Ten Reasons Budgies Make Bad Pets

I’m sure it’s a little jarring to read that post title on a blog that’s devoted to the joy of budgies! It’s true, however, that having budgies as pets is not for everyone. Hopefully this top ten reasons budgies make bad pets will help you decide if parakeets are the pet for you before you embark on budgie parenthood.

  1. Budgies can be LOUD and they do not have an “off” switch. Depending on the number in your flock and their individual personalities, some budgies are noisy all day. Need to have a meeting or want to watch a movie? They will compete with background noise no matter the volume. Like to sleep in on days off from work? Budgies are early risers and some will start flock-calling you before the sun is even up.
  2. Budgies are messy. You can get a seed catcher for your cage and cross your fingers but expect to vacuum or sweep around your cage area every day (more than once a day during molts). Messes get more extreme once you add in bath time and/or feeding wet foods like chop. Get ready for wiping wet food and the occasional budgie poop off the walls, which leads me to my next item;
  3. Budgies poop every 5-10 minutes. Sure, the poops are small and easy to clean up, especially once they dry, but when you’ve had a bird on your head and then run your fingers through your hair/a nice fresh poop that’s another matter entirely. They will poop everywhere they hang out. Larger parrots may be trained to poop only in certain spots, budgies should not be trained that way. Their systems work so fast it’s important for their health that they do not hold their waste.
  4. Budgie ownership is deceptively expensive. You might think the initial buy in is reasonable, with a pet store budgie coming in at around $20 and a small cage not much more. However, you will soon find out that the starter cage is cruelly small, and you must upgrade immediately. Then, you’ll discover that your budgie needs much more than the dowel and plastic perches that came with the cage, and in fact needs a wide variety of perches for optimal foot and mental health. They also need toys, toys get destroyed and must be replaced or are never loved and need to be rotated out for stimulation. Once that’s out of the way, you’re also probably going to end up wanting a Playstand or some other Playground for your budgies that is not their cage. They will also need different foods, supplements like cuttlebone, and potentially expensive veterinary care down the line for a host of common budgie illnesses.
  5. Budgies are flying toddlers with steel jaws. Depending on your budgie’s disposition, they might enjoy chewing up your blinds, wood trim around windows and doorways, your framed artwork, cabinetry, and anything else they can get their beaks into. A female budgie who is desperate for a suitable nest might even chew a hole through your wall. Some budgies are aggressive and may end up gnawing on your fingers to the point of drawing blood.
  6. Depending on your household, budgies will cause significant changes in how you live your life. Be prepared to give up the following: candles, diffusers, wax melts, sprayed scents, plug-ins, bleach, and a host of other products that potentially fill your cabinets. Also, check to see if your cookware is non-stick, if it is, it likely needs to be replaced.
  7. You will always need to have your guard up about open doors. Even if your budgie’s wings are clipped, they might end up accidentally flying out of an open door or window without a screen. You and everyone else in your household will have to be vigilant about making sure the budgies are never around an open window or door.
  8. Budgies are prey animals and may never be safe around other pets. You might think that your cat or dog has zero interest in your budgies, until one day you come home and find the cage knocked over. Obviously, your mileage may vary, but it’s happened to families with the best intentions and the most trust in their furry pets. Budgies also need to be protected from other pets like rats, guinea pigs and even other pet parrots like lovebirds.
  9. Budgies should not be left alone for more than a day and it will be harder to find adequate pet sitters or boarding options than it is for cats and dogs. The first time you must leave town can cause a panic to find someone you trust enough to come in your house once and day and water/feed your budgies without accidentally feeding them something toxic or deciding to “help” by cleaning up their cage with a harsh chemical.
  10. Budgies require your time. Sure – a large flock will probably amuse themselves and mostly interact with each other, but a single budgie will need your time every day. They are social creatures and need you to play with them. Quality time is spent through various enrichments, or just watching tv together, but it has to be pretty much every day. If your budgie lives in your bedroom and you are gone 12 hours a day at work or school, you may have a very sad pet indeed. If you don’t have time to hang most days of the week then budgies are probably not for you.

Well, there we have it. Ten things to consider strongly before you embark on budgie ownership, which is a commitment of 5-15 years, by the way, although I wouldn’t put a long lifespan on a list of cons!

Speaking of which, now that we’ve got the reasons budgies make bad pets out of the way, check out my post on reasons budgies make great pets as a counterpoint.

Reminder: Home Keet Home participates in the Amazon Affiliates program. If you click any of the links to Amazon in this post and end up buying something we earn a small commission. This helps us keep the blog going and keep the budgies in millet and toys, so thank you! 

