What Your Parakeet Needs: Basics
Are you thinking about bringing home a parakeet? They are beautiful birds, and they're rather easy to care for. They are low-maintenance, and they're lots of fun to have around. If you're not quite sure what you will need before you bring your parakeet home, look no further. Here is a guide to everything you'll need to get you started and well on your way.
A cage is the first thing you will need to buy for your new parakeet. The cage should be big enough for the parakeet to move around in comfortably. The very smallest size you should consider is 18x18x24. If you can, go larger. You will definitely need a larger cage if you happen to be getting more than one parakeet. They need proper room to move around in order to be happy and healthy. Be sure to get a wide cage, rather than a tall one. This will allow your parakeet room to fly around (parakeets fly sideways, not up!). Also, try to get one that has horizontal bars, instead of vertical. Vertical bars are pretty much useless if you want to hang things like dishes and toys inside of the cage, and parakeets will enjoy climbing up the horizontal bars on the cage.
These can be found at any pet store. They usually have a large selection of sizes and colors to choose from. However, cages tend to be cheaper online, so I recommend shopping around a little bit before you make a decision.
Parakeets love a treat once in a while. Spray Millet (a small branch with bunches of tasty seeds on it) is a favorite. Also, pellet-sized mixes of seeds and dried fruits, held together with molasses, are a big hit. These, and more, are all available at the pet store.
Food and Water
It's very important that parakeets have access to fresh food and water at all times. They don't eat like we do; they tend to consume just a little bit at a time, several times throughout the day. Because of this, just a little while without food can be a problem. Make sure the food and water is changed daily, and that the parakeet has access to both all day long. Parakeet food can be found at any pet store, as well as most grocery and department stores. They typically like to eat seeds, nuts, fruits, and veggies. You can find blends of all these for sale in the store, or you can give these to your parakeet fresh.
There are several kinds of food and water dispensers and bowls that you can choose from. Some of them are just bowls that you can hang in the cage. Others are tube shaped, and dispense little bits of food at a time. Look around until you find something you like. Many birdcages even come with removable food and water bowls, so you may choose to stick with those, if you'd like.
There are many types of nutritional supplements available for parakeets. Depending on what your parakeet is eating, it's diet may lack something that it needs in order to be healthy. I recommend buying a cuttle bone for your parakeet, which is a calcium supplement. Also available are liquid vitamins that you can pour over their food or water.
Parakeets also need something called 'grit'. It is finely ground gravel, and it helps parakeets digest their food. They don't have teeth to chew, so they eat small amounts of grit, which grinds up the food they've eaten. Grit is available at any pet store, and most department stores.
If you want your parakeet to be social and friendly with people, don't put anything with a reflective surface in the cage. Parakeets will quickly become attached to the 'friend' in the mirror, and will be much less likely to want to socialize with humans.
Parakeets need lots of toys to keep them occupied. They like things that they can move, climb, and make noise with. They particularly enjoy bells. Try to stock up on a wide variety of things for your parakeet to play with. Put a few in the cage at one time, and switch them out on a regular basis. Parakeets can easily get bored with the same toys over time.
You will need to buy a few perches, aside from any that might have come with the cage. Your parakeet will need a variety of different sized perches, so that its feet are exercised properly. Try to avoid the rough, sandy perches. While they are good for filing down the parakeet's nails, they are also very rough on the feet, and can cause sores. I recommend wooden and rope perches.