Thursday, November 12, 2009

5 Important Breeder Questions and Tips on Choosing a Pet Cockatiel

Important information to help you decide if a Cockatiel is right for you.

Are you ready for the responsibility of a pet?

Any decision to buy a pet should not be made lightly, and never on impulse. Animals require a great deal of care. You will need to provide them with appropriate food, housing, attention, and medical care. Your house may contain hazards which should be dealt with before you bring a new animal into your home.

If you've considered all of the responsibilities involved and are interested in purchasing a Cockatiel, they can make excellent household pets, and good first time birds under most circumstances. They are beautiful and friendly, and require less maintenance than most other species of parrot.

Cockatiels are native to Australia. Known for their long elegant tail, crested head feathers and bright colors, they are as friendly as they are gorgeous. While many species of Parrot can be very loud, the Cockatiel is a generally quiet and friendly bird. They are curious and enjoy playing with a variety of bird toys (which should be switched around regularly so your bird doesn't get tired of them). They thrive on attention, and are usually content to wander around the house attached to your shirt or shoulder. Gentle creatures, they are usually very safe around children, and a little nip rarely feels like more than a kiss.

Cockatiels can be taught words (males learn this better than females), and with training can develop an impressive vocabulary. However, they do not speak as well as other varieties of parrots, and their speech isn't as clear. Don't expect that your bird will learn to repeat everything you say, or you may be disappointed.

Important things to consider before you buy

While Cockatiels are fairly inexpensive to purchase, you will also need a proper sized cage (no smaller than 2x2x3), toys, food, snacks, etc.

Your Cockatiel may require medical care, in which case you must be prepared to pay a Avian Vet to care for your pet.

Plan far into the future. Where do you plan to be in five, ten or twenty years? Your Cockatiel may live with you longer than your children. Well cared for Cockatiels have been known to live over thirty years.

You will need to provide your Cockatiel with fresh food and water daily. This will include a variety of foods possibly including seeds, pellets, vegetables, fruits and more.

Cockatiels are energetic and inquisitive. They are not happy unless they are allowed time outside of their cages. They require monitoring, particularly if you have other pets.

Are you planning a vacation? You will need to find an experienced sitter for your bird. Cockatiels must be cared for every day, and cannot be left unattended.

Cage cleaning is never a favorite chore, but it must be done at least twice a week. The cage lining (I use newspaper) must be changed, poop washed and/or scraped off the sides, bars and perches, and the entire area will need to be swept and vacuumed regularly. Cockatiels can make quite a mess when they eat, so be prepared to find food all over your floor.

While Cockatiels are

generally quite, they have the capacity to be quite noisy. If they are bored, hungry, sick or unhappy, they can scream loudly. This is not normal behavior, and should be taken as a sign that something is wrong with your bird. Buy a book on Cockatiels, and read it from cover to cover. This article only covers the very basics, and you should be well prepared before making this commitment.

Before purchasing your bird, find out as much as you can about the breeder. You want to buy a Cockatiel from an established breeder with a good reputation. Ask around if you know other bird owners. If not, check a variety of breeders and stores. The facility should appear clean, and there should be no foul smell. The birds should be alert and active, and have plenty of room in their cages. Check to see if birds have discharge around their eyes, as this can be a sign of illness.

Things to Ask before you Buy

1- What food is the bird accustomed to eating?

You will want to continue your bird on his regular diet. This should consist of seed and vegetables, or pellets which contain all the proper nutrients. Your bird will not receive all his nutrition on a seed only diet, and introducing a new food can be very difficult.

2- Has your Cockatiel learned to bathe?

While books may tell you that Cockatiels enjoy being "spritzed", I found out the hard way that this is only true if the breeder began this practice. My first Cockatiel was scared to death of water, so I ended up using an attachable bath for his water, and allowing him to bathe himself.

3- Does the breeder offer a health guarantee?

This is important as it's not always easy to tell if your bird is ill.

4- Was the Cockatiel hand fed? Has he been weaned?

This is important. A hand fed bird will be used to interaction with people, and will adapt to your household much easier. Unless you are an experienced bird owner, you will want to purchase only a weaned bird.

5- Does the bird have its wings clipped and nails trimmed?

For safety reasons, most bird owners choose to have the wings clipped regularly. While a flying bird is a beautiful sight, it can also be dangerous. Common household areas such as the stove, toilets, cleaners, and plants can be dangerous and even deadly for your bird.

A pet Cockatiel can be a wonderful friend and companion. He will have a distinct personality, and you will soon learn to read his moods. He will delight and entertain you, and with proper planning and care, will become a well loved member of your family.