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Moustached Parakeet

Oliver Jones

The moustached parakeet is another name given to the red-breasted parakeet. It got the name for its distinctive facial markings. The bird is a parakeet, which means that it is smaller than parrot breeds, but it will live approximately 25 years. While this species isn’t usually overly keen on cuddling, it will happily sit on and with its owner. It has an outgoing personality and will be a social, active bird if it is socialized from a young age. Although all parakeets make some noise, the red-breasted parakeet is considered a quieter breed.

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Species Overview

Common Names: Moustached parakeet, mustache parakeet, Java parakeet, red-breasted parakeet
Scientific Name: Psitacula alexandri
Adult Size: 15 inches
Life Expectancy: 25 years

Origin and History

Native throughout southeast Asia, the moustached parakeet is found in China and Indonesia and its range is spreading as the bird adapts and expands its habitat. As well as living in woodlands and mountains, the birds are frequently seen in cities and urban centers.

Flocks of as many as 60 birds can form and, when a large flock does gather, then can be deafeningly loud. In particular, they give a loud warning call at signs of danger.

In the wild, the bird is threatened by the destruction of their natural habitat and by hunting and capture for the wild bird trade. Different subspecies are found on different islands of Indonesia and the surrounding area, and some of these subspecies are threatened with extinction.

Moustached Parakee
Image Credit: Perry Correll, Shutterstock

Temperament

The moustached parakeet can make a very good pet, especially if it undergoes early and ongoing socialization. Where possible, rear the bird from young and spend plenty of time with it. Although some Java parakeets may be quite cuddly, most will prefer to spend time near you without necessarily being cuddled and held.

The species can be bossy, which sees them acting out when they are not getting the attention they crave and when they are not getting what they want.

Described as easy to train, the breed can be prone to periods of bluffing, which means that they will nip and bite at fingers. This is a behavior most often associated with adolescent birds although it may continue later. The species will also form a close bond with a single member of the family or household and may warn off or attack others that get too close.

Parakeets can be noisy. Thankfully, the Java parakeet is more inclined to whistle and talk than to screech and scream.

Overall, this is a good pet breed but its bluffing behavior means that it is not considered ideal for first-time parakeet owners.

Pros
  • Good at mimicking
  • Relatively quiet compared to other parakeets
  • Friendly
  • Beautiful appearance

Cons

  • Prone to bluffing behavior
  • Usually forms a strong bond with one person

Speech & Vocalizations

Parrots make noise, and some make more than others. Fortunately, the moustached parakeet is a relatively quiet bird. It may whistle contentedly, and it is a good mimic, but it is less likely to scream and screech like some other species. If you want a quieter bird that can mimic human speech, the Java parakeet is a good option.

Moustached Parakeet Colors and Markings

Adorned with feathers in a gamut of colors, the mustache parakeet is a bright and beautiful parakeet species. Most commonly, they will have green and yellow on the back, blue heads, and they have facial markings that give the appearance of a well-manicured moustache. They also have blue legs and bellies and green-blue tails.

Color mutations usually see a greater amount of green or blue in the plumage.

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Caring for the Moustached Parakeet

The moustached parakeet is smaller than most parrots and will require a small parakeet cage, at the very least. It should be given plenty of time outside the cage, although the breed can be a master of escape so care must be taken to ensure that yours does not escape through an open window or door.

Early Socialization

One of the biggest pitfalls of owning a Java parakeet is its tendency for bluffing behaviour. This means that it might nip, bite, and peck. It is tempting to simply back down and move away when your bird performs these actions, but you should stand your ground without being physical or violent. Ensure that your parakeet is well socialized from a young age. If possible, hand rear it from a young age so that it treats you like family.

Best For Individuals

No matter how well socialized a moustachioed parakeet is, it will usually do better as the pet of a single person. It forms a close bond with one person, and this may be to the detriment of others. It is unlikely to form bonds with multiple family members.

Handling

Because handling is such an important part of social development for your parakeet, you must get it right. If you have just adopted or bought the bird, do allow it some time to settle into its new cage and surroundings. Talk to the bird through the cage, allowing it to get used to your noise as well. After a few days of this, place treats in the palm of your hand and hold your hand flat at the bottom of the cage to encourage it to jump up. Always ensure that the bird cannot escape the room, so even if it manages to get out of the cage door, it can only safely fly around the room it is in.

Image Credit: vinsky2002, Pixabay

Common Health Problems

As well as bacterial infections and parrot fever, this little parakeet is a generally hardy bird. Do look for symptoms of the following conditions and seek veterinary help if any surface.

  • Aspergillosis – This fungal infection causes respiratory problems. It is caused by microscopic spores, called aspergillus fungus, which is usually picked up from the soil and are not passed from bird to bird. Early symptoms are difficult to spot but you should look for signs of respiratory distress and problems.
  • Polyoma – Polyomavirus is common in budgies and may also be present in parakeets and other species of birds. Unfortunately, if a young bird contracts this virus, they tend to die quickly. Screening is available, but there is no known treatment for the condition.
  • Sarcocystosis – Rare in captive-bred birds, sarcocystosis is transmitted via bugs residing in the feces of the opossum. The disease does not pass from bird to bird, but birds sharing the same food and the same environment do face the same risks. This parasite acts very quickly and death may occur within a few hours. Symptoms include respiratory problems and affected birds may drink more water.

Diet and Nutrition

In the wild, the moustached parakeet would eat seeds and fruit. In captivity, it needs a varied diet consisting of a mix of pellets with seeds and a good selection of fresh fruit and vegetables. Owners tend to opt for 50% pellets and 50% fresh food.

While some parakeets can be picky eaters, the moustached parakeet is an exception and it will usually try new foods without complaint or problem.

It can be tempting, especially for first-time owners, to feed a lot of seeds. However, seeds are fattening and contain a lot of calories. Avoid feeding too many seeds too often, to avoid your parakeet putting on too much weight.

Exercise

The Java parakeet is an active bird. This means that you should provide a minimum of three to four hours of supervised playtime outside the cage. The requirement while in the cage, provide ladders, swings, and other exercise toys to keep your parakeet physically and mentally active.

Where to Adopt or Buy a Moustached Parakeet

The moustached parakeet costs around $500, although you may pay a little more or less than this depending on the reputation of the breeder, availability, and the history of the bird. You can buy from breeders but ensure that you find one with a good reputation and that allows you to inspect their premises. Check the bird is healthy and try to speak to former customers so that you can determine whether the birds are happy and well adjusted.

This species of parakeet may be found in shelters. Common reasons for owners surrendering parakeets are that they did not realize the time requirements to look after one, the bird has shown signs of bluffing behavior, or they have not reared it effectively.

Red breasted (moustached) parakeet
Image Credit: vinsky2002, Pixabay

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Conclusion

The moustached parakeet is talkative but comparatively quiet. Like all parakeets, it does require a lot of your time to ensure that it gets plenty of exercise, and it is better suited to individual owners because it may not form bonds with multiple people and can show signs of bluffing. However, if you are a somewhat experienced parakeet owner and want a chatty, friendly bird that is usually quite comfortable sitting on you and enjoying your company, the Java parakeet could be a good option for you.


Featured Image Credit: Diha Bali, Shutterstock

Oliver Jones

Oliver (Ollie) Jones - A zoologist and freelance writer living in South Australia with his partner Alex, their dog Pepper, and their cat Steve (who declined to be pictured). Ollie, originally from the USA, holds his master's degree in wildlife biology and moved to Australia to pursue his career and passion but has found a new love for working online and writing about animals of all types.