Do Parrots Make Good Pets for Children?

Children and pets seemingly go hand in hand, but some pets are better than others when children are involved. Kids and parrots are both known for being loud, needy, and a bit obnoxious. Is that really a good recipe for a child friendly pet?

It all depends on the bird.  Parrots come in many different shapes and sizes.  Their compatibility with children varies on their breed, training, and personality.  A number of different types of parrots are commonly kept for pets:  African Grey, Amazon, cockatoos, conures, Poicephalus, macaws, budgerigars or parakeets,  and a few others.  All of these birds could become great pets for an adult, but some of them aren’t as good with the kids.  Some birds naturally respond better to children than others in an individual way, yet generally there are certain breeds that are considered to have better overall temperaments with children than other breeds. 

Experts and bird owners will debate which breed is the very best for kids and some may even debate the birds being placed in this category.  It’s important to remember that birds are individual and they each have their own personality.  In other words, a bad experience with one individual bird in the category doesn’t mean that its fellow birds of the same breed will behave similarly. 

Best Breeds for Children

Both poicephalus parrots (African hook-bills) and pionus are considered to be good with kids.  They are both known for having good personalities and being gentle, tolerant, and quieter than other breeds.  Pionus don’t have a preening gland, so they produce dander and dust.  Additionally, they carry a slightly musky smell. 

Parakeets and cockatiels are both small birds considered to be good learning companions for children.  Kids and the parrots can learn and practice sounds together.  Parakeets are the most popular breed of pet parrots.  They are trainable and can be tamed.  Before they are tamed, parakeets can sometimes be nippy and flighty.  Cockatiels are known to be calmer and quieter than other small birds.  They can be trained to whistle very well.

Some Say Yes, Some Say No

Conures and Macaws are both common parrot pets in which owners and experts have varying opinions.  Conures are reported by some to be good with children and other owners claim that they don’t like kids and will bite them.  Remember to teach children never to poke their fingers through the cages at the parrot.  Parrots may feel threatened if they are being poked at and the child could end-up being bitten.   

A number of experts and bird owners claim that Squawker Macaws are the best parrot pets for kids.  Others claim that their large beaks are too powerful to have around children for fear of safety.  They all agree that macaws are known for being cuddly, talkative, and relatively quiet compared to other breeds of parrots.  They also do not go through a hormonal phase.  Hormonal phases can make birds very irritable and sometimes bad-tempered. 

Breeds that are Better with Adults

African Greys are known for being incredibly intelligent parrots with the largest vocabulary, however they may make better pets for adults than children.  Amazons are also not the best parrot for kids. 

There are some things that anyone who is considering buying a parrot should know beforehand.  Parrots have extraordinarily long lifespans for a pet, which is something to keep in mind when making the decision to add one to your family.  All breeds of parrots are “high maintenance” pets.  They need food, grooming, and regular exercise.  They also need a lot of attention, social interaction, and intellectual stimulation.  The upkeep involved with a parrot is similar to having an additional child.

Breeds can be used as a general guideline, but how the parrot has been raised and trained plays the most important role in developing its personality and overall temperament.  Not all parrots make great pets for kids, but some parrots can become wonderful pets for children and valued members of the family.  Considering the parrot’s lengthy lifespan, one of the greatest things about having one as a pet for your child is that they can grow-up together and share their lives with each other.  It’s a unique experience to give to a child.

3
Liked it

Tags:

