Guide to Parakeet Care in Singapore: From Basics to Bonding

Parakeets, known for their bright colours and active nature, are increasingly becoming a favourite in many Singaporean homes. These birds, with their pleasant chirps and manageable size, are perfect for the urban settings of Singapore.

Continue reading to discover more about parakeets, from their unique behaviours to some essential care tips. Plus, get to know the costs associated with owning a parakeet in Singapore.


Fun fact!
Parakeets are popular in Singapore because they’re seen as a symbol of good luck and fortune. According to Chinese culture, parakeets represent longevity and happiness.

Caring for a Parakeet infographic

Key Physical Traits of Parakeets

Size18 - 22 cm
Weight30 - 50 grams
Height12 - 16 cm
Life expectancy6 - 30 years
Colour VariationsGreen, blue, yellow, orange, white
BeakShort, curved beak

Note!

Image of two Parakeets with an arrow pointing to the cere Did you know that you can identify your parakeet’s gender by inspecting the cere located just above its beak? Males typically sport a blue hue on the cere, whereas females exhibit a brown shade.

Common Parakeet Behaviours

Two parakeets perched on a branch facing each other

Exploring the world of parakeets shows a range of interesting behaviours, highlighting their intelligence and sociability. These birds, hailed for their playful nature, have a unique way of forming strong bonds with their caregivers.

Their behaviours offer a glimpse into their thoughts and emotions, allowing pet owners to forge deep connections with these feathered friends. However, it’s important to note that these are just generalisations and there will always be individual birds that don’t fit the stereotype. 

Behavioural Traits

Preening

Yellow Parakeet preening its feathers

Parakeets are remarkably hygienic birds. They dedicate significant time to preening their feathers, skillfully using their beak to remove any dirt, parasites, and even loose feathers.

Tail Wagging

The tail wag of a parakeet can indicate multiple emotions. It’s a sign of their excitement or happiness. However, at times, it can also indicate that they’re feeling threatened or are in a defensive mode.

Beak Grinding

The act of beak grinding serves various purposes for parakeets. They might do it to sharpen their beaks, establish a sense of territory, or even as a way to relieve stress.

Vocal Traits

As we dive into the world of parakeets, you’ll quickly discover their rich and varied vocal traits like:

Talking

Parakeets, though not as articulate as Macaws, can charmingly mimic words they hear. With patient training and repetition, these birds can surprise you with a chirpy “Hello!” Typically, male parakeets pick up words faster, but both genders are definitely adept talkers.

Whistling

Whistling is the hallmark of a cheerful parakeet. It’s an art they can be taught, though it’s often suggested to introduce talking first. The simplicity and joy of whistling can be so enticing to them that they might bypass the urge to learn words if presented with this skill first!

Singing

A sound more melodious than simple chirps, singing is a parakeet’s way of bonding with others, marking its territory, or expressing joy. Typically, a parakeet that’s comfortable in their home will engage in frequent singing.

Screaming

While parakeets are known for their daily delightful chatter, screaming isn’t their standard. An occasional spirited shriek is normal, but a true scream warrants concern. This sharp vocalisation may signal that something’s amiss, be it due to fear, discomfort, or injury.

How to Care for a Parakeet in Singapore

Owning a pet parakeet can be a delightful experience, but it also comes with its own set of responsibilities. These chirpy little wonders can brighten up your day with their vibrant colours and playful antics! 

To ensure your parakeet thrives in Singapore’s urban setting, it’s crucial to give them the right care. Here’s a breakdown of everything you need to keep your feathered friend chirpy and content:

Housing a Parakeet

Parakeet in a cage

The right living space for your parakeet is crucial for his overall well-being. Here’s what you need to consider:

  • Cage size and shape

When it comes to housing parakeets, the cage’s length takes precedence over its height. An ideal cage would measure approximately 46cm in length, 46cm in height, and 61cm in width.

  • Perches

Essential for any parakeet’s habitat, it’s vital to choose perches that your parakeet can comfortably grip. Incorrectly sized perches can be challenging for the bird and may even lead to injuries. Incorporating a range of shapes and textures for these perches can exercise and stimulate their feet. 

