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Alexandrine Parakeet

Elizabeth Gray

 Among the most popular pet birds for centuries, Alexandrine parakeets are colorful, energetic birds that are also loving and affectionate. One of the largest parakeets, these birds need a bit more space than other smaller species but make stellar pets regardless. Read on to learn more about the Alexandrine parakeet and what to expect if you decide to bring one into your family!

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Species Overview

Alexandrine parrot
Image Credit: zoosnow, Pixabay
Common Names: Alexandrine parakeet, Alexandrian parrot
Scientific Name: Psittacula eupatria
Adult Size: 22 – 24 inches
Life Expectancy: 30 – 40 years

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Origin and History

Alexandrine parakeets are native to the Indian Peninsula, from the east coast of India down to Sri Lanka. They are named for Alexander the Great, who first brought these birds to Europe and the Middle East. The parakeets quickly became popular status symbols among the royals and nobles of the continent.

Alexandrine parakeets adapted quickly to their new environment, so well in fact, that today there are large populations of wild parakeets in many European and Middle Eastern countries.

Wild Alexandrine parakeets live in forests, farmland, and fields. They usually form small flocks, gathering in larger groups to feed. Unfortunately, the wild population of Alexandrine parakeets is declining due to habitat loss and the illegal pet trade.

Temperament

Playful and affectionate, Alexandrine parakeets make it easy to understand why theyʻve been popular pets since Ancient Greece. These birds are intelligent and athletic, able to learn tricks, and thoroughly entertaining to live with. Theyʻre also talented talkers and can develop a large vocabulary.

Alexandrine parakeets bond closely with their owners and are loyal pets. They need plenty of attention and time out of their cage, enjoying life with their human family.

Like all pet birds, Alexandrine parakeets need to be socialized and tamed to ensure they make gentle family members. “Teenage” Alexandrine parakeets, in particular, need patient, diligent work as they often go through an aggressive phase. Once that challenge is navigated, adult Alexandrine parakeets arenʻt prone to biting and make lovely family pets.

Pros
  • Affectionate, gentle birds
  • Excellent talkers
  • Playful
Cons
  • Can be loud
  • Need more space than smaller parakeets

Speech & Vocalizations

Used to calling to each other over long distances in the wild, Alexandrine parakeets are not exactly quiet birds! They produce several different cries and their voices carry quite well, something not likely to be appreciated by close neighbors. Because of this, these birds arenʻt a good choice for apartment living.

Alexandrine parakeets are well-known for their talking ability. They can imitate human speech accurately and clearly. This gift of speech is a major reason why Alexandrine parakeets are such sought-after pets.

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Alexandrine Parakeet Colors and Markings

Alexandrine parakeets, both males and females, are mostly green in color with large red beaks. They have yellow bellies, blue-gray on their heads, and a red patch on their shoulders. Males have a pink and black ring around their necks, making it easy to tell males and females apart.

This species also comes in several color mutations, both naturally occurring and deliberately produced by crossing Alexandrine parakeets with another species, the Indian ringneck parakeet.

  • Dark green: similar to original but darker
  • Grey-green: similar to original but with a grayish tint
  • Turquoise: turquoise body, pale red shoulder patch
  • Blue: bright blue body, grey-white shoulder patch
  • Lutino: yellow body, red shoulder patch
  • Lutino grey-green: yellow-green body, red shoulder patch
  • Albino: very rare, all white, no shoulder patch
  • Albino grey: white with gray tinge, no shoulder patch
  • Bronze: light green body, grayish belly, red shoulder patch
  • Clearhead fallow: light green body, yellow head, dark red shoulder patch
  • Spangle: light green body with yellow edges, dark red shoulder patch
  • Pied: yellow-green with green body and head, dark red shoulder patch

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Caring for the Alexandrine Parakeet

Housing

Because of their long tail feathers, Alexandrine parakeets need a fairly large enclosure for their size. They should have a cage no smaller than 36 inches tall by 24 inches wide and deep. Enthusiastic chewers, these parakeets need plenty of wood and rope toys in their cage to satisfy their urge to chomp. They also need several perches, food and water dishes, and even some puzzle toys to complete their cage setup.

The cage should be kept in a location away from extreme temperatures or dangerous kitchen fumes. A spot with plenty of natural light and family activity is ideal for the Alexandrine parakeet.

With proper introduction and supervision, Alexandrine parakeets can live with others of their species. They should not be kept with smaller birds.

