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Are Parrots and Parakeets Safe Pets for Children?

By: Hsin-Yi Cohen BSc, MA, MSt - Updated: 27 Aug 2012 | comments*Discuss
 
Parrots Children Families Suitable

In general, it is felt that parrots are just not ideal pets for children. Many parrots dislike the loud, boisterous, quick-moving behaviour of children, many do not like being touched or handled by over-enthusiastic little fingers and many are also too large, powerful, aggressive or dominant to be safe for children to handle and enjoy. However, with some dedicated research and care, it is possible to incorporate a parrot as a loved and loving addition to the family.

Parrots for families?

Parrots can become good pets for families with children providing you devote enough time and effort to understanding and meeting their needs. Remember, despite their often comical or fluffy appearance, parrots are definitely not toys for children to play with. All parrots require much patient, understanding and a sense of security and stability from their owners.

In addition, choosing the right breed and temperament of parrot is vital when you have a household with children. The key to successfully combining parrots and children is understanding that not all birds will be equally good at adapting to little humans and taking into consideration the level of noise, activity and general schedules of your own household.

Finally, don’t forget that parrots live for a long time – 50 to 80 years in many cases – so this is not a commitment to be taken lightly. They will be part of your family for many, many years.

Parrots that are good with children

Within the parrot family, there are a few species which are considered more suitable for households with children:

The Budgerigar – The budgie is an Australian parakeet and although often not recognised as such, is a member of the parrot family. It makes a charming, affectionate pet, with the ability to learn a large vocabulary, as well as trained to do tricks. They can be a lot of fun for children because they tolerate being handled relatively well and are generally easy to care for. Hand-reared budgies will usually be very sweet and affectionate and bond well to their young owners. Their small size, however, does make them more delicate and fragile than their larger parrot cousins so care needs to be taken when handling.

Meyer’s Parrots – these parrots are ideal for apartment dwellers or those who live in close proximity with others as they tend to be quieter than many other types of parrots. Their smaller size means that they are not as intimidating and are safer for children and they are less likely to bite. They can very acrobatic, entertaining and affectionate. Their calm, steady nature also means that they are more suitable to homes with children, as they are sweet but not shy.

The Pionus – These are one of the most overlooked parrots due to their lack of colourful, bright plumage and their lack of talking ability. However, they have great personalities that make them ideal family pets for families with children: they are gentle and not so noisy or demanding of attention. However, one potential drawback is their distinctive musky odour and their lack of a preening gland also means that they may produce more dust and dander – something to consider if anyone in your family suffers from asthma.

The Cockatiel – Probably one of the most common choices for a pet parrot, it’s not hard to see why. Cockatiels are intelligent, sweet and entertaining, while being less flighty and hyper than some of the smaller birds. They often don’t have many of the behavioural issues that can plague other parrots and are companionable, without being overly needy or noisy. They can whistle tunes well and can learn to talk and do tricks too.

Remember that no matter what their size or general temperament, all parrots are intelligent social birds that will need significant time out of the cage and will live a long time, thus requiring a large commitment in proper care and training. Unless your children are interested enough and mature enough to devote time to their pet parrot, choose another kind of pet – unless you are planning to put the time and effort in yourself, for your own interests and amusement.

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