Caiques are small tropical parrots that originated in South America and mostly came from the Amazon. There are two caiques species: the Black-capped (Pionites melanocephala) and the White-bellied (Pionites lucogaster). The physical beauty of these birds is attributed to the differences in physical appearance according to species.
In the past, the Black-capped and White-bellied caiques were frequently kept in captivity near the Amazon and exported to various places worldwide. In recent times, it has already been common practice to propagate caiques through breeders in aviaries or in the comfort of their homes.
Caiques are commonly preferred pets due to their fascinating traits such as intelligence, curiosity, playfulness, and beauty. However, there are several essential considerations in keeping caiques to ensure their welfare in captivity or the comfort of home and family.
Do Caiques Need A Lot Of Attention?
Caiques need a lot of attention as they have daily basic and special needs to be addressed. Additionally, frequent maintenance of their health, cage set up, and home environment is essential to ensure their welfare.
Do Caiques Need A Lot Of Attention
How Much Attention Is Enough?
An established daily routine is needed for caiques to address their basic needs such as food, hygiene, and entertainment. Additionally, training sessions are encouraged to be included in the daily routine to induce good behavior and stimulus from caiques. (source) (source)
Caiques are highly energetic birds, for which they are known as ‘Clown of the Parrots’, and they have various personalities. They are famous for their playfulness, mischief, and the need for constant attention from the owner, especially for solitary caiques at home. Providing a partner for a caique can alleviate its continuous need for attention. (source) (source)
Familiarizing with the personality of a caique can aid in determining how much time to allocate and include activities in their daily routine for your pet caique/s.
Caiques are not known for talking, unlike other parrots. Yet, they can still produce sound either by crowing or screaming. (source)
Crowing happens during the resting state of both male and female caiques. It is a low-intensity noise called a ‘contact’ or ‘whereabouts’ call among caiques. Nearby caiques tend to reply from the source of crowing. (source)
Caiques produce an unpleasantly loud noise by screaming, which is generally caused by their exuberant behavior. It is common when a new bird is new to an individual, pair, or group of caiques. It would be best to consider getting a caique into an apartment or populated neighborhood as this may cause commotion due to loud noise. (source)
Potential Behavior Issues
Caiques tend to exhibit territorialism and aggressiveness. There are instances where a caique is difficult to either pair or group with caique/s or group with other birds. They can produce screaming noise whenever there is a new bird. They also tend to chase other household pets as they are fearless. (source) (source)
Biting is a potential concern for caiques, as with other parrots, and may cause physical injury. Caiques bite as part of their natural behavior and may sometimes try it on their caretaker or owner. Consistent training with positive reinforcement (e.g., head-scratch, attention, or food treats) can aid in alleviating the biting tendencies of caiques. (source) (source)
Stress happens on caiques when they are bored and alone, resulting in biting, screaming, and refusal of training. They need attention through consistent training with positive reinforcement, playtime, or the company of another caique/s. It is best to leave a partner for a caique to keep them company when the owner works during the day. (source) (source)
Training A Caique
Caiques are brilliant birds, and they can cope with a training routine. Establishing regular training exercises to promote good welfare and behavior from caique pets. These birds can learn common tricks (i.e., step up, step down, go back in the cage, step onto new people, and recall) and potty training. (source) (source)
Trained caiques can alleviate some of these potential behavior and health problems.
Behavioral And Health Issues
- Bad hygiene
One can allocate three training sessions per day with an average of 5 to 20 minutes per training session. Positive reinforcements (i.e., head-scratch, attention, and food treats) are essential to motivate caiques in continuing the training routine. (source)
Caiques can be potty trained, promoting good hygiene and cleaner cages at home. The owner can monitor a caique’s defecation pattern, usually done early in the morning. Gently placing a potty container under the tail every morning as it defecates would condition the bird. Provide positive reinforcement to the caique every time it defecates onto the container. (source)
How Long And Frequent Training Should Be
Training sessions may already be shortened when caiques have well-established performing behavioral tricks and potty training. However, caiques tend to revert to bad habits, indicating retraining and re-establishing the original daily training sessions (source).
Nevertheless, adequate training of caiques would prove to be a long-term advantage as it would help to avoid most of their bad habits. Time allocation and commitment are of the essence for a pet’s training routine. Notably, the bond between pet/s and the owner would be a rewarding relationship grounded on love, care, and trust. (source)
Cage And Accessories
Caiques prefer a warm environment as they are tropical birds that originated from the tropical rainforests of the Amazon. Therefore, the caique’s cage and home environment must closely mimic the climate of their natural habitat for them to thrive in good health. (source)
Caiques need cages for security, especially when you have other pets at home or leave for work the entire day. The cages would also be their resting place whenever they are stressed or sleepy. Cages can be outdoor or indoor, and it is essential to ensure that caiques thrive in their preferred environment, especially when an area has a winter season. (source)
C cage caiques in pairs are best, and numerous cages are necessary if there is more than one pair. However, a cage can also be suitable for a solitary caique. Still, the bird would be more stressed (i.e., likely to exhibit screaming, biting, refusal to train, or boredom) when left alone by the owner. (source) (source)
Accessories such as perches, toys, food bowls, bathe containers, and potty containers for cages are also necessary to induce stimulus and good hygiene for caiques. It would be best if you cleaned food bowls and potty containers regularly. (source)
Cages would vary in different sizes. However, it is best to have portable cages, especially when bringing pets to a veterinarian. You may use Stacked cages to have one or more pairs of caiques. You may use Large cages outdoors, which is more suitable for a group of birds (e.g., caique/s grouped with another type of birds). (source)
This accessory is necessary for bird cages as it mimics the birds’ natural habitat, tree branches. All pet birds would sleep on perches, and as for caiques, perches would also help trim down their fast-growing toenails. (source).
