If you are a fan of movies, you will undoubtedly know that birds play an important role in films that we have grown to love as both children and adults. Cinderella wouldn’t have made it to the ball without the speedy wardrobe assembly from her little winged assistants, and Harry Potter depended on his trusty owl, Hedwig, to deliver crucial messages between Hogwarts and the Muggle world. Birds-whether behind a television screen or simply perched on our back porch-have always played significant roles in our lives. It is no mystery that the popularity of owning birds as pets, especially Parakeets, has increased tremendously throughout the years.
Parakeets, or Budgies as some are called, have become extremely popular pets due to their friendly, gentle nature. “A well-socialized Budgie can be an incredibly interactive and talkative pet,” said Dr. Sharman Hoppes, Clinical Associate Professor at the Texas A&M College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences. “They can learn tricks and learn to fly to you with training and patience and many can learn to talk.”
Bred in captivity since the mid-1800s, Budgies are considered by most to be domesticated birds. Being playful and active animals, they require a fairly large cage to allow room for exercise, toys, and foraging opportunities for mental stimulation. “They need a large parrot cage with bar spacing appropriate for a small bird,” Hoppes said. Covering the cage with a cloth at night is also encouraged to help your Budgie settle down for sleep.
Even with a large cage, Budgies need play and socialization time outside of the cage as well. “Birds that are cage bound tend to get overweight and have associated health issues,” said Hoppes. Spending time outside of the cage is recommended for your Budgie, but always make sure that the area is free of any potential danger. Especially watch out for ceiling fans and open windows or doors when releasing the bird. Budgies can be very curious, and if you can’t provide a safe environment for flying, keeping their wings trimmed is advised.
Just like any other pet, Budgies require specific feeding and care requirements. It is recommended to add variety to their diet, including small amounts of fruits, vegetables, cooked rice, sprouts, and other healthy human foods. “They need a good pelleted diet along with some seed mix and fresh vegetables daily,” Hoppes said. “They also need regular bathing with either a bowl or misting.” This can be done by simply placing a dish of water on the floor of the Budgie’s cage, or lightly spritzing water on them from a small spray bottle.
“They are very smart birds and flock animals,” Hoppes said. “They need daily attention and interaction.” But as you probably could have guessed, Budgies should be monitored closely around other pets such as cats, dogs, ferrets, reptiles and larger birds. “A parakeet can be a great pet for an older child who understands how to gently handle a bird,” says Hoppes. “I would not recommend a bird for a small child.”
Having eight Budgies herself, Hoppes and many others would agree that these docile, intelligent birds make for delightful pets. Inexpensive, highly adaptable, and easy to look after, it is simple to see why both Cinderella and Harry Potter took a liking to their little winged companions.
Pet Talk is a service of the College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences, Texas A&M University. Stories can be viewed on the Web at vetmed.tamu.edu/news/pet-talk. Suggestions for future topics may be directed to email@example.com.