If you have become a first-time "parrot parent", you should familiarize yourself with their unique care needs. Unlike caring for dogs or cats, avian care requires a unique set of rules to ensure a happy and healthy bird. As your new feathered friend settles in, keep the following tips in mind.
1. DO Choose Your Bird Cage and Accessories Wisely
Your bird's cage is a haven that should be comfortable and safe. Consider the size of your parrot and be sure there is ample room for your pet to stretch and flap its wings. While you don't want to overcrowd the cage with toys, there should be sufficient room for at least two parrot-appropriate toys. The cage should include at least two perches of various diameters made from natural, untreated wood.
Horizontal cage bars will allow your parrot climbing exercise. You might also place a feeding and water dish outside the cage as well as inside.
A must-have accessory is a parrot play stand or play gym. You can keep this accessory next to the cage or in a separate area away from the cage. A stand or play gym will allow your pet time out of the cage for exercise and play, and interaction with you.
2. DON'T Allow Your Parrot Free-Flight Throughout the Home
It's advisable to keep your bird's wings clipped. This will prevent your parrot from escaping through a door or window, and from hazards such as crashing into a mirror. A veterinarian should be the only one that clips the wings. This typically should be done after your parrot has completed a molt, which is a shedding of old feathers that are gradually be replaced by new ones.
3. DO Take Your Parrot for a Yearly Avian Wellness Exam
Choose a veterinarian experienced in exotic pet care. He or she will likely recommend a parrot wellness exam. This will typically include a blood count, gram stain, and weighing of your pet.
Tests to determine kidney and liver function are also important. Also, keeping track of your bird's weight helps the vet determine the general health of your pet. Your parrot's droppings may also determine a problem, as loose and watery droppings may indicate diarrhea.
4. DON'T Allow Non-Stick Cookware and Appliances to Overheat
If you've never owned a companion bird before, you may be unfamiliar with the hazards of Teflon and non-stick products. Teflon is coated with a substance called polytetrafluoroethylene, or PTFE for short. When overheated or burnt, the non-stick coating emits a toxic fume that can cause serious illness or the death of a bird.
The chemical has been known to cause PTFE toxicosis in birds when heated to a temperature of above 536 degrees Fahrenheit. It affects the respiratory system in birds. As a conscientious parrot owner, you might want to eliminate all products containing PTFE. Replace your pots and pans with aluminum if you want to be safe.
5. DO Be Aware of Your Parrot's Nutritional Needs
Many first-time bird owners make the mistake of providing all-seed diets for their pets. Seeds lack the nutritional content necessary to maintain a bird's good health. Your parrot will need adequate protein and vitamins to prevent illness and to maintain optimal feather condition.
It's a good idea to provide your parrot with a fortified pellet diet. You might offer the seeds as a treat or to supplement the main diet. Add a bit of protein to the diet by offering your feathered friend some hard boiled egg once or twice a week. In addition, be sure to offer fresh vegetables such as carrots, spinach, and kale. Never feed your bird chocolate, avocado, or onion, as these may be toxic to your pet.
As a final note, keep the phone number of your exotic vet handy. Note emergency hours so you will be ready in the event of an emergency.