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Parrot facts – beautiful, noisy and poop a lot

Hyacinth macawsThere are 372 species of parrots in 86 genera in the Psittaciformes order, subdivided in 3 families: Psittacidae (true parrots), Cacatuidae (cockatoos) and Nestoridae. There are almost as many parrots as cats or dogs in the USA, some 40 million. They are beautiful, noisy and poop a lot.

Distinct parrot eating habit

Parrots are the only birds that can bring food to its mouth with its foot. Their tongues are made up of small bones that make them flexible enough to manipulate the food. In the wild, parrots eat flowers, fruit, nuts, plants, and insects. They eat less seeds than often thought.

Pet parrots often die of the same causes as humans do: too much fat, too much stress, too little exercise. In fact, parrots have a tendency to become obese. Limit your parrot’s seed intake and, if kept in a cage, allow it to fly around for at least an hour a day, preferably more.

How old will my parrot live?

Pets like cats and dogs will be at your side for 10 years or so but parrots live for 40 or even 100 years. This is a very long relationship to have. Imagine for a moment you are locked up in a house where no-one talks to you for 20 years! Remember, your parrot did not choose you – you chose your parrot. It therefor is important that you arrange your living space to accommodate for the commitment you make when you get a parrot as a pet. We’re talking parrot respect here!

Realize that you and your family are not the only ones in the house – teach your kids to appreciate your pet parrot and how to care for it (the parrot might outlive you!). Be aware of your parrots needs and moods and look out for signs of change in its personality and analyze it with a simple search through the parrot support groups (and here) on the web or talk to your vet.

Parrots of any age are playful – isn’t it amazing how animals are playful at any age? – and always nibbly. Your parrot will be grateful for that extra hamper of munchies (make sure to get the correct type of munchies for your type of parrot). But you can throw in a colorful surprise toy to keep it busy for hours in a day.

Talking parrot

It takes about two months to teach a parrot to talk, or rather, to teach a parrot to imitate human speech – parrots don’t understand what they’re saying. Nobody told Paul Cezanne that. He apparently taught his parrot to say: “Paul Cezanne is a great painter.” Well, the parrot was right!

Biggest parrot

The largest species of parrot is the hyacinth macaw (Anodorhynchus hyacinthinus): it grows up to 39 inches (100cm) long and can weigh almost 5 pounds. They are native to South America, but to get them as pets anywhere else you have to screech out some $20,000 or more for a pair. As Judy Leach says, Hyacinth parrots are the most majestic of all parrots. The lifespan of Hyacinth macaws (pictured) is between 30 and 50 years.

The smallest parrot is the buff-faced pygmy parrot (Micropsitta pusio). It is only 3.5 inches (9 cm) tall and weighs as little as 0.4oz (11,5g).

The rarest parrot is the Spix’s macaw, the only member of the parrot genus Cyanopsitta.

Happy parrot

Don’t forget that parrots are animals of the wild. Loud noises and too much light causes them stress and makes them either aggressive or depressed. Try and give your parrot the same amount of light as it would have in nature: if your parrot is unlucky to have to live in a cage, at least cover the cage when it gets dark outside and keep the cage in a quiet place. Give your parrot attention, show your commitment, and you’ll have a happy parrot for as long as you live.

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