Ask Lafeber


March 6, 2018

Cuddly/affectionate parrot species?

Hi, which type of parrot would you consider to be the most cuddly/affectionate?


Hi Raymond,

Parrots can be good pets, but they are still an exotic species with all of their wild instincts, so having one is very different than having domestic dog or cat. Even though parrots are captive bred, they are still not considered domesticated.

Which brings me to my point that no parrot species can truly be considered “cuddly”. They can be very affectionate, in their own way. While many young birds do learn to enjoy cuddling, this can actually be detrimental to their health as they mature, especially for a female bird. When parrots are young, they may live in flocks and have companions within the flock. Some basic preening of each other will take place, but this will be limited almost entirely to the head and neck area. When a parrot is mature and finds a mate, only the mate will be allowed to preen the other birds chest, and other areas such as around the base of the tail. When humans pet a parrot anyplace other than the head, they are sending out signals that they are a mate. With a female bird, this can trigger unwanted egg laying and for a male, this can trigger aggression.

So when selecting a bird, keep in mind that for the healthiest relationship, try to keep most physical contact limited to head and neck scratches. There are many other ways to interact with your bird such as teaching him behaviors and words. In the long run, by avoiding excessive cuddling type contact, your bird will have better behavior and you will not encounter as many behavior issues as he or she matures.

As far as a good starter bird, cockatiels are great little birds. Parakeets can be a lot of fun, too. A handfed lovebird can be sweet and fun to train. And some of the smaller conure species are good to start with – the green cheeked are great and there are many mutations these days. They have become popular due to their generally good nature.

No bird will be good all the time. And as they grow and mature, new challenges will present themselves. But by getting a good start and setting the right relationship, you can enjoy your pet for the many, many years that most parrots will live.

Thank you for asking Lafeber,


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