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The Truth About Parrots as Pets

Wild and Free home

Parrots can be entertaining and beautiful to look at. They are smart, can learn tricks, and provide companionship to some people. Unfortunately, the companion parrot has joined the ranks of the most discarded, homeless pets in the US. They are also likely the most complex and most misunderstood of all popular animals kept as pets.

Read on to discover:

Are Parrots Good Pets? 

Parrots are birds of roughly 398 species, found mostly in tropical and subtropical regions (the greatest diversity living in Australasia and South America). The order is subdivided into three superfamilies: the Psittacoidea ("true" parrots), the Strigopoidea (New Zealand parrots), and the Cacatuoidea (cockatoos). Characteristic features of parrots are their curved bill, clawed zygodactyl feet, strong legs, and upright stance. Many parrots are vividly colored.

Unfortunately, the truth is that keeping a parrot as a pet is cruel and potentially dangerous. 

Parrots are considered to be animals who are inherently wild. Even if captive bred, they possess the same wild traits as their wild born cousins who live in the jungles and rainforests. 

These can include:

  • Loud vocalizations
  • Tremendously powerful bite
  • Aggression related to the stress of captivity. 

The parrots’ wild traits don’t usually mesh well in people’s homes or even in outside aviaries. Parrots are one of the most frustrating, destructive, messy, and noisy companions a person can have. This increases the odds that the birds will be abused and neglected, and finally rehomed, possibly with an even worse guardian. Yet, pet stores rarely offer these facts to their customers prior to purchase, and parrots’ popularity as pets is threatening their survival in the wild.

Parrots are noisy animals who need freedom to live happily. The parrots’ loud vocalizations help them in the wild to communicate with other parrots in the distance. The larger species of parrots have ear shattering screams that can be heard from miles away. 

Small parrots can be heard from equal distances with their shrill screams that are often repetitive and annoying. Even the smallest parrots like the little budgerigar (commonly called budgie or parakeet) have been known to be too loud and nerve wracking for some people.

 
 

Are Pet Parrots Mean, Aggressive or Dangerous to Humans? 

Parrots are highly intelligent and hypersensitive animals, emotionally and physically. Improper handling can teach an already fearful or aggressive parrot, or even a tame and loving parrot, to bite and become aggressive. This can not only cause the parrot serious psychological, stress related problems, it can also dramatically affect his/her physical health.

The parrots’ beak is designed for constant chewing like nest building, breaking and opening nuts, foraging for food, and chewing branches. Their beaks can also be dangerous and cause serious injuries to humans. For example, it’s estimated that a large macaw has the bite strength of 500 to 700 pounds per square inch. And the small Senegal parrot, in spite of his relatively small size, has a tremendously powerful bite that can cause considerable pain and serious injuries.

Like all wild animals, even small parrots with no history of biting, may have a flight or fight response and will potentially bite when frightened or startled.

How Can We Help Parrots To Survive? 

One of the best ways to help parrots survive, and to prevent bird abuse in general, is to understand that all birds are individuals from species whose members belong in the wild

Pet store marketing campaigns give consumers the false impression that parrots make ideal pets. Yet nothing could be further from the truth. Parrots require an extraordinary amount of care and attention and can have life spans comparable to humans.

Many people believe that parrots can be pets like other animal companions such as cats and dogs. Only after the bird arrives home, and the excitement has worn off, is the unsuspecting consumer hard hit with the reality of parrot parenthood. 

The additional cleaning, the frequent destruction of personal property, “sudden” biting and behavioral problems, and the continual screaming are more than most people can tolerate. As a result, some parrots are forced to live their entire lives in closets, garages, and basements, or in makeshift, outdoor cages and aviaries, subjecting the bird to the elements and unsuitable weather and dangerous predators. Others pass the bird onto other unsuspecting guardians without a word of caution. 

It is estimated that the majority of all captive parrots eventually end up in at least five homes before suffering and dying prematurely.

Millions of unwanted parrots are listed for sale on the internet, in newspapers, in magazines, and are sold at bird marts across the nation. Avian rescue groups estimate that most “pet” parrots rarely survive their first year and others suffer before dying prematurely from abuse and neglect. 

Those who do survive often exist in deplorable conditions, with no quality of life. They frequently suffer from loneliness or overcrowding and become hoarder victims. In spite of the suffering, breeders are not slowing down. In fact, millions of baby parrots are flooding into the market every year.

The natural life span of parrots ranges from 20 to 85 years. This adds to the tragedy and complexities of keeping them as pets. Some species, like African Grey Parrots, are particularly susceptible to death in captivity. 

What Can YOU Do To Help Parrots?

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