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If you own a parrot and want to add a furry friend to your family, you want to do your homework. The good news is that parrots can live in the same household with other animals. Carefully monitor their interactions and never leave your parrot unsupervised with dogs or cats.
Cats can be wonderful companions for larger parrots such as the macaw or African gray. They may preen your cat’s whiskers or drop toys on his head in a playful manner. In the book “Barron’s Guide to a Well-Behaved Parrot," author Mattie Sue Athan says of the larger parrots that “their hard beaks, intimidating size, domineering personalities and naturally loud voices provide all the built-in socialization needed to protect from any domestic feline.” Parrots under 12 inches, however, should never be around cats. Their delicate size makes them prone to injury. It is also important to realize that cats carry pasteurella, a bacteria in their saliva that is deadly to birds. Even a small scratch must be treated seriously. If your cat bites or claws your parrot, take him to the vet immediately for antibiotics.
Dogs are less compatible with parrots. Certain breeds, such as spaniels, poodles and retrievers, are bred for hunting, making them a threat to your bird. Although it is not impossible for parrots and dogs to bond with one another, this will depend on your dog’s personality and disposition. A calm, well-socialized dog may be fine around your parrot. However, a young puppy may be overly playful, causing injury unintentionally. Large parrots can show aggression toward your dog by biting, screeching or flying in his face. This could irritate even the most docile canine to the point where she lashes out, harming your bird. Some parrots may develop a screaming habit in response to a dog who barks continually.
Ferrets should never be in the same room as a parrot. They are extremely aggressive and will attack a bird of any size. Ferrets are sly and will find a way to wiggle into your parrot’s cage looking for a tasty meal. Large parrots may eat your hamsters, gerbils and lizards. Hamsters are most active at night. Their movements or noises could scare your bird. Cockatiels in particular are prone to night frights. When startled they will thrash around their cages and could injure their wings or get a toe caught in the cage wire.
Parrots socialize best with birds of similar size. Avoid placing two parrots of different sizes in the same cage, as the larger parrot will bully or kill the smaller one. Conures will frequently bond with African grays or macaws. Parakeets are peaceable little birds and will get along with finches, canaries and cockatiels. Lovebirds and cockatoos are prone to be aggressive towards one another. Always introduce two parrots in neutral territory and allow them to observe each other. Wait until the birds are well acquainted before housing them in the same cage.
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