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Parrots can make fascinating and delightful companions. Maybe you have been considering adopting one of your own. If so, you may have visions of a cuddly friend who loves to snuggle and talks your ear off, amazes friends and family with its vast vocabulary and is an outgoing, social companion. While some folks do end up with the bird of their dreams, any parrot parent will tell you that you must also be willing to put up with a few annoyances along the way.

Here is a list of 7 things you should consider before making the decision to adopt a parrot.

1.     We all have quirks – and so do parrots.

There are over 350 species of parrots. You’ll want to find out what the species you are interested in needs as far as care and you’ll also want to learn about their behavioral needs as well. At Airport Animal Hospital, we specialize in working with exotic birds, and can be quite helpful in helping you decide on a species.

If you are adopting an older parrot make sure you find out as much as you can about it from its previous owner or the rescue. It may have special needs or interesting behavioral issues. Before you adopt make sure that you will be equipped to handle or tolerate those for a lifetime.

 2.     Make sure you’re in it for a long haul!

Did you know that the smaller species of parrots can live to be 20-30 years old? The larger parrots can live to be 60-80 years old. Depending on how old you are and how old the bird you are getting is, it is quite possible for your bird to outlive you! You’ll want to be very sure that caring for a parrot is something you are prepared to do for the rest of your life and that there is someone who can care for it when you are gone.

 3.     Parrots are highly intelligent.

While not every parrot or species of parrot will learn to talk and carry on conversations, there are those that do. In fact they may speak so clearly that they can sound like a human. It’s fascinating really. Here’s a fun story that illustrates this; Little Parrot’s Big Mouth Gets Him Home. It is said that parrots can be as intelligent as a 3-5 year old child. The more you work with them, spend time with them and love them -- the more they will learn and thrive. Parrots need a minimum 2-3 hours a day of your attention outside of their cage.

4.     They are what they eat.

 Parrots need a balanced diet of pellets, fruits, vegetables, nuts and seeds on a daily basis. If you want your parrot to remain healthy and live a long happy life, you’ll want to know and understand their individual dietary needs and work hard to provide that. Don’t forget fresh clean water as well. Our veterinarians can tell you exactly what you should - and should not - feed a parrot.

 5.       Parrot proof your home.

 You will want to make sure you remove anything that your parrot could get into that could cause harm. Tucking away exposed cords is a good idea, removing any plants that could be toxic to birds is a must and there should absolutely be no smoking around your bird!

 6.       Make sure your family is on board.

If you have small children or cats in your home, a parrot probably isn’t a good idea. If you do have children at home you’ll want to make sure they are older or even teenagers. Not only that, you’ll also want to make sure they are patient, loving, kind and show compassion towards animals. There is a lot that needs to be done to care for a parrot. They are messy, so the cage and surrounding area will have to be cleaned on a regular basis.

7.       For Better or for worse.

There are no guarantees when it comes to life and the same can be said for parrots. They may not do the things you hope they will – they might not talk or mimic, they may be very shy, they might not bond with you or like to snuggle. Parrots are still fairly wild so their natural tendencies will spring forth from time to time. Your job is just to love them, care for them, learn about them and work with them as much as you can. Love them for who they are and appreciate their unique and special qualities – you won’t regret it!