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Colorful Parakeets Make Good Pets

Updated on August 23, 2011

Melopsittacus Undulatus

Perhaps the best known bird kept as a pet is the beautifully colored parakeet, more commonly known as the budgie. The technical name for these little birds is Melopsittacus Undulatus. But, since they resemble tiny parrots, most people refer to them as parakeets. These fine looking birds are revered for their attractive colors, ability to talk and compatibility with humans.

For thousands of years Australia’s grasslands had been their habitat and originally, they were just colored green with black markings. The vast spectrum of colors they now possess came about by selective breeding for commercial purposes. The black, wavy lines on their backs and green feathers, was nature’s camouflage, protecting them from predators. The Latin name means "song parrot with wavy lines".

John Gould, an English naturalist, brought a couple back home with him in 1838. They were easy to breed and in a few years there were literally thousands of parakeets all over Europe. However, by 1894, due to large numbers being caught, their existence became threatened. Therefore, Australians banned their export. The ban remains in effect today. Budgies you purchase today have been raised by breeders.

Perfect Pets

In the United States alone, there are around 8 million parakeets and millions more around the world. Parakeets make excellent pets because. they are easily cared for and inexpensive. The life expectancy of a parakeet on average is about 7 to 9 years. However, there have been rare occasions with a few living upwards of sixteen years.

As a breeder, the best way to raise newly hatched chicks is allow their parents to do it, so the pair should be kept together until the chicks are weaned. When first hatched, the chicks are blind and helpless. Don’t touch them unless they require hand feeding . Usually they remain in the nest for 5 to 6 weeks being fed mostly by the female. The male will also feed them but their job is mainly gathering food.

Teaching Them To Talk

However, the majority of people only want to keep them as pets, teaching them to talk and perch on their fingers. To teach your parakeet to talk it must first believe it's part of your human family. Therefore it needs to communicate with you. Having a mirror in the cage makes it think there are other parakeets around and it will “talk” like them. Therefore, the first step is to keep your parakeet on its own, surrounded only by humans. The earlier you attempt to teach your budgie to talk, the better. Male parakeets are apt to talk better than a female, but both can.

Parakeets seem to learn best at early morning. If you use a towel or cover over their cage to help them sleep, talk to them for 1/2 hour before removing it. Repeat the chosen words you want it to learn slowly and clearly. Parakeets tend to do better with letters like K and T so teaching it to say "hello" wouldn’t be the best phrase to teach it in the beginning. Budgies are apt to talk quickly and not too clearly. So the slower you speak, the better it will sound when the bird starts to talk.


It will take a bit of patience, but eventually it will begin to repeat you. The best method is physically talking to your parakeet, instead of using a taped recording of your voice. Parakeets can also imitate other sounds like a cell phone or whistle.

In the beginning, your parakeet will be afraid. So, let it learn its' cage is in a safe place by putting it in a room where your family congregates the most. It will soon learn it is safe if you put its’ cage in a corner where it can see and hear what’s going on. Putting a cloth over one side of the cage usually helps to make it feel more safe. It will also eliminate drafts. Most birds also prefer being perched in higher places. It makes them feel safe from cats and other predators.

Loud noises tend to scare a bird, but on the other hand, a silent room is just a scary. Instinct will tell it there is a predator about. Keeping loud noises and busy commotion to a minimum will help in getting your parakeet over its’ initial fright to their new environment.

If your parakeet was hand raised, it might already be prepared to learn how to perch on your finger. If not, it may take a few weeks. But, once your budgie has been finger trained you can let it out to explore his new home. However, before opening the cage, make sure all doors and windows are closed. And now the parakeet knows his cage and your finger are safe places, it can fly freely around the room.

Many people are unsure of what to feed their little friends. What do they eat? Most budgie food mixes purchased commercially will contain red and yellow millet seeds, a standard part of budgie diets. But there are many other things your budgie will love.

For instance, stale, hard bread.Take some old bread and poke a hole through the center. Hang it in the cage and watch as they not only love pecking at it but will play with it as well.

Parakeets are fond of vegetables and will readily devour most types. Organically grown if possible, because they are very sensitive to insecticides. They must be given a thorough washing. Some vegetables, such as leaves from stem turnips, must be doled out in small portions. Although budgies are extremely fond of them, if they eat too much they can develop diarrhea.

Try cutting fresh carrots into strips and hang them low in their cage. Budgies love the juice but will spit out the rest, most which will end up on your floor if it’s placed too high in the cage. Parakeets also adore cucumber. It’s a healthy treat for them because it contains minerals and lots of water. Therefore, they can eat as much as they please.

Other things these birds like are lettuce, apple, chickweed, cuttlefish chalk and dog biscuits. But no matter what type of food you feed your budgie, if it spoils it could make your new pet sick. The best idea is to keep the cage clean and food fresh.


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    • JY3502 profile imageAUTHOR

      John Young 

      8 years ago from Florence, South Carolina

      Thank you Vicki!

    • Vicki.Pierce profile image

      Susan Ungrey 

      8 years ago from Grand Rapids, Michigan

      Nice hub! :)


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