User Comments
  1. dak

    On August 18, 2010 at 3:55 am

    very interesting offbeat article . i liked it

  2. Ann

    On October 16, 2010 at 6:23 pm

    If you are looking for the absolute truth, not something sugar coated and pretty about how wonderful they can be, then the answer is NO.
    It takes a certain kind of person to love a bird, and most people are not cut out for it. If you enjoy sleeping in, a parrot is absolutely out of the question! Be prepared to be greeted EVERY morning as soon as the sun is up with every single phrase, whistle, scream, noise your bird knows until you take it out of its cage. EVEN with a blanket over it. He doesn’t care that you worked the late shift, or where out late at a party.
    This noise also doesn’t stop all day long; you may get a few quiet periods but not many. So if you have a baby that you don’t want woken up, or are a student at university who needs quiet to do work, or work from home and need a peaceful atmosphere to get work done in, then you are looking at the wrong pet.
    Also be prepared for your bird to NEVER learn the word no, unless it’s to repeat it back to you a 100 times a day. You cannot discipline a bird, because they don’t understand it. So no matter what bad behavior your bird is getting up to, telling it no, or stop, or putting it in time out, or even giving it the evil glare like so many parrot experts suggest… DOES NOT WORK. If your bird wants to do it, it will. Positive reinforcement or ignoring unwanted behavior is a joke, it doesn’t stop the bad stuff. TRUST ME I’ve tried.
    Also birds… are dirty, and don’t let anyone tell you otherwise! Take it from someone who likes to keep a clean home and lives with one. The first problem is bird dander, it is going to cover everywhere in a gross layer of dust! You have to dust EVERY SINGLE day to keep it from building up all over your furniture. And not just around the bird either but ALL over the room your bird is kept it, because when it flaps its wings, dust, poop particles, and little fluffy feathers fly everywhere! You have to vacuum EVERY day to keep the place looking clean. Birds also make a huge mess, to keep them occupied you have to give them toys, to rip up and destroy, and when they decide to flap their wings you’re place will be covered in all the debris!
    And the POOP, oh God, the POOP! IT NEVER STOPS! Every 10-15 minutes your bird is going to poop. Every time it wants to fly away because he’s annoyed and doesn’t want to be where you have him, he’ll poop! Imagine every time you leave the room your bird flying off his stand to try and follow you and pooping where he lands. My carpet is covered in stains that are very hard to get out! Also if he gets jealous because you and your husband, or girlfriend, or child, are cuddling on the couch be prepared for him to yell and scream and fly and poop where he lands! Also don’t think that just because you have him on a stand that is where he is going to poop, he’ll poop off the side and onto the floor GURANTEED. So be prepared to clean that up off the mat EVER DAY. Because bird poop is very bad for you, and should not be allowed to float around in the air for you to breath in (which it will once it dries and he decides to flap his wings and send it everywhere)! Some people claim you can potty train your bird to go poop on command, but we haven’t managed to do this, and sometimes even if you manage this can go very wrong. He will hold his poop in until he is told to go and if he is left for a long time without going this can cause huge problems.
    Now don’t get me wrong here, I’m not bashing birds or bird lovers, I’m just stating the facts that I wish someone had given me before my boyfriend and I decided to purchase a parrot. They are noisy, messy, dirty, poop machines, that can’t be disciplined, and rejoice in doing bad things because it gains you’re attention. That is just their nature, and you can’t train them out of it. So if you like your peace and quiet, like to have a clean house, and expect your pets to be well behaved then, this is CERTAINLY NOT the right kind of animal for you.
    I have read dozens of books, and countless online articles about parrot behavior and training, and I have tried it all. But when it comes down it, they aren’t domestic, they don’t live to please you or love you adoringly like a dog, they want to do what they want when they want, and one wrong move on your behalf is going to land you in their bad books forever. If you can put up with the noise and the dirt, then you may find their quirks like saying hello every time the phone rings endearing, or the millions of crazy house hold noises they mimic like the microwave, funny. But for most of us out there they are just going to drive you totally crazy.
    So there you have it, the truth about pet parrots.

