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How do you build a climbing tree?
A climbing tree outside the bird's cage can quickly turn into the favourite place of any parakeet. Plus, when it's flying, the tree serves as an ideal landing place.
Depending on the space available and the size of the bird, you should use a large branch with some side branches – ideally, made out of hardwood (such as beech or oak), because soft wood would be nibbled away too quickly. Then, simply fix the branch to a stable base plate, to prevent it from tipping over. With larger branches, a Christmas tree stand is ideal. You will be expecting the bird to stay on the climbing tree for a long time, so it's worth placing something under it to catch the droppings – for example, a plastic board or tray that you would use for a bird cage, onto which you should put some bird sand.
Above all, to get the bird used to it initially, you should place its favourite toy and some treats, such as Kräcker® or Vita Nature® natural millet on the new climbing tree.
Sugar in parakeet food? Is that allowed?
Did you know that most Vitakraft products for birds are manufactured using sugar-free recipes?
To be able to consider sugar and its importance objectively, however, it is first important to be aware that there are many different types of sugar. Those generally known include fructose, dextrose and lactose. In addition to having different origins, they also have different chemical structures.
Sugar is naturally present in virtually all foods; it is the natural product of the photosynthesis of plants and is required as a source of energy by all living creatures. The sugar is either consumed directly or released by other carbohydrates during metabolism. The parakeet's natural food also contains a certain proportion of sugar, for example in herbs, vegetables and fruits.
If, for reasons of principle, you would like to use only food with a sugar-free recipe, Vitakraft offers an enormous selection! No sugar is added to most Vitakraft products, particularly those fed in larger quantities; the main foods in other words.
If sugar is used – which may sometimes be necessary, for example for technical reasons – we pay very close attention to ensuring that the sugar content/overall amount consumed is kept low and appropriate. In addition, our recipes and the raw materials and types of sugar we use guarantee easy digestibility.
Why does the information on the packaging sometimes differ to that given on the website?
We may occasionally change the recipe of our products for example, to comply with legally prescribed changes, or to make the food even more tasty for the animals. Such changes in composition naturally mean that the packaging in question needs to be revised. It can also be the case that new provisions in the laws governing pet food apply only to the food declaration, while the recipe remains unchanged. The product packaging will be changed in this case too.
While we are able to update online information very quickly, including changing pictures where necessary, it takes longer with retail stores, and for a time, you will often find both the old and new recipes, as well as the old and new packaging, available in stores.
How big should my bird's cage be?
As big as possible! Parakeets in particular are very lively and active birds, which are able to cover very large distances in the wild. The bigger the space available to do this in, the better.
Some owners even have large outdoor aviaries or set aside an entire room for the bird, but a large and suitable cage can also offer the animal a secure and fine home. The size of the cage should ideally allow the bird to fly short distances and contain suitable equipment. What's important, for example, is a number of perches with different diameters. But don't forget: parakeets need to fly freely on a regular basis!
My cockatiel is overweight, what should I do?
Depending on its body length and stature, a mature cockatiel can weigh between 80 and 100g. You can tell if the bird is overweight by carefully blowing into its breast feathers so that the skin becomes visible. With overweight birds, there will be fat deposits there, which show up in yellow.
A diminishing ability to fly, coupled with shortness of breath, can also be a sign of an overweight bird. If in doubt, your vet can support you in managing the diet of your pet.
An overweight cockatiel should however under no circumstances simply be placed on a starvation diet. This would bring with it other health problems. What's important is a balanced diet which, alongside the main food, contains lots of succulent food.
Energy consumption is also important however: The more exercise a pet gets, the more calories it needs. Unfortunately, birds can often be susceptible to a vicious circle, whereby overweight birds turn into bad flyers and then, because they then tend not to fly so often, they do not get enough exercise which, in turn, causes them to put on more weight. It is therefore important to repeatedly encourage your bird to fly. To do this, ensure that you provide suitable landing places, which do not require complicated flying manoeuvres, in the room. The perches in the bird's cage, too – which should of course be of a sufficiently large size – should be arranged in such a way as to allow for short flights.
Cockatiels are highly social animals that require the company of other cockatiels for their wellbeing. If kept alone, they can become lethargic. In groups, they seldom tend to put on excess weight as the birds mutually encourage each other to move around and fly. Larger species of parakeet should also be offered a range of climbing activities in and around the cage.
What greens and fresh food can I offer?
Besides seeds and grains, most parakeets also like to eat some succulent food. Feeding them fruit and vegetables, or even wild plants and grass, will thus introduce appropriate variety into the bird's diet. Each parakeet has its own particular preferences, however, because at the end of the day, each of these birds is its own little personality. Generally popular are, for example, apples, bananas, pears, strawberries, rose hips, currants, dandelion, carrots, orange, spinach, gooseberries, rowan berries and chickweed. You'll notice very quickly what the individual bird likes best and then be able to use its favourite snacks for taming it and attracting it.
How much activity does my bird need?
The most important type of activity for parakeets is naturally flying. Virtually all of these birds are excellent flyers as, in the wild, this ability is necessary for them to live – whether to look for food or escape enemies. These birds also require plenty of activity when kept as pets, because only then can they strengthen their muscles and circulation. Free flying on a daily basis, alongside a balanced and appropriate diet, is therefore an important factor when keeping birds. The cage can also be designed in such a way as to allow for short flights. For this, the perches should be placed far apart from each other that the bird cannot simply hop from one to the other, but needs to flap its wings to do so.
