Resource Center Menu

Medium-Size Parakeet Care Sheet

Developed with and approved by a qualified veterinarian.

Medium Parakeet

Covers a variety of parakeet types, including:

  • Alexandrine parakeets
  • Ringneck parakeets
  • Red rump parakeets
  • Lineolated parakeets
  • Golden-mantled rosella parakeets
  • Quaker (monk) parakeets

Overview

Medium-size parakeets are beautiful and intelligent birds. They come in a variety of colors and are larger than more familiar pet parakeets, who are more appropriately called budgerigars or budgies. The term parakeet is a descriptive term for a group of small- to medium-size species of parrots who all possess a long, tapering tail.

Typical appearance and behavior

  • Are very intelligent and need daily stimulation and activities such as swinging and climbing to keep them mentally active and not bored
  • Bond closely to their pet parents and can become lifelong companions
  • Recognize faces and voices of pet parents and other pets
  • May be loud and squawky at times, so may not be the best pet for the noise-intolerant
  • Have a variety of feather colors and patterns, depending on species
  • Require daily handling and interaction to socialize
  • Depending on species, can be trained to speak words, do tricks and play games
  • Typically are most vocal and active at dawn and dusk, when they are eating
  • Will acclimate to pet parents’ schedules, being awake most of the day and taking naps as needed

Characteristics

Care Difficulty Moderate
Average Life Span 20+ years with proper care
Average Adult Size 9 to 24 inches, head to end of tail, depending on species
Diet Herbivorous
Minimum Habitat Size 24"W x 24"D x 30"H

Habitat

Habitat size

A habitat approximately 24"W x 24"D x 30"H, with metal bars spaced no greater than 1/2" apart, is the minimum size recommended for one medium-size parakeet. Vertical height is important to allow these birds to perch without hitting their long tails on the cage bars or floor. It is best to provide the largest habitat possible to allow birds to fully extend their wings and perch without having their wings or tails contact any surface. A cage large enough to allow flight is ideal. Commercially available habitats are generally made with stainless steel bars (either with or without a nontoxic coating). Homemade habitats or those made of wood or galvanized wire are not recommended because birds can chew on them and ingest potentially toxic chemicals.

Building your habitat

Medium-size parakeets acclimate well to average household temperatures between 65°F and 80°F; be cautious of extreme temperature changes. Habitats should be placed off the floor in a well-lit area away from drafts and inaccessible to other pets, including curious cats and dogs. Ensure no habitat parts or toys are made with lead, zinc or other potentially toxic heavy metals, lead-based paints or galvanized parts, as these can cause serious medical issues if birds ingest them.

  • Perches - Perches should be at least 5” long and 1/2” in diameter; provide a variety of perch sizes so your bird can exercise their feet and help prevent pressure sores from developing on their soles. Sandpaper covers on perches are abrasive to the bottom of feet and are not recommended. Providing perches made from different materials such as wood, braided rope and natural branches allows birds to choose which surface they stand on
    • To avoid contaminating food dishes with droppings, do not place food or water containers directly under perches
  • Toys - Medium-size parakeets are very intelligent, so they need to be able to forage for food and other objects, as well as play with toys for enrichment. Toys for foraging and chewing offer important mental stimulation. Size-appropriate toys may be made from cardboard, paper, soft wood or plastic that is too hard for these birds to bite off and swallow. Without proper stimulation, birds get bored and may pick their feathers or develop other destructive habits, so rotate toys regularly. Ensure toys are strongly attached to the habitat because birds can unscrew the C-clamps that are typically used to hang toys and become injured. Toys should not have small parts that birds can easily pull off and ingest
  • Liner and litter - A metal grate over the habitat bottom will enable droppings to fall away from birds’ feet and keep the habitat cleaner; the tray in the habitat bottom should be lined with habitat paper or other paper-based products to ease cleanup and minimize dust
  • Lighting - Birds need exposure to ultraviolet (UV) light to make vitamin D in their skin so they can absorb dietary calcium. UV light is filtered out by glass in windows, so placing the habitat next to a window is not sufficient; UV lights designed specifically for birds should shine on the habitat 10 to 12 hours a day and be changed every six months when their potency wanes
  • Bathing - Water dishes should be large enough for birds to bathe in. Birds who don’t bathe regularly can be misted a few times a week with warm water from a plant mister to help maintain healthy plumage

Cleaning your habitat

Spot-clean the habitat daily, removing discarded food and droppings on perches. Thoroughly wash and dry food bowls daily. Replace substrate or habitat liner weekly or more often as needed, especially if the habitat houses more than one bird.

Regularly clean and disinfect your cockatiel’s habitat and perches by:

  • Moving your parakeet into a secure place (such as another habitat or travel carrier) in a separate air space
  • Washing the habitat, perches and toys with a bird habitat cleaner or 3% bleach solution, being sure to thoroughly rinse all trace amounts so there is no residue to which your bird could be exposed
    • NOTE: Do not use any cleaning agents not specifically made for pets around your bird because birds’ respiratory tracts are very sensitive to anything aerosolized and fumes from cleaning products can be harmful
  • Thoroughly drying the habitat and its contents
  • Replacing the substrate or liner, perches and toys
  • Returning your bird to their habitat

Replace perches, dishes and toys when worn or damaged; rotate new toys into the habitat regularly to help avoid boredom

Feeding

 What to feed your medium-size parakeet:

