Caique parrots may be excellent pets due to numerous exciting traits like curiosity, playfulness, uninhibited, amusement, and intelligence. These birds are very active such as their love for hopping, being fond of chasing other household pets and often rubbing themselves on their owner or frequently swaying back and forth on their perches. (source)
A tamed or handfed caique tends to be friendly to friends and strangers, which is an essential characteristic of choosing a family pet. It makes them a good pet for beginners. (source)
Is Caique A Suitable Pet For Beginners?
The caique is not a suitable pet for beginners for various reasons. Training and caring for a caique requires much commitment, patience, time, and effort. Additionally, there are environmental prerequisites and behavioral considerations to pet this type of bird.
The caique parrot as a pet for a beginner may prove very challenging. Lack of training and proper handling of a caique may induce behavioral issues such as loud and unpleasant squawks, territorialism (e.g., difficult to pair with another caique or a different type of bird), and health risks due to their preference for a warm environment and their potential to be virus carriers. (source)
Buying And Choosing A Healthy Caique
A healthy caique should exhibit good weight, good posture, bright eyes, clear nostrils, bright plumage, and attitude. (source)
Caiques are known to be avian polyomavirus (APV) carriers (source 2). It is best to consult an avian veterinarian when buying a new caique and if APV symptoms show to current pet birds. (source)
Several associated symptoms of APV include abdominal swelling, liver inflammation, hydropericardium, and histologic lesions in the spleen, liver, and numerous other tissues. However, APV infections can cause acute lethal mortality with no premonitory symptoms. (source)
Both adult and chick caiques are very susceptible to the deadly APV. Therefore, you should also consider when having a new caique regarding the availability of an avian veterinarian near your home and the capacity of the APV to spread to other bird pets or wild birds within the surrounding area. (source)
Caiques prefer warm climates because they are tropical birds and cannot withstand prolonged low temperatures. Hence, it is vital to consider where to house a caique, whether in an outside cage where the climate is warm year-round or in an indoor house cage to accommodate them during winter conditions. (source)
Caiques are highly social species, and they’re preferred to be caged in pairs to interact with one another. However, pairing a hand-reared caique with another type of bird may initiate aggression between the two. Tamed or hand-reared birds tend to bully and persecute other birds. (source) (source)
Caique sizes are small, and small cages already offer enough space for a pair (e.g., an easy-to-assemble portable cage). On the other hand, breeding several caiques in captivity requires numerous cages (e.g., multiple stacked cages or large outdoor cages). Maintaining one pair per cage is essential to avoid contact with other pairs. (source) (source)
Perches are essential to the daily activity of pet caiques. Perches on cages aid in wearing down the fast-growing toenails of caiques. Perches may be approximately ½ inch in diameter and composed of natural wood. The placement should be parallel for caique pairs to fly back and forth within the cage, stimulating activity. (source)
Caiques like to bathe themselves early in the morning and preferably every day. As one pair wash, the rest of the caique pairs follow, and this is due to their mimetic characteristic. It is best to place bathing water, to be replaced from time to time, in bath containers for caiques to enjoy daily baths throughout the year. (source) (source)
Birds need a balanced diet (i.e., protein, carbohydrates, fats, minerals, vitamins, and water) to thrive in good health and successfully breed (source 5). Tou can provide caiques with a daily mixture of seeds (e.g., safflower and corn), fruits and vegetables (e.g., apple and broccoli), pellets (e.g., ZuPreem), and beans (e.g., lentils), rice, and water. (source)
Caiques often become overweight when allowed to overeat, leading to consequences in health. It is best to feed a non-breeding caique twice a day while a caique with chicks should be fed 2-3 times more. Caiques are more selfish relative to other parrots and tend to voice out aggression while providing at any adjacent caique. (source) (source)
You may give multivitamins twice a week to non-breeding caiques, provided they have a wide variety of fruits, vegetables, and seeds. Additionally, enhancements such as water mixed with Vitamin E may be given to breeding pairs of caiques but no longer advised for pairs that have laid two or more consecutive clutches of clear eggs (source).
Caiques are not known for their talking ability. However, they tend to exhibit unpleasant screaming noises due to their exuberant behavior. Furthermore, shrieking is far worse for all caiques whenever there is a new bird. When having one or more pairs of caiques, the noise that caiques produce is essential. (source) (source)
The loud noises caiques make could compromise the comfort of neighbors. Having caiques as pets is not the best idea, especially when these birds are within a populated neighborhood.
