By Silvanus Koh
Parrots are becoming more popular as pets with each passing day. This is evidenced by the proliferation of Internet discussion lists which provide access to information regarding parrot care and behavior. This upsurge in the number of parrots in homes and the amount of information newly available does not alert the companion parrot owner to a very important and pertinent fact – that parrot keeping is a relatively new phenomenon.
The parrot will live in a cage, so you will need to buy one that is large enough so that the parrot can spread his wings fully. It should be made of wire preferably since the parrot would eat through a wooden one. Make sure the door is large enough so that the parrot can fit through it, and also ensure that the door canâ€™t be opened from the inside. Parrots are very smart so you will need to use a complex door closing mechanism. Remember the bigger the cage is, the happier the parrot will be, so buy the largest one you can afford.
The parrot will want some toys in the cage, such as a swinging perch or a squeaking toy. Make sure that the toy isnâ€™t harmful to the parrot if it is gnawed on.
The bottom of the cage needs to be lined either with shredder paper, sawdust, straw or sand. The sand will serve as a double purpose since the parrot can gain some minerals from it, and can also use it to shape his beak better. The beak will keep growing like our fingernails and the sand will help filing it to the correct size.
Clean the cage very thoroughly at least once a month. All the metal bars and the bottom tray should be washed out thoroughly with a mild detergent and disinfected as well. Make sure that you clean out the feces of the parrot and leftover food is cleaned up periodically at least two the three times a week. The parrot will not like to live in a dirty area and his life cycle will decrease if he feels stressed all the time.
The parrot likes to be fed in many small meals instead of having one large meal a day. Pre-packaged parrot food is good for the parrot too since it will contain the correct mixes of minerals and vitamins. Make sure that you give the parrot fresh food at least twice a day and keep it clean and bacteria free. Seeds and nuts should be fed to the parrot sparingly since these foods are fatty and contain few nutrients. The parrot will also need a water bowl with fresh water supplied twice a day. You need to clean the water and the food bowl each time you refill it to keep your parrot healthy and happy. The parrot will eat fruits, nuts, vegetables and grains. Make sure you give him a balanced diet and give him healthy snacks only.
If you want to teach your parrot to talk, start when he is young since he will then pick up the language much faster. Keep trying the same word or phrase on the parrot at the same time of each day, such as â€œhello!â€ or “how are you?”. Make sure the bird is looking at you and paying attention. Try repeating the words and phrases you want the parrot to learn and try to say the words when you do a certain activity so he can learn to associate an activity with a word. If your parrot already knows some phrases, encourage him to use them so he doesnâ€™t forget them. Whistling is also a great thing to teach a parrot, since he will know how to whistle entire tunes. Even playing records can help your parrot learn words but do not play the same word all day or the parrot will be very bored.
The parrot will also need to be groomed at least once a week. You can do this by misting him carefully with a spray bottle, or even bathing him in a lined sink. Use water that is lukewarm and use a shampoo that is especially designed for birds. Parrots love to be in the water, so do not startle him by splashing water into his face, or he will not want to bathe anymore. If he does seem to be afraid of water, be gentle and persist, and soon he will love water as much as you do. Use a towel to lightly dab your bird dry a little bit but do not rub him and do not blow dry your bird. Just let him sit in a sunny corner of your house to dry naturally and make sure he is warm so he doesnâ€™t catch a cold. The wings should be clipped to prevent flight, and the nails need to be groomed as well. Do small amounts of clipping frequently to avoid injury and to keep the bird well groomed all the time. Make sure you observe the vet or groom the first few times and have him teach you the proper techniques before you attempt this, since improper cutting could hurt the parrot.
Let your parrot move around your apartment at least half an hour every day. As he becomes more tame and potty trained, you can even leave him out all day, and put him back into the cage only to sleep and feed. Enjoy your beautiful, intelligent pet for many years to come as some parrots can live up to 70 years and above!
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