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I have always been an animal lover but must admit that birds were never top of my list of favourite pets to keep. That is until I decided to take pity on an unwanted green and yellow budgie called Rocky and decided to give him a new loving home. This is a review of my own experiences of keeping a budgie and all the pros and cons.
~ Feeding ~
There are lots of opinions about what you should and shouldn't feed budgies, and many say that their life span (normally 5-7 yrs but can be as much as 10-12 yrs) highly depends on what you feed them. Like the majority of budgies, Rocky has a basic diet of Trill budgie food which is a mixture of different seeds that give them most of the nourishment they need. It is good to supplement this with fresh fruit and vegetables, although after trying every trick in the book I have still failed to get Rocky to eat any! I don't think he was ever fed any fresh food before I got him and so he seems to be a bit suspicious of it.
It is also ok to feed budgies limited amounts of treats. These often come in the form of seed sticks or bells with extra ingredients like honey or fruit. But Rocky's absolute favourtie treat is millet. He goes mad for the stuff,
and given half a chance he would probably live on it! Remeber not to give them too much though, they need to eat plenty of their Trill before anything else.
~ Cage ~
A budgies cage should be of a decent size so that they can move around and get some sort of exercise. An aviary is even better as they might have room to fly a little. Rocky just has a cage but he is let out to fly around the living room on a regular basis giving him the exercise that he needs. I never have to worry too much about catching him again because he feels much safer in his cage and tends to get back in there himself when he has had enough! Some people prefer to get their budgie's wings clipped so that they cannot fly. I suppose it depends if you have somewhere suitable for them to stretch their wings.
Their cage should be lined with sand sheets. Some people prefer to use loose grit but I prefer the sheets just because it is slightly easier to clean out. Rocky also has sand coated perch covers. Both of these things are great for budgies to nibble at. The grit is good for them and helps their digestion.
Budgies should be provided with some toys to play with. They are intelligent creatures and need mental stimulation. Don't overcrowd the cage with toys though, just a few will do. They especially like to have bells to ring but there are a variety of different toys to buy for a small amount of money. As Rocky lives on his own he has got a mirror to give him some company. Some people say that you shouldn't give single budgies a mirror as like Narcissus, they can fall in love with their own reflection, but I haven't seen any evidence that this is true!
They should of course be provided with a constant supply of fresh water at all times. Their cage should be cleaned out on a regular basis as and when needed, probably every few days.
~ Other information ~
Budgies need to be kept in an area where people are around and they will be given a lot of attention. Unless of course they live in a large aviary with lots of other birds. Budgies are very sociable birds and need company. The more attention you give them, the more you will be rewarded in return. If you are patient enough you can teach them tricks or even teach them to talk. They have very small voices, not like parrots, but they are perfectly capable of speaking. Male birds are often better speakers.
At the very least you should be able to hand tame your budgie to sit on your finger, as long as you start training him/her early enough. Rocky won't do this as he was never handled when he was young. But he is still much more trusting than when I first got him. There's still a little hope that he will willingly sit on my finger one day!
~ My Opinion ~
Budgies make wonderful companions as they are very sociable. They have big personalities and can be very rewarding as pets. They are extremely intelligent and it's fun to teach them tricks and to talk.
You have to be prepared for a lot of mess! Especially when they eat a lot of millet, or they are moulting. You'll be finding feathers and bird seed in the stranges of places for ages!
They can also be very noisy. Rocky goes beserk if there is music on the TV or if he can hear seagulls outside. He is normally good as gold at night though and as soon as the lights go out he is quiet as a mouse until the morning.
Overall, they are very rewarding pets. Especially if you live somewhere where you can't keep a cat or a dog but want something a little more exciting than a goldfish. (No offense to goldfish as I have kept those myself too!). Budgies make fantastic pets if you can put up with a bit of noise and mess.