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How to Take Care of a Parrot: 12 Vet-Approved Tips

Chantelle Fowler

By Chantelle Fowler

female eclectus parrot bird inside an enclosure

Vet approved

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Reviewed & Fact-Checked By

Dr. Luqman Javed

DVM (Veterinarian)

The information is current and up-to-date in accordance with the latest veterinarian research.

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Are you considering bringing a parrot into your home? How exciting! Parrots can make fantastic family companions, but providing care for them is very different from more common household pets like cats or dogs. Parrots need the right home and a highly dedicated owner, so if you’re on the fence about whether adding one to your family is right for you, you’ve come to the right place.

Read on to find our tips on caring for a parrot so it can live the healthiest and longest life possible.

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Top 12 Tips on How to Take Care of a Parrot


Though this article is written with the concept of a female parrot, the information is transferable to male parrots too. The use of female pronouns are a creative choice by the author and not an indication that these tips won’t work for males.

1. Create a Routine

baby parrotlet bird training to perch on finger
Image Credit: JTKP, Shutterstock

Parrots love and thrive on routine, so establish one when you bring her home. Try to keep her on the same sleep/wake cycles, and ensure you feed, train, and play with her at around the same time daily.

Parrots need around 12 hours of undisturbed sleep nightly, so use a cage cover to help encourage her to sleep. Keep the curtains closed so that a random night light doesn’t disrupt her sleep cycles.

2. Let Her Fly

Providing your parrot with as much outside-of-the-cage time as possible is key to meeting your pet’s exercise needs. Flying allows her to practice activities she would do in her natural habitat and is very good mental and physical stimulation.

Your home must be flight-safe before letting your parrot spread her wings.

Here are some tips to ensuring your room is flight-safe:
  • Close all windows
  • Close all blinds
  • Keep mirrors covered
  • Do not allow other pets in the room
  • Keep doors closed
  • Turn off ceiling fans
  • Turn off heating elements (e.g., stoves, space heaters)

3. Get the Right Cage

blue wavy parrot in a white cage
Image Credit: MAshaSay, Shutterstock

Your parrot needs a safe and spacious enclosure to call home, so the first thing you need to do before adopting a bird is find the perfect cage. They come in infinite shapes and sizes, but not all enclosures will be appropriate for your parrot.

First, consider your bird’s species and full-grown size. The last thing you want is to spend hundreds of dollars on a cage that’ll only be appropriate for your parrot when she’s a baby. The cage needs to be wide enough for her to spread her wings.

Next, look at the locking mechanism of the cage doors. Parrots are extremely intelligent creatures and can make quick work of poor-quality locks.

Bar spacing and gauging are also important factors to consider. The spaces between the bars must be narrow enough to ensure your parrot cannot escape or get her head trapped between them. Gauging refers to the strength of the bars themselves. They must be strong enough to prevent your parrot from bending the welds. The smaller the gauge, the bigger the bar diameter. The appropriate spacing and gauging will depend entirely on your parrot’s species.

Finally, consider the cage’s materials. Stainless steel is the safest and most durable option, though it is often costly.

4, Put the Cage in the Right Spot

Where you place your parrot’s cage will greatly impact her health and happiness. Birds are very sensitive to changes in lighting, temperatures, and things in the air, so they need a space with good ventilation. Fumes from cooking, cleaning chemicals, paints, and cigarettes can harm or even kill your bird. We highly recommend not putting your bird’s cage in the kitchen for these reasons.

Parrots are highly social creatures, requiring constant contact with their flock (AKA you!) to stay happy. If isolated in a room that no one frequents, they can become bored and may develop separation anxiety or destructive behaviors. Parrots enjoy being where the action is; however, this may not always be possible, depending on your living situation.

If you have other pets in the home, you’ll want to keep your parrot’s cage in a room they cannot access, at least when you’re not home to supervise.

5. Provide a Nutritious Diet

african grey parrot eats strawberry
Image Credit: Jasenka Luksa, Shutterstock

Parrots, like all pets, require a varied diet to ensure all their nutritional needs are being met. While seeds were previously recommended as the bulk of a parrot’s diet, avian nutritionists now know they are far too fatty and lacking in critical nutrients to be offered often.

Most of your pet’s diet should consist of pellets specially formulated for her species; however, she should also be provided with other foods to supplement her diet. Grains, beans, vegetables, and fresh fruits add variety to your parrot’s diet while meeting all her vitamin and mineral needs.

6. Invest in a UV Lighting System

If your parrot doesn’t have access to sunlight, then artificial balanced UV lighting is an important part of parrot husbandry. It improves your bird’s psychological health and may be beneficial if your pet exhibits destructive behaviors like feather plucking. UV lamps replicate natural sunlight, which is especially helpful during the darker, cooler months of the year.

