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8 Parrot Essentials You Need Before You Get One: 2024 Vet-Approved Guide

Chris Dinesen Rogers

By Chris Dinesen Rogers

blue wavy parrot in a white cage

Vet approved

Dr. Alice Athow-Frost Photo

Reviewed & Fact-Checked By

Dr. Alice Athow-Frost

Veterinarian, BVM BVS MRCVS

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

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Humans have a unique relationship with their avian friends. After all, while they might not fully comprehend us, some of them can speak! Their uniqueness also means that their care isn’t the same as a dog or cat and it varies greatly depending on what species of parrot you are getting. For example, you don’t need a cage for a cat, but it’s imperative with a parrot. There are approximately 350 species of parrot, ranging from the king-sized macaws to the pint-sized love birds. Well-kept parrots can be extremely long-lived, so arrangements to be able to care for your bird for its lifespan must be considered.  So, what exactly are you going to need to help your new parrot to thrive? Keep reading.

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The 8 Essential Parrot Supplies

Housing

1. Cage

Large parrot e.g Macaw

  • Our Pick: Oahu Oasis Large Bird Cage with Playtop

Oahu Oasis Large Bird Cage with Playtop


Medium parrot e.g. Rose-ringed parakeet

  • Our Pick: Prevue Pet Products Wrought Iron Small & Medium Birds Flight Cage

PREVUE PET PRODUCTS Wrought Iron Small & Medium Birds Flight Cage

Please note, the above cage has a slightly smaller depth than is considered ideal. However, unless ordering a bespoke cage, all of the larger cages available off the shelf have an inappropriate wire spacing for medium sized birds.


Small parrot e.g. Budgerigar

  • Our Pick: Hana Hut Dometop Small Bird Cage with Stand

Hana Hut Dometop Small Bird Cage with Stand

Parrots come in a range of sizes, from 3.5 to 40 inches. Macaws are at the high end, requiring a much larger cage than smaller species, such as a yellow-naped parrot or quaker parakeet. The minimum cage size for the latter is 24 inches long x 24 inches wide x 24 inches high. For an African grey parrot, on the other hand, the absolute minimum cage size is 24 inches long x 36 inches wide x 48 inches high. The species’ wingspan is a critical factor, and the cage should be big enough for the bird to stretch out its wings fully in any direction, as a minimum.  A bird should only be caged overnight or when unsupervised.  An outdoor aviary is far superior to an indoor cage if this is possible.  Make sure you do your research before you bring your new pet bird home to ensure they have plenty of space in the set-up you’ve chosen.

The bar spacing is an important consideration when choosing a cage; you don’t want the bars too narrow meaning your bird can’t climb up the sides of the cage, but you also don’t want them to be wide enough for the bird to attempt to escape, endangering itself in the process.

Other cage considerations include:
  • Ensuring your cage has good accessibility for you to be able to clean the cage thoroughly and easily.
  • What is the cage made from?  Ensure the metal is strong enough to withstand your parrot’s powerful beak, and that it doesn’t contain any zinc.
  • Can your cage be moved about easily?  You may well need to change the location of the cage to avoid drafts, fumes, direct sunlight etc.  A cage on wheels can be handy for this.

2. Hiding Place or Cover

  • Our Pick: Super Bird Creations Seagrass Tent

Super Bird Creations Seagrass Tent

Many parrot species live in places with dense cover, courtesy of the vegetation. That gives the birds the security of being able to hide from predators. Even large species have to stay alert for threats. Of course, that is stressful. A hiding place gives your pet a chance to rest and sleep undisturbed. It doesn’t have to be anything fancy to serve this valuable purpose. However, having a hide or cover is still essential.

Multiple perches of varied diameters, and at different heights should be available to your bird.  Real fruit tree wood (well washed first) is recommended to help prevent many of the foot problems that birds get with plastic and artificial perches that the cages normally come with.


