is an excellent source of calcium, and gives the bird something to chew on.

Miscellaneous: Birds will eat many of the same foods we do. You may wish to offer your pet whole wheat toast with peanut butter, cooked pasta, boiled lentils or a piece of cooked chicken. Avoid spicy and fatty foods, and all junk food.

Bathing

Birds need an occasional shower or bath to have healthy feathers. Offer a shallow dish of water several times a week. Spraying the bird with cool water will also improve the condition of the feathers.

Toys

Parakeets need and enjoy toys. Many pet shops cater to pet birds, and offer a wide variety of safe toys. The bird will eventually destroy the toy. That is part of the fun. Select toys that do not have small pieces that can be swallowed, or sharp edges. Avoid anything that can become caught on the leg band.

Companionship

Parakeets are flock animals that need companionship to be physically and mentally healthy. You can provide that companionship. If you are unable to do so, or are away from home for several hours a day, you may wish to seriously consider having more than one parakeet.

Leg Bands

To provide a permanent identification for the bird, a leg band is put on when the chick is a few days old. A Budgerigar Association of America or American Budgerigar Association band indicates the breederís code number, the year the bird was hatched, and a number that applies to that bird. An imported bird will also wear a plain silver band to indicate it passed through quarantine.

Breeding

Parakeets usually need the noise and activity of a flock of birds to come into breeding condition. A single pair of parakeets generally will not breed. However, there are always exceptions. If they do lay eggs, you may wish to buy a nest box and let nature take its course. If you do not want to raise babies, simply discard the eggs.

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