Additionally, ensure the perches are strategically positioned to prevent food and water contamination from droppings and avoid the bird’s tail from being submerged in the water dish.

  • Toys and entertainment

Parakeets are lively creatures that love to play! Offering a medley of toys, from climbing ladders and ropes to bells, can keep them engaged and mentally stimulated.

  • Temperature considerations

Most birds are particularly sensitive to temperature fluctuations. Ensure the cage is positioned away from windows and areas prone to drafts to maintain a stable and comfortable temperature for your parakeet.

Dangerous House Plants and Scents for Parakeets

Birds like parakeets, parrots, and lovebirds have a unique way of breathing that lets them take in a lot of fresh air quickly. But this also means they can easily breathe in harmful vapours or scents from the air. 

While new carpets or scented candles might enhance our homes, they can be detrimental to pet birds like parakeets and lovebirds. That lingering smell of passive fumes or smoke from the kitchen? Equally unwelcome. 

According to the Pet Poison Helpline, the same caution extends to common household items like paints, glues, and certain cleaners. Essentially, the closer these things are to your feathered friend, the more on guard you should be.

But it’s not just about what’s in the air. Some of our favourite house plants, though a treat to our eyes, are no feast for our pet birds:

  • Lilies: Beautiful, but potentially bothersome for birds. Even the beloved peace lilies. Consuming them can cause mouth irritation, leading to a drooling, uncomfortable pet.
  • Philodendron: Their lush green appeal comes with a caution tag for bird enthusiasts. Every bit of this plant poses a risk. A mere taste can lead to dangers like difficulty in swallowing and even respiratory issues.
  • Daffodils: As bright and cheerful as they appear, there’s a hidden danger. Laced with a chemical named lycorine, these flowers can wreak havoc if ingested, resulting in digestive problems and sometimes, even seizures for birds.

Diet of a Parakeet

Four Parakeets eating from a person's hand

Recommended portions per parakeet (pellets): ½ – 1 teaspoon per day for small birds and up to 1 tablespoon per day for bigger species
Recommended portions per parakeet (fresh fruits and vegetables): 25% of their daily diet

Providing a balanced and varied diet is essential for ensuring the health and longevity of your feathered friend. At the core of their dietary needs are specialised pellets crafted for small birds. Parakeets require up to one tablespoon of these seeds or pellets daily.

To balance out their nutrition, a daily portion of fresh fruits and vegetables should be added to their menu. Before serving, these foods should be washed well to get rid of any chemicals. There’s no need to peel them; simply chop them into bite-sized pieces suitable for your bird. Some favourites might include:

  • Apples
  • Dates
  • Cooked beans
  • Blueberries
  • Cucumber

Note!
Avocados and chocolates are reported to be potentially toxic to birds, hence you should never offer it to them.

If you observe your parakeet favouring a specific type of food, consider reducing its quantity or temporarily halting its intake. This not only encourages them to explore and enjoy other food varieties, but also ensures they receive a wide range of essential nutrients and minerals. 

Remember to remove any uneaten fruits and vegetables after a couple of hours to prevent spoilage, especially since the climate is warmer in Singapore.

For an additional nutrient kick, you can sprinkle crushed eggshells into their dish about once a week. Multivitamin supplements can also be considered to ensure your parakeet is getting all the essential vitamins and minerals.

Activities and Exercises for Parakeets

Caring for parakeets involves more than just feeding and cleaning. These active birds need regular exercise and stimulation to stay healthy and happy. It’s recommended for them to have about an hour of play and exercise daily. 

Here are some suggestions to help them get the most out of their active time and bond with you one-on-one:

  • Supervised playtime outside the cage

While parakeets are cage birds, it’s beneficial for them to spend time outside their enclosures. This allows them to stretch their legs, run around, and even fly if their wings aren’t clipped. Climbing and playing outside the cage also helps in maintaining their beak and talon health.

  • Enrichment toys inside the cage
Parakeet in a cage playing with a toy

Mental stimulation is as important as physical activity for parakeets. Adding a variety of enrichment toys inside their cage can help keep boredom at bay. Think about bells, mirrors, and toys with different shapes and colours. These items can pique their interest and keep them engaged. 

