IS A PARROT THE RIGHT PET FOR YOUR CHILD?

Parrots can be wonderful pets and a loving companion for many; however, they are not easy pets to look after – especially for young children. They come in all shapes and sizes from Budgerigars to Macaws and all have extensive needs, different from that of other companion animals like cats and dogs.

Parrots require a lot of space both inside a cage and free roaming, cage sizes should be adequate for the parrot to be able to comfortably stretch its wings and fly freely from one side of the cage to the other without restriction and they should not be kept
in the cage for extended periods of time if it can be avoided. Keeping a parrot caged can be extremely stressful and un-stimulating, which can lead to health issues and behavioural problems including feather plucking, pacing and aggression.

Along with housing complications, parrots require specific diets to keep them fit and healthy. Therefore, they need a balanced diet of specialised pelleted feed, fruits and vegetables in order to avoid vitamin deficiencies and skin and feather problems. Water also must be changed at least once daily.

A parrot’s cage must be kept clean, perches and standing areas must be cleaned daily, or when soiled, to avoid health conditions including bumblefoot, which causes sores on the base of the feet leading to bacterial infections. The correct perches must also be purchased to avoid this condition and to keep them comfortable; they also must be made of a suitable material to avoid any of the perch being ingested or damaged, causing injury.

While parrots can be lovely companions, they can also be aggressive if not trained and can be rather destructive around the house meaning they must be watched closely at all times. They require a lot of attention and mental stimulation to keep them occupied and to avoid destruction, suitable toys can help with this though it is not always possible to prevent.

Depending on the size of the bird, they can also cause a lot of damage physically if they become aggressive resulting in bites and scratches. Especially with young children, who have small fingers, they can be harmed easily if the parrot is provoked or agitated. Though equally as much, parrots are very fragile creatures and with children being rather boisterous, quick and loud, it is easy for the bird to become injured.

Along with all of this, parrots also live for a very long time, some up to 50+ years, meaning they are a longstanding commitment and must be treated as such to provide them with the best quality of life. With their long life span, specialist food, equipment and toys and specialised vet care required, if needed, they could become expensive pets to care for which also must be taken into consideration.

The decision to have a parrot as a pet for a child must fall solely on the child’s maturity and responsibility levels, but also the willingness of the parents to pick up any tasks and needs where the bird is concerned as well as ensuring that the bird can be given the proper
care and the loving home it deserves.