Parakeet Budgie and Keet FAQs

Just What is a Parakeet?
There are lots of names for this beautiful little bird from central Australia. Its scientific name is Melopsittacus undulatus meaning "song parrot with wavy lines". The Aborigine term for the bird was something close to "budgerigar", their phrase meaning "good to eat". They would eat budgies for snacks. The English explorers who met the aborigines and saw the birds shortened this to "budgies". Since they looked like little parrots, they're also called "parakeets" or "keets" for short. A lot of names for a little bird!

What is a Budgie Like?
Budgies are friendly, easy to train, might learn to talk, and are flock animals. They either need a human around all the time or some parakeet flockmates. They live from 7-15 years if taken care of well and are not breeding. Some have even been known to live to 20 years or more. Do Parakeets Stink / Smell? Quick answer - no!

Why do some Budgies die Earlier?
Many budgies which die before age 5 are poorly fed and die of malnutrition. There is also a window of time where a budgie might develop a tumor. If a parakeet starts acting poorly around age 5-7 it is probably a tumor. Take your bird to a vet if you notice its breastbone sticking out or that the bird has trouble sitting on its perch. If your bird makes it through this period it will probably live a long life and die of old age.

What do Parakeets Eat?
I have a full page on Healthy Foods for Parakeets. In essence the parakeet in its native Australian grasslands would eat a variety of foods. Yes, in the fall they ate the grass seed. But they also ate the fresh greens of the grasses, the fruits and berries they found, plus some protein material as well. A healthy budgie needs a balanced diet.

How do I tell a Male from a Female?
The easiest way on an adult is to look at the bump of flesh above its nose - the "cere". On a male this is blueish. On a female this is brownish. Males tend to be more likely to talk. Females love to gnaw, because one of their primary tasks in the Eucalyptus groves of their homeland was to gnaw out a nest for the baby keets. The cuttlebones you put into their cages serve not only as a good beak-trimming tool, but also a great gnawing spot. Photos of Parakeet Ceres

Why does my Parakeet Spit Up Food?
This is the ultimate compliment a parakeet can give. When a mommy parakeet is sitting on her eggs, sometimes the father will bring her food in this way. He can't really bring food in his claws, so he eats it, comes back to her and then regurgitates it so she can have some. Also, this is how the mommy parakeet feeds her babies. She doesn't have teats that give milk. Instead, she eats a food, lets it digest a bit in her stomach, then regurgitates it in a nice, soft format so the babies can eat it easily. If your parakeet is regurgitating food for you, it is the parakeet's way of saying he loves you. Read more about parakeet courtship.

My Parakeet is Picking at His Feathers
A parakeet will normally preen his feathers daily, keeping them clean and free of dust. So you might see your parakeet sliding his feathers through his beak, nibbling at his feathers, scratching his head with his claws, and fluffing up. This is all normal. If you find your parakeet is actually *yanking out* feathers repeatedly (or yanking out one of his flockmate's feathers) it's time to talk to a vet. Read more about parakeet preening.

How do Parakeets Sleep?
Parakeets need a solid 10-12 hours of sleep a day. The bulk of this is at night, when you should put a cover on the cage so they feel safe. In nature, they would tuck into a hole in a tree and be surrounded by bark. They also take naps during the day. Sometimes they just close their eyes. Sometimes they raise one foot (like a flamingo) to give it some rest. Sometimes they tuck their head on their back wing so give their neck a rest. You can Read more about parakeet sleeping habits.

Do Parakeets Pee?
What a funny question! Actually parakeets do NOT really pee. When they have to go, they make little round poops that are grey on the outside and white in the center. These hold both the liquid and solid wastes in sort of a pudding-like consistency. They're small and odorless, and you just change the cage paper weekly to remove them. Parakeet Cage Liners

Allergies and Diseases
Sure, you could be allergic to parakeets. People can be allergic to newsprint, peanuts, styrofoam, you name it. Only you know what you are allergic to. But most people aren't allergic to parakeets. As far as diseases go, it's not like your parakeet is roaming the woods to "catch something". You should ALWAYS take any new pet to a vet to get a check-up and make sure it starts out healthy. But if a vet says it is healthy, the chance of it mysteriously catching something while it sits in a room in your house is slim to none. And since you live in that house too, chances are you are the one who gave that disease to your pet!

Laws and Banding
Most states and many countries now have their laws online to search through. I have an Summary of US Laws to help you out. As far as I can tell, the only state that requires leg bands is Virginia, and that's only for monk / quaker parakeets.

What are Parakeet Senses Like?
I have pages on Parakeet Hearing and Parakeet Sight that are important for understanding your keet!

What Temperature Range do Budgies Need?
Wild budgies live in the central area of Australia - in hot, dry deserts. Summertime temperatures get into the mid to high 90s. The budgies hide in the trees during the day, and try to stay cool. In the winter they migrate to stay in a warm zone, usually not below 68-70F. In a cage, since they are "trapped" at the temperature you set and cannot escape to a warmer or cooler spot, make sure to keep the temperatures in the middle - around 70-80F. Always have water available so they can cool down, and if there is sunlight or light shining into the cage, always have a shady spot where they can retreat to.

What are Other Common Questions?
I many questions and answers online that I have been asked over the years. Please read through my Parakeet Question and Answer Listing to see if someone else has asked your question already!

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