Originally from Australia, parakeets are small, colorful birds that have become domesticated pets around the world. While the term "parakeet" can refer to a number of similar species of bird, the most common parakeets sold in the United States as pets are budgerigars ("budgies" for short). It is these birds for which this article is written.

What makes the parakeet an ideal pet?

Parakeets take up little space. Other than a moderately-sized cage, parakeets require not much space to live. It is recommended to allow them to fly short distances as a form of exercise, but even that does not require additional equipment (whereas to provide exercise for a dog, both time and money would be spent to have him or her walk). Because parakeets take such a small amount of space, they can be kept in small houses and apartments; places where dogs and cats may be a problem to keep.

Parakeets do not cost nearly as much as other pets. Typically, parakeets are sold for less than $20 at local pet stores. Keep in mind that they most likely aren't cared for often in a pet store. When they are placed in large display cages, disease can spread quickly between them. That is why it may be safer to buy from a local breeder (though they will charge more than a pet store would). A high-quality midsize cage typically costs $50. Allow space for your parakeet to move around, seed and water dishes, and any toys that you may place in the cage. Bird seed is relatively cheap (compared to the feed for other pets), and lasts a long time.

Parakeets require little maintenance. Cleaning a birdcage is as simple as replacing paper on the bottom tray, and scraping off anything that is sticking to the cage. Every few months, the bird's wings should be clipped (excess feathers cut off), so they cannot fly too fast and injure themselves. Before attempting to clip a bird's wings for the first time, observe an experienced individual do so. Clipping too much will hurt the bird. Periodically, the parakeet's nails will need to be clipped as well. As with the clipping, do not do this until you are confident that you know how to do it without hurting the bird. Other than cage cleaning, wing clipping, and nail trimming, parakeets take a good deal of time preening themselves (providing a small bowl of shallow water to allow them to bath is and optional perk to give your parakeet). They do not require the kind of grooming as dogs and cats do.

Parakeets provide hours of entertainment. Parakeets are social animals, and enjoy attention from their owners. Parakeets can be trained to perform tricks, starting with simple moves such as hopping onto a perch you hold out in front of them. By talking to your parakeet, he or she may start reciting your words. It is a great reward to watch your budgerigar perform tricks and speak to you. When they hear other birds outside chirping, particularly in the morning, they will chime it. In a sense, they can function as a natural alarm clock!

How To Choose The Perfect Parakeet

Parakeets come in a wide variety of colors. The most common is the yellow-and-green mixture. Another common color combination is a whitish head, with a light blue body color. Albino budgerigars aren't very common, but are beautiful creatures. They are a treat to own! To determine the sex of a budgerigar, observe the color of it's cere (nose, located above the beak). A bluish cere indicates that the budgerigar is a male. A pink or brown cere indicates that it is a female (when pregnant, the cere turns significantly darker).

ParakeetTwo Parakeets

Parakeets are very colorful pet birds. The most common color is a yellow-green mix. Albino parakeets are more unique and rare.

Do not purchase a parakeet that appears sick or behaves abnormally. At a pet store, parakeets are usually displayed in a large cage. Some parakeets may be sleeping (in which case, it will be hard to tell whether they are healthy or not). It is best to observe the parakeets that are active and flying around. Check the quality of their feathers, especially near the facial area. A sick budgerigar may have regurgitated, causing their facial feathers to stick together and appear wet (it looks as if the parakeet is having a bird equivalent of a bad hair day). The healthiest budgies will have smooth feathers, with a slight shine. If there are no sick birds present in the display cage, then it is merely a choice of color preference.

Additional Information on Parakeets

Budgerigars have long lifespans for their size, from 8-10 years. Extremely healthy and well-cared for birds can last from 14 to as many as 20 years! It is safe to say that parakeets will last a long time, so choosing the right bird, and giving it the proper care and attention from the moment you bring it home, will give you the biggest reward as an owner.