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Home > Birds > Do Cockatoos Make Good Pets? Facts & Care Tips

Do Cockatoos Make Good Pets? Facts & Care Tips

Pink Cockatoo

Are you thinking of getting a cockatoo as a pet? If you are, there are a few things that you should consider first. These birds are mischievous, comical, and extremely affectionate, but that doesn’t mean they make good pets for everyone.

Whether a cockatoo is a good pet largely depends on the owner. This breed requires a great deal of attention; otherwise, their mischievous streak will kick in. This is not the type of bird that you can put in a cage and feed with little interaction. They require quite a bit more care than that.

If you’re considering purchasing a cockatoo as a pet, read this guide before making your final decision.


two cockatoos on tree branch
Image Credit: Squirrel_photos, Pixabay

It’s important to note that even if you’ve owned a parrot in the past, it’s not the same as owning a cockatoo. These birds are unlike any other birds, especially in the behavior department. Cockatoos can be manipulative and they have lightning-fast mood swings. One minute, your cockatoo might be screaming in anger; the next, they’ll be calm and as affectionate as can be.

These birds also have sensitive natures and need a whole lot of attention to stay happy and content. If you fail to pamper and cuddle this bird, they do tend to become aggressive. Your cockatoo will be playful, highly intelligent, and very loud.

If your cockatoo isn’t getting enough attention, they could resort to plucking out their own feathers and engaging in self-mutilation. This could also be a sign of a physical problem, such as parasites, bacterial infection, zinc poisoning, tapeworms, or a vitamin A deficiency. But it may be a sign of emotional problems in your bird, so make sure to take them to the vet if these signs occur, even if you’ve been giving them the attention that they need to thrive.


There are around 21 species of cockatoos in the world. Most of them are white, but you can find cockatoos that are blue, pink, black, or grey. The size of the bird is going to vary according to the species, so make sure you determine which one you’re purchasing ahead of time, so you can be prepared for the growth expected.

Top 5 Species of Cockatoos

1. Bare-Eyed Cockatoo

Bare Eyed cockatoo
Image Credit: Anne Powell, Shutterstock

The bare-eyed cockatoo is super sweet, playful, and extremely intelligent. Smaller than many other cockatoo species, this species will make a good pet for families that have children. They’re also a good choice for someone who doesn’t have much space to keep them in.

  • Length: 14 to 17 inches
  • Weight: 11 to 16 ounces
  • Price: Around $2,000

2. Black Palm Cockatoo

black palm cockatoo
Image Credit: BangKod001, Shutterstock

These are large powerful birds, so they aren’t for every family. When hand fed, these birds can make great pets, but it’s best for them to go to an owner who is experienced with cockatoos already. If you decide to purchase one of these birds, you need to be firm in their training and not be intimidated by the massive beaks they have.

  • Length: 23 inches
  • Weight: 32 to 42 ounces
  • Price: $15,000 to $16,000

3. Sulphur-Crested Cockatoo

Sulphur Crested Cockatoo
Image Credit: sandid, Pixabay

Highly intelligent, this species needs plenty of toys and attention to keep them happy. If they feel they aren’t getting enough attention, they will turn to destructive behavior and even pluck out their own feathers. If you don’t have a lot of time to spend with a pet cockatoo, this isn’t the right species for you.

  • Length: 15 to 20 inches
  • Weight: 12 to 21 pounds
  • Price: $500 to $1,000

4. Major Mitchell’s Cockatoo

Major Mitchell's cockatoo
Image Credit: Tanya Puntti, Shutterstock

Major Mitchell’s cockatoos are gorgeous birds with high intelligence levels. However, they need a very large cage, and many owners just don’t have the space to accommodate the cage or the bird. They also need a ton of specialized care, which means this cockatoo isn’t for everyone.

  • Length: 14 inches
  • Weight: 15 ounces
  • Price: $3,000 to $10,000

5. Rose-Breasted Cockatoo

rose breasted cockatoo
Image Credit: Gabriela Beres, Shutterstock

The plumage on the rose-breasted cockatoo is stunning. Their pink and grey feathers and sweet personality make this a favorite among many bird owners. However, they do tend to be bold and loud, so you want to make sure you live somewhere that the neighbors won’t complain about their squawking. This species can also live up to 80 years if you care for them properly.

  • Length: 12 to 15 inches
  • Weight: 10 to 14 ounces
  • Price: $4,000 to $5,000

These are just a few species of cockatoos that you can choose from when picking out the right pet for you and your family. Make sure you have the time and patience needed to take care of your chosen bird.



Although it depends on the species, a well-cared-for cockatoo can live from 40 to 90 years, so you need to be prepared to take care of your bird for that long. However, many of these birds die young as pets, which should really drive home how important it is to properly care for the cockatoo you purchase and give a forever home.

For example, the rose-breasted cockatoo can live up to 80 years if taken care of properly. The Major Mitchell’s cockatoo lives between 65 and 75 years, while the black palm cockatoo lives on average from 40 to 90 years. You need to take this into consideration when you’re researching, to determine which species works best for you.

Caring for Your Cockatoo

Sulphur-Crested Cockatoo in a cage
Image Credit: Nasar Lagenda, Pixabay

You need to ensure that you have a large cage for your cockatoo before bringing them home. The cage also needs a sturdy bar for them to perch on when they want to. Make sure the cage has sturdy bars because cockatoos have strong beaks. The last thing that you want is for your cockatoo to get out while you’re sleeping or at work. They can be real escape artists!

Cockatoos enjoy watching movies, so leaving the TV on will keep them occupied when you’re busy, but you also don’t want to leave them at home alone for long periods, as they don’t do well on their own.

Make sure to have plenty of toys available to keep your cockatoo entertained. Since they’re very intelligent, their mind needs to be stimulated, and the last thing that you want is for them to get bored. These birds are aggressive chewers and destroy things easily, so soft wood toys, ropes, bells, and even cardboard will make them happy, as these are easy to chew.

As for food, your cockatoo will love fresh veggies, fruits, and grains, so you shouldn’t have a problem in that department. However, it’s important to avoid mixed grains and nuts that have a high fat content. Never feed your bird chocolate, potato chips, salty foods, fried foods, or alcohol, as it could make them sick and even be deadly.

divider-birdsDo Cockatoos Make Good Pets?

If you’re going to adopt a cockatoo, do your research to determine whether you indeed have the time and patience to make this bird happy, as you’ll end up with a host of problems if you’re not ready. Many cockatoos end up at shelters for adoption or are even abandoned because they are extremely needy and can be hard to take care of. Make sure you’re ready before you attempt to give this bird species a forever home.

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Featured Image Credit by: Tammy Lee, Pixabay

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