  • Nutritionally complete and balanced pelleted food specifically formulated for medium-size parakeets should make up 60 to 70% of your bird’s diet, with the rest coming from fresh vegetables, fruits and small amounts of fortified seeds as an occasional treat
  • Clean, fresh water should be changed daily
  • Egg-laying female parakeets should always have access to cuttlebones, which are excellent sources of calcium, a nutrient essential for making eggshells and laying eggs
  • Do not feed birds avocados, fruit seeds, chocolate, caffeine or alcohol as these are toxic and can cause illness and death in birds. Avoid sugary, fatty and salty treats

Things to remember when feeding your medium-size parakeet:

  • Fresh food and water should always be available
  • Vegetables and fruits not eaten within a few hours should be discarded
  • Treats should make up no more than 10% of their total daily food
  • Provide separate food dishes for dry food, fresh food and water; if housing more than one parakeet in a single habitat, provide multiple feeding stations to reduce competition
  • Although parakeets are social and like to eat when their flock mates eat, never share food from your plate or your mouth; people have microorganisms in their mouths that can cause illness in birds
  • Since parakeets remove the hulls of seeds before eating them, they do not need to be fed grit to grind up food

Medium-size parakeet care

  • Bird pet parents should avoid using nonstick cookware and other appliances with nonstick coatings; when heated, these can release colorless, odorless fumes that typically kill birds when inhaled
  • Birds should be allowed out of their habitats and gently handled daily to socialize them
  • Birds need regular grooming, including nail trimming every few weeks to months; nails should be trimmed by a trained person to help prevent injuries to the bird
  • For most birds, beaks should not need regular trimming; underlying medical conditions (such as liver disease) can cause abnormal beak growth. Birds’ beaks normally stay in good condition with daily use
  • When done correctly, clipping the five outermost flight feathers can help prevent injury or escape; consult an avian veterinarian on what is best for your bird

Where to buy a parakeet

 Medium-size parakeets are available for purchase at your local Petco Pet Care Center. Please call ahead to check availability.

Supplies

Habitat mates

Medium-size parakeets can be housed alone to bond with pet parents as long as they are given a great deal of daily attention and stimulation with toys and activities. They may be kept in pairs to bond with each other, but generally do well when introduced to habitat mates at a young age when they are first introduced into the habitat. Birds can be territorial and do not always love to share their habitats with other birds. If birds are housed together, they should be provided with enough resources (food and water bowls, toys, perches, etc.) to meet the needs of each bird. Different types of birds should not be housed together.

Health

Signs of a healthy parakeet

  • Active, alert and sociable
  • Eats, drinks and passes stool throughout the day
  • Dry nares and bright, dry eyes
  • Supple skin on feet and legs and smooth beak
  • Clean, dry vent
  • Smooth, well-groomed feathers

Red flags (Contact your veterinarian if you notice any of these signs.)

  • Fluffed, plucked or soiled feathers
  • Sitting on the habitat floor for an extended period of time
  • Wheezing, sneezing or coughing
  • Open-mouthed or labored breathing and/or tail bobbing
  • Regurgitation or vomiting
  • Runny, bloody or discolored stools or no stool production
  • Straining to pass droppings
  • Favoring one foot when not sleeping
  • Ocular or nasal discharge
  • Red or swollen eyes
  • Persistently closing eyes or sleeping during the day
  • Crusty skin around face and feet
  • Loss of appetite

Common health issues

Health Issue Symptoms or Causes Suggested Action
Health IssueChlamydiosis Symptoms or CausesAppetite loss, fluffed feathers, nasal discharge, lethargy, swollen abdomen, sneezing, labored breathing, lime green feces, conjunctivitis. Suggested ActionSeek immediate avian veterinary attention.
Health IssueDiarrhea Symptoms or CausesFecal portion of stool not formed; has multiple causes from diet change to internal parasites to bacterial or viral infection. Suggested ActionConsult your veterinarian and ensure proper diet.
Health IssueFeather picking Symptoms or CausesBird plucks own feathers; multiple causes from boredom to poor diet, to other underlying illness. Suggested ActionConsult your veterinarian, ensure proper diet, and relieve boredom with increased attention, new toys, TV or radio, or more room.
Health IssueEgg binding Symptoms or CausesSwollen abdomen, straining to pass droppings, bloody droppings, lethargy, decreased appetite, labored breathing, laying soft-shelled or shell-less eggs. Suggested ActionSeek immediate veterinary attention.

FAQs

  • How long do Alexandrine parakeets live? 30+ years with proper care and nutrition.
  • How long do Indian ringneck parakeets live? 15-25 years with proper care and nutrition.
  • What do ringneck parakeets eat? Nutritionally complete and balanced pelleted food specifically formulated for medium-size parakeets, plus fresh vegetables, fruits and small amounts of fortified seeds as an occasional treat.
  • What size cage is right for a red rumped parakeet? 24”x 24” x 30” minimum.
  • What is a quaker parakeet? A quaker (or monk) parakeet is a small green and gray parrot originally found in South America.
  • How long do lineolated parakeets live? 10-15 years with proper care and nutrition.

Additional care sheets

Notes and sources

Ask a Pet Care Center associate about Petco's selection of products available for the care and happiness of your new pet. All products carry a 100% money-back guarantee.

Because all birds are potential carriers of infectious diseases such as chlamydiosis, always wash your hands before and after handling your bird or habitat contents to help prevent the potential spread of disease.

Pregnant women, children under the age of 5, senior citizens and people with weakened immune systems should contact their physicians before purchasing or caring for birds and should consider having a pet other than a bird.

Go to cdc.gov/healthypets for more information about birds and disease.

 

The information on this Care Sheet is not a substitute for veterinary care. If you need additional information, please contact your veterinarian as appropriate.