Aratinga Conures as Pets
Personality / Pet Potential
The Sun Conure, Jenday Conures, Blue-crowned Conures, Dusky-headed Conures, Finsch's Conures, Mitred Conures, Peach-fronted and Red-fronted Conures are among the Aratinga conures most commonly kept as pets.
Aratinga conures are known for their persistant loud calls as much as for their fun-loving, playful and cheerful personalities. Most can learn to talk - indeed some of them turn into very skilled talkers. They are generally not the cuddliest of conures, but they are generally affectionate bird and enjoy a lot of attention. Like other parrots, Aratinga Conures are not content to be locked away in a cage as these social creatures like company - either a human or another bird. This species can cohabitate quite peacefully with other Aratinga conure species and get along well. If the bird is kept singly, the owners should understand that this conure needs daily interaction.
They can live up to 30 years - provided they are properly cared for. However, the average lifespan is 15 - 20 years - as people learn more about bird nutrition, hopefully this will extend their natural lifespan..
In general terms, conures are clowny birds. We love them for their great sense of humor and fun-loving personality. With a little training, they usually can easily be trained to do tricks. Conures love to snuggle under things, so providing them with a tightly woven wash cloth, soft piece of fabric, or fuzzy toy will be appreciated. A bird tent as a place to sleep and hand out is usually eagerly accepted and treasured. As they like to climb under pillows and blankets, care needs to be taken not to accidentally smother them.
|Chart provided by Dr. Rob Marshall - http://www.birdhealth.com.au)|
|Size: 30cm in length|
|Pet Status: Excellent|
|Talking Ability: Moderate|
|Noise Level: High (Loud, high pitched voice)|
|Lifespan: 15-20 years|
|Breeding Ability: Good|
|Number of Eggs: 3 eggs|
|Incubation: 24-28 days|
|Compatibility with other species: Excellent|
|Feeding: Seed and Fruit Eaters|
|Sexing: Surgical or DNA sexing is required.|
They make great birds for those who don't mind the occasional (or NOT so occasional) screeching outburst. This is something to be considered when thinking of adding a conure to your family. Conures can be VERY noisy and can also be nippy, if not trained and socialized properly. They do enjoy learning new tricks and can be very entertaining. They love to dance and can also be taught to go the toilet with a simple command such as "toilet" or "poop".
Conures do require more time and effort than say a cockatiel or budgie. Please keep this in mind. Owners report that they are smart and interactive, but are also more prone to behavioral problems than are cockatiels or budgies - but this would be the case with any conure. They all require a committed owner who will work with their pets to guide their behavior, while cockatiels and budgies are "beginner birds."
Conures love to play!
They are very active parrots that like to play, explore and chew. Lots of toys are recommended to keep their beaks from "getting busy" on your furniture.
They are Smart!
Most will hold their own with any of the mid-sized or medium-large parrots in terms of intelligence. They can be taught simple tricks pretty easily and more complicated tricks with some training.
How much attention do they need?
Like all parrots, they are social birds. They do require daily interaction with their social group, entertainment, things to do -- or else they will become bored and develop behavioral problems. In the wild, they would never leave the company of their flockmates. In a captive pet situation, a hand-fed conure requires the same social interaction from you and your family.
If you have little time to give, a parrot would not be a good choice for you. You would need someone at home several hours a day at a minimum, preferably someone should be home most of the day. I would recommend that there be people at home, with the bird, for at least several hours every day or the majority of day.
It's best to keep your pet conure where the center of activity is, usually the family room, and leave the cage door open or allow your pet to be on a playpen whenever someone is at home. During this time some direct interaction should be provided, such as talking to your pet, petting it, or placing it on your shoulder while you surf the internet, watch tv or go about your other activities. My parrot even joins me in the gym!
Most conures appreciate a daily misting / being lightly sprayed with warm water. Additionally offering a shallow bowl of water for them to bathe in will also help keep the dander down in the environment. One has to remember that in the confinement of our homes, pollutants will collect in much greater density than they ever would in the wild. Especially in small, poorly ventilated spaces pollutants - such as dander, dried droppings and skin/feather mites - can be a major issue, daily ventilation (opening windows and doors) is the best and cheapest way to get fresh air into your home. If that is not possible -- an air filtration system should be considered for those who are concerned about their pets as well as their own health.
