Cockatiels are a type of parrot that make very popular pets. They share many character qualities with parrots but in a smaller and more manageable package. They tend to be relatively quiet and can easily be kept in an apartment without causing too much irritation to your neighbors.
They have an intelligence level slightly above that of a budgie, as they have larger brains. This means that they can adapt more easily to different environments. They are very gentle, docile, and affectionate.
You will need to interact with your cockatiel often, as they enjoy being held and stroked. They are very easy to tame and are unlikely to hurt you once trained sufficiently. They are very playful birds, with a huge amount of character.
Cockatiels love to play with toys and will appreciate whatever you buy for them. They can see colors and love to perch on a swing or ladder. Take care to choose toys that are an appropriate size and toughness for your cockatiel.
Are cockatiels easy to care for?
Yes, cockatiels are fairly easy to care for. You will need to replace their food and water every morning, as with any animal. Their cages will need a proper cleaning at least once a week to remove spilled food and bird poop.
It is important to interact with your cockatiel. They are very sociable animals and need to be engaged with regularly. This is particularly true if you only have one bird as they will rapidly get lonely if left unattended.
This is particularly true in the case of male cockatiels as they are more emotionally needy. If you are out of the house for most of the day, we highly recommend purchasing a pair of cockatiels to keep them both happy.
A single cockatiel will need a cage that is, at minimum, 20 inches square and 26 inches tall. This is a relatively large cage and will obviously take a decent amount of time to clean.
They should not be exposed to daylight for more than 10 to 12 hours a day. If they are kept up for longer, their bodies will produce excess hormones meaning that they become increasingly moody and territorial.
You will need to clip the nails of your cockatiel at least twice a year. This will prevent them from scratching you or your home when they land.
If you fail to clip their nails then they can easily get snagged in fabrics, which can cause serious injury to your bird. The nails, if left to grow, can eventually go into the pad of their feet and prevent them from walking or landing normally.
Some people choose to clip the wings of their cockatiel too. This is to prevent them from flying off and means that they are more dependent on you, therefore easier to control.
This is not necessary and many people consider it to be a cruel and outdated practice. Consult with your veterinarian to help you make the right choice for your bird and your family.
Are cockatiels worth it?
A cockatiel is likely to set you back somewhere in the realm of $70 to $100. The price will fluctuate based upon whether you purchase it from a breeder or a pet store. This is by no means the only cost that a cockatiel will incur.
At a minimum, you will also need to buy a cage, food, perches, a feeder, a water bottle, and some toys. We like this cage from VivoHome, available on Amazon.
This will set you back a further $160. Toy sets for your cockatiel are available on Amazon too, a 7-piece set costing around $14.
Add on a further $50 to $60 for food and other amenities. This means that you will be looking at around $300 to $400 to get a cockatiel and all of the setup.
If money is not much of an issue for you, they are worth the cost incurred. If you are on more of a budget you should seriously consider the financial aspect of owning a pet.
You should not get one if you cannot adequately provide for them. It is cruel to give them a cage that is too small or insufficient enrichment.
A cockatiel is a great pet, but as we have mentioned, they need social interaction. If you are not willing to handle and play with them regularly, they are not the right pet for you.
They are hugely expressive and will shock you with the amount of character they have. They are very observant and inquisitive animals that you will fall in love with in no time.
As with any pet, provided you offer them love and affection, you will receive the same in return. If you are an animal lover on any level, a cockatiel will make a hugely worthwhile addition to your home.
Do cockatiels need baths?
Cockatiels are not very smelly animals at all. They smell like birds, but their scent is in no way offensive. Over time, a powdery substance can build up on their feathers, cage, and accessories as a result of grooming.
To deal with this, you should bathe or spray your cockatiel with water at least once a week. The cage will also need to be cleaned on a regular basis.
When bathing or spraying your cockatiel, you should only ever use clean water. There are some commercially available bird shampoos, but water will be better for them.
This is because they produce natural oils on their feathers to help them clean. Using shampoos or detergents will strip these oils from their feathers which can be quite damaging.
You should only wash your bird during warm periods. When birds are wet they can rapidly lose a lot of their body temperature, which can lead to serious health conditions.
Temperatures drop at night, and so it is advised to wash your bird in the middle of the day when temperatures are at their highest.
You should use lukewarm water, as extreme temperatures can result in a shock to their systems, hypothermia, or burns.
You should never completely soak your cockatiel’s feathers. In the wild, this would never happen and can have serious consequences. Your bird will not be able to regulate its temperature appropriately when wet, which can lead to its internal temperatures dropping.
Soaking wet feathers can also lead to their flying being inhibited. There should not be situations that require your bird to be this wet.
There are many different ways to bathe your bird. These include gently spraying them with a fine mist, dripping water over like a shower, or allowing them to dunk themselves in a small bowl. Experiment with the methods you use to see which your cockatiel responds best to.
What should I know before buying a cockatiel?
You should be aware that cockatiels can be quite loud animals. The males are more noisy than the females, so take this into consideration. They are more demanding of your attention and will likely try to ‘chat’ with you. Female cockatiels are quieter and slightly lower maintenance.
The noise that they make is a whistling sound, which can become annoying after a while. The birds are also known to be competitive, meaning that the louder you are, the louder their caws will be.
Cockatiels are known to make a lot of mess. They are very clean animals and will groom themselves regularly, but they are hard to potty train. They are likely to poop wherever they wish, and you will spend a lot of time cleaning up their excrement.
They eat seeds and have been known to flick them all over the room as they are eating. You can mitigate this mess by purchasing a mess-free cockatiel feeder or a net for their cage to prevent the seeds from flying across the room.
Cockatiels are known to bite their handlers often. It is unusual for their bites to break the skin, but there is a high likelihood that you will be nipped daily.
Do not be complacent though, they can easily make you bleed if they want to. Hand-reared cockatiels tend to be less aggressive and nippy than more commercial birds.
Cockatiels, like puppies and babies, are very nosy creatures. They explore their surroundings by putting things in their mouths.
This obviously causes damage to whatever gets in their path, giving cockatiels the label of destructive. You should not leave anything in the vicinity of your cockatiel that you would like to stay intact.
Cockatiels are very needy animals and require a lot of attention. If you leave them alone they can get into anything, and this can cause serious problems.
There are instances where an owner left her cockatiel alone in a room and he ingested a loose lead pellet that had spilled on the floor. The bird is fine now, but it did suffer from severe lead poisoning.
Treat your cockatiel like a baby and keep a close eye on it.