Grooming

Alexandrine parakeets love to bathe and should be given regular misting or access to a large birdbath at least once a week.

As all pet birds do, Alexandrine parakeets need a regular nail, beak, and wing trim. With practice, many bird owners can learn to trim nails and wings at home. Beak trimming should only be done by a veterinarian or experienced groomer to avoid any accidents or injuries to your bird.

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Common Health Problems

Alexandrine parakeets are generally healthy, active, adaptable birds. They arenʻt as inclined to develop behaviors like feather-picking or self-mutilation as some other species. Some diseases that may be noted in the Alexandrine parakeet include:

  • Psittacocis: a bacterial infection, also called parrot fever
  • Aspergillosis: a respiratory infection, caused by a fungus
  • Polyomavirus: a viral infection, most dangerous for young birds

A nutritious diet, regular cage cleaning, and plenty of exercise will help keep your Alexandrine parakeet healthy. Find a veterinarian experienced with birds and make sure your pet gets regular checkups and any recommended preventative care.

Signs of illness in your Alexandrine parakeet include loss of appetite, poor feather condition, decreased activity level, sneezing, eye discharge, and many others. If you are worried about the health of your bird, consult your veterinarian.

Minor Conditions
  • Psittacocis
Serious Conditions
  • Aspergillosis
  • Polyomavirus

Diet and Nutrition

A good-quality pellet food should make up the majority of your Alexandrine parakeetʻs diet. Fresh fruits and vegetables also need to be included to mimic the variety of the parakeetʻs food sources in the wild. Leafy greens, carrots, zucchini, and peas are some vegetable options to consider. Suitable fruits include melon, berries, bananas, and pears.

Other foods that can be offered less often include commercial seed mix, grains, and nuts.

Every bird has different nutritional needs and tastes so if your parakeet doesnʻt seem to like a fruit or vegetable you offer, keep trying or just move on to another option. You will also need to adjust how much food you offer based on your particular birdʻs appetite. Clean up any uneaten fresh food at the end of the day.

Exercise

Alexandrine parakeets are extremely active birds who also need plenty of social interaction every day. Ideally, they should spend 3-4 hours out of their cage per day, exercising and spending quality time with their humans. Make sure you bird-proof your birdʻs space to avoid any accidents and injuries as Alexandrine parakeets are curious birds, prone to chewing things like electrical wires.

A bird gym or a large flight cage are good options to help your Alexandrine parakeet get their daily exercise. They need plenty of toys to chew and entertain themselves as well.

For mental stimulation and socializing, Alexandrine parakeets enjoy perching on their humans as they go about their day or learning tricks. And as we already discussed, these parakeets are excellent talkers, so teaching them new words is an ideal way to bond with your bird.

Where to Adopt or Buy an Alexandrine Parakeet

Because of their popularity, Alexandrine parakeets are usually easy to find for sale in pet stores or online from private breeders. Itʻs illegal to capture wild Alexandrine parakeets and sell them so be certain you are purchasing a captive-bred bird.

The cost of an Alexandrine parakeet varies based on color mutation, age of the bird, and place you purchase. Expect to pay anywhere from $500-$2800.

Alexandrine parakeets are often available for adoption through local animal shelters or exotic bird rescues. Check to see if there is a bird rescue in your area if youʻre interested in adopting your new pet. Adoption fees will vary, but $200-$275 is a good figure to plan on paying.

Remember, even if you find a bird to adopt for free or very cheap, you will still need to pay for supplies, food, and vet care for the lifespan of a bird that can live as long as 40 years.

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Conclusion

Birds can make unique and entertaining pets and Alexandrine parakeets are one of the best options for many reasons. Before bringing one home, keep in mind that they live up to four times as long as the average dog or cat. You and your parakeet could very well be growing old together. If that type of pet commitment isnʻt for you, itʻs probably best to consider a different pet than the Alexandrine parakeet.


Featured Image Credit: sachin kadam, Pixabay

Elizabeth Gray

Elizabeth Gray is a lifelong lover of all creatures great and small. She got her first cat at 5 years old and at 14, she started working for her local veterinarian. Elizabeth spent more than 20 years working as a veterinary nurse before stepping away to become a stay-at-home parent to her daughter. Now, she is excited to share her hard-earned knowledge (literally--she has scars) with our readers. Elizabeth lives in Iowa with her family, including her two fur kids, Linnard, a husky mix and Algernon, the worldʻs most patient cat. When not writing, she enjoys reading, watching all sports but especially soccer, and spending time outdoors with her family.