Perches, to be attached to cages, should be composed of natural wood and are recommended to be placed parallel to each other for caiques to fly in between perches which induce stimulus. Furthermore, perches may also be placed on several spots at home to aid in their training. It also keeps them entertained throughout the day. (source)
Toys aid in alleviating the stress of caiques, especially when left at home. Playing with toys keeps them entertained and promotes activity as highly energetic and playful birds. Toys may also be a positive reinforcement when training caiques and help them be motivated on the training routine. (source)
Here are several toys that you may give to caiques:
- Organic pet balls
- Foot toys
- Foraging basket
- Hanging toys
Feeding Bowls And Bathing Containers
Caiques need to eat at least twice a day. Bird feeding bowls are essential, especially when caiques are trained to eat specifically in a spot. Some bowls can also be attached to perches or cage walls (source)
Caiques prefer to wash every day in the morning. It is best to place small bathing containers on their cages and ensure daily cleaning and refilling of clean water for bathing.
Potty-trained caiques need containers for their waste in cages. It is essential to regularly clean and keeps these containers upon defecation of caiques. If not kept, caiques might play with the waste containers. (source)
A healthy caique should have the following features:
- Bright plumage
- Bright eyes
- Good posture
- Good weight
- Clear nostrils
- Active attitude
Caiques have a long life span (i.e., they could reach up to 30-40 years) if ensured to be healthy. The caiques’ health mainly relies on the daily basic needs such as food, sleep, and hygiene to be addressed. Additionally, caiques are prone to viral infections and other diseases. Voting time and effort to veterinary checkups is vital to avoid sickness and potential death. (source)
Diet And Nutrition
A non-breeding caique should eat twice a day while a caique with laid eggs or chicks should have 2-3 times higher. Furthermore, you may give multivitamins to caiques while breeding ones should have added Vitamin E for nutritional enhancement. (source).
There are various types of food and vitamins suitable for caiques, namely:
- Seed mixture
- Fruits (e.g., diced apples, banana, orange, and raisins)
- Vegetables (e.g., diced broccoli and chili peppers)
- Cooked beans (e.g., pintos, black, garbanzo, pink, white, and lentils)
- Steamed rice
- Bird pellets
- Vitamin E
Potential Health Problems
All bird pets are prone to the avian polyomavirus (APV), and caiques are known to be carriers of APV. Both adults and chicks are susceptible. (source)
Symptoms Associated With APV
- Liver inflammation
- Abdominal swelling
- Histologic lesions in internal organs (i.e., spleen and liver) and numerous other tissues
Hence, it is essential to monitor these symptoms on caiques and immediately consult with an avian veterinarian if signs are evident. However, there are several instances where APV would show no early symptoms resulting in immediate mortality. (source)
Caiques are also prone to other diseases. Only an avian veterinarian can confirm the specific type of disease. However, there are several signs wherein a caique may likely be sick.
Symptoms Of Potential Diseases
- Difficult and rattle breathing
- Yellowish, greenish droppings and diarrhea
Bird Pets That Require Lesser Attention
As caiques need a lot of attention, several alternative birds require lesser attention and are easily maintained.
Doves and Pigeons
These birds prove as excellent and gentle pets. Humans are in little or no danger of being bitten by these birds. However, their vocalizations and body posturing are limited. It would be best if you also considered that when these birds are hand-raised, they often have no fear and defense from other household pets (e.g., cats and dogs). (source)
Finches and Canaries
These birds are easy to maintain and have pleasant or relatively quiet vocalizations than other parrots. They tend to have limited interactions with their owners. Yet, inbreeding their species have resulted in genetic predispositions and have caused various disease syndromes in several lineages. (source)
This type of parakeet is easily maintained. However, these birds do not readily interact with people relative to other parrots. (source)
Overall, caiques need a lot of attention due to their daily needs of food, hygiene, and cage maintenance. Additionally, you must address their moody personalities and behavioral issues whenever attention from the owner is lacking. Establishing a daily training routine would help alleviate some behavioral issues in caiques.
Careful monitoring of their health is a good practice and investment to maximize the caique’s long life span.
Providing caiques with enough attention would prove rewarding as they may reciprocate this with consistent trust, friendship, love, and attention.
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