Invest in a UV bulb stand or holder and ensure the electrical cord is nowhere near your bird’s cage, as a curious parrot can easily mistake them for toys and electrocute itself.

7. Buy Various Perches

Two parrots standing on branches
Image Credit: YI-LIN TSAI, Shutterstock

Invest in perches of varying sizes, shapes, and materials to give your parrot plenty of variety. When she isn’t flying, she is standing, so you must have different perches to ensure her feet do not get sores on them.

Unfortunately, not all perches are created equal. The best options include:
  • Natural manzanita wood. These are the best types of perches as they come in various diameters and are great for chewing and wearing down the nails.
  • Branches. Branches can make good perches if they are from non-toxic trees and have been washed and disinfected thoroughly to ensure they do not contain microscopic fungi or insects that can harm your bird.
  • Rope. Perches made of hemp or untreated cotton can be good as they’re soft and easy to grip. However, rope perches need to be monitored as they can fray over time and may get tangled in your bird’s toes.
Materials to avoid include:
  • Sandpaper. These perches are far too abrasive for your bird’s feet and can cause injuries.
  • Plastic. Plastic perches are easy to clean but are slippery and often don’t have enough texture for gripping properly. Additionally, larger parrots can chew and splinter the plaster.
  • Concrete. These can be abrasive to the bottom of your parrot’s feet and cause irritation and sores.

8. Ensure Optimal Air Quality

Parrots, like all birds, have very sensitive respiratory systems. They should never be exposed to certain types of fumes as they can cause sudden or premature death if the exposure is chronic. Before adopting your parrot, familiarize yourself with the airborne contaminants you probably currently use that can cause health problems, including:

Materials to avoid include:
  • Teflon-containing items (e.g., non-stick pots and pans, hair straighteners, waffle irons, ironing board covers, heat lamps)
  • Tobacco products
  • Aerosols (perfumes, fabric deodorizers, hairsprays)
  • Wood stoves
  • Kerosene heaters
  • Incense
  • Scented candles
  • Cleaning supplies

9. Find a Vet

veterinarian examining green quaker parrot
Image Credit: VH-studio, Shutterstock

Veterinarians who specialize in avian medicine have better training and expertise to diagnose and treat parrots. Before adopting your new pet, we highly recommend finding an avian vet. Be prepared to pay extra for such specialized veterinary care, too. The additional cost is more than worthwhile as it ensures your parrot is cared for by someone who knows what they’re doing.

We also recommend meeting your new vet when you bring your bird home. This will provide them with a baseline of health and allow them to better treat your pet in the future.

10. Buy Toys

Parrots need ways to prevent boredom when stuck in their cage or home alone for long periods. The right toys will encourage natural behaviors and promote exercise. You’ll want to invest in many different options to switch them out weekly to keep your parrot interested in participating in fun activities in her cage.

The types of toys you should get include:
  • Chew toys. Chew toys are designed to be torn up. As wasteful as it may seem, these provide a lot of fun and accomplishment for your parrot.
  • Foraging toys. These toys encourage your parrot to forage for food as she would if she were in the wild. It forces them to use their brain to search for food and gives them a sense of accomplishment when they find what they’re searching for.
  • Puzzle toys. Just as they sound, puzzle toys offer your parrot a chance to flex her problem-solving muscles and keep her brain engaged. They are most often found in the form of a puzzle or maze that your bird will need to navigate to access the “prize” (a treat) inside.
  • Climbing toys. Parrots in the wild live in trees and spend much of their day climbing. Ladders, swings, and ropes provide your bird a natural environment and promote physical wellness.

11. Set a Cleaning Schedule

Unrecognizable personplacing tray with sepiolite, an absorbent material, into the birdcage.
Image Credit: Ladanifer, Shutterstock

Everyone knows that pet ownership comes with some level of cleaning commitment. Parrots may be small, but they sure can be messy. You’ll need to do a thorough cage cleanout at least weekly, but paper or bedding changes should be done daily. Spot cleaning once a day will make your weekly cleans much easier. Only use bird-safe cleaning supplies.

We recommend cleaning and changing the food and water bowls daily. Fresh food, like veggies, grains, and fruits, shouldn’t be left in the cage for too long as they will begin to spoil and sludge quickly.

12. Give Her Space

It is completely normal for your parrot to be apprehensive in the beginning. You are a stranger to her, after all. During the first few weeks, approach her cage slowly and speak quietly and in soft tones. Don’t make too much eye contact if you sense she’s afraid or stressed out by your presence. The last thing you want to do is make her fearful of you, so give her the space she needs to become accustomed to her new environment and family members.

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Final Thoughts

Though it may seem like a lot, caring for a parrot is easy when you get the gist. You will need to do some research regarding proper nutrition and husbandry, but once you have the basics down, it’ll be smooth sailing.

Featured Image Credit: Mithun Malakar, Shutterstock

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