Parrots make wonderful pets, and since most species of parrots have long lifespans — sometimes up to 80 years or more! — it’s a pet that will be with you for a long time to come. A parrot may seem like an inexpensive pet at first glance, especially smaller birds, but the truth is that owning a parrot can turn into an expensive affair.
Depending on the species of parrot you own, the amount of money that you spend over the bird’s lifetime can easily run into thousands of dollars. Smaller birds are naturally cheaper to look after than large species like Macaws, but they are still comparatively expensive pets to own. Also, owning any species of parrot is a massive responsibility, and besides the high costs, it is not a decision to be entered into lightly.
In this article, we’ll break down all the costs involved in owning one of these unique birds, and just how much it is likely to cost you throughout their lifetime. Let’s get started!
Bringing Home a New Parrot: One-Time Costs
The one-time costs of your parrot will include not only the bird itself but also their cage, toys, food, and accessories. The cost of the parrot you choose will depend mostly on the species, and birds like Macaws or African Greys are a great deal more expensive than a Cockatiel or Budgie, for example. Housing and feeding will cost more too, as larger birds have more unique needs than smaller species. Everything from cages and stands to toys will all cost more the larger the parrot that you decide to purchase.
Many would-be parrot owners did not take all the aspects of owning one of these birds into consideration. Many of them are willing to give these birds (plus accessories) away for free, as the responsibility is just too much. Check your local classifieds; you might be surprised at how many people are willing to give away expensive birds for free.
If possible, adoption is the best way to go. Not only will adopted parrots cost less, but you’ll also be giving a loving home to a bird in need. Remember that there are over 350 different species of parrots, all with different personalities, temperaments, and needs, and you should research the bird that you intend to bring home before diving in and adopting one.
There are plenty of parrot rescue organizations in the United States, and non-profit organizations like the Avian Welfare Coalition are a great place to start the adoption process.
When buying a parrot from a breeder, you must visit the premises to check how they are raised and cared for. The breeder you choose should have a genuine love for these birds and should have experience raising and breeding them too. Beware of low-priced parrots, as these are often from breeders who are in it for the money rather than from a place of genuine passion for parrots. From a good breeder, a parrot can cost up to $3,000, or more in some cases.
There are several hundred species of parrots, but the following are common ones kept as pets and their average prices:
Besides the initial cost of the parrot you choose, you’ll also need a suitably sized cage, carrier, toys, perches, and stands. Again, these prices can vary widely depending on the size of your bird, and equipment for small Parakeets or Lovebirds is vastly different than what’s needed for Macaws or African Greys.
List of Parrot Care Supplies & Cost
|Food and water bowls||$5-$50|
|Nail Clipper (optional)||$8-$12|
|Wing Scissors (optional)||$8|
|Initial Veterinary Exam||$50-$200|
$450-$2,500 per year
When you add together the costs of food, vet care, and insurance, the annual cost of keeping a parrot can swiftly become huge, especially for large birds like Macaws. Bear in mind that the most expensive birds are also the longest living and will be with you for decades. But even small species of parrots can live long lives, and the costs can quickly add up. It’s important to take into consideration the fact that while you may be able to afford the initial cost of a parrot, you’ll need to budget for years of large costs too.
$120-$400 per year
Your parrot will need an annual exam to make sure everything is fine with their health, as well as grooming two or three times per year. Of course, if they get sick or need any medical care, the annual costs can quickly skyrocket. An avian healthcare plan is a great idea, especially for larger, more expensive birds, as they can be expensive if they should fall ill. We highly recommend keeping $200 aside for a rainy day.
$100-$250 per year
An annual veterinary checkup for your parrot is highly recommended, as birds tend to hide illness well. This is likely due to an adaptation to predators in the wild preying on weaker birds, and by the time they show symptoms, the disease may have already progressed beyond help. Most owners will take their birds for a checkup at least once a year, but every 6 months or so is likely a better option, especially for older birds.
$30-$60 per year
There is only one vaccine available for pet birds, but caged birds are rarely, if ever, vaccinated. This vaccine is for Polyomavirus and is only really necessary for birds that are in frequent close contact with other parrots. Should you decide to give your bird this vaccine, it is best done at a young age, around 4-8 weeks old, with yearly booster doses afterward. If you have an older bird, an initial double dose is required, with subsequent annual boosters.