  3. Ann

    On October 16, 2010 at 6:24 pm

    If you are looking for the absolute truth, not something sugar coated and pretty about how wonderful they can be, then the answer is NO.
    It takes a certain kind of person to love a bird, and most people are not cut out for it. If you enjoy sleeping in, a parrot is absolutely out of the question! Be prepared to be greeted EVERY morning as soon as the sun is up with every single phrase, whistle, scream, noise your bird knows until you take it out of its cage. EVEN with a blanket over it. He doesn\\\’t care that you worked the late shift, or where out late at a party.
    This noise also doesn\\\’t stop all day long; you may get a few quiet periods but not many. So if you have a baby that you don\\\’t want woken up, or are a student at university who needs quiet to do work, or work from home and need a peaceful atmosphere to get work done in, then you are looking at the wrong pet.
    Also be prepared for your bird to NEVER learn the word no, unless it\\\’s to repeat it back to you a 100 times a day. You cannot discipline a bird, because they don\\\’t understand it. So no matter what bad behavior your bird is getting up to, telling it no, or stop, or putting it in time out, or even giving it the evil glare like so many parrot experts suggest… DOES NOT WORK. If your bird wants to do it, it will. Positive reinforcement or ignoring unwanted behavior is a joke, it doesn\\\’t stop the bad stuff. TRUST ME I\\\’ve tried.
    Also birds… are dirty, and don\\\’t let anyone tell you otherwise! Take it from someone who likes to keep a clean home and lives with one. The first problem is bird dander, it is going to cover everywhere in a gross layer of dust! You have to dust EVERY SINGLE day to keep it from building up all over your furniture. And not just around the bird either but ALL over the room your bird is kept it, because when it flaps its wings, dust, poop particles, and little fluffy feathers fly everywhere! You have to vacuum EVERY day to keep the place looking clean. Birds also make a huge mess, to keep them occupied you have to give them toys, to rip up and destroy, and when they decide to flap their wings you\\\’re place will be covered in all the debris!
    And the POOP, oh God, the POOP! IT NEVER STOPS! Every 10-15 minutes your bird is going to poop. Every time it wants to fly away because he\\\’s annoyed and doesn\\\’t want to be where you have him, he\\\’ll poop! Imagine every time you leave the room your bird flying off his stand to try and follow you and pooping where he lands. My carpet is covered in stains that are very hard to get out! Also if he gets jealous because you and your husband, or girlfriend, or child, are cuddling on the couch be prepared for him to yell and scream and fly and poop where he lands! Also don\\\’t think that just because you have him on a stand that is where he is going to poop, he\\\’ll poop off the side and onto the floor GURANTEED. So be prepared to clean that up off the mat EVER DAY. Because bird poop is very bad for you, and should not be allowed to float around in the air for you to breath in (which it will once it dries and he decides to flap his wings and send it everywhere)! Some people claim you can potty train your bird to go poop on command, but we haven’t managed to do this, and sometimes even if you manage this can go very wrong. He will hold his poop in until he is told to go and if he is left for a long time without going this can cause huge problems.
    Now don’t get me wrong here, I’m not bashing birds or bird lovers, I’m just stating the facts that I wish someone had given me before my boyfriend and I decided to purchase a parrot. They are noisy, messy, dirty, poop machines, that can’t be disciplined, and rejoice in doing bad things because it gains you’re attention. That is just their nature, and you can’t train them out of it. So if you like your peace and quiet, like to have a clean house, and expect your pets to be well behaved then, this is CERTAINLY NOT the right kind of animal for you.
    I have read dozens of books, and countless online articles about parrot behavior and training, and I have tried it all. But when it comes down it, they aren’t domestic, they don’t live to please you or love you adoringly like a dog, they want to do what they want when they want, and one wrong move on your behalf is going to land you in their bad books forever. If you can put up with the noise and the dirt, then you may find their quirks like saying hello every time the phone rings endearing, or the millions of crazy house hold noises they mimic like the microwave, funny. But for most of us out there they are just going to drive you totally crazy.
    So there you have it, the truth about pet parrots.

  4. sharan

    On December 30, 2011 at 11:20 pm

    I own a parrotlet and they are great. They are about the size of your thumb and sooo much easier to manage. They’re very smart and can have a vocab of 10-15 words i believe. Oh and they love to play and be pat/scratched in their neck areas. If you want a good parrot for kids I recommend them, but be sure that young children don’t sit on them by accident or squeeze them too hard because they are very tiny.

Post Comment
comments powered by Disqus