3. Cage Cover

  • Our Pick: Prevue Pet Products Good Night Bird Cage Cover

Prevue Pet Products Good Night Bird Cage Cover

 

A cage cover is crucial to both your bird’s happiness and yours. Parrots are loud and often begin their days with a morning song, much to your chagrin and that of your neighbors. This item can keep the noise under control. You can also use it to create a schedule for your pet, which is especially important when trying to manage the mating behavior of parrot species.  Parrots should get a maximum of 12 hours daylight a day and should have a dark environment in which to sleep.  If parrots are exposed to longer days, they will often enter their “mating season” and start exhibiting mating behaviors which many bird owners want to avoid as much as possible.   You’ll appreciate having a good routine with your parrot. A cage cover can cut down on the food getting outside of the cage, too.

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Food and Feeding Supplies

4. Food

  • Our Pick: Harrison’s Bird Foods

Harrison’s Bird Foods

Parrots are omnivores, making a varied diet essential for good health. It is recommended that 80% of your parrot’s diet is a high quality parrot pellet that is suitable for the size and species of parrot.  20% of their diet should be fresh fruit, vegetables and nuts, with only a very small amount of good quality seeds.  A blended, good quality, parrot kibble will ensure your pet meets their nutritional needs and stops them picking out the tastiest bits of a muesli type diet.  You can also supplement your parrot with additional fresh fruits and vegetables as special treats and training aids.


5. Bowls

  • Our Pick: Frisco Coconut Bird Feeder

Frisco Coconut Bird Feeder

You can put your parrot’s food in a feeder, but remember that much of it will leave the container. A covered one can help contain the mess. Using one is a smart idea since it can help you gauge how much your pet is eating. We recommend washing it daily to prevent bacteria development.

Fresh water should be available at all times for your parrot to drink.  It will require a bowl for drinking and a shallow bowl of water for bathing.  These bowls should be cleaned and changed daily.


6. Treats

  • Our Pick: Lafeber Popcorn Nutri-Berries Bird Treat

Lafeber Popcorn Nutri-Berries Bird Treat

You should limit treats to no more than 10% of your bird’s total caloric intake. They aren’t nutritionally complete like staple diets. That doesn’t distract from their value. Using them as training aids can help you bond with your parrot. These species are intelligent and will soon make positive associations with their treats and you.

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Enrichment

7. Enrichment Supplies

  • Our Pick: Planet Pleasures Octopus Piñata Bird Toy

Planet Pleasures Octopus Piñata Bird Toy

Parrots are often highly intelligent birds and can become bored easily.  Most species of parrot are social birds and ideally should be paired up with another bird of the same species for lifetime companionship.  In addition to a friend to play and communicate with, toys and puzzles should be rotated regularly to help keep your birds entertained.  Only sturdy, zinc-free toys should be used, as parrots are very good at destroying less well-made toys.  We suggest getting at least three toys for your parrot to provide adequate mental stimulation. Life in a cage isn’t nearly as entertaining as living in the wild, so your bird should be allowed and encouraged to fly freely around the house as much as possible.

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Maintenance

8. Cleaning Supplies

  • Our Pick: Prevue Pet Products Seed Catcher Cage Skirt

Prevue Pet Products Seed Catcher Cage Skirt

Cleaning up discarded seeds and shells is time-consuming and irritating. They seem to get everywhere. A cage skirt can significantly cut down on the mess. Make sure your parrot has other things to play with so this item doesn’t get destroyed in their quest to amuse themselves. You should wash it regularly to avoid bacteria building up because it will also inevitably get wet.

Always use a bird safe disinfectant (such as F10) to clean anything that your parrot will come into contact with.

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Conclusion

Many of the essential supplies you need for your parrot are one-time purchases, such as the pet’s cage, but there are also many ongoing costs, such as pet insurance and routine vet checks to ensure your parrot stays in good health.  Understanding the expenses involved with owning a bird is imperative before you decide to buy a parrot.  Another vital part of buying a parrot is to know where your bird has come from and whether it is legal to buy and keep this species.  Many parrot species are endangered and are therefore not allowed to be kept or traded under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES).  Make sure you do your research before agreeing to buy a parrot.

Remember that owning a parrot is a privilege. Some parrot species are extremely long-lived, which should be a consideration before committing to owning one.  We strongly urge you to consider all these factors before inviting a parrot into your life.


Featured Image Credit: MAshaSay, Shutterstock

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