Exactly how much effort do I need to put into caring for a parrot? I have always wanted one, but I know they're very messy. Help me decide if I'm "parrot parent" material.
– Via email
Yes, parrots are messy.
Very, very messy.
They seem to take particular pride in covering every surface, including walls and ceilings, with not only poop, but also food. There were times with my late parrot Eddie that I considered putting a shower enclosure in the corner of the room where his cage was to make it easier to wipe down the constant mess.
Keeping mess to a minimum (and providing a safe, healthy home for your bird) requires a proactive approach. Every morning and evening you should replace soiled cage liners. Putting newspapers both above and below the grid at the bottom of the cage makes it easier to "clean as you go." You can put a few layers at the base of the cage and remove layer by layer throughout the day whenever droppings appear.
You should also change food bowls and water bowls (or bottles) twice a day. Some birds get feathers or even droppings in their bowls, and you need to constantly check for bowls that need cleaning. If you use a water bottle with your bird, check every morning to ensure it's not clogged by pressing the ball with your finger. (Birds can become seriously de- hydrated very quickly.)
Birds usually prefer to eat after dawn and near dusk, so these are great times to provide fresh fruits and vegetables – and remove the leftovers before you go to work or bed. Leftover food pellets should be discarded every morning and replaced with fresh ones.
Finish off your twice-daily routine by using your cleaning solution and paper towels, and use a hand-held vacuum to clean up any other messes in the vicinity. While daily attention will keep things pretty clean, you'll need to do a big scrub on a regular basis – walls, floors, cage and all its contents.
– Gina Spadafori
Impact of pet loss keeps some pet-free
The lasting effects of pet loss may be under- estimated, with a fifth of respondents in a recent poll saying they didn't currently have a pet because the loss of their last one was too painful. The strong response came as a surprise to the American Humane Association, which polled 1,500 non-pet owners and past pet owners in February, asking why they did not own a dog or cat. Other respondents gave answers that were more anticipated, citing the time and expense of keeping a pet.
– Dr. Marty Becker and Gina Spadafori