Top 8 Reasons Budgies Make Great Pets

Budgies are awesome. Everyone who has them knows it, but if you’re still on the fence about becoming a budgie parent here are eight reasons budgies make great pets!

  1. Budgies have an average lifespan of 5-10 years, and with the right diet, exercise and care they can exceed that upper limit. It’s amazing to me that something so small has such a nice long lifespan. Imagine the bond you’ll have with your budgie after spending years together.
  2. Budgies are comparatively inexpensive to keep. Sure, the startup costs can be more than you expected, but spread out over that fairly long lifetime it’s really not that much. Your preferred base food (seed or pellets, likely) probably won’t break the bank, and budgies can eat many of the vegetables and fruits that you do too. The costs can also scale to fit your budget. You can get a quality good-sized cage secondhand for next to nothing or buy a new massive cage with all the bells and whistles for several hundred dollars. The same can be said for toys, want to build your own, go for it! Or, if you want to buy toys there’s a vast array available too!
  3. Budgies are a huge boon to mental health. Having any pet to take care of is tremendously helpful to one’s mindset, but I think budgies are particularly well-suited to lifting moods. Not only are they generally cheery and many of them like to sing, they are also very sensitive to the moods of their flock, including humans. After taking part in several parakeet groups through Facebook, I have seen tons of heartwarming stories about budgies comforting their humans after a bad day, and I have personally experienced my own budgies reacting to our collective grief after losing Kevin, as well as just generally being there for me when I need a lift. Knowing that they need me to be okay has also helped me to regulate my own moods.
  4. Although you can develop a very strong bond with your budgie, the relationship can also be a bit more distant with a larger flock. If you want to spend hours a day with one budgie, that’s great, on the other hand, if you want a flock that maybe keeps to itself more and doesn’t rely on you for its social needs you can do that too. A flock of two or more budgies will likely lean on you a lot less for their entertainment and will probably bond more closely to each other.
  5. Budgies have individual personalities! You might not think it of something so small, but budgies are extremely social creatures with very distinct personalities. Some are shy, some are bold, some are silly and humorous while others are very serious. They have individual preferences for types of food, styles of music they enjoy listening too and what they like to do to amuse themselves. In many ways they are just like tiny little people.
  6. There’s a ton of stuff you and your budgie can do together. You can try training your budgie in basic things like recall, you can feed your budgie different vegetables and fruits in a variety of shapes and sizes to see what they like best, you can watch tv and listen to music together, and your budgie may be interested in preening you. I am barely scratching the surface here, there are tons of things you can do to provide enrichment to your budgie that will increase your bond and also amount to a really great hobby for humans.
  7. Budgies are smart. They learn their names, they can be trained to do certain tricks and some of them may even learn to mimic human speech. Showing a budgie almost anything new and watching him think and explore the object is fascinating.
  8. Budgies are beautiful and seeing them fly around your house is a thrill. It’s actually sort of magical, at least for me, having these spritely little creatures that live in my house and fly around. It never gets old! And neither does having them because they are constantly evolving and surprising me. It’s just a general low-key miracle.

I hope this post helps you understand reasons why budgies make great pets! Before you run out and gear up for your new budgie, be sure to check out the counter point to this post, 10 reasons budgies make bad pets. Not to be a downer, but it’s important you know what you’re getting into!

Reminder: Home Keet Home participates in the Amazon Affiliates program. If you click any of the links to Amazon in this post and end up buying something we earn a small commission. This helps us keep the blog going and keep the budgies in millet and toys, so thank you! 

Coping with loss and planning for a new friend

Unfortunately, one loss has followed another, and our girl Toby passed away a few days ago. I know that parakeets hide their illnesses well, but it has been hard not to second guess whether I should have seen that something was wrong leading up to her passing.

Looking back, I can see that she was quieter, which I chalked up to a couple of factors. Everything was quieter after Kevin died because he was the primary singer of the group who would get everyone else going. Additionally, Toby has always been a bit less rambunctious during the coldest winter months. Regardless of any hindsight or second-guessing, a few days ago Toby had some kind of episode and declined extremely rapidly afterwards.

Toby’s human and parakeet flock were all with her when she passed, and as difficult as it was, I am glad that we were all together to see her off. Particularly for Kelly’s sake, as she watched what was happening with Toby very intently.

I have read that it is good to help a surviving budgie understand their friend is gone. Without being too graphic, we allowed Kelly some time with Toby after she had passed. It felt a bit like the viewing that we humans have in many cultures after someone dies. It was comforting, in a way, to take the time to process what had happened all together. Kelly preened Toby’s head a little bit, and once her focus shifted, we removed Toby.