The owner’s attention and companionship are essential reinforcement to caiques’ good behavior. However, accidental reinforcement of undesired behavior such as screaming for attention can happen to caiques whenever there is a lack of caution and attentiveness from the owner. (source)
Training Routine And Good Behavior
Well-behaved pets, whether birds or mammals, result from adequate training and are not necessarily based on the animal’s genetics. It would be best if you allotted significant time and effort to achieve this feat for a pet caique. Interaction with a well-behaved caique would be a rewarding experience with a wonderful relationship between owner and pet based on trust. (source)
A well-behaved parrot usually exhibits these five behaviors: step up, step down, go back into the cage, step onto new people, and recall. However, the learning duration per behavior may vary for caiques which significantly depends on positive reinforcement (e.g., food treat or head scratch). Still, caiques are highly intelligent and have great potential to be house-trained. (source)
How Long Should Be A Training Session
Parrots, in general, can generally participate in 5 to 20-minute training sessions which could reach up to 3 sessions per day. Positive reinforcement is essential to keep the pet caiques motivated to maintain this training routine in learning different behaviors. (source)
Daily training sessions would no longer be necessary when you establish solid behaviors. It is essential to ensure that positive reinforcement on pet caiques is provided every time a behavior is requested. However, there are instances when bird pets would stop exhibiting trained behavior/s, which calls for retraining, which usually yields positive results. (source)
Aside from the behaviors mentioned above, caiques can also be potty trained. The owner may observe a caique’s first defecation during the morning and, while doing this, gently place a portable container under the tail (i.e., you should not do it in a manner to alarm the bird). As the caique eliminates in the container, ensure to reward it with positive reinforcement. (source)
Alternative Bird Pets for Beginners
There are potentially other birds as pets that are more suitable for a beginner. However, selecting the correct bird would depend on the owner’s intent, commitment, and preference (e.g., easily maintained birds, quiet, pleasant vocalizations, and gentle).
Below are brief descriptions of several alternative bird pet options to consider as with their general traits and potential concerns.
These birds can be interactive and enjoyable pets. However, they have a genetic predisposition to numerous diseases and neoplastic conditions. (source)
Cockatiels are popular pets and are known for their intelligence. They can become very attached to conspecifics or their owners. However, aggression can develop toward chicks during the maturity phase of the males. Additionally, evident chronic egg-laying occurs in some females. Lastly, their color mutations are possibly more prone to illnesses. (source)
These types of conures were historically common imports and were relatively inexpensive. Captive-raised individuals of this kind can serve as excellent pets. Although, Nanday conures tend to develop persistent and loud screaming behavior. (source)
Doves And Pigeons
Both doves and pigeons are gentle and excellent pets, but their interactions (i.e., body posturing and vocalization) are limited. There is little or no caution of injury to humans from their bites. However, they are raised in captivity and tend to exhibit no fear or defense against cats and dogs. (source)
Finches And Canaries
Both birds are easy to care for; they are quiet and have pleasant vocalizations. However, inbreeding has produced genetic predispositions resulting in multiple disease syndromes in some of their lineages. (source)
These birds are easily tamed and bonded to people or other birds, yet they may exhibit aggression during the breeding season. (source)
These are quiet and easily maintained birds. However, they are not readily bonded with people. (source)
These parakeets are intelligent, feisty, have moderate talking ability, and could tolerate colder environments. Still, they often exhibit aggression and tend to be obese. A high incidence of pancreatic problems is in this species. Furthermore, this species is illegal in some US states due to its capacity to establish feral populations with comprehensive coverage. (source)
These parrots are very active and hardy. They often become bonded with specific individuals but are aggressive to others. Some have excellent vocalizations (e.g., the yellow-nape, double yellow-head, and blue-front species). However, they tend to exhibit aggression, territorialism, and screaming traits except for the quieter species (i.e., white-front and orange-winged). (source)
Pionus Sp. Parrots
These parrots are generally quieter, smaller, and gentler than their Amazon relatives. However, when alarmed, they produce a rapid “sniffing” sound and are often mistaken for respiratory problems. Additionally, their mimic vocalizations are more limited than those of Amazons. (source)
Overall, the caique is not a good bird for beginners as there are crucial demands of commitment, patience, time, and effort expected from the owner.
It would help if you addressed the cage environment, feeding necessities, and unpleasant screaming behavior of a caique to ensure its survival, health, hygiene, safety, stimulus, and comfort with surrounding neighbors.
A consistent training routine is needed to induce good behavior in caiques, and it is essential to consistently provide positive reinforcement as a reward for every behavior requested.
Lastly, there are alternative pet birds to consider, which may prove more suitable for an owner’s intent, commitment, and preference.
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- Lima, Ralph. “The Care and Breeding of Caiques”. AFA Watchbird Magazine Archive, (1996).
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- BirdsNow. EquineNow.com, LLC. Accessed July 5, 2022. https://www.birdsnow.com/caique.htm
- Parrot Website. NA. Accessed July 5, 2022. https://www.parrotwebsite.com/how-much-does-a-caique-cost/
- Padzil F., Mariatulqabtiah A.R., and Abu J. Avian Polyomavirus: A Recent Update. J. Vet. Malaysia 29, no. 2 (2017): 9-13.
- Them, Peter. “Caiques:Clowns of the Parrots”. AFA Watchbird Magazine Archive, (1988).
- Welch, Jade. “The Black-headed Caique: An Aussie Overview”. AFA Watchbird Magazine Archive, (2016).
- Heidenreich, Barbara. “Five Behaviors for a Well Behaved”. AFA Watchbird Magazine Archive, (2012).
- Smith, George. “The Caique in Captivity – Part II”. AFA Watchbird Magazine Archive, (1990).
- Lennox, Angela M., and Harrison, Greg J. “The Companion Bird”. Clinical Avian Medicine – Volume I, edited by Harrison, Greg J., and Lightfoot, Theresa. Spix Publishing, 2005.