Acquired: Pet store
Posted May 27, 2016
In your childhood there are certain pets which it seems you must always have at least once and parakeets are one of them. It was the same with me. It took some cajoling, but I was finally able to get two lovely parakeets (two because one for me, one for my brother). I'm glad my folks waited until we were old enough to take care of the birds on our own. It gave us lessons in cooperation, patience, responsibility and proper animal care.
Back in 1982 there wan't this wonderful thing called an internet to "hop" on and get information. If you desired any, you had to rely on either the person (or store) you bought the bird from, buy a book, or got to the local library. And, being good parents they were, my parents bought a book on how to take care of the parakeets.
Here's what my brother and I did right:
1. Got a few different perches for the birds to hop onto.
2. Got a mirror and a couple of toys for them.
3. Got a mineral block for both their beaks and added supplement for diet
4. Cleaned out their cage every day (well most of the time, you know kids)
5. Disinfected/Cleaned the cage from top to bottom, including perches & toys at least once per year.
6. We interacted with the parakeets, taught them little tricks (until we started getting bored and interactions became less)
As you look at the list above I think you'll notice one big thing. As a kid, I had a short attention span. It wasn't that I didn't love my parakeets, far from it. The cage was in my room so every morning I would uncover the cage and watch them perk up and start talking to me, I would talk back as I got ready for school. When I first got them I would spend about an hour after school training one or the other for some silly little trick. When I got bored of that I'd just take one or the other out while I studied. Then somewhere along the line, I'm not sure when, it got to the point I only took them out when I scrubbed down their cage every 5-6 months.
I think this is what ultimately led to untimely demise of my beloved parakeets as well as no proper research on how to take care of them.
Now, what my brother and I did wrong:
1. Clipped their flight feathers. (THIS IS BIG - back then we're told if you don't want your bird to get away to clip their flight feathers. However, parakeets are social fliers and need the exercise. You can have a dedicated room for them to fly in and their cage needs to be big enough for them to fly at least a little.)
2. Put the birds in my room, which was in the back of the house. (Remember these are social birds and need interaction with not just other birds but the people around them)
3. Did not vary their diet and only gave them "parakeet seed". (You can vary a parakeets diet with different seeds and other fruits and nuts. Check with care guides and vets to be sure which ones are safe)
4. Lost interest in trying to care for them. (I think this is pretty much a kid thing as a whole. My parents were always telling me to clean something back then)
As you can see, getting a parakeet for a child is no small matter. Even if for yourself you should ensure you know everything about the parakeet as possible before buying one. Such as, the bird, if well maintained, can live 8 - 10 years (sometimes longer). I've always considered the life expectancy of any pet because of the companionship I get from having one. Also research any new diseases which many have come up that can affect the parakeet. There are many reasons birds die. Also, if you buy from a pet store, don't be afraid to ask where the birds come from or how old they are. Just like puppies and kittens, there are bird "mills" which do nothing but breed birds in small cages. Find out if the bird has had a vet check up (this applies if buying from a pet store or owner) if so ask to see vet records.
Parakeets can be great pets and easy to maintain if you're willing to put a little love into the effort. There are only three things you need to remember:
1. Keep their cage clean, clean, clean
2. Fly time of at least an hour
3. Socialize, socialize, socialize
Remember these three things and you'll have a happy parakeet for a long time.