For some, birds make better pets than cats or dogs because they do not need to be walked, explained Alyson Kalhagen of The Spruce Pets, a website dedicated to publishing pet-related content. Dog owners know that it is not always convenient to bring their pooch outside to go potty several times each day. For cat owners, they have to scoop their feline’s litter box several times daily to keep it clean and control the smell.
But with birds, they don’t need to be trained to go potty— which is better than taking a dog out or cleaning a litter box. Another benefit of owning birds is their ability to talk. Not every bird can mimic human speech, but they can forge a close bond with you by training them to talk.
You do not need to worry much about space as birds such as a parrotlet or a budgie can be housed in a small area unlike cats or certain breeds of dogs. However, you might need a more spacious area if you own a large parrot.
Pet Ownership In Australia
Industry body Animal Medicines Australia released its “2016 Pet Ownership in Australia” report in November 2016 and found that 5.7 million of its 9.2 million households owned a pet, mentioned Vet Voice, an Australian veterinary association. 3.6 million households owned a dog (two in five, 40%), with an estimated dog population of 4.8 million in 2016.
2.7 million (3 in 10, 30%) had a cat, with the population of cats increasing from 3.3 million to 3.9 million from 2013 to 2016. In 2016, 8.7 million households owned fish, showing a dip of 2.4 million from 2013’s figure.
Bird ownership showed an 11% decrease (526,000 birds) compared to 2013 as the total bird population was at 4.2 million in 2016. Owners decided to have birds as pets because of the following reasons: companionship (32%), relaxation (19%), wanting eggs (12%), wanting to educate and teach responsibility to kids (10%), or for breeding purposes (5%).
The report also found that 52% of owners housed their birds in cages indoors, while 36% do so outdoors in aviaries. Of those who keep their birds outdoors, 10% of owners keep them for breeding purposes.
Small Animal and Pet Ownership Is On the Rise In the US
Market research firm Packaged Facts found that ownership of small animals, birds, and fish is on the rise in the country, cited Pet Food Industry.com, a resource website for cat and dog food manufacturers. In the US, the most popular small animal is rabbits, with 4.2 million rabbits living in US households in 2012. In 2012, Packaged Facts found that 39% of small animal owners said they owned a rabbit, 25% owned hamsters, and 24% owned guinea pigs.
The firm also found that 7.2 million households owned a total of 84.3 million fish in 2012, representing 73% of the pet population, excluding dogs and cats. In 2012, the number of bird-owning households totaled 4.6 million, down from 5.4 million in 2008.
Despite this figure, bird ownership was up 24% since 2010 when only 3.7 million households owned birds. 41% of owners considered their pet bird to be a member of the family. 1.8 US households owned reptiles in 2012, down from 2008’s 2.3 million. The decrease in reptile ownership might be attributed to the higher cost of caring for reptiles.
Apparently, the number of birds owned by pet owners in the US has fluctuated over the past years, hitting a low of 14.3 million in 2015, a sharp decrease from 2014’s 20.6 million, as found by Emma Bedford of German statistics platform Statista. The figure increased to 20.6 million in 2017.
Five Factors to Consider When Choosing Your Pet Bird
You have to make the biggest commitments when you own a large bird, stated Kalhagen. Larger birds make wonderful companions, but they are often messier, louder, and more demanding than smaller ones. If you’re a beginner, opt for a small or medium-sized bird. The size of your pet bird will also determine how you will take care of it, including interaction, training, and housing.
2. Behavior and Temperament
Do you want a bird that eagerly interacts with you or a winged companion that likes to be seen but not touched? The way your bird interacts with you is an integral factor in the “quality of the caregiver experience” and your pet’s life.
If you choose to own a social bird, prepared to commit time to interact with it as these kinds can be demanding of attention, emphasized Lianne McLeod of The Spruce Pets. Social birds can exhibit neurotic behavior if you deny their need for interaction. If you prefer a companion bird, be sure to research to see which species will be compatible with your own personality.
3. Diet and Nutrition
Some species of birds require specific diets or other special care. For example, lories are fed with pollen, nectar, pollen, and fruit due to their highly specialized digestive systems. Most species of pet parrots consume of pre-formulated diets like pellets, fresh foods, and seeds.
Finches, canaries, and doves require less complicated dietary needs. Learn as much as you can about your favorite species and see if you can provide for their needs before owning one.
Bird ownership can be costly. Larger birds cost thousands of dollars and factoring in cages and accessories, the total cost of owning one might be higher. If you decide to own a parrot, be sure to invest time and resources like books and seminars to raise it successfully.
Exotic birds are also more expensive. Smaller birds are initially less expensive, you still need to take into account the cost of veterinary care throughout their lifetime. The aforementioned factors should be considered when choosing the right bird so you end up owning one whose needs you can manage and provide. Avoid owning a bargain-priced bird. In fact, a healthy hand-raised bird will get your money’s worth in the long run.
Hookbills require daily interaction, exercise, and time out of their cages. Are you ready to spend at least two hours with your hookbill? If not, you can opt to take care of a finch, canary, or other independent species.
Don’t forget to consider how much time you will dedicate when cleaning your bird’s enclosure cage, accessories, and food and water bowls. You should consider the time spent giving them baths or getting their does of sunshine. Are you prepared to do that?
Find a bird that is compatible with your lifestyle. Don’t adopt or purchase a large, social bird if you spend less time at home. Consider the above-mentioned tips before having a pet bird. Birds are intelligent and adorable, but don’t forget to consider the realities of owning one.