Home | Bird Species Profiles | Captive Care of the Budgerigar (“Parakeet”), Melopsittacus undulatus; – Budgerigars as Pets – Part I

Captive Care of the Budgerigar (“Parakeet”), Melopsittacus undulatus; – Budgerigars as Pets – Part I

Note: Please see Natural History of the Budgerigar for information on budgerigars in the wild.

ParakeetFrom its introduction to European aviculture by eminent British ornithologist John Gould in 1840, the budgerigar has grown to be the world’s most commonly kept pet bird.  Perhaps due to their tiny size, budgerigars are often underestimated as pets.  However, they are as playful and intelligent as any of the larger parrots, and often develop impressive vocabularies. 

The budgerigar’s sociability and calm acceptance of crowded, noisy surroundings renders it an ideal pet for people who do not have the space that larger birds require – believe me, you will not be missing anything offered by parrot ownership if you choose to keep this delightful little fellow.

Enclosure and Physical Environment
As with all birds, you should give your budgerigar the largest cage possible – just be certain that the bars are no more than ½ inch apart, lest the bird escape, or get caught up in the attempt.  Assuming that your pet is given frequent exercise periods outside of its cage, the minimum cage size for a single bird would be 12”x18”x18”.

Budgerigars are extremely active, even by parrot standards.  Fortunately, they adjust well to people and most soon tame down enough to be let out of their cage for daily exercise.

The cage should be furnished with a variety of perches of different sizes and materials and a wide selection of toys.  Rotating toys in and out of the cage from time to time will increase your bird’s interest in them.  Even more than many of their relatives, budgerigars enjoy gnawing away at all sorts of materials, so be sure to keep them well supplied with suitable chew toys.

In the warmer months, budgerigars housed in an outdoor aviary will keep you amused for hours on end with their antics.

Light and Heat
Budgerigars are birds of open, sunlit environments, and will benefit greatly from exposure to unfiltered sunlight.  If possible to do so safely, occasionally place your pet’s cage (locked and out of reach of predators) outdoors in nice weather.  Be sure the bird can get into the shade when necessary.

When indoors, your budgerigar’s cage should be lit with a full spectrum bird bulb – UVA light in particular has been shown to be of great benefit in stimulating natural behaviors and maintaining good health.

Normal room temperatures suit these hardy birds just fine, but do not position the cage in a draft.

Check back Monday for the conclusion of Captive Care of the Budgerigar.


  1. avatar

    Hi Frank,

    Maybe My Bird is really a (Budgie?) LOL HEHEHHe

    I will keep you posted when I have time to picture my female lovebird…… I know that the female is lovebird because I saw her (ceres?) or nose that is not the same with my male (Budgie)

    I have two questions?

    *If my male so-called lovebird is really a Budgie, while my female is a lovebird, then do I need to seperate them?

    *And if I can put them together in one cage, are there possibilities that They will breed.

    (PS) I will take a picture of my birds, but how can I let you see it? and can you identify their type of bird if its alright to you. . . .

  2. avatar

    Hi Jane,

    Here is a list of the 9 lovebird species; click on name for photos. Many color varieties have been developed by breeders, but as you can see the body plan differs greatly from the budgies, so they should be easy to distinguish. Parrots are very social, so different species often get along…but this may explain breeding season aggression, as each will have different habits, timing, etc. Budgies and lovebirds are reported to have bred and produced hybrids, but this is rare and I’ve not seen any photos or first hand reports. Enjoy, Best, Frank

  3. avatar

    I have three budgies, all trick trained to target, recall, and spin. Right now I’m working on “capturing” their wing raise that they do when they relax as well as hopefully teaching them to wave. The wave isn’t going well, but it’s not why I am writing you.

    Even with three tricks taught, my budgies are still quite timid of me and will fly around the room for a few laps together following the lead of the single one that got spooked at the time. How can I get my budgies to be more comfortable around me and even seek me out for physical contact?

  4. avatar

    Hi Jake,

    Given what you’ve accomplished, I shouldn’t be giving you any advice!…very impressive! But I can say that it’s generally more difficult to draw them to you when you keep several; a single bird, trained and used to you, would be more likely to seek out your companionship. Cage-mates will prefer their own company, and all birds picking up on what one is doing, as you describe, is very common. I wouldn’t try to force closeness…other than offering treats, etc., I would just let things progress on their timetable…they may grow more trusting over time. Please keep me posted on your progress, enjoy and congrats, Frank

  5. avatar

    Thanks Frank. I’ll keep you updated as best I can. I just need to spend more time with them.

  6. avatar

    Enjoy and good luck, Jake.

    best, frank

About Frank Indiviglio

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I believe that I was born with an intense interest in animals, as neither I nor any of my family can recall a time when I was not fascinated by creatures large and small. One might imagine this to be an unfortunate set of circumstances for a person born and raised in the Bronx, but, in actuality, quite the opposite was true. Most importantly, my family encouraged both my interest and the extensive menagerie that sprung from it. My mother and grandmother somehow found ways to cope with the skunks, flying squirrels, octopus, caimans and countless other odd creatures that routinely arrived un-announced at our front door. Assisting in hand-feeding hatchling praying mantises and in eradicating hoards of mosquitoes (I once thought I had discovered “fresh-water brine shrimp” and stocked my tanks with thousands of mosquito larvae!) became second nature to them. My mother went on to become a serious naturalist, and has helped thousands learn about wildlife in her 16 years as a volunteer at the Bronx Zoo. My grandfather actively conspired in my zoo-buildings efforts, regularly appearing with chipmunks, boa constrictors, turtles rescued from the Fulton Fish Market and, especially, unusual marine creatures. It was his passion for seahorses that led me to write a book about them years later. Thank you very much, for a complete biography of my experience click here.
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