She has not flock-called for Toby, looked for her, or seemed at all confused about why she is alone, so I think that we really did the right thing by making sure that she had time to understand what had happened.

A solo budgie is not the right thing long term, however. My husband and I both work full time jobs, and there are too many hours in the day that we can’t be with her. Also, even if we were around all the time, I do not think that humans can meet all her social needs. We can’t preen her, or bob our heads just the right way, we can’t fly around with her, or all eat seeds at the same time. We can’t even really sing properly in a way that will get her singing! Kelly remains aggressive towards human hands, so while you might think we could sort of approximate the preening at least, that it a total non-starter.

The past few days are the only time in Kelly’s life that she’s ever been without at least one other budgie. I imagine that even understanding what’s going on, she must be feeling lonely and a bit at sea. We’re making sure to spend tons of time with her, and keep her busy with her favorite toys, but it’s not enough.

So, even though it might seem fast, we’re going to get a new friend in budgie quarantine as soon as possible. We fixed up a quarantine cage, which is Toby’s old flight cage and looks ridiculously large for the purposes of budgie quarantine, but that’s what we have available.

A cage set u for quarantining a new budgie
A palatial quarantine cage

You might wonder why Kelly is staying in her somewhat smaller cage instead of moving up to Toby’s old cage. First, Kelly loves this cage. She has lived in a few other cages over the years and this is the one she always seems most at ease in. Second, as mentioned above, she is super hand averse and loves biting really hard. This cage has food and water doors that I can easily access without putting my hands in her cage and saves me from a lot of bites.

A budgie cage and play gym
Kelly’s cage and play gym

Hopefully in the next week or so we’ll be bringing home a new friend for Kelly (well, for all of us!). We’re going to be looking for a social fellow who’s confident in himself and likes “talking” to others but isn’t bossy or demanding. It might sound silly to think that we could find those traits just observing a budgie in a pet shop, but if you spend some time watching you can get the measure of a budgie’s personality, in my opinion. When we went to pick out Kevin, we were looking for a budgie who was kind and deferential, who liked other parakeets a lot, but would always let someone else have their way. And that’s exactly who Kevin was.

I’m hopeful that the new fellow will handle quarantine better than Kevin did and we’ll be able to make some inroads. He will be housed in my home office for the budgie quarantine period. I’m still working from home half of the time due to COVID, so he’ll certainly have enough time to stare at me and determine whether I’m a likely predator!

Thanks again to everyone for your condolences on Toby’s passing. It helps so much feeling the love and compassion from this community of parrot-loving folks. Please keep an eye out for upcoming posts about our new budgie and wish us luck in budgie quarantine!

The Grate Debate – using grates in budgie cages

Parakeet cages tend to come with a grate for the “floor” of the cage. This often sparks a grate debate as parakeet owners weigh the merits of keeping the grate in the cage against the potential benefits of removing it. Here are some pros and cons of using the included grates.

Pro Grate:

  • Not necessarily a pro, but the grate may be critical to the structural integrity of your cage; or removing the grate may leave large gaps that a budgie could wriggle through. We had this issue with Toby’s flight cage, and fortunately had a similarly shaped piece of wood trim that we could use to block the gap. But, it may not always be that easy and that’s something to consider if you’re removing a grate.
  • If you use a grate, you may be able to use less substrate at the bottom of your cage. Whether you are using bird cage liners, paper towels, newspaper, or any other option, a grate will catch some of the poop that would typically land on your lining. At that point it’s just a matter of preference, some folks find scraping a grate once a week to be a better choice than changing newspapers every day or two.
  • The grate may help discourage breeding. A nice flat, comfortable cage bottom could look like a pretty good nesting area to a hen that’s determined to lay some eggs. A grate would, comparably, seem like a less desirable place to raise babies, it would be uncomfortable to sit on for long periods of time, and babies would have a difficult time learning to walk and maneuver in the world. Also, eggs laid from a perch above would be more likely to break on impact.

Anti Grate:

  • Removing the grate frees up additional living space for budgies. The flat cage floor gives them a chance to move their feet and be active in different ways, particularly if they aren’t interested in going to the floor in your home. It also increases opportunities for enrichment and stimulation by way of foraging.
  • Without a grate, you may find you have to clean a bit less. This is a matter of preference, but I am not a fan of scraping poop off a grate. I love that without the grate I can just remove my cage liner, pop in a new one, and I’m done with that task.
  • Not using a grate may have some safety benefits for your budgies. First, the bottom of the cage will be a softer landing spot if ever they fall off a perch. Probably not a frequent occurrence, but night terrors can definitely cause a budgie to take a dive off a perch. Once they are on the bottom of the cage a flat floor is a safer walking surface than a grate, where feet can slip through and possible get twisted or bruised up.

