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! 

Transitioning parakeets to new food

One of the first things you will likely purchase as a new budgie owner is a supply of food for your new friend. Depending on where your budgie came from, you may want to change his food pretty quickly from a low quality seed mix to something with added dried vegetables, fruits and herbs. Transitioning parakeets to new food is not as easy as making a swap and crossing your fingers, there are some considerations and warnings.

  • I don’t think it’s fair to call parakeets “stubborn”, but they will starve to death rather than eat something they don’t see as a safe food, or as food at all. This is not out of willfulness but because they literally may not view something like a pellet as food, particularly if it’s nothing like what they are used to eating. Please don’t ever totally change your parakeet from one food to another with no transition period. Particularly don’t ever abruptly change from a seed mix to pellets.
  • Instead, start with what they are used to eating and slowly mix in what you are switching them to, increasing the ratio of the new food over several days or weeks. Even if you’re just changing to a new seed blend, this is a helpful way to make sure your parakeet still has something they feel safe eating and won’t starve.
  • This does particularly apply if you are transitioning to pellets, which, I’m just going to be honest, I don’t recommend as a primary source of nutrition. I’ve written about seeds vs. pellets in this post, but in brief, I don’t think that pellets have been proven to be nutritionally complete and they are not mentally stimulating enough. Additionally, budgies are designed to eat seeds.
  • I’ve focused a bit on transitioning from seed to seed or seed to pellet, but you may also need to do some work to get your parakeet trying vegetables and fruits. A great way to start is by chopping a vegetable up very finely and mixing it with millet or your parakeet’s preferred seed mix. Offer that as the only food source for a couple hours and even if they just pick out the millet they are sure to accidentally eat some vegetables too. Make sure not to leave fresh vegetables and fruits in your parakeet’s cage for too long, especially in warmer months as rotting vegetables aren’t anyone’s idea of a good meal!
  • The bottom line is that most budgies should transition fairly easily to a good quality seed mix, no matter what quality the pet store or breeder was feeding. Just take your time and make sure you’re seeing seed hulls in your food cups every day and good healthy poops, which indicate your parakeet is eating.

Hopefully there’s at least some food for thought here (haha!). Healthy feeding is always top of mind for parakeet parents and transitioning parakeets to a new food can be one of the most nerve-wracking hurdles to overcome. But, with a little sly work to transition them to a new food, you’ll have healthy-eating babies in no time.

A blue parakeet foraging in some seed on a plate
Toby loves foraging through her regular seed mix on a plate
Two parakeets trying some sprouts
We did not care for these. Which is too bad, since they were expensive!

 

Taming Kevin – two steps forward and one back

From the start, Kevin has been a hard sell as far as human companionship is concerned. Once he was introduced to Toby and Kelly we humans hung back for a bit. It seemed more important that he get along well with the budgies and find his sweet spot in the bird flock, so taming our male budgie was put on the back burner.

Kevin has done so well fitting in with our girl budgies. It took some time for them to stop trying to bite his head, but now he’s got this great vibe going. I’m not sure how he negotiated it, but they both seem to respect him without requiring much violence at all. It’s rare to see him fight with anyone, but he somehow manages to get his way. And he’s so happy most of the time! He sings all day and tries to feeds the girls, even though they are not having it.

He has intense conversations with inanimate objects, sings along to the radio and tv (his favorite show is Intervention), loves taking baths and trying new foods. Now that he’s been through a big molt he has almost all his flight feathers back and he is definitely the fastest flyer of all three. Sometimes he even has to take extra loops to slow down before landing. Kevin is basically the perfect pet parakeet, except he thinks that his human family is not to be trusted!

Patrick tried working with Kevin pretty intensely when he was in quarantine to no avail. I had hoped that once Kevin saw that Toby and Kelly basically treat me like a human play gym he would loosen up a little bit. And he has, but it is taking months.

Kevin will step up when asked, and then tends to look for his first chance to escape. We’ll go on for weeks of me asking him to step up a few times a day and then all of a sudden he’ll land on my shoulder, or randomly decide to beak my nose or glasses. I, of course, get excited thinking we’ve made a break through, and then he goes back to alternately ignoring me or acting like I’m very suspicious!

Don’t get me wrong, I’m thrilled he’s happy, and I’m sure I should be even more thrilled to have such a polite and shy young man, as a counter point to my crazy, brash girls. But, I do look forward to building a bond with Kevin and showing him how cool his human flock can be.

I’m grateful that these little guys have a nice long life span; I should have a lot of years to make friends. Lately I’ve been working with him much more and using my old standby Millet. It’s a bit square one as far as taming goes, but hey, whatever works! I hope that continuing to have him associate me with the possibility of treats will eventually unlock a bit more trust.

I am constantly counseling patience when budgie owners express frustration with their standoffish birds. It’s hard to take my own advice, but I’m confident that if I keep on the steady treat-giving path we’ll get there!

How do you not want to be friends with this guy?

Tips for budgie names – ideas and themes

Picking out and bringing home your new budgie is very exciting, but choosing a name can feel a bit more daunting. Particularly since budgies live up to 15 years and learn their names very easily, it’s a pretty big responsibility! I find that if you have a theme or a general set of names to chose from choosing a name can be fun, but not overwhelming. Here are my tips for budgie names.

  1. You can always choose names based on color, Toby was almost named Blueberry (Berry for short). There are lots of Kiwis, Clouds, Storms, Sunshines and Rains out there. Not to say they are bad names, in fact I think it’s very cute. You could also go for a scientific cloud or other weather name.
  2. Characters from books or movies. Even if you start with one budgie, and are dead-set that he will be an only bird, you’re probably going to end up with more budgies. That’s just the way it goes. So, if you start with a theme idea you’ll always have names at the ready. Toby, Kelly and Kevin are named after characters from the American TV show The Office. I could name parakeets for the rest of my life based on characters from that show! You could do the same thing with characters from Friends, Harry Potter, Sesame Street, or The Muppets. When you pick a theme like this you have a ton of naming options, but only enough that it feels fun choosing a name, instead of impossible to narrow down.
  3. Similarly, if you’re bringing home a pair of budgies choosing a theme couple name can make life easier. Fortunately, parakeets do not care if their name matches their sex, so you could have a male pair of Thelma & Louise without anyone having an identity crisis. I also like Oscar and Felix, Finn and Jake and Rick & Morty.
  4. If you are adopting an adult bird, please don’t drastically change his name. Budgies learn their names and it becomes part of their identity. Kevin responded to his name within two weeks of being home. In the wild, budgies name each other with certain sounds and use those “names” for the rest of their lives. If you truly can’t stand the name then Thaddeus can become Ted, keeping a familiar sound. Similarly, Jerkface could transition to Jerry much more easily than he could to Nimbus.

Good luck naming your new friend!  No matter what you choose after a while it will seem to suit them perfectly and be part of who they are, so don’t stress over it too much. Every member of our flock had their name chosen before we met them, I think sometimes we chose the birds to fit the names!