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Musk Lorikeet

Nicole Cosgrove

Charming, vibrant, and adorable, the Musk Lorikeet is a popular pet choice, and that’s no surprise! These affectionate little birds love cuddling and entertaining you with their antics. The Musk Lorikeet is a small parrot native to Australia. In flocks, they are active and noisy. Here, we take a look at these interesting birds and learn more about them.

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Species Overview

Common Names: Red-Eared Lorikeet, Green Keet
Scientific Name: Glossopsitta concinna
Adult Size: 9 inches
Life Expectancy: 12 – 20 years

Origin and History

First noticed in 1790 by ornithologist George Shaw, Musk Lorikeets natively reside in South Australia, Tasmania, New South Wales, and Victoria. Over time, flocks have spread to Sydney, Melbourne, and Perth due to these little birds’ abilities to survive and thrive in places where not every species of parrot can. The first record of Musk Lorikeets being kept in captivity as pets dates back to 1869. In the 1900s, farmers considered these birds pests because they often destroyed orchards looking for food. Their musky odor is the reason for their name. Musk Lorikeets have been bred in captivity since 1903.

Musk Lorikeet
Musk Lorikeet (Image Credit: Steve, Flickr CC SA 2.0 Generic)

Temperament

This is a silly little bird that makes a fun pet. Unusual for a bird, the Musk Lorikeet loves handling and will ask for pets and cuddles from their owner. They are easy to tame and enjoy interacting with people. Their inquisitive and playful nature makes them lovers of all toys, especially if they have an audience. They’ll make a toy out of anything that they find, from cardboard rolls to their water bowls. They’re known to roll on their backs and kick their feet as a way to invite cuddles and play. When they’re excited, they squeak and tweet, letting you know that they are happy. As playful and fun as they are with people, they’re often territorial with other birds and may not like a new bird being introduced to the home. They can be aggressive and fight for their space.

Pros
  • Beautiful coloring
  • Loving nature
  • Easy to keep as a pet
Cons
  • Loud
  • Messy

Speech & Vocalizations

You can expect the Musk Lorikeet to mimic sounds that they hear, like laughing and beeping. They enjoy being vocal and try to repeat things with an entertaining range of tweets and chirps. When in flocks, they chatter while they eat together and communicate with each other through a series of metallic-toned calls.

Musk Lorikeet Colors and Markings

The Musk Lorikeet is a bright and vibrant bird, like many other parrots of Australia. They have a noticeable and elegant appearance. The body is nearly all bright green. They have yellow patches at the tops of their wings, and more yellow and brown feathers are visible underneath the bird as they take flight. Red patches appear above the beak and on the cheeks between the ears and eyes. Their dark beaks are tipped red. As a stunning final contrast, the top of the head is blue. Their interesting markings make them easy to notice as they fly through the trees.

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Caring for the Musk Lorikeet

The Musk Lorikeet doesn’t eat seeds, making a specialized diet necessary for this bird. They can be territorial and should be introduced slowly to other birds. Fighting for dominance is common with this breed. Cages should be big enough to allow your Lorikeet space to fly, climb, and explore. They’ll also need plenty of time out of the cage each day for socialization and play. These friendly birds want your companionship and are happiest when they can be with you. Toys and playsets will be a fun addition to their routine and will keep them happy and entertained. Don’t be afraid to load up on the toys. You can’t overdo it with a Musk Lorikeet because they love a huge variety. Hidden treats and puzzles keep them busy. With a good amount of interaction and things to keep them happy, your Musk Lorikeet will have a fun home.

Common Health Problems

Due to their diet that is high in moisture, the Musk Lorikeet produces wet and heavy droppings. It’s important to clean the cage regularly. The cage should be large enough that they never have to come in contact with their waste. Doing so can lead to bacterial infections.

Other common health problems of Musk Lorikeets include:
  • Aspergillosis — a fungal respiratory infection that causes breathing problems and potential organ failure
  • Sarcocystosis — a respiratory parasite that causes cysts in the organs, respiratory tracts, and nervous system
  • Iron Storage Disease — caused by a diet containing excess iron, leading to lung damage and paralysis

Providing your Lorikeet with a proper, balanced diet and keeping up with regular vet checkups will help keep your bird in optimal health.

Diet and Nutrition

Musk Lorikeets require a specialized, wet diet. They don’t eat seeds like other birds, and in fact, they should not have them. Seeds can damage their tongue, which is equipped with a brush-like end for consuming their natural diet. In the wild, Musk Lorikeets eat nectar and pollen primarily from plants and flowers. In captivity, a commercial Lorikeet diet is recommended. The dry powder is mixed with water to provide the nutritionally complete wet diet that the Lorikeet needs. Supplemented with things like apples, grapes, spinach, and tomatoes, this food will keep the bird happy.

Musk Lorikeet (Glossopsitta concinna)
Musk Lorikeet (Glossopsitta concinna) (Image Credit: patrickkavanagh, Flickr CC 2.0 Generic)

Exercise

Musk Lorikeets are active birds that like a minimum of 3–4 hours a day to fly, play, and climb. Their cages should allow plenty of space for activity, including flying. Coming out of the cage to play and explore for several hours a day is ideal. A swing is a great way to help keep the bird’s legs in shape. Balls that they can roll and chase will keep them engaged. Rope toys are fun for your Lorikeet to climb and swing.

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Where to Adopt or Buy a Musk Lorikeet

Finding a Musk Lorikeet might take a bit of searching. Locating a breeder is a guaranteed way to acquire a bird if you’re set on this specific species. If you’re looking to adopt one, you can provide a home to a bird that doesn’t have one and save a life. Parrot rescues are often filled with birds that have been surrendered due to people not understanding the commitment that this animal requires. You may have success checking rescues before you search for breeders. These birds are already medically checked and their personalities have been assessed. Rescue workers will help match you with the companion that’s right for you.

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Conclusion

Musk Lorikeets are friendly, affectionate little birds with a mischievous side. They love to play and socialize. This bird is relatively easy to care for but does require a special diet. They’re unable to eat regular seeds and need a little more work put into their food. Doing so, along with providing the right amount of love, cage space, and care, will give you a loving pet for many years.


Featured Image Credit: Bernard Spragg. NZ, Flickr CC0 1.0 Universal (Musk lorikeet)

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.