Training a Parakeet

Parakeet inside of a cage

Training sessions can be a fun way to interact with your parakeet and enhance your bond with them. However, it isn’t just about showcasing their cuteness (though that’s a delightful bonus!). It’s about engaging their brains, building trust, and forging a deeper bond. Remember, training is a marathon, not a sprint. 

The key is patience, persistence, and understanding your bird’s quirks.

Laying the groundwork

Before dazzling your friends with your parakeet’s fancy tricks, start with the basics. A great first move is the “step up” trick, where your little buddy learns to step onto your finger or a perch. It might sound simple, but it’s a vital building block for trust and more advanced skills.

Keep training short and sweet

Parakeets tend to have the attention span of a goldfish. So, aim for brief, 10 – 15 minute training sessions, but do it consistently. Once or twice a day would be ideal.

Inject some fun

Make training a joyful experience! Use toys, bird treats, and playful games to keep the sessions lively. Remember, if it’s enjoyable for them (and you!), they’ll be more eager to learn.


Tip!
With the basics down, you can introduce your parakeet to a world of tricks that will keep them mentally stimulated and thoroughly entertained:

Wave: All you need to do is hold a treat slightly out of their grasp. As they lift a foot to try and nab it, say “wave” and give them the treat as a reward.

Spin: By placing a treat on one side of them, they’ll turn to get it. Say “spin” and reward them. Over time, lead them to complete a full circle with the treat.

Retrieve: Place a small object before them and say “retrieve.” Cheer and reward them when they pick it up.

Remember, every parakeet is unique. Some may pick up tricks faster than others, and that’s okay. Celebrate every little victory and cherish the bonding time!

Parakeets as Pets for Children

Girl laughing while her pet Parakeet is sitting on her head

Parakeets, with their vibrant colours and engaging behaviours, are more than just pets; they’re delightful companions that can captivate the hearts of young bird enthusiasts. Their gentle nature and ability to talk make them particularly endearing to children. Moreover, they’re tolerant to handling, ensuring they’re well-suited for younger hands. 

Steps to Introduce Parakeets to Children

Infographic about Steps to Introduce Parakeets to Children
  • Step 1: Setting ground rules

Before the parakeet’s arrival, teach your kids the basics — gentle handling, a calm approach, soft speaking, and respecting the bird’s space, especially his cage.

  • Step 2: Supervised interactions 

Monitor the first encounters to ensure both parakeet and child are safe. Start with brief sessions, extending them gradually.

  • Step 3: Create a safe space

Position the bird’s retreat space or high perch away from busy areas. The cage should be viewable by kids but not readily accessible.

  • Step 4: Building a bond

Foster trust with your parakeet through conversation and treats. As this bond strengthens, involve your children in simple training sessions, using treats as a positive reinforcement. This not only strengthens the relationship but also provides a memorable learning opportunity for your children as well.

Common Parakeet Health Issues

Healthy parakeet staying inside a cage

Like all pets, parakeets come with their unique set of health concerns. Being informed about these common issues can help in early detection and prompt care, ensuring the well-being of your feathered friend. Here are some of the health challenges parakeets commonly face:

Note: This list is non-exhaustive and parakeets may face other health conditions aside from those listed.

Parrot Fever

Psittacosis, commonly referred to as Parrot Fever, is a lung ailment stemming from the bacterium Chlamydia psittaci. While primarily associated with the parrot family, which includes parakeets and lovebirds, it can also transfer to mammals, including humans.

Symptoms

  • Swollen, puffy eyes
  • General tiredness
  • Reduced appetite leads to weight loss
  • Ruffled feathers
  • Runny nose
  • Unusual droppings

Treatment

  • Vet-prescribed antibiotics
  • Regular and thorough cleaning of your parakeet’s environment

Avian Giardiasis

Giardiasis in parakeets is attributed to certain parasites. While some, like ticks, are visible, gastrointestinal parasites can be stealthy, affecting the bird’s digestive system and other bodily functions. If you have a budgie, this condition can also hinder their natural moulting process, leading to unnatural feather shedding.

