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Do Parrots Make Good Pets?

By Shannon Kietzman
Updated Jun 04, 2024
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Whether or not parrots make good pets is largely a matter of personal opinion, as there are many advantages and disadvantages to keeping them as pets. Similarly, some of the advantages to keeping these birds may be considered disadvantages by certain pet owners, and vice versa.

For example, parrots have a long life expectancy. If properly cared for, many species can live for around 50 years. This is more than twice as long as the life expectancy for dogs and cats, which are the most common household pet. Therefore, someone looking for a nearly lifelong companion may find parrots to be an ideal choice. At the same time, a parent looking to purchase a pet for his or her child or someone who is not prepared to commit to caring for a pet for such a long period of time may find the life expectancy to be a disadvantage.

Parrots also provide excellent companionship because of their ability to learn how to speak. Although there is little evidence to suggest that these birds understand the words they are using, it is still quite amusing to the owner to hear them repeat the words they have been taught. In addition, the time spent talking with the bird in order to get it to learn new words is a bonding experience that many owners and their parrots enjoy.

There are many different types of parrots to choose from when shopping for one for a pet. In general, males that have been raised by hand make the best pets, because they tend to interact more and are less likely to experience illnesses related to breeding. Females are also good pets, but they are more likely to have health issues and problems with egg laying. Therefore, females may require a bit more care than their male counterparts.

With many breeds of parrot, however, it can be difficult or even impossible to identify their sex while they are young. Therefore, a pet owner looking specifically for a male or a female will need to wait until the bird is a bit older before making a purchase. Another alternative is to use DNA or surgical sexing, which can be a costly means for determining sex.

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Discussion Comments
By anon292902 — On Sep 22, 2012

A parrot is the worst pet you could ever have. Get a cat or dog. If you enjoy extremely loud screeching and large messes of seed and crap all over the place, then go ahead and get one of these things. If you want a pet that bites you, craps all over you and your furniture, and squawks its stupid head off so loudly that the neighbors will call the police, go ahead and pay $400 - $500 for one.

By anon231373 — On Nov 24, 2011

In response to what anon119127 said: My two parrots (green cheek and jenday conures) are so well behaved/trained by me after my acquiring them when they were young and it is now two or three years later -

They do not wake me up in the morning. I have an old comforter over their cage at night. I can wake up any time, from 4:30 am to 1:00 pm. They do not disturb my sleep. I like my sleep, so a pet that doesn't let me sleep in to variable times would never work for me. My birds are so flexible for what I want!

They also have learned to go back to their area to poop. If they see I am asking them to 'step up' and come to me, they immediately go to the bathroom to avoid making a mistake and messing on or near me.

My birds have learned from my positive and negative reinforcement training. They are very smart! I have an extremely bright toy poodle, also, and they rival her. The difference between them and her, though, is that they are loyal to me, regardless of who is giving them food handouts. Birds are more loyal than dogs. My dog gets attached to anyone with whom I live who gives her snacks. My birds stay bonded with me no matter what snacks are offered by another. This makes them so much more loyal than 'man's best friend' who can easily and quickly be 'bought' with food.

I love my birds and they provide more laughs and entertainment, love and affection, than any pet - dog, cat, etc. that I have ever had. It seems like it was the human who was the problem in the post that provoked me to comment.

By anon148965 — On Feb 03, 2011

I researched birds for a long time and I chose to find an Ecletus as my baby.

I think the problem is with most people they do not research their new pets and all of the issues that go with owning them. My baby is such a baby. We shower together, go to work, drive and shop when possible. My Keiko has been to both of my daughters' pre school, kindergarten and 1st grade classes and was a perfect gentleman and loved the kids playing with him.

I could not ask for a better pet. He has been on our boat to Key West from Michigan and many cross-country motor home trips. K-man, as my kids call him, they love him and wouldn't trade him for any other pet.

By the way, we are allergic to dogs and cats and eclectus birds do not shed and are virtually non allergenic. Buy your bird a large cage, sweep once a day and cuddle with him and enjoy. By the way, K is a total escape artist to the point we do not even lock him up any more. Sometimes when I wake, he is sitting on my hand. He is such a mommy's baby.

By anon127990 — On Nov 18, 2010

Mine is endearing, lives to please me, is my best friend, true poop, but we've potty trained him so his 'accidents' are rare and few between. He knows that when I say 'mommy needs a nap', to be quiet, even at night.

Yes, he attacks my husband, but parrots are known for that, just don't get a big one. Love it, spend a lot of time with it, and you'll have a wonderful companion who loves you and is loyal to you.

By anon119127 — On Oct 16, 2010

If you are looking for the absolute truth, not something sugar coated and pretty about how wonderful they can be, then the answer is no.

