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Top 10 Reasons People Don't Like Living With Parrots

There is a positive and a negative to everything: Dogs bark and dig up the yard; cats shred the couch, and shed hair all over the house. Parrots also have their downsides.

  1. Parrots can be loud. Loudness is in the ear of the listener. Some species or individuals make specific sounds (certain pitches) that are painful or obnoxious to one person that others think is not so bad. Sometimes it isn't the specific sound so much as the volume of that sound. Some parrots vocalize more frequently than others. Be sure you have heard the normal calls of the bird you are considering and know that you, your family members and potentially your neighbors can live with that noise. Some people hear the wild jungle and joy at being alive in their calls; others find them impossible to live with.

  2. Parrots can be messy. God created them to shred stuff up, to mulch the jungle floor with shredded plant material and droppings, and to distribute seeds. They are curious, playful and destructive. They need things to tear up and destroy. They will fling pieces of destroyed toy around. They will throw food, both dry food and soft sticky food, some of which will stick to the wall. Some molted feathers will escape from the cage. There will be pieces of nutshell on the floor around the cage that, sooner or later, you will step on with your bare feet. Poop happens, and sometimes we step in that, too, or it gets on our hands or clothing. Fortunately, there are brooms, vacuum cleaners and good disinfectants available. And parrot poop is not staining; it has no odor and washes away easily.

  3. Parrots can bite. Any bird can bite. And when they bite, it hurts. And if you are afraid of them, they are nervous and will bite harder and more frequently. Sooner or later you will most likely be bitten. Even your child will be bitten unless you take appropriate precautions and supervise all interactions. Parrots bite because:

    • they are afraid
    • they are defending themselves or a perceived mate
    • they are over-excited
    • they are falling and want to save themselves
    • they are warning you that they really don't want you to do something
    • they want to show that they can get you to react (and that drama is fun for a parrot).

    Let's face it; no one likes to be bitten. Fortunately you can set boundaries for them and give them reinforcement for positive behavior. This will reduce the likelihood of getting a bite from your bird. But you can NEVER eliminate that possibility. If you have a parrot, you will learn that your ego is most often more bruised than your finger. Fortunately, most bites aren't very serious, usually a pinch or a bruise, and occasionally a little bit of a cut. When you learn to read your bird's body language you will begin to understand how to prevent the circumstances that lead to your bird wanting to bite you. It is your responsibility to read about and understand their behavior. It is your responsibility to avoid the circumstances that might cause the bird to bite. The bottom line is: if you get bitten it is your fault.

  4. Birds can be destructive. They may tear up lots of toys. Parrots are big and powerful. They delight in expressing that power by shredding toys. It is heartbreaking to me when I hear of someone who doesn't get their bird toys because "he just destroys them". He NEEDS to destroy them; that is his job. This means that you have to purchase or make a lot of toys for him to destroy. It also means that his beak can do a lot of damage to your old antiques, your doorframe or anything else within reach. It is impossible to bird-proof your home. Given the opportunity and access, parrots will gnaw the walls, the ceiling, the furniture, and electrical cords. If you have a parrot you must not let him have free reign in your home unless you are willing to risk the damage and his potential electrocution. Supervised playtime is a must to keep your bird and your house safe from one another.

  5. Parrots can be somewhat demanding. They need a certain amount of attention, and if they don't get it they will scream (see loud). They need time away from their cages, in the middle of where their people are doing things. Your bird needs to feel like he or she is a member of your family (flock). Your bird may call to you with contact calls if you are out of sight. "I'm ok, are you ok?" they are saying. You can call back to them with more desirable sounds and let them know you are ok too. They need some high-quality one-on-one time, with physical contact, eye contact, praise and personal attention. They need activities and toys to keep them interested in life, to keep them sane. If you want a bird to have in a cage and never let out, choose a canary or a pair of finches, not a parrot.

  6. Parrots are not the easiest pets to care for. They require more time and energy than dogs or cats. They need a lot of interaction (see demanding). They have to be fed at least twice a day, and have their water changed at each feeding since they tend to make soup and / or bathe in their water bowls. This means that you can't just put extra food in the cage and leave for the weekend; you will need to arrange for someone to come and feed and check in on him twice a day while you are gone, or you will need to board your parrot. Also, birds hide illness for as long as they are able. In the wild, they would be ostracized from their flock and become prey if they showed a weakness. So you have to watch for small signs that your bird isn't well. Fortunately, they are generally healthy creatures if they are fed good diets, and kept clean and away from extreme environmental stresses and ill birds.

  7. Parrots sometimes are not the easiest pets to live with. They are not domesticated; they have only been bred in captivity for a few generations, at the most. They are essentially instinctive wild animals that have been acclimated and socialized to live with people. When they don't get enough sleep, they are cranky. When they are hormonal, they get overloaded more quickly. They have lots of extra energy during adolescence that needs to be channeled, guided and directed. They bite (see bite), they scream (see loud), and they are messy (see messy) and destructive (see destructive). On the flip side, it is a privilege to share our lives with these fascinating creatures and to have a little bit of the wild side in our homes. But this means we have to be accommodating and understanding, not expecting them always to behave as you might expect a well-trained dog to do.

  8. Having a parrot can be expensive. Its not only the purchase price of a properly weaned, well-socialized bird that is costly. Its environment (large enough cage, playstands, toys) often adds up to as much as the original cost of the bird. Fortunately, cages and playstands last a long time, as do birds. Toys, however, are disposable. They need lots of toys, rotated through their cage and playstand. They destroy those toys, and they always need new ones. These toys have to be bought or made, and if you are making them you need to have the time, the tools and materials and the knowledge of how to make a safe parrot toy. Parrots have to go to qualified avian veterinarians; not every vet knows about birds, which are a significant specialty. Avian veterinarians may be far away and expensive. Nevertheless, your bird should go at least once per year for a thorough checkup. When you buy a parrot, you are taking on this financial commitment for the rest of your life.

  9. Parrots can live a very long time. Parrots can live from 25 to 100 years, if well cared for. Most of our other life commitments are nowhere near that long. Children are out of the house in 20 years, more or less. Marriages seem to be even more disposable. The stock market only views what's happening this quarter. Are we ready to make a lifetime commitment? Are we ready to provide for these creatures in our wills?

  10. Baby parrots grow up. That darling cuddly trusting creature with dark eyes, all interested in pleasing you and deriving pleasure just from your simple touch on its feathers will grow up to be an independent bird with its own opinions and personality. Your maturing bird may test you to see if the boundaries are still in place. It may try to manipulate and bully you. Your darling parrot may become more difficult to handle as time goes on. It will not do well left alone once the original excitement of bringing baby home has worn off; this creature can live a very long time and needs exercise and stimulation throughout its life. It is not fair to bring home a baby and expect it to remain a baby forever. Your baby will grow up and become an adolescent, a sexually mature adult, and eventually an older mature bird. You have to find these changes welcome and enriching to your relationship with your bird, otherwise you will become disenchanted and dispose of your bird when it reaches 2 years old.
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