Why You Should Think Twice Before Getting a Parrot for a Pet

It’s easy to be charmed by a parrot. They are beautiful animals, curious, smart and very social, oftentimes interacting with humans in a playful way.

It’s not that hard to find evidence of parrots’ intelligence, either. Just do a quick Internet search for “most intelligent animal” or “how smart are birds” and you’ll find endless results. In recent news, two birds saved their own lives by repeating “Help!” and “Fire!” when the house they lived in was burning. Or go back a few years and you’ll see the extraordinary progress Alex, the African Grey parrot, made with his handler, Dr. Irene Pepperberg.

Before his death in 2007 at age 31, Alex knew how to properly use more than 100 English words, in addition to understanding colors and shapes. Dr. Pepperberg, estimated he had the intelligence of a five-year-old human and had still yet to reach his full potential.

These examples alone show how interesting and exotic these animals are, so much that they are sought after as pets. In the United States, it’s estimated that 6.5 million households have birds as pets. While that doesn’t come close to dogs or cats, it’s more than reptiles (4.9 million) and small animals (5.4 million).

Despite these numbers, birds — especially large parrots — aren’t ideal for pet ownership for a number of reasons.

They Need Constant Social Interaction 

Like many animals of their intelligence, birds are never alone in the wild. They travel together and socialize together. They help each other preen, look after each other’s eggs and have an overall complex social structure. A 2014 study found that birds “have strong associations with one or two individuals,” or, to put it more concisely: birds have best friends. Not just best friends, but their social structure is very similar to ours. They have their close circle, their acquaintances and a couple individuals they don’t interact with too much. When they are kept as peta, there is no way to replicate the social circles they have in the wild.

They Need Mental Stimulation 

Imagine being in solitary confinement for hours on end. This is what it’s like when a bird is caged anytime you are out of the house, whether it be for work, socializing or any other activity that comes with human responsibilities and lifestyle. Since many parrots’ intelligence is on par with a toddler’s, they need something the keep them busy for hours. Now, imagine trying to keep a toddler busy for hours with just one or two toys. Chances are high that it’s not happening without a tantrum. Same goes with a parrot. Like toddlers, they love to explore their surroundings and be mentally stimulated in order to keep them entertained.

Many Come From Bird Factories 

Many of the exotic parrots kept as pets aren’t found in the same country as the birds’ owners. So, in order to meet the pet market’s demands, there are breeding factories that house thousands of birds in poor living conditions. They don’t get to see the sun, they can’t stretch their wings and their cages are dirty. One could easily compare this kind of situation to the cruel puppy mills of which we’re all aware. Unfortunately, these bird “factories” don’t get as much attention as puppy mills. And there’s no federal legislation to protect birds within the pet industry.

Human Homes Are Really Dangerous 

Parrots are used to living in the wild, with space for miles. Human homes, no matter how big they are, don’t offer that same kind of freedom for parrots. Our modern living is also a huge danger for the birds, too. Take windows, for instance. Birds don’t know there is a glass pane that separates them from outside. They just see a nice tree upon which they’d like to perch. If they fly into the window too hard, they could become severely injured, or worse. There are also a number of everyday household items we use that means a certain death for birds. Ceiling fans, boiling water, lit candles and Teflon can all be fatal.

Chances Are Your Parrot Will Outlive You 

Depending on the breed, many parrots can live to be 80 years old in the wild. If you factor in a bird’s shorter lifespan in captivity, that is still a very, very long time. There are people who don’t have the commitment to taking care of an animal for 10 years, let alone eight times that amount. Even if you choose a parrot for a pet in your twenties, it’s highly likely the bird will be around well after your death.

Photo Credit: Papooga

128 comments

Siyus Copetallus
Siyus Copetallus2 years ago

Thank you for sharing.

SEND
Dianne D.
Dianne D2 years ago

I've lived 15 years next to a neighbor with a parrot. I can hear that bird squawk all the time when outdoors. I don't know how they can stand to listen to it day after day.

SEND
Melania Padilla
Melania Padilla2 years ago

I would love, love having parrots at home but I would never buy one, or any pet. These animals belong to the sky, to the trees! Thank you for sharing, doing so too.

SEND
Julia Cabrera-Woscek

Birds should NEVER, EVER be in cages. They are from the wild and the wild is their home.

SEND
Valentina R.
Valentina R3 years ago

All very good reasons NOT to get a parrot or any other exotic bird.
They belong in the wild & most of them come from illegal trafficking, think about it!

SEND
Fi T.
Past Member 3 years ago

That is a life, not a thing

SEND
JACQUI GLYDE
Jacqueline GLYDE3 years ago

LEAVE THEM IN THE WILD,WHERE THEY BELONG!!!!!!

SEND
Patricia Dumais
Patricia Dumais3 years ago

Parrots are WILD animals, period. They do not belong cooped up in a human’s home.

SEND
Nikki Davey
Nikki Davey3 years ago

High maintenance pets should not be taken on by amateurish owners. Not just parrots!

SEND
Loretta E.
Loretta E3 years ago

Parrots are a lot of work, they are demanding, they are like toddlers! KEEP YOUR toilet seat down! They can drown, never had one do that, but I have heard it has happen. I have one since a baby and I have rescued 2. Rescues come with their past problems and need a TON of understanding needed on your end. As your parrot or bird ages they get CRANKY. Accept it! They will bite! Accept it! It will hurt. Accept it! They can bite so hard they draw blood. Accept it! I hate it when I hear that people get birds and as they age and bite (this is NORMAL) and get cranky they abuse the bird and dump it to a rescue. If you don't have the time or want to put in the time, or accept that they will bite don't have one. My Quaker will wipe his beak back and forth back and forth on his perch warning me that he don't want to be handled. Respect their wishes. They are fun, beautiful to watch take baths, and can be great companions to those who are willing to take the time to understand them.

SEND