The pros and cons of a parakeet as a pet can vary somewhat depending on the individual animal at issue as well as the person, but in general the birds’ small size, visual appeal, and intelligence and responsiveness are the biggest pros. Parakeet care isn’t usually complicated and requires only minimal supplies, which can be advantageous; additionally the animals don’t usually need direct supervision the way many other pets do. On the con side, the birds often make a big mess, and the cage cleanup required to maintain sanitary conditions can be extensive. Time is also an issue where training is concerned. Owners who want birds who can do tricks and mimic back words usually have to spend a lot of time training them, and some birds are naturally faster learners than others. Parakeets can usually stay sustained with cage-based food and water for a day or two, but owners who travel frequently or who are away from home for long stretches may need to find someone to periodically check in on the pet, clean up after it, and replenish its supplies as well as provide it with some social stimulation. Parakeets who spend the majority of their time alone can become depressed and reserved.
Parakeets are also known as budgies in some parts of the world, and they belong to a large group of small parrots that includes ringneck parakeets, Quaker parakeets, and monk parakeets. The origin of the parakeet is traced back to Australia, where the aboriginal peoples native to the land called them budgerigar. Many people find parakeets visually appealing because of their patterns and bright colors, such as vibrant greens, blues, and yellows. They often resemble parrots, but are considerably smaller and also tend to be less expensive.
Intelligence and Responsiveness
In addition to their vibrant exterior, parakeets are considered social and intelligent animals. Having a parakeet as a pet appeals to owners seeking a companion they can interact with. These are highly social birds and they love to interact with people, birds, and even other animals. They frequently learn behaviors and mimic voices and tones, and with practice some parakeets have been known to learn vocabularies of more than 100 words. They can’t converse as much as they can mimic, but they respond well to cues and certain learned verbal commands.
Minimal Supplies Required
A big advantage to keeping a parakeet over many other pets lies in the fact that it can be relatively inexpensive and easy to care for. All a parakeet needs is a clean, small cage with a perch and adequate food and water; a cuttle bone and a mineral block for beak filing and a few toys to keep it happy are also usually recommended. Parakeets typically like reflective surfaces like mirrors and toys that make noise, particularly bells and rattles.
The needed supplies aren’t usually very expensive. As far as pets go, the birds themselves aren’t usually very costly, either. Of course, some rarer color patterns and specialized breeds will fetch higher sums, but in general standard parakeets are very affordable.
The primary disadvantage to keeping parakeets is that they can be extremely messy. It's common for owners to find seeds, feathers, and fecal matter well outside the cage. Also, since parakeets tend to relieve themselves of waste approximately every 15 minutes or so, their cages must be cleaned frequently. A parakeet's water supply must also be checked regularly, as they are known to contaminate their drinking and bath water with fecal matter.
Noise might also be an issue for some owners. Parakeets also are known to be very loud and vocal, especially in the early hours of morning when the sun first comes up.
Though parakeets are intelligent, the most engaging and conversant birds have usually spent a great deal of time working to improve their skills and practice their abilities with their owners. There are a number of defined training plans that have been published, but owners don’t usually need to follow a strict plan; they do, however, usually need to spend a lot of time working with their birds and talking with them in order to encourage verbal development and mimicking. People who simply leave their birds alone in their cages are often disappointed that they aren’t as engaging as was hoped.