Top 10 Pet Poicephalus Parrot Questions Answered

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Red-bellied parrot (Poicephalus rufiventris). Via D Coetzee/Flickr

1. What kind of Poicephalus parrot do I have?

Ten parrots belong to the genus Poicephalus, all with a gray head and short, broad tail. Hailing from Africa, the Poicephalus species include:

  • Senegal parrot (P. senegalus)
  • Meyer’s parrot (P. meyeri)
  • Red-bellied parrot (P. rufiventris)
  • Brown-headed parrot (P. cryptoxanthus)
  • Jardine’s parrot (P. gulielmi)
  • Cape parrot (P. robustus)
  • Uncape parrot (P. fuscicollis)
  • Ruppell’s parrot (P. rueppellii)
  • Yellow-faced parrot (P. flavifrons)
  • Niam-Niam parrot (P. crassus)

2. Is my pet Poicephalus parrot male or female?

Some Poicephalus parrots are sexually dimorphic (i.e., differing in appearance between males and females). Brown-headed parrot females will display a red forehead. The Ruppell’s parrot female has brighter plumage than the male, including bright blue feathers on its underside. The red-bellied parrot has the strongest distinction between males and females. Males display the orange-red feathering on their breast, abdomen and underwing coverts that gives this species its name. All other Poicephalus parrots must be DNA-sexed to accurately determine whether they are male or female.

3. What should my pet Poicephalus parrot eat?

Pet Poicephalus parrots benefit from a mixed diet of half-fresh and half-formulated foods. Base your pet bird’s diet on a high-quality, healthy pellet or extruded diet and supplement it with plenty of vegetables for good bird nutrition. Some Poicephalus parrot favorites, according to owners, are sweet potato, broccoli, carrots, yellow squash and green leafy vegetables. These are high in vitamin A, K and E and help your pet bird stay well. As always, provide plenty of clean drinking water at all times.

4. What kind of pet bird cage should I get for my pet Poicephalus parrot?

Get your pet Poicephalus parrot a pet bird cage that’s a minimum 20 inches by 20 inches by 28 inches with ¾-inch bar spacing. Experts recommend cages with horizontal bars; Poicephalus parrots love to climb, and allowing them this in-cage opportunity promotes exercise and good health. Climbing toys, too, are a must inside a pet Poicephalus parrot’s cage. Choose pet bird perches appropriate to your pet bird’s size, and consider one wider and flatter than the others. Some pet Poicephalus parrots enjoy lying down on their perches to rest. In addition, many Poicephalus parrots lie down on their cage floor to sleep during the night. Maintain a clean cage floor to protect your pet bird’s health.

5. Do Poicephalus parrots learn to talk?

Poicephalus parrots enjoy vocalizing, but their mimicry of human speech is limited. Owners report that red-bellied parrots can learn to repeat human speech, and Meyer’s parrots are known to copy many household noises. In general, these parrots vocalize less than others, and this can be good for owners who live in apartments. The chatter of Poicephalus parrots varies between individuals, as with any parrot.

6. What’s the best way to train my Poicephalus parrot?

Develop a teacher/parent relationship with your pet Poicephalus parrot to start off training on the right foot. Begin training basic exercises such at “Step up” and other tricks. Whether or not your pet bird masters the lesson, it will enjoy interacting with you.

7. How should I enrich my Poicephalus parrot’s life?

Poicephalus parrots love to chew, chew and chew. Stock their cages with wooden or woven-grass toys or any toys designed to be destroyed. Untreated leather also suits this purpose well. These parrots enjoy baths, whether sprayed or in a bowl. You might find they’ve converted their water dish into a pool, complete with toys. Make sure they have a place to splash in addition to clean drinking water. Pet Poicephalus parrots also love swings and toys with moving parts. Add them to your pet bird’s cage and watch the action.

8. Do Poicephalus parrots contract certain diseases?

Poicephalus parrots are included among the species most at risk for Psittacine Beak and Feather Disease (PBFD). To best protect them, quarantine any new birds and have them checked by an avian veterinarian.

9. How can I tell if my pet Poicephalus is ill?

Watch your pet Poicephalus parrot’s behavior to know its average activity level. If you notice broad variations in its daily habits, this could indicate illness. You can likely detect this shift better when giving your pet bird ambient attention; parrots instinctively mask signs of illness when interacting directly with their flock, to avoid being shunned in an effort to halt the spread of illness. Changes in droppings, unrelated to dietary changes, also will tip you off to potential Poicephalus parrot illness. Weigh your pet parrot regularly to detect any changes, another illness indicator.

10. Can Poicephalus parrots have behavior concerns?

Many people consider pet Poicephalus parrots to be among the most easy-going of parrot species. Like other parrot species, however, environmental changes can cause pet Poicephalus parrots to become territorial or aggressive. Poicephalus parrots have been know to have such high levels of aggression that they can attack other birds, sometimes fatally. These birds will stand up to parrots many times their size.

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