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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.

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