It takes a certain kind of person to love a bird, and most people are not cut out for it. If you enjoy sleeping in, a parrot is absolutely out of the question! Be prepared to be greeted every morning as soon as the sun is up with every single phrase, whistle, scream and noise your bird knows until you take it out of its cage. Even with a blanket over it. He doesn't care that you worked the late shift, or were out late at a party.

This noise also doesn't stop all day long; you may get a few quiet periods but not many. So if you have a baby that you don't want woken up, or are a student at university who needs quiet to do work, or work from home and need a peaceful atmosphere to get work done in, then you are looking at the wrong pet.

Also be prepared for your bird to never learn the word no, unless it's to repeat it back to you a 100 times a day. You cannot discipline a bird, because they don't understand it. So no matter what bad behavior your bird is getting up to, telling it no, or stop, or putting it in time out, or even giving it the evil glare like so many parrot experts suggest, it does not work. If your bird wants to do it, it will.

Positive reinforcement or ignoring unwanted behavior is a joke. It doesn't stop the bad stuff. Trust me, I've tried.

Also birds are dirty, and don't let anyone tell you otherwise! Take it from someone who likes to keep a clean home and lives with one.

The first problem is bird dander. It is going to cover everywhere in a gross layer of dust! You have to dust every single day to keep it from building up all over your furniture. And not just around the bird either but all over the room your bird is kept in, because when it flaps its wings, dust, poop particles, and little fluffy feathers fly everywhere! You have to vacuum every day to keep the place looking clean.

Birds also make a huge mess. To keep them occupied you have to give them toys, to rip up and destroy, and when they decide to flap their wings your place will be covered in all the debris!

And the poop! Oh God, the poop! It never stops! Every 10-15 minutes your bird is going to poop. Every time it wants to fly away because he's annoyed and doesn't want to be where you have him, he'll poop! Imagine every time you leave the room your bird flying off his stand to try and follow you and pooping where he lands. My carpet is covered in stains that are very hard to get out!

Also, if he gets jealous because you and your husband, or girlfriend, or child, are cuddling on the couch be prepared for him to yell and scream and fly and poop where he lands! Also, don't think that just because you have him on a stand, that is where he is going to poop. He'll poop off the side and onto the floor guaranteed So be prepared to clean that up off the mat every day.

Because bird poop is very bad for you, and should not be allowed to float around in the air for you to breath in (which it will once it dries and he decides to flap his wings and send it everywhere)!

Some people claim you can potty train your bird to go poop on command, but we haven’t managed to do this, and sometimes even if you manage this can go very wrong. He will hold his poop in until he is told to go and if he is left for a long time without going this can cause huge problems.

Now don’t get me wrong here, I’m not bashing birds or bird lovers, I’m just stating the facts that I wish someone had given me before my boyfriend and I decided to purchase a parrot. They are noisy, messy, dirty, poop machines, that can’t be disciplined, and rejoice in doing bad things because it gains your attention. That is just their nature, and you can’t train them out of it.

So if you like your peace and quiet, like to have a clean house, and expect your pets to be well behaved then, this is certainly not the right kind of animal for you.

I have read dozens of books, and countless online articles about parrot behavior and training, and I have tried it all. But when it comes down to it, they aren’t domestic, they don’t live to please you or love you adoringly like a dog. They want to do what they want when they want, and one wrong move on your behalf is going to land you in their bad books forever.

If you can put up with the noise and the dirt, then you may find their quirks like saying hello every time the phone rings endearing, or the millions of crazy household noises they mimic, like the microwave, funny. But for most of us out there, they are just going to drive you totally crazy.

So there you have it: the truth about pet parrots.

By anon105379 — On Aug 20, 2010

I've kept parrots for over 25 years and work as a companion parrot behaviourist in the UK. Your article doesn't mention the problem of most pet parrots having been parentally deprived (hand-reared) for the pet trade. The effects of this are many and generally extremely difficult for owners to cope with once their 'tame' bird is sexually mature.

Typically, these birds sexually imprint on humans and become aggressive to third parties.

You also talk of 'breeds' of parrots. There is no such thing; but there are *species* (about 330). There are also mutations of some semi-domesticated species, such as cockatiels and budgies etc. --Greg G.

By nightlights — On Dec 21, 2009

Parrots make great pets, but it IS a commitment. The bigger the bird, the longer the life-span, the smarter it is and that intelligence usually goes hand in hand with emotional needs. Some species are much more emotionally dependent on their owners than others, and can suffer correspondingly bigger problems (like feather plucking & even self-mutilation in extreme cases) when they suddenly don't get it anymore.

Parrots also need roomy cages and a steady supply of destructible toys. Fresh fruits and veggies along with a good pelleted diet mix can be a pricey monthly expense.

If you're willing to make a long term commitment and study about their needs & personalities to find a species that MATCHES you, then parrots make wonderful pets!

I wouldn't trade mine for the world!

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