It should come as no surprise to hear me say that keeping a budgie as a pet is a great idea. I am biased though. I own one and love him as if he’s my own flesh and blood. My budgie – Echo, is full of character, very handsome and gives me joy every day (I’m keeping him Marie Kondo).
I just wish I was a little more prepared for life with a budgie. Gave a little more thought before I leaped into the world of avian love.
Here are some tips to help you before you ‘bring home a bird’.
Tip 1. Answer this – Why do you want a budgie?
Seems pretty simple really. Budgies are cute, easy to care for, come in pretty colors and you can train them to talk and do tricks.
Good reasons to keep a budgie as a pet
· for companionship
· to teach children animal responsibility
· suitable indoor pet
· because they are cute and come in pretty colors
· they can be trained to talk and do tricks
Not so good reasons
· they don’t need much care or attention
· to breed them (unless you are serious about this)
· they are portable and can go anywhere
· they can be trained to talk and do tricks
What, I hear you say?
How can training a budgie to talk and do tricks be both good and bad? Well, the simple answer is that even with the best intentions and hours of interaction, sometimes a budgie just won’t talk or trick (I’m looking at you Echo).
Tip 2. Custody – Or who owns the budgie
Nearly every parent alive will agree that keeping a pet is fun. At least in the beginning. And then the novelty wears off.
A puppy as a gift often seems like a good idea at the time, but animal shelters across the country will attest that they are at their busiest in the weeks and months after Christmas. It’s a sad fact that animal abandonment rises when ‘the novelty wears off’.
Taking on the responsibility of looking after a budgie is no different.
Budgies need daily care and attention! So who will do the daily care to keep budgie happy and healthy?
A very young child might not be the best person to look after a pet on a daily basis. It is more realistic that daily care will be an adult responsibility. Are you ready for it?
Tip 3. The numbers game – One budgie or two (or more)
Budgies are social creatures and in the wild, would be part of a flock. One budgie can be perfectly happy on its own, however, it will require lots of human attention and interaction. On the other hand, a pair of budgies (or more) can be excellent companions for each other and will demand less human interaction.
There is no right or wrong answer – just what will suit best for your situation.
Tip 4. Budgie digs – Choose the right accommodation
Think about where to house your intended beloved. Inside or outside?
Budgies can live happily outside in suitable larger enclosures – after all, this is as close to their natural habitat you are likely able to provide.
They will do best in sturdy cages well protected by extremes of weather and will happily be part of a larger flock. For the beginning budgie keeper – and city dwellers in particular, this is probably not an option.
Budgies kept in bedrooms or other non-communal living areas may become anxious, bored and withdrawn if left alone for a large portion of the day. Budgies like to be ‘part of the action’ and ideally should live in an area where the family is often around. A communal living area is ideal.
BUT, and this is a biggie – budgies can make lots of noise! If you want to keep a budgie or two inside, be prepared for a ruckus! On the positive side, a vocal budgie is generally a happy and healthy budgie.
The size of the housing also should be considered prior to bringing home the new family members. There is a huge variety of cages available in various shapes and sizes – just remember that budgies need to perch and fly!
A single budgie requires less space than a pair of budgies and a good quality, rust free enclosure with 1/2″ bar spacing and internal space with minimum dimensions of 18″ (width) x 18″ (depth) x 24″ (height) will work fine.
I would personally go bigger than this (see tip 6.)
If you have two or more budgies, buy the largest, sturdiest enclosure you can find with bar spacing no wider than 1/2″.
If in doubt, choose a cage that has a greater width over a greater height and remember to check for possible dangers (no sharp edges, broken bits or flaking paint) and ease of access (hinged doors are better than slide up ones).
You will also require at least 2 perches (wooden dowel is fine at the beginning, but upgrade to a natural perch as soon as possible) and suitable food/water containers (stainless steel is best for hygiene purposes).
Tip 5. Timing – The best time to bring birdy home
Choose the best time to introduce a pet into the family. If you have very young children consider if this is the best time to add to your flock! Caring for young children can be an incredibly busy and exhausting time – will a new pet add value to your life or just become a burden?
Also, consider the amount of time you have to interact with your new pet. Ideally, a pet should be introduced when you are available to offer daily training and cage free time. Holidays can be a perfect time – assuming you will actually be at home.
Tip 6. Toys – What makes a good budgie toy?
Budgies love toys! They are intelligent and inquisitive and providing a stimulating environment will make them happy. Toys do take up cage space though, so factor this in when choosing a suitable cage.
Not all budgie toys are created equal!
- Cotton, string or synthetic fibers may be hazardous if ingested or tangled up in
- Beware of toxicities – toxic paint, poisonous plants
- Metal chain or other metal components can rust, be broken or have sharp edges
Think about the purpose of the toy before you buy. What sort of activity is the toy designed to encourage?
- Choose multi-purpose toys that can be used in a variety of ways to encourage foraging, hiding, chewing and climbing activity.
- Mirrors are generally best avoided – especially for single birds, as they can lead to obsessive and aggressive habit formation
Choose quality and quantity
- Choose well made, multi-purpose and durable toys that can be kept on rotation and used for a long time
- Supplement with cheaper options to provide more variety, but use these with care and under supervision
- DIY. Make your own fun and inexpensive toys. Be Creative!
Tip 7. Food – Glorious food
It is vital that a pet budgie is provided with a wide range of quality food. Your pet is totally reliant on you for its nourishment and keeping it healthy should be a top priority.
A balanced budgie diet
A balanced diet will include lots of variety and can include:
- Fresh fruit and vegetables (not all are safe for budgies – read the poisonous foods section)
- Seed (and sprouted seeds)
- Pellet type food
- Cuttlebone and mineral supplements
One of the nicest aspects of owning any pet is that given the right care and attention, it will soon become a member of your family. With a bit of thought and planning, your decision to choose a budgie as a pet will be hugely rewarding and lots of fun.
Do you now feel confident that keeping a budgie is not as scary as it first seemed?
I hope so!
You’re ready now to read up on how to select the special bird(s) who will become your friend and companion.
If you have a question I’d love to hear from you! You can leave me one below.