Can I shorten my parakeet's beak by myself?
Excessive beak growth can occasionally occur with all parrots. Cutting the beak is best left to a vet or an experienced breeder. With some animals, however, this procedure needs to be repeated regularly. If you trust yourself to do this you should seek precise instructions as to how to go about it, thus saving the bird from frequent visits to the vet and associated stress.
Besides this, you can naturally take further measures that enable the bird to wear away and look after its beak on its own – for example, using Vita Fit® Mineral natural cuttlefish or fresh twigs from fruit trees, at which the bird can pick. Another way to shorten the beak naturally is to let your bird nibble on delicious crunchy Kräcker® sticks.
Can I clip the claws myself?
A pet bird's claws may occasionally grow too long. However, you should do everything you can to prevent this from happening in the first place. Through climbing on perches, branches and twigs, the claws will wear down by themselves. What's important is that the branches have different diameters.
A practiced bird owner can clip the claws of their pet themselves. Beginners, however, should leave this task to the pet supplies retailer, breeder or vet.
When clipping the claws, it is especially important not to damage the delicate blood vessels in the claws. Only the tips of the claws contain no blood. You should therefore never cut too deeply.
Cut the claws diagonally using claw nippers to create a new point, which will help the bird with climbing.
How do I keep the cage hygienic and clean?
In a modern bird cage, keeping your parakeet clean is easy with the many Vitakraft products available.
The basic rules: the cage should have a plastic or metal floor tray, as wood absorbs droppings and can become a feeding ground for bacteria. Bird cages with a tray system are particularly practical when it comes to cleaning, enabling the cage of birds which are still timid to be cleaned, without unsettling them.
Depending on the size of the cage and the number of birds, you should clean at least once a week. When doing so, you should change the bird sand and, if necessary, also clean the floor tray and perches thoroughly.
In any case, the water and food bowls need to be cleaned more frequently because, in the water dish in particular, algae and bacteria might otherwise become established.
How can I tell a male apart from a female?
With parakeets, differentiating between the sexes is not always easy and, with many varieties, may only be possible by way of an endoscopic examination or genetic analysis.
With normal grey (wild-type) cockatiels, however, the markings and colour of the animals may help in determining their sex: males have much brighter cheek patches and a single-coloured grey or black tail underside. Females, on the other hand, have a regularly striped pattern on theirs.
Sometimes, however, determining the sex can also be very easy. For example, with the barred parakeet: with these, the males are blue-green with a red rump, the females on the other hand coloured olive green all over.
Should parakeets be allowed to fly free?
Parakeets are very good flyers and enjoy every minute they spend in the air. Anyone with a large aviary will not need to worry about giving their birds an opportunity to exercise. Birds kept in a smaller cage, however, will need to fly free regularly.
In the home, you should take a number of precautions beforehand, such as shutting the windows and doors and making sure that the bird cannot gain access to any toxic house plants or potting soil. Due to regular watering, the latter may contain mildew. With larger species in particular, it is especially important to pay attention to electricity cables, as the animals could easily cut through these with their beak.
A climbing tree set up in the room is the ideal landing place and will divert the bird from less suitable landing places, such as curtain rods. Ideally, such a tree will also offer lots of opportunities to play and climb, while serving as a good lookout point.
What causes parakeets to pluck their feathers?
Feather plucking can be due to quite different causes. The subject is so complex that we can only touch on it here.
In the first instance, you should call on your vet to examine the bird for physical illnesses. After that, it's important to review the bird's diet, to exclude symptoms of deficiency. In doing so, you should ensure that it is eating sufficient quantities of minerals, amino acids and vitamins. You can use Vitakraft products to put together a balanced diet. To support the regrowth of feathers, you can also give the bird, for example, Vita Fit® Pro-Feda®Moulting Aid.
If the bird has no physical illness, then the problem is probably a behavioural disorder. The cause of this is sometimes very difficult to determine, if at all. Often, however, it will be loneliness and boredom. Having a bird of the same type as company is often the best medicine, as birds that are kept alone are most likely to pluck out their feathers.
How can I get my new bird used to me?
Each parakeet has its own character, so getting used to people will differ from animal to animal. What's important is not to pressurise the new bird, but – in particular in its settling-in period – to give it a little peace. After that, you should pay a little more attention to the bird from day to day. To do this, however, you'll need to take things step by step, as some birds don't like it when you obtrude on them. You'll therefore need to exercise a little restraint.
It can also be helpful, for example, to entice them with a treat, such as Kräcker®, which you can offer them by hand. If this "gift" is accepted, then the ice is mostly broken.
How do cockatiels live in the wild?
Cockatiels are found throughout virtually the whole of Australia – they only avoid wetlands. Their native habitat is open grassland – one reason why grass seeds also rank among their main food.
For most of the year, cockatiels move across the country in large groups. Only when breeding do these nomadic birds become settled for a while. Keeping closely together in the flock, they are able to maintain constant contact with the other members of the group through their calls. Living in a flock is highly advantageous to them, making the birds much safer against predators, as these will pick on individual birds rather than one in a thickly packed flock.
By its nature, therefore, the cockatiel is a social animal and even when looked after by us, it doesn't like to be alone. We therefore recommend that you keep at least two cockatiels. This will help the birds to feel more settled and prevent loneliness or boredom.