Treatments for Parasites
Several different parasites are common to birds, and it’s vital to make sure they are getting a healthy diet that strengthens their immune system to help them fight off these infections successfully. Giardia is the most common infection in the parrot family and can even be passed on to humans. If your parrot is not frequently exposed to other birds, this is usually nothing to worry about, though.
As with many other costs, if you have a large parrot like an African grey or Macaw, emergency vet costs are likely to be far higher, up to $2,000 in some cases. If you have multiple pet birds or other pets in your home, accidents can happen and illnesses may strike suddenly, and it’s best to be prepared. To be on the safe side, it’s good practice to put away $300-$500 in case of any sudden emergencies.
$50-$360 per year
Depending on the coverage that you decide to go with, insurance for your feathered friend can begin at as little as $5 and go up to $30 per month. A good plan will usually cover the costs of illness, injuries, theft, and death, as well as any unplanned emergencies. If you have large, expensive birds like Macaws, we highly recommend getting insurance because they can be exceedingly expensive to treat in emergencies. Smaller parrot species may only require a rainy-day fund, but for as little as $5 per month, insurance is worth it, especially for older birds.
$300-$1500 per year
Your annual food costs will obviously depend on the size of the parrot you own. A healthy parrot can cost anywhere between $25-$100 per month depending on the species, and this doesn’t even include treats or fresh foods! We highly recommend buying food in bulk, as this can save you a huge chunk of money in the long run.
$50-$100 per year
Environmental maintenance for your parrot doesn’t cost much, as they are fairly low-maintenance animals when it comes to their housing. They’ll need cage liners — even newspaper will do — and regular chew toys like wood blocks or cuttlebones. Large parrots love to chew and will swiftly tear into anything that they can get their beaks on, including toys, furniture, wallets, and wooden furniture, so it’s good practice to budget these costs in too.
|Cage liners||$20-$30 per year|
|Chew toys||$20-$50 per year|
|Dedicated trash can||$30|
$50-$200 per year
Parrots love to climb and they love to chew, and as such, you’ll need to provide them with the necessary entertainment to keep them mentally and physically stimulated. With large parrots, in particular, they can quickly chew through toys and ladders, and you’ll likely need to regularly replace them. Parrots also need a regular rotation of different types of toys, as they can quickly become bored with the same old stimulation.
Ropes, perches, ladders, and wooden chew blocks are all part of regular entertainment for parrots, and the costs can quickly add up throughout the year, depending on what you buy.
Total Annual Cost of Owning a Parrot
$1,000-$2,000 per year
When taking into account food, vet checkups, and replacing toys, the annual cost of owning a parrot can quickly add up, and that’s besides the initial setup costs and any emergencies that may come up. You can expect to pay at least $100 per month for food alone for a large bird.
- Related Read: 5 Most Expensive Parrots to Keep as Pets (with Pictures)
Owning a Parrot On a Budget
While the cost of keeping a parrot can seem expensive, especially for large birds, there are simple ways to bring the costs down. Adopting a parrot from a shelter will not only save you money but also give a home to a parrot in need. Buying secondhand cages and accessories is also a great way to reduce initial costs, and these are available readily online and in your local classifieds. Perches and play gyms are also widely available secondhand.
Saving Money on Parrot Care
The biggest way to save money on general parrot care is to buy food in bulk. While the initial purchase can seem high, buying in bulk will save you in the long run — parrots can live for decades, and these small savings will add up to a substantial amount over time. Another way to save money is with homemade perches, stands, and toys. These are easy to make and cost almost nothing. Using newspaper to line your parrot’s cage is also a simple money-saving solution.
The initial cost and recurring costs of owning a parrot depend on the species of parrot that you decide to buy. Larger parrots will naturally be more expensive to purchase, house, and look after, and they typically have much longer lifespans, making the costs add up even more over time.
No matter the species of parrot that you decide to buy, though, keeping a parrot is not a cheap endeavor, and these birds require a great deal of special attention and care. They do make unique and wonderful pets, though, and if you are prepared for the large costs of owning one of these birds, the monetary outlay is most definitely worth the joy and unmatched companionship that a parrot can add to your life!
Featured Image Credit: Naypong Studio, Shutterstock