Par­rot Par­adise

Due to their vo­cal ca­pa­bil­i­ties, in­tel­li­gence and com­plex per­son­al­i­ties, Ma­caws are some­times con­sid­ered to be the ul­ti­mate pet birds

Clubpets - - OTHER CRITTERS -

Of­ten used to il­lus­trate the boxes of crayons and colour pen­cils due to the strik­ing­ness of their colours, na­ture did not hold back in dec­o­rat­ing the feathers of these birds, giv­ing them their dy­namic and beau­ti­ful colour com­bi­na­tions. From blue to gold to all the colours of the rain­bow, ma­caws are the most di­verse­ly­coloured an­i­mal on earth.

There are sev­en­teen dif­fer­ent types of ma­caws, each with its own unique quirks. The larger ma­caw species range from about fifty cen­time­tres (mil­i­tary ma­caws) to over a me­tre in height (hy­acinth ma­caws). Mini ma­caws are more man­age­able, stand­ing at twenty to fifty cen­time­tres. A num­ber of hy­brid Ma­caws have also been pro­duced in cap­tiv­ity. Ma­caws are high-main­te­nance pets. These birds are large, and so is their need for a lot of so­cial in­ter­ac­tion. An hour or two spent with your bird barely is enough to meet its needs. Wild ma­caws are never out of con­tact with mates and flock mem­bers for long.

While ma­caws can be among the sweet­est of all pets, most have very strong per­son­al­i­ties. Large, pow­er­ful beaks and brains ren­der them as birds to be taken se­ri­ously. How­ever, Ma­caws share a close bond with their own­ers. In­fact, the re­la­tion­ship be­tween a Ma­caw and its owner can even ri­val those of furry four-legged com­pan­ions. In­tel­li­gent, cu­ri­ous and at­ten­tionlov­ing, Ma­caws are gen­er­ally so­cia­ble and re­spond well to train­ing. Un­like cock­a­toos, Ma­caws are only phys­i­cally af­fec­tion­ate with peo­ple they know very well.

Ma­caws in cap­tiv­ity, can live up to a hun­dred years. There are re­ports of ma­caws liv­ing over a hun­dred years, though most tend to live to be thirty to thirty-five years old. This is much longer than your typ­i­cal house­hold pet. There­fore, heavy con­sid­er­a­tion must be taken be­fore get­ting a ma­caw.

Though long-lived and gen­er­ally healthy, there are quite a few health com­pli­ca­tions these birds are sus­cep­ti­ble to. Ma­caws can be prone to feather-de­struc­tive be­hav­iours. If a com­plete vet­eri­nary exam rules out med­i­cal causes of feather pluck­ing, bore­dom and/or lack of ap­pro­pri­ate mental stim­u­la­tion can be a cause.

Ma­caws are also more sus­cep­ti­ble to proven­tric­u­lar di­lata­tion dis­ease (PDD), psittacine beak and feather dis­ease (PBFD), psit­ta­co­sis, beak mal­oc­clu­sion, and as­pergillo­sis. Reg­u­lar health check­ups by an avian vet­eri­nar­ian can help di­ag­nose and treat these dis­eases early on.

It is also nor­mal for a ma­caw to sneeze a few times a day to clear out dust or dan­der from its nares, which may be ac­com­pa­nied by a clear dis­charge. If the sneez­ing is per­sis­tent and/or the dis­charge is not a clear colour, do con­tact your avian vet­eri­nar­ian.

A ma­caw needs a cage tall enough to pre­vent its tail feathers from hit­ting the cage bot­tom, as this may cause its tail feathers to bend or break. Over­all, a ma­caw needs a much larger cage and play stand than other par­rot species, so do take space con­sid­er­a­tions into ac­count.

Large birds like these need pa­tience and ef­fort in groom­ing in the form of reg­u­lar baths and the buff­ing of claws. Of­fer your ma­caw an en­riched en­vi­ron­ment with plenty of op­por­tu­ni­ties for play and ex­er­cise, such as a climb­ing net and rope.

Large ma­caws have equally large vo­cal­i­sa­tions, and their squawks and screeches can get loud. A po­ten­tial ma­caw owner needs to take a ma­caw’s large sound into con­sid­er­a­tion, es­pe­cially when liv­ing in an apart­ment that is sur­rounded by neigh­bours.

“Ma­caws are high­main­te­nance pets. These birds are large, and so is their need for a lot of so­cial in­ter­ac­tion.”

In their nat­u­ral habi­tat, ma­caws feed on na­tive seeds, fruits, flow­ers, leaves and nec­tar. The di­etary needs of some ma­caw species dif­fer from that of other par­rots as they re­quire more fat in their diet. Start with a pel­leted food as the ba­sis for your ma­caw’s diet and sup­ple­ment it with healthy fresh foods such as grains, veg­eta­bles and fruits. Pel­lets should make up twenty-five to fifty per­cent of the diet, while seeds should be no more than ten per­cent of the diet, as they are too high in fat. Nuts on the other hand, should be re­served as a treat.

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