CREATING A HEALTHY ENVIRONMENT FOR PARROTLETS

What factors need to be considered?

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My goal in including this page is to help parrotlet owners create and maintain an environment that promotes a loving and healthy habitat for their companion pet. 

Co-parenting vs. Hand Feeding:

Co-parenting allows the parents to raise the chicks until they are weaned. Pulling the chicks from the nest several times per day promotes socialization with humans.  We believe that this combination of parenting is the best possible scenario for promoting healthy, well adjusted pet parrotlets.

Cleanliness:

Keeping a clean habitat and consistent daily monitoring of parrotlets is essential. Maintaining a healthy environment starts with providing clean water everyday.  I use a 10% bleach to 90% water solution for rinsing out the water tubes. I also use a bottle brush for proper cleaning of the tubes.  In addition, I line the bottom of the cage with paper towels. When cleaning the grate at the bottom of the cage, I use a solution of 10% bleach to 90% water on a kitchen style of pot scrubber. Using paper towels under the grate allows me to roll up the debris in a manner that keeps the contents contained within the paper towel, thus eliminating anything from becoming airborne.

Cage Size and Dimensions:

Cage consideration is critical for the long term welfare of your pet parrotlet.

One of the very first questions that I am asked is what is the best cage for my Parrotlet? Although there are many different brands and configurations, I would always say that the bigger the better! A friend of mine once told me, " You could live in a closet, but would you want to?"

A larger cage is essential for promoting exercise. I can't tell you how often I see owners and breeders using small cages, 14"x14"x14" or 18"x18"18", to house their birds lifelong. I consider this an inhumane treatment of such a beautiful creature. I think that the larger the cage, with 1/2" bar spacing or smaller, is always the best choice! Remember that birds fly horizontally, so the horizontal length of the cage is more important the the vertical height.

Just a few things to consider when purchasing, and planning the room placement of your cage: 

* Regarding the width of the bars. They should be spaced approximately 1/2" apart or less.

* The most important measurement is the width. Many folks think that a taller cage is better but since birds fly horizontally, and not vertically, the width is the most important measure.

* A rectangular cage is probably the best shape for a cage since it allows it

to be placed against a wall or in a corner. Although round cages look nice in a room, they are very disconcerting for a bird since they never feel safe. When a bird only has to keep an eye out in one direction, it allows them to relax. A round cage, or a cage placed in the middle of a room, makes them feel very vulnerable. My cages are in bookcases so three sides are covered and the birds only feel exposed on one side. Of course you can use a cloth covering to get the same effect.

Since parrotlets are smaller parrots, you can use a smaller cage size, especially if your pet has daily time outside the cage.

Lighting:

Lighting is an important factor when creating the best environment for a parrotlet.  I employ a dual lighting system that is utilized to mimic the natural habitat of the parrotlet.  I mention dual with regards to having two different sets of lights, on timers, coming on in the morning at different times, and conversely, going out at different times in the evening.  Although I have the lights placed directly over my cages, I do provide greenery which allows the birds to move in and out of "sunshine" as they desire. Much like they can do under the canopy of the forest. 

Proper lighting is necessary for bird health and metabolism. Although much is made regarding full spectrum lighting for birds, great care needs to be employed since eye damage can occur when using these full spectrum lights.  The best scenario would allow your parrotlet some time outside in the sunshine. Just be carefully to provided shaded space for your pet to get out of the light if desired.  Remember, their natural habitat provides a canopy for them to dart both in and out of the sunshine.

An excellent resource for exploring a lighting source for your pet is Mark Schack at M&M Cage Company. His website is breedingcage.com. Mark is an engineer that designs and manufactures lighting specific for birds.

Consistent handling creates a loving bond with parrotlet companion pets.   It is important to expose your bird to daily noises, such as the vacuum, television, and the radio to prepare them for conditions found in a home environment. Introducing new sounds, and sights, on a gradual and limited basis allows your pet to become comfortable with changes in their environment.  Remember, parrotlets are very intelligent, curious creatures so they love challenges like foraging and new toys.

Food:

A wide variety of top quality foods is necessary supply everything they need to thrive. The best practice is a combination of seed, pellets, and fresh foods available every day.

My parrotlets have a base diet consisting of a mix of seed (Sunseed), pellets (Roudybush), and Goldenfeast Austrailian Blend. I provide a wide variety of chopped fruits and vegetables mixed daily for a period of approximately two hours. (Don't leave these treats longer or they will spoil.) I also keep these additional food supplements readily available for my birds at all times: cuttlebone, various

freeze-dried fruits and vegetables, dried greens, mineral block, and egg food.

One additional tip which I have found helpful concerns the water that I supply my birds. I change the water daily and add a drop or two of Braggs Apple Cider Vinegar.  This helps to keep the water fresh while providing

valuable enzymes. Although I use tap water, because of the added minerals, I keep it in a pitcher with the lid left off so that the chlorine will evaporate over a twenty-four hour period of time. The minerals in the water are good for your parrotlet whereas the chlorine is not.

Bottom line..."Treat your parrotlet like we would want to be treated!" It is that simple.