Do they make good family pets?
In general, conures make good family pets as long as they have been well socialized. They don't mind a lot of activity - in fact, the more "fun stuff" is going on, the more entertained and happier they tend to be. They usually get along well with all family members, although they are likely to eventually choose a favorite; but as long as they are exposed to, and socialized by, other family members, they should maintain their friendliness with the others. Conures love to be touched and handled - another reason why they often do well with kids.
However, they go through nippy phases that can be hard on children as well as on adults. Teaching the child appropriate handling of the conure will help prevent some painful experiences - however, it will never entirely eliminate them. The tamest pet bird gets startled and bites - without this being a true reflection on its personality. It's a natural reaction. Experienced pet owners learn to read the body language of their pets and can avoid most of these "accidental encounters." Training is important to prevent an accidental bite from turning into a behavioral problem.
It is difficult to instruct smaller children on proper parrot handling, and their interactions with the conure should always be supervised. But children who have learned to handle the conure gently and confidently usually don't have a big problem with aggression. How well the child-parrot interaction goes really depends on the maturity level of the child, as well as the proper socialization-level of the parrot. Admittedly though, some genetics come into play as well. Some individual parrots are more aggressive than others. Often this is a family trait and one parrot pair produces sweet babies, while others produce nippy offspring. Sweet babies can turn nippy, if not socialized well, and nippy (usually nervous / fearful birds) can be taught to be good family pets. Birds do pick up on stress and anger that we humans may feel and this can impact their personality and likelihood to be aggressive towards us. It is always best to approach a bird calmly and focus on, and enjoy, the interaction with the parrot rather than reflecting on problems in your life. Doing so will actually be conducive to your own health, as it will help you relax.
There never will be a guarantee that a meaningful relationship between the children in the family and the pet parrot develops and if things don't go well, the conure may end up being a pet for the adults only. For this reason, it is not recommended to buy a parrot as a pet for the kids - this needs to be a family pet, with the adults taking on most of the responsibility.
Conures, albeit their smaller size, do present their challenges, and they are not the best "starter" birds, although some species are easier to keep than others. It really is important to learn to understand them and to guide their behavior before an undesirable behavior has been established.
Conures are known for their loud and harsh calls, which is a natural way of communication and social interaction and shouldn't be "trained away" -- however, they can develop into excessive screamers, which really requires early intervention.
Even a young bird that has not been neglected and abused requires proper guidance; this becomes even more challenging when it involves a rescued bird that may require rehabilitation. Behavioral challenges that conures present include:
- Excessive Chewing: Any parrot will chew. In nature, they use their beak to "customize" their favorite tree, to enlarge the size of their nest in a tree hollow. Doing this keeps their beaks in good condition. The problem is excessive and undesirable chewing. Undisciplined conures will chew on electric wiring potentially causing house fires. The owner needs to provide plenty of "healthy" chewing opportunities (bird toys, natural wood branches, etc.) and training is necessary to teach your pet what is "off-limits."
- Biting: Conures can become nippy. Like most parrots they are likely to discover their beaks as a method of "disciplining us" once they are out of the "baby stage." It really is important to learn to understand them and to guide their behavior before an undesirable behavior has been established.
- The "Noise" Factor: Conures are known for their high-pitched screech that can be annoying. However, even though it can't (or should not) be entirely eliminated, there are ways to discourage screaming / screeching in your conure.
Training and behavioral guidance will help your pet be the kind of companion you want it to be ...
- AvianWeb Resources: I put together web resources for you to help you understand your pet bird and properly direct him. Please visit this website for valuable tips on parrot behavior and training. If you found a way to resolve a "parrot behavioral issue" please share it with others.
- If you are, as I am, a visual learner and prefer step-by-step instructions to train your pet, I recommend:
- Procuring your Parrot
- Housing Your Bird
- Training Your Bird
- Bird Nutrition
- Parrot Products
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