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WHAT'S A KAKARIKI?
Kakariki's are small parakeets native to New Zealand but they also fair very well in this country. They are wonderful birds to keep, not fussy when it comes to eating. There are several varieties of Kakariki and they are all beautiful. Mine are emerald green with a red flash on the cheeks and head, these are the Red Crowned variety. There are also the Yellow Crowned, this is the same as the Red Crowned with exception that it has a bright yellow flash on it's head but still the red cheeks. One of my other favourites is the Cinnamon which, rather than having just green feathers has wonderful cinnamon yellow feathers mixed with the green. The Cinnamon Kakariki is among those called the mutations of their species.
The downside to Kakarikis is that they can be extremely noisy. The females like to think that they can talk but actually they are more a squawk and make babble bird. By babble I mean that they make the right sounds for speech but the words don't come out, a bit like some of us really. The males however are a different story. I have owned many Kakarikis and of all the males Sarik was the best talker. He could turn the air blue with the best of us and you couldn't have food anywhere near him without hearing 'Gis a chip' even when we didn't have any. They are also very messy, it seems that their favourite pastime is shoveling their food out of the dish and onto your floor.
WHERE DO I KEEP MY KAKARIKI?
Answer, in a large cage. They are very acrobatic birds and love to fly around to stretch their wings. They live extremely well in an aviary as the open space for them is ideal. They also like toys so when you set up their cage make sure that they have a large rope swing and a mirror might be nice too. I have endless hours of fun watching mine chatter away to himself thinking that there is another bird in the cage. They live happily with other birds as in the wild they are prefer to be in flocks so if you can give them another one to live with they will be very grateful. They also need a large feeding dish plus a big water dish, this is because they tend to bath in their water dish as well as drink from it. The water should be freshened every day. The ideal base for their cage if actually cat litter, not the white stuff but the wood based pine scented one. This keeps their cage smelling fresh and gives them the wood base to nibble on, good for keeping the beak in trim. Cuttlefish bone will also do this and should be attached to the sie of the cage. Seed bars are a very good way of adding to their diet as this makes them work for their food. Turning the food into a game is great fun for your Kakariki. There should also be at least 3 perches in the cage. They can be covered with sandpaper perch covers to help keep claws trim.
WHAT DO I FEED MY KAKARIKI?
Most pet shops sell a parrot mix which will do fine, however try not to give your Kakariki too may sunflower seeds. They love these and will 'pig out' making them fat. As well as the seed mix these birds love fresh fruit, banana - apple - grapes - satsumas and especially melon. As I said above they are really not fussy eaters and this means that they will even eat any leftover veg that you might have cooked. My Kakariki's also love black olives and chillies. Be careful with the chiilies and only feed a small amount as the antioxidants in them may make your Kakariki ill. As Kakarikis love to scrabble for their food make sure that at least some of it goes onto the floor of the cage. This is also why I have suggested using wood based cat litter for them. Another idea is to put a willow branch in the cage as they will strip the bark from it, so helping the beak and providing them with the nutrients from the willow.
They are realtively easy to tame and with care and patience you will soon find that you have a bird sitting on your head to watch TV with you. I could walk around the house with one of my females on my shoulder and she never flew off unless she wanted to go back to her cage. I tamed my Kakarikis by putting my hand very slowly into the cage with some of their seed in it and talking to them all the time in a relatively calm and quiet voice. I had to leave my hand palm up in the cage with them for at least 1 hour a day. As each day went past I watched my babies become more and more confident with me until eventually one of them perched on the edge of my hand and began to eat the seed. This is when you can let your Kakariki out of it's cage. Be ready to duck when you open the door as they are very fast. Make sure that all windows and doors are shut because they are also right little Houdinis. When you want to put your bird back into it's cage try tempting it with the same trick as you did with taming. A small pile of food in the centre of your hand will soon bring them back to you. One of mine wouldn't come back unless I offered him a Pringle. Before long you will find that your Kakariki comes back to you when you call him/her. Sometimes, if you have time, just leave the cage door open and let them learn when to put themselves back to bed.
Kakarikis are quite easy to breed but this is usually more succesful in an aviary than a cage. I f you are lucky enough to get a clutch of eggs you can expect between 5 and 9 at a time. From this you can expect anything up to 6 chicks. The eggs are usually incubated for around 20 days and the chicks will leave the nest after 35 to 40 days. With Kakarikis both parents will feed the young but the male may have to be removed if he gets overly agressive with them.
HOW MUCH WILL I PAY FOR MINE?
Kakarikis can be found in most pet shops for between £35 and £45 depending on what type you want. The Cinnamon are usually the most expensive so most people will start with the Emerald Red Crowned (£35).
TELLING BOYS FROM GIRLS
If you want a talker then you need to spot the boys. To do this you will need to look at the red markings around the eyes. Female Kakarikis have a small red patch behind the eyes whereas the males have their red patch circling the eye and extending across the beak. Spotting a good male is not easy when they are young as the patch hasn't yet fully developed. On the whole the male is usually larger than the female and from an early age they start to mimic the sounds of speech, so listen to them carefully. Try to get one to come to the side of the cage if possible, this one might well be a lot easier to train. If you are not a great fan of pet shops there are plenty of breeders out there. They will quite often advertise in your local newspaper. Bird fairs are also a good place to look.
These birds make a fantastic family pet. They never keep still and are always fascinating to watch. Although they come from the parrot family do not expect them to live much more than about 5 years. If possible buy 2 as they love company but if one should die try to find a cheaper friend for the survivor. I lost one and put a canary in with the other. They get along famously, in fact it seems to have given the canary a new lease of life.
I hope that you have as much fun with your Kakariki as I do.
Interesting little birds ! saw one on holiday (the bird not me!) at local pet shop and he was a fab little chatter-box...I wanted him to come home with me...probably best not as got enough to take care of. Not sure about using "wood based pine scented" shavings on cage floor - wouldn't think scented shavings really best to use with birds as most are quite sensitive when it comes to dust and smells and Cedar shavings in particular are considered quite harmful by some, and shavings from treated wood can be dodgy too....but still. Check out my Bird Kong review..lol...Is excellent for my Grey parrot and sounds like your birds would find it interesting too, especially good for stuffing fruit in - make them work for their treats !. Excellent review with lots of useful info, interesting reading. Manda :o)
KarenUK 28.11.2004 10:22
I've never heard of them before.
Tiger_Eyes 28.10.2004 16:08
A really interesting read... very nicely done! I see you've got Chris interested (gwlith_y_wawr) !! :))