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Rainbow Lorikeet

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Is the Rainbow Lorikeet right for you?

Species group:

Other common names: Rainbow Lory, Blue Mountain Lorikeet, Swainson's Lorikeet

Scientific name: Trichoglossus moluccanus

The basics:
The Rainbow Lorikeet is a multi-colored nectar-eating parrot that attracts admirers because of its energy, personality, and beauty. In the pet market, the name Rainbow Lory or Lorikeet has been used for a number of species and subspecies. Currently, the official common English name Rainbow Lorikeet has been assigned to the species known to pet owners as the Swainson's Lorikeet or Blue Mountain Lorikeet. Many birds you will encounter under the name Rainbow Lorikeets are now called Coconut Lorikeet, T. haematodus, by the scientists. As I've never heard a pet owner call it by that name, you will find information on that species listed under its popular pet market name, Green-naped Lorikeet. Here we'll just be talking about Swainson's.

Like the other Rainbow Lorikeets, Swainson's is a highly regarded pet for its brains as well as its beauty. Properly socialized birds have been trained to fly to anyone, and these beautiful yet friendly avian clowns can be rewarding pets for the well-motivated, well-financed individual. Alas, they can be impractical for the average person, since they demand an expensive, high maintenance lifestyle.

This adaptable species is endemic to Australia, Tasmania, and a few nearby islands, where it may be encountered in an incredible range of habitats, from the balcony of a skyscraper in downtown Sydney to the edge of a remote lowland rainforest. They form noisy, opportunistic flocks that wander in search of flowering trees, and they're happy to accept nectar and fruit offered by friendly humans who set up feeders for them.

They do represent something of a taxonomic challenge. Because of the confusion of subspecies and even several full species once lumped in under the name of Rainbow Lorikeet, you'll need to take care to make sure you have properly identified your pet. If you plan to breed your bird, contact an expert and get a certain identification, to avoid creating a mismatch. SInce Australia hasn't permitted legal exports of their birds for many years, true Swainson's Lorikeets may be somewhat pricey or hard to find outside the region Some birds have already been inadvertently hybridized and those individuals should be kept as pets or as beautiful aviary specimens, rather than being added to breeding programs.

Appearance:
The species now called Rainbow Lorikeet in English and Trichoglossus moluccanus in Latin is the Australian blue-bellied version of the Rainbow Lorikeet often called Swainson's Lorikeet or Blue Mountain Lorikeet. They do have a green nape, so don't use that to distinguish them from another "Rainbow" popular in aviculture, the Green-naped Lorikeet. The Green Nape,, T. haematodus, has a green belly and a red breast with blue-black barring, so the birds are easy to tell apart once you realize what to look for.

Weight:
100 - 157 grams (3.5 - 5.5oz.)

Average size:
25 centimeters (10 in.)

Lifespan:
15 - 25 years

Behavior / temperament:
The colorful Rainbow Lorikeet doesn't know its own size. These energetic birds may try to dominate the home, including other pets. They are intelligent, so keep them occupied learning tricks and playing with toys, rather than giving them the opportunity to pull the cat's tail. Learn the signs that your bird is becoming beaky, and know how to distract it from biting. You don't want to inadvertently train your lorikeet to nip to get its way.

Expert breeder Dick Schroeder has written that the highly coveted Blue Mountain Lorikeet is much less likely to become nippy than the classic Green-nape. However, you should never assume that your lorikeet will stay sweet without any effort.

Any of the Rainbow Lorikeets has the potential to become a playful clown and a decent talker. Start early, work with kindness and respect, and you may be surprised at the pet quality of these beautiful birds.

Housing:
Housing the Rainbow Lorikeet, especially a single pet, is another genuine challenge. Like all lories, they tend to have loose, squirtable feces that are sticky, sweet, and quickly develop an odor, so it's important to set up a cage that's easy to clean. Some people advocate clear acrylic on the sides and back of the cage, and other people suggest a long, rather than a tall cage, since a lory that gets up high can squirt its mess much further than a bird who perches lower.

Many people recommend a hanging cage over a tile or concrete floor. We don't usually have concrete floors in our houses, but it's possible that we might have a family room with a quarry tile floor. Otherwise, put down lots of plastic over that carpet or wooden flooring, as well as any nearby walls that wouldn't be easy to wash off. A minimum size for your Rainbow Lorikeet's flight cage is 24”w x 24”d x 24”h with no more than ¾” bar spacing, but these active birds do better with even more room. A Florida room or a conservatory might be a great place for your lory, but know your plants, since you can only have bird-safe greenery where you have a busy nectar-eater checking each flower.

Even though Rainbow Lorikeets don't have the strongest beaks going, they can be beaky and they can develop a tendency to become nippy. You should train them to step up onto a hand or a perch, and you should have a playgym that is separate from the cage, to prevent an individual from becoming cage-bound or overly territorial. Provide plenty of toys and chew items to channel that energy. They may appreciate a small nest box to sleep in.

Diet:
Feeding a Rainbow Lorikeet is a challenge. All lories and lorikeets are brush-tongued parrots, an unusual branch of the psittacine family tree that is evolved to feed on the nectar from flowering trees, with a little bit of flowers, fruit, and perhaps insects on the side. To create a practical version of this diet in captivity, most people start with a high quality, well-regarded commercial liquid nectar, with about 50% of the diet coming from the nectar and the remaining 50% coming from a fruit and vegetable puree or chop salad. If you have kept other parrots, you may be familiar with a chop salad that leans heavily toward the greens and vegetable side of the produce aisle. With the lories, you need to be focused mostly on the fruits, with a small amount of such vegetables as cooked corn added for variety.

Rainbow Lorikeets are at risk for iron storage disease and gout, which means that they thrive on a low iron, low protein diet. Many deep green vegetables, including spinach, chard, and turnip tops, contain oxalates, a chemical that improves the body's ability to store iron – a bad thing for lories. Vitamin C also helps the body store iron, which means that you shouldn't overfeed C-rich citrus fruit like oranges. Similarly, a healthy “soak and cook” with plenty of sprouted beans and peas will have way too much protein for lories.

They cannot digest seed, and if you try to maintain your Rainbow Lorikeet on a seed-based diet, it will starve. What about pellets? Most off-the-shelf pellets are dangerous for lories but, in recent decades, specialty suppliers have developed a small pellet or a dry powder, as an alternative to liquid nectar. However, not everyone agrees that these pellets are a healthy diet for lories. It does change the quality of their droppings, to make them firmer and easier to clean, but many breeders feel that liquid nectar is more natural and easier on the lory's system.

The major advantage of the new “dry” nectar is that you don't have sweet, damp food sitting in front of your bird all day. If you go this route, be sure to provide plenty of water in a nearby hanging water bottle. Be certain that the pellet or mix is a low iron product intended for lories, or don't even consider it.

That said, most experts do stick with liquid nectar, but we all know that nectar (sugar water!) is a great growth medium for bacteria. Hence, you have to change the nectar bottles frequently – every four hours during the day in hot weather and at least twice a day in any circumstance. You must never feed honey, avocado, or chocolate to your Rainbow Lorikeet.

Written by Elaine Radford

wonderful

kisses, clown bird, tricksters, gregarious, amazingly beautiful bird, real comedian

challenging

nippy, special diets, poop squirters, loud, Temper Tantrum, inexperienced pet owner

interesting

shiny jewelry, bright sparkly things, definite attitude, mushy foods, nectar eaters

Rainbow Lorikeet Health Tip

Rainbow Lorikeet

From Christina_ruth Sep 19 2015 11:53PM

4.5/5

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