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5 Things You Need to Know About Parakeet Care

Find out why budgies need space, varied foods, fresh water, a clean environment and bird toys.

Nikki Moustaki

5 Things You Need to Know About Parakeet Care

1) Parakeets need space. Most bird cages designated for parakeets are far too confining. For comparison, imagine that you have to spend your life in a 100 square foot space. You eat, sleep, play and "do your business” there — but you can never leave. For an animal that’s supposed to fly, confinement can be frustrating. Choose as large a bird cage as you have room for your parakeet, but make sure that the cage bars are designed for small birds.

Ideally, your bird will be able to fly the length of the cage for exercise. In the wild, parakeets (a name used interchangeably with budgies) fly many miles a day to find food. In our homes, the budgie gets far less exercise and that lifestyle can be detrimental to your pet bird’s health.

Unlike some other companion birds who will exercise as much as space allows (if given a small cage and a perch, the bird will just sit there all day), your budgie will be active in any size cage, so a small bird cage will not offer the same opportunity for exercise, especially flying, that a flight cage does. Also, a bird’s respiratory system relies on exercise and muscle tone to work properly, and may become compromised when confined.

2) Parakeets need to eat many different bird foods. In the wild, parakeets eat mostly young grass seeds, or mature seeds and vegetation when young seeds are out of season. For this reason, seed can be a staple of your budgie’s diet, but it can’t be the only bird food offered. Fresh fruits and vegetables are essential for your parakeet’s health.

A bird fed only seed may succumb to a host of illnesses brought on by malnutrition. Offer broccoli, carrots, apple, cucumber, kale and other healthy produce. Use organic produce when you can, and wash and dry produce carefully before offering to your parakeet. You can also cook for your ‘keet — for example, a combination of brown rice, lentils, parakeet pellets and veggies makes a nutritious meal.

Your budgie may use her water bowl to bathe, which means you'll need to clean out the water bowl to keep her water fresh and clean.

3) Parakeets need fresh water. Parakeets not only drink from their water dishes, they bathe in them too. Ideally, you will change your budgie’s water at least twice a day, offering clean, filtered or bottled water. Have two or three water dishes — one in use, and the others in the dishwasher or drying in the dish rack after washing with hot, soapy water.

4) Cleanliness is next to birdliness. Your parakeet is likely going to spend the vast majority of her time in her cage or habitat, so it’s important to keep her housing as clean as possible. Don’t use chemicals in or around your bird’s cage. Instead, use just fresh, clean water and baking soda if you need something abrasive to clean off dried droppings.

Newspaper at the cage bottom absorbs moisture and it dries fast, too. Other cage substrates, such as corn cob, paper shreds or wood chips, may hold moisture and will not show droppings properly. It’s important to clearly see your bird’s droppings, the color and density of which can indicate health or illness.

5) Parakeets need bird toys. Most parakeets only get a couple of hours of hands-on playtime a day — if they’re lucky. The other 22 hours are spent in the cage, trying to find something to do. Give your parakeet lots of toys to quibble with, shred, preen and destroy. A happy parakeet is an occupied parakeet. Make sure the toys are designated for small birds, and don’t have any places where the budgie’s head, beak or toes can get caught and injured.

Want to learn more about budgies/parakeets? Check out these articles:

Top 10 Pet Budgie/Parakeet Questions Answered
Top 10 Pet Budgie/Parakeet Vet Questions & Answers

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Posted: September 10, 2013, 2:45 p.m. PDT

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5 Things You Need to Know About Parakeet Care

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Reader Comments
I've had my "Freddie Parakeet Birdy" for 2 1/2 years. She is a female, and she talks like crazy and says just that ...."Freddie Parakeet Birdy." She also says, "Stinker Birdy, Such a pretty bird, and You're so cute." I think she says maybe about 20 words.

She's an absolute joy, and so much fun to teach her new words. Females aren't supposed to be too chatty, but I've got and lots of voice recordings with her talking

I give her the best two brands of bird food available, and offer her veggies and fruits too. In the summer, she sits on the porch with us to watch the wild birdies.
Carol, Finleyville, PA
Posted: 2/4/2016 5:45:36 PM
Parakeets are the best pets! This is a great article-- the tips here will help you keep your budgie happy and healthy.
Sue, Chicago, IL
Posted: 9/16/2013 9:01:44 AM
very good article
n, n, TN
Posted: 9/13/2013 6:22:12 AM
I loved having 'keets. they're so cute!
Gabby, San Diego, CA
Posted: 9/12/2013 8:16:43 PM
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