Personally I remove the grate from every cage that I own unless it’s absolutely not possible due to structural issues. The benefits of enrichment and safety when removing a grate far outweigh any bonus I can think of for leaving the grate in the cage. Let me know in the comments if I’m missing any really important points for consideration!

Reminder: Home Keet Home participates in Amazon’s Affiliate program. If you click any links to Amazon and purchase a product we receive a small commission. This does not increase your costs at all, but really helps us keep the site going, so thank you!

Flock update – how the girls are doing without Kevin

It’s hard to believe that Kevin passed away almost two months ago. I wanted to provide a flock update on how the girls have been doing without him, and the humans too. In my initial post about Kevin dying I indicated that the girls didn’t seem too shaken up by it, but boy was I wrong.

The first day after Kevin passed they were very subdued. My husband and I watched a movie that afternoon and both Toby and Kelly came and sat with me. One one each shoulder they settled in and took a nap. This has never happened before or since and I believe that it was an expression of communal grief. I felt that they were both taking comfort from me as well as intentionally comforting me. I tear up even now thinking about how sweet they were!

During the next couple of weeks the vibe was sort of….insane. Both Toby and Kelly turned into stage 5 clingers. There was nowhere we could go in the house that both girls wouldn’t follow us. This meant we suddenly had company routinely in the bathroom, bedrooms and my husband’s office, which were typically not places of interest for them. They were even trying to join us in a freezing cold hallway that leads to our garage and basement, where they had never even thought about going before. It definitely increased our awareness of being careful when shutting doors and making sure they were secure when we left the house.

When they were in their cages, generally only during our workdays, they were incessantly flock calling us. Unfortunately, we couldn’t let them out, since they were also going through an extreme period of aggression towards each other and had to be closely supervised.

It was pretty much chaos and I think I can say with certainty that all human and budgie flock members were miserable. I had expected the human misery, but I was surprised about the impact on the girls, neither of them had been bonded to Kevin and they never treated him particularly kindly, at least not on a consistent basis.

Fortunately after a couple weeks of madness they tapered down on the intensity and now the vibe is very much like it was before Kevin joined the flock. The girls mostly do okay when they are out together, although they will always need to have separate cages. I have broken up a couple of bad fights, but only about one a week, which is fairly normal for them!

At this point I think it’s the humans that are struggling most. I miss Kevin every day, and I’ve been failing a bit on giving the girls a super enriching experience because of it. Particularly on the fresh fruits and vegetables. It used to be that every day when I would get out of work I would prep a snack for them. Kevin would always come sit on their java tree and watch me with great interest. Then, when the plate was ready I would offer him first taste. He gave any food a try, and usually tucked in with gusto. It was a rewarding feedback loop for both of us, and I find that now when I go to prep Toby and Kelly a fruit or vegetable I just feel sad.

That’s something I need to get over so I can provide them with at least the option of some good fresh vegetable or fruit every day. I also fell off on rearranging their cages or providing new toys for a few weeks. Fortunately I recently had a small spree at Planet Pleasures bird toys and now have some good new options to rotate into the cages. (note – this post is not sponsored in any way by Planet Pleasures and I am not compensated for mentioning their products)

In terms of next steps, you might be wondering if we’re going to add to the flock again. As of right now we have no plans to, which was a tough decision to make. I so much miss having Kevin’s sweet and docile energy. I love my girls, they are challenging and independent and keep me on my toes, whereas dealing with Kevin was pure joy.

But, we have to acknowledge that now that the girls have evened out, they don’t need another flock member. As long as I get fully back into providing regular enrichment, new toys and new experiences I know that the girls aren’t missing out on anything, at least as far as they are concerned. If we immediately ran out and got another boy (tempting!) it wouldn’t be for the good of the overall flock, just for us humans.

Not that there’s necessarily anything wrong with that. They are such a rough couple of ladies though, I worry that a budgie with less developed social skills than Kevin might have an even tougher time! For now I think we’ll take things as they come, maybe in spring I’ll feel differently, but for now it seems like a good plan to keep things simple.

Thank you again to everyone for the condolences that I received through the blog and my social media channels. I know how many of you loved Kevin too, and I felt so touched by the many comments and messages.

A blue parakeet in the foreground and a white parakeet behind

Reminder: Home Keet Home participates in the Amazon Affiliates program. If you click a link in this post to Amazon and purchase a product I receive a small commission. You do not pay anything extra due to my affiliation.