How To Choose A Healthy Budgie From A Pet Store
If you are unable to adopt a budgie from an animal shelter or locate a reputable breeder, you will likely find many budgies at pet stores in your area.
Budgies are fragile little birds who, like all parrots, cover up their illnesses until it’s oftentimes too late. Because diseases are easily transferred between birds, it’s important to inspect the health conditions of every bird sharing the enclosure.
Losing a new budgie unexpectedly due to an underlying illness is devastating. We cannot always prevent it, but we can be patient in our search to find a budgie who is healthy and vibrant and avoid impulsively buying one who isn’t.
While searching for your new addition, put on your detective's hat and follow this checklist:
Investigate the Pet Shop's Quality Of Care
KEEPING A BUDGIE’S CAGE CLEAN IS ESSENTIAL TO MAINTAINING GOOD HEALTH.
If a pet shop doesn’t provide a hygienic habitat, it’s safe to assume they don’t prioritize their birds’ health either. Look around:
- What kind of enclosure is there? Is it open on the top, making it easy for people to reach in and grab the birds? I’m talking about you, PetLand. These enclosures are a no-no, as the distressed birds inside will hate hands and have butchered wing clips to prevent them from flying away.
- Does it look like the cage is cleaned regularly? Are perches and toys encrusted in feces?
- Are the feeding bowls clean? Do they have a fresh supply of seeds and water?
- Are there so many birds inside the enclosure that they’re practically on top of each other?
- Does the pet shop offer a refund if the bird gets sick or dies within the first two weeks, at least? Do they offer any guarantee that you will walk away with a healthy bird?
Examine the health of every budgie in the enclosure
NEW BIRDS NEED TO BE QUARANTINED IN A SEPARATE ROOM FOR AT LEAST TWO WEEKS BEFORE ALLOWING THEM NEAR ANY OTHER BIRDS YOU ALREADY HAVE.
That’s because contagious diseases spread rapidly between birds and it’s not always possible to see the sick bird’s symptoms. Should you notice that one or more budgies appear ill inside the pet store’s enclosure, it’s best to look for your new addition elsewhere.
- Are any birds sitting still on the floor of the enclosure or in the food bowls?
- Healthy birds sit tall, interact with one another, and are visibly alert. Are any birds hunched over in discomfort? Do any birds seem unstable on their perches?
- Healthy birds should have smooth, shiny feathers. Are any birds puffed up?
- Do all the birds have healthy appetites? You should see them all taking turns at the food bowls.
- Are any birds sneezing repeatedly? Do they seem to have discharge from their eyes or nares? Look at the underside of their body at their vent. Is it clean? Or does it appear stained?
- Do any birds have crusty beaks or feet? Are their feet clean and free of mites?
- Check out the birds’ tails. Do any of their tails bob heavily? This would indicate the bird is breathing heavily as well. Do any birds pant or breathe with their beaks open?
- Do your best to watch for the birds’ droppings. They should be solid and black with white urates intact. Any watery droppings are a big warning sign.
A full list of sick bird symptoms is available here.
Determine the Budgie's age
Once you conclude the birds are healthy, you can go ahead and choose a budgie whose age and gender appeals to you.
Budgies have a few features that distinguish whether they are a baby, an adolescent, or mature. However, visual cues alone cannot indicate a budgie’s exact age.
- Budgies with black on their beaks are less than 12 weeks old.
- A budgie who is less than 3-4 months old will have black stripes on their head that reach all the way to the top of their cere.
- At about 3-4 months of age, a budgie undergoes their first molt and loses the stripes on their head.
- All white budgies (albinos) or all yellow budgies (lutinos) will never have stripes on their heads, regardless of age.
- A budgie who is older than 5 months will have white irises developing around their pupils. If their eyes are solid black, they are still an adolescent.
- The eyes of a budgie who is at least 8-12 months old will look like the budgie in the GIF above, complete with fully developed irises.
Young Male Budgie
Mature Male Budgie
Identify the budgie's gender
A mature budgie's gender is pretty straightforward. As for young budgies? not quiteee as clear...
- Mature male budgies have deep blue-colored ceres.
- Mature female budgies have white ceres that turn brown and crusty when they are in breeding condition.
- Young male budgies have very light pinkish-purple ceres. There may be white rings around the nares that will fade away with age.
- Young female budgies have very light blue ceres. They too have white around the nares, however, the white is more prominent because the cere is transitioning from light blue to white.
- Pet store merchants aren’t typically trained in identifying male budgies from female, so take their suggestions with a grain of salt.
Take Your New Budgie To The Avian Vet
Healthy and chipper as your budgie may seem, remember, sick birds hide their illnesses extremely well. If you don’t catch any lurking illnesses quickly, it’s possible your budgie could die before you realize something is wrong.