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Mini Macaws As Pets: Species & Things to Know (with Pictures)

Nicole Cosgrove

Mini macaws are smaller variants of the macaw parrot. Several different species fall under the guise of mini macaw, and these parrots are considered to make good pets because they are friendly, fun, and exciting little birds that tolerate and welcome being handled.

However, they do require some work on the part of the owner to ensure that they remain happy and friendly. They may be smaller in size than their fully-fledged macaw counterparts, but they still have many of the same physical and mental requirements and they certainly aren’t a bird that can be left in the corner and forgotten about.

Read on to see what it entails to keep a minim macaw as a pet, and to see whether this bird is the right choice for you.

divider-birdsAbout the Mini Macaw

The mini macaw is a small to medium-sized bird, typically measuring up to 18 inches. Although these are smaller than standard macaws, they share many other traits.

They originate from Panama, Brazil, and Bolivia. These birds will live for around 20 years and, despite their diminutive size, they need plenty of space to move around in. Their playful and inquisitive nature means that they also need regular interaction with their owner.

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How Much Are Mini Macaws?

As well as being physically smaller, the mini macaw has a smaller price tag, compared to the full-sized birds. With that said, you will still need to pay around $800 to $1,000 for one, and you will need to part with more than this for a rare hybrid.

What Do You Need?

One of the most important things you can provide a mini macaw is time. They will need several hours per day outside the cage, often as long as 4 hours. This will ensure that they remain healthy and do not suffer depression or develop anxiety. As well as time, you will need to provide the following.

Cage And Contents

Buy a cage at least 36” x 24” and 36” tall. This will provide the largest of the mini macaws, the Severe macaw, with enough room to hop about and stretch out. The bars of the cage should be spaced no more than 24mm apart, ideally 20mm apart. This will help prevent your bird from escaping from the cage and will stop it from getting stuck.

Provide a perch, ideally a natural perch with uneven surface and shape. These will need replacing often, as your bird chews the wood. Food and water bowls made from stainless steel will last the longest and your macaw will not ingest any BPA or plastics. Possible substrates include sawdust, corn husk, newspaper, and even a hardwood floor. You can also offer foraging and other toys. These will keep your bird entertained and provide both physical and mental stimulation.

Food

Feed nuts in moderation, offer seeds, and you can also feed commercial macaw or parrot food with occasional vegetables and fruit as treats. Most nuts are high in calories so should not be fed too often. Feed as a treat instead. You also need to ensure that your mini macaw has ongoing access to a steady supply of fresh water.

Are They Cuddly?

Mini macaws are affectionate pets, but unlike some other birds, they will not cuddle or nuzzle up to people until a bond has developed. Spend a couple of hours each day with your macaw.

Start by talking to them through the cage, for the first few days and while they become acclimatized to their new surroundings. Once they are comfortable with your voice, open the cage and encourage them out while starting to teach them to hop onto your finger. Always talk in a reassuring manner, ensure that there are no dangers nearby, and eventually, your mini macaw may choose to cuddle you.

Some breeds of mini macaw form a strong bond with a single person, while others make good family pets because they will bond with all of their human family members. Ensure you choose a species that best fits your familial setup, and who will be most likely to spend time with the parrot.

Can Mini Macaws Talk?

How well a macaw talks depends on various factors. Some have a screechy speech with few recognizable sounds, but some species of mini macaw make very good talkers. The Hahn’s macaw, for example, is the most popular of the miniature species. One of the reasons for its popularity is that it is intelligent and has a good voice. It will learn words and phrases over time.

Training a Mini Macaw

Smart, eager to interact with their owners, and usually always up for some fun, mini macaws are good birds to train. Keep sessions short, use props like perches, and ensure that your bird and you are concentrating solely on the training. Use nuts or other treats, and combine this with a loving scratch, when your bird acts and reacts how you want it to. Keep commands simple and, over time, your mini macaw will learn how you want it to behave.

  • If you are training to stop your bird screeching, start by ignoring this unwanted behavior.
  • Otherwise, your bird will scream whenever it wants your attention. Also, if your bird tends to nip or bite, hold your hand up to stop it, don’t shout or try shooing it away.
  • Macaws, including the mini variants, do not usually need training to teach them to step up. Your little parrot will likely take to this quickly and without any specific lessons.

Handling a Mini Macaw

Handling is an important part of macaw ownership. It improves and strengthens the bond between you and your bird and it can prevent your macaw from becoming depressed or stressed. It also makes it easier for you to check for physical injuries and signs of illness while you are handling them. Getting a new macaw used to being handled is not an overnight or instant task, although these friendly birds do usually take well to being handled.

  • Allow a new macaw some time to acclimatize to its new surroundings.
  • Once the bird gets used to its surroundings, spend some time in the same room. This will allow the parrot to get used to your voice.
  • Food and snack-based treats are a great way to endear yourself to your bird. Offer a slice of apple or another food treat every now and then, but do make sure that you aren’t overfeeding the bird.
  • Once the bird is used to taking treats from your hand, you can place treats in the palm of your hand and encourage the bird to step up onto your palm to take the snack.

Are Macaws Aggressive?

Mini macaws are rarely aggressive, but it is possible. You are more likely to have an aggressive bird if you have adopted it and it was mishandled or never handled by its previous owners. It is still possible to teach a macaw that you are not a threat but it can take a long time. Approach this in the same way you would when first handling any bird but be prepared for the process to take several weeks.

Mini Macaw Breeds

Those that measure under 18 inches when fully grown are generally considered to be mini macaws, and although they fall under the same banner, there are some discernable differences between the species. The most popular include:

1. Hahn’s Macaws

These little parrots measure 12 inches but what they lack in size, they make up for in other ways. They are smart and typically friendly little birds that can talk and are easy to care for. This combination has seen the Hahn’s Macaw become one of the most popular of all companion bird species.


2. Illiger’s Macaws

Measuring 16 inches, the Illiger’s Macaw is friendly and playful. They can be trained well and form strong bonds with family members. They do require effort on your part, however, as they need regular handling and attention to remain happy.


3. Severe Macaws

The Severe Macaw is another popular breed. This one measures 18 inches when fully grown, making it the largest of the mini macaw breeds. This is another species that trains well but requires ongoing stimulation.

divider-birdsMini Macaws as Pets

Mini macaws are, generally, friendly and loyal little companion birds. They can be trained, are rarely aggressive, and will often develop the capability to talk. Handle regularly, provide plenty of stimulation, and enjoy the big character of these little birds.


Featured Image Credit: VCoscaron_Shutterstock

Nicole Cosgrove

Nicole is the proud mom of Baby, a Burmese cat and Rosa, a New Zealand Huntaway. A Canadian expat, Nicole now lives on a lush forest property with her Kiwi husband in New Zealand. She has a strong love for all animals of all shapes and sizes (and particularly loves a good interspecies friendship) and wants to share her animal knowledge and other experts' knowledge with pet lovers across the globe.