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Moustached Parakeet

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Is the Moustached Parakeet right for you?

Species group:

Other common names: Red-breasted Parakeet

Scientific name: Psittacula alexandri

The basics:
Independent and intelligent, the Moustached Parakeet may require extra work to keep tame, and some people feel that they're best kept as aviary specimens. There are eight distinct subspecies, and it's best to consult with an expert if you need to find out which one you hold. They range from northern India and Nepal, and eastward to Indochina, southeastern China, and even into Java, Bali, and some other islands off Sumatra, Indonesia. They have also been introduced into cities in China, including Hong Kong, as well as Singapore and even Borneo. However, this overall adaptable, successful species has experienced a few set-backs due to over-collecting for the pet trade.

Appearance:
The stunning Moustached Parakeet is the only rose-breasted Psittacula, and the combination of the long slim parakeet form, black “moustache,” and pink breast creates an elegant look that can't be forgotten. Unusual for a Psittacula, there are three subspecies where you would have a tough time sexing the adult birds by eye. However, in five subspecies, the female will have a black bill and other slight differences that make her easier to identify.

Weight:
156 grams (5.5 oz.)

Average size:
33 centimeters (13 in.)

Lifespan:
20 - 25 years

Behavior / temperament:
If you are seeking a single pet Moustached Parakeet, you should select a domestic hand-fed baby, and make sure to spend some time socializing with the bird every day. You should also allow the young bird a chance to hear recorded voice lessons several times a day, to give your pet its best chance of learning to speak.

Although the wild birds gathering in their colonies are noisy and social, an individual Moustached Parakeet is actually rather independent and could be aloof. Some birds could even revert to wildness, becoming phobic or anxious if you neglect them. You need to provide a good balance of time for the bird to interact with you, perhaps sharing dinner with you or practicing tricks and voice lessons. Don't assume that this cool customer is fine playing on its own, hour after hour, day after day. They do need to engage with you, or they will lose the ability to be social.

And do not under-estimate the Moustached Parakeets because of their size. The females, in particular, may be aggressive and territorial in the breeding season. Have a plan and a place for an aviary if your adult bird reverts to wildness.

Housing:
Because of the long, elegant tail, the Moustached Parakeet will be happiest and show off best in the largest cage you can afford. A small macaw cage, provided the bar spacing wasn't too wide, might be the answer. A minimum size could be 36”w by 24' by 36” tall. A single pet should never be asked to share the cage territory with another bird. Females are particularly dominant, but you should maintain the sweetness of your pet by having a separate play gym stocked with foraging toys and other fun things to do. Teach your bird to step up on command onto a perch, so that you can easily move it from cage to gym and back again.

Even though they're not terribly large, the females are aggressive, and a breeding pair should be kept in an even larger flight. A walk-in aviary would not be excessive.

Diet:
The Moustached Parakeet is a tough, adaptable bird, but that's no reason to short-change your pet when it comes to diet. One expert suggests a diet based on 50% high quality pellets, 25% high quality seeds, and 25% fresh fruits and vegetables. The seed should include millet sprays, and the seed mix and sprays should be fresh enough to sprout.

To bring out the best color and to head off vitamin A deficiencies, be sure to offer plenty of high carotene vegetables like carrots, cooked yam and sweet potato, and pumpkin. Dark green vegetables such as broccoli, mustard greens, Swiss chard, dandelion greens, and parsley should also be added to the daily chopped salad.

The elegant Moustached Parakeet may enjoy holding holding food to eat, so don't chop the salad pieces too fine. Let them pick up green peas in the pod or quartered fig for a nutritious snack. However, you must never offer avocado or chocolate, as these foods are toxic to parrots.

Written by Elaine Radford