Lorikeets and their cousins, the lories, are acrobatic, playful and energetic birds, in their natural environment they are the “dive bombers of the sky”. Lories are generally larger than lorikeets and come from tropical islands north of Australia. In the wild both lories and lorikeets eat nectar, pollen and fruits rather than seeds. Pet lories and lorikeets have similar requirements. They need a specialized diet of a nectar mix, fruit and vegetables. They are delightful, gaudy birds but are quite messy eaters and have naturally loose droppings. Feeding lorikeet pellets rather than wet mix reduces the mess to some degree but if you choose to keep lorikeets you need to be prepared to clean their cage every day to prevent bacterial and yeast (thrush) infections.
Lorikeets are extremely playful and love to listen to music and dance. Some can be good talkers and most copy whistles and bells beautifully. They form strong bonds with their owner and make excellent pets for those willing to provide the specialized care required. If you want a bonded pet bird, as with any parrot species, it is best to obtain a hand reared bird from aviary bred parents or acquire your bird as soon as it is weaned from its parents and spend quality time with it at this critcal early stage. More than other species, some lorikeets enjoy being placed on their backs, probably because they are so adapt and turning upside down to access nectar on flowering trees.
Housing and husbandry
Lorikeets can be kept in a large rectangular cage or aviary. They can make wonderful single bird pets provided they are taken out daily and allowed to spend time with their human family.
Perches should be natural wood or concrete, of varied diameters and regularly replaced. Place at opposite ends of the aviary to encourage flight. Avoid sandpaper on perches.
Let your pet lorikeet have access to a bird bath - they love it!
Lorikeets enjoy having a swing and "ring" type toys to do "tricks" with.
Leafy native Australian tree branches, grasses & greenery should be put into the cage for behavioural enrichment.
Lorikeets generally love a variety of toys to play with and destroy. Our staff can show you suitable ones. Change toys regularly.
Do not use frayed rope or fine fibres or in the cage as lorikeets have a papilla on their tongue that may get caught in the fibres or they can ingest fibres and cause a gastrointestinal obstruction.
A reasonably sized rectangular cage is suitable for a pet bird. Narrow round cages are NOT recommended.
The cage should be away from draughts and direct sunlight.
Dr Pat's Mum, Bette, feeding her friendly wild lorikeets
Feeding your Lorikeet
LORIKEETS ARE NOT SEED EATERS! While some will eat seeds this is not their normal diet and feeding a seed based diet is unhealthy for them. There are a number suitable brands of commercial lorikeet nectar mixes that can be fed wet and/or dry that are equivalent to their natural diet of nectar and pollens from flowering native trees. Birds will vary in their preference. The mix should be made up fresh once or twice daily,
In addition to the nectar mix, lorikeets should be supplied with a selection of fresh fruit such as apple, orange, grapes or tropical fruit and vegetables such as spinach, beans, parsley, broccoli, carrots, silver beet, etc. Other foods you can serve include pasta, rice, toast, eggs (in moderation), mashed potato or sweet potato, chicken bones and other meats - share your meals with your pet lorikeet. Australian flowers such as Grevillia and bottlebrush etc. are excellent for both enrichment and nutrition. Other Australian native plants can also be offered