Symptoms

  • Signs of malnourishment
  • Diarrhoea
  • Poor nutrient absorption
  • Weight reduction
  • Itchiness, leading to feather pulling
  • Excessive skin pecking
  • Heightened bird calls or vocalisations

Treatment

  • Anti-parasitic medication as advised by your vet

Candidiasis

This prevalent fungal ailment results from an overgrowth of the yeast Candida albicans in a bird’s digestive system. While a minimal presence is generally harmless, issues arise when their numbers surge.

Symptoms

  • Respiratory distress or swift breathing patterns
  • Regurgitating food
  • Low spirits
  • Decline in food intake
  • Nausea and diarrhoea
  • Delay in food processing in the crop
  • Thickened crop walls
  • Nasal secretions
  • Beak deformities
  • Prolonged ruffled feathers

Treatment

  • Veterinarian-prescribed antifungal medications

Bacterial Infections

If your parakeet has a bacterial infection in his respiratory system, the bacteria can irritate his nostrils, leading to frequent sneezing. So, if your parakeet keeps sneezing without an apparent reason, and displays the following symptoms, it might be due to these unwelcome microbes.

Symptoms

  • Listless behaviour
  • Persistent feather fluffing
  • Discoloured nasal discharge that’s not transparent
  • Persistent sneezing
  • Changes in their chirp or tone
  • Watery eyes
  • Respiratory difficulties
  • Audible wheezing
  • Prolonged eye closure when not asleep
  • Reluctance to perch

Treatment

  • Nasal flushes by the vet
  • Vet-prescribed antibiotics (oral or injectable)
  • Clearing of airway blockages by the vet

Price of Owning a Parakeet in Singapore

Parakeets in a cage

Venturing into the delightful journey of owning a parakeet in Singapore comes with its financial considerations. While some expenses are one-time investments, others recur periodically as part of maintaining their health and happiness.

One-off Costs

Purchasing a parakeet

The cost of acquiring a parakeet in Singapore fluctuates based on the bird’s breed, age, and gender. Typically, you can expect to pay up to $150 for cockatiels and approximately $25 to $100 for budgies. Certain breeds, like the English budgie, might command a higher price point than their American counterparts.

Bird cages, perchers, and feeders

Establishing a comfortable habitat is paramount. A typical bird cage suitable for parakeets can set you back anywhere from $41 to $100. However, if you’re eyeing more expansive and premium designs, prices can soar to $300 and beyond. 

While some cages come equipped with perches, additional ones for variety can range from $6 to $25 each. Essential accessories like feeders and waterers usually fall in the $8 to $28 bracket, whereas toys, a crucial source of entertainment, can be priced between $6 and $50.

Recurring Costs

  • Food: $20 – $40 per month
  • Medical consultations and checkups: $65 – $200+ per visit
  • Grooming sessions: Starting at $10 per visit
  • Oral supplements: $5 – $10 monthly

FAQs About Owning a Parakeet in Singapore

Contrary to popular belief, parakeets and budgies aren't identical. All budgies are parakeets, but not all parakeets are budgies. The term "budgie" is a shortened version of "budgerigar," widely used globally. Meanwhile, in the United States (U.S.), many people refer to budgies as "parakeets," even though the term "parakeet" encompasses various small parrot species.

There are various reasons why a parakeet might bite. This can stem from feelings of fear or jealousy, fatigue, inadvertent encouragement of such behaviour, a reluctance to return to their cage or territorial instincts. Understanding the root cause of the biting is crucial for forging a better bond with your bird and addressing the behaviour.

If you're uncertain or concerned about the biting, it's a good idea to consult with a vet or bird specialist who can provide insights and guidance.

Certain behaviours indicate your parakeet's fondness for you. For instance, eye pinning, where their pupils rapidly contract and expand, signals excitement and affection. If you see this "flashing" in their eyes, it's a positive sign. 

Additionally, if your parakeet energetically flaps its wings when you're nearby, it's showing happiness and an eagerness to engage with you. Responding with gentle strokes or calm conversation can reinforce this bond.

Authors

  • Wai Ling

    Author:

    Foodie at heart and (almost) always with a camera in hand. When she's not busy with work, you'll find her munching around Singapore or snapping pics in some cool new spot.

  • Emilia Wong

    Author:

    Bubble tea and sleeping are two of Emilia's favourite things. She also enjoys cooking and loves to experiment with new recipes for different cuisines.

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