Large, exotic birds make beautiful and unique pets, but the duties involved pose many challenges. Cockatoos, parrots or macaws seem like fun pets, but be ready for the huge responsibility that comes along with owning a large pet bird.
The first consideration is the investment that goes into owning a large bird. Cages, food and veterinarian bills for exotic animals create a huge expense. Even a modest cage for a large bird will run upwards of $800. Planning vacations or even going away for the weekend can be a hassle as well. Be ready to pay someone to care for the bird during any absence.
Time is another large investment when owning a large bird. Owners will spend hours a day, every day, caring for and catering to the animals’ emotional and physical needs. Large birds are attractive to many partially because they can be very loving and also very entertaining. A pet bird will bond with its owner emotionally, much like an infant to its mother, and they will crave human attention. Birds who do not receive this attention can become unruly; they can cause serious injury with their strong beaks or even become depressed and pluck their feathers or refuse to eat. The sensitivity of a large bird’s desire for attention often come as a shock to new bird owners who then find themselves unable to provide the time that is needed to keep a happy, healthy pet.
Large birds also have very specific dietary requirement. The animal must receive a variety of food including fresh fruits and vegetables, seeds, pellets and dietary supplements in order to thrive. Also be aware that many ordinary household items can pose a threat to their lives and these things will need to be avoided. As an example, be prepared to throw away all non-stick cookware. The fumes emitted from a Teflon surface when heated can be deadly to most birds. And do not put their cage near a doorway; even something as simple as a draft from outside can cause serious respiratory illnesses.
Common Dangers for a Pet Bird
If children live in the household, they will need to be very careful with these pets. Children can easily cause injury to the bird and vice versa. Sharp claws and powerful beaks designed to crack open hard nuts may not be a good combination when children are involved, unless the owner is ready to provide strict supervision. Most birds are loving and gentle, but if they become frightened, anything can happen.
And then there are the neighbors, and the sleep of all household members, to consider. Large birds are very, very noisy. Screams can be heard down the block when they really get going, which neighbors may not appreciate. And if they scream at night, sleep can be an issue. If cared for properly though, most birds will fall in line with the owner’s sleep schedule and not cause too much trouble.
And finally, remember that parrots and other large birds have very long life-spans. Living anywhere from 40 to 100 years old, large birds will likely be with their owners for their entire lifetime if they are taken care of correctly. This is a serious commitment for only the very serious pet owner.
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