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.
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?
- Sign our alert urging Petco and PetSmart to stop selling live birds
- Never breed or buy birds or any other animal companion.
- Report bird abuse to your local law enforcement when you see it
- Ask pet stores to provide information to their consumers about the reality of keeping parrots as pets. Let retailers know that you will boycott their stores until they stop selling birds and other live animals
- Become a member of In Defense of Animals and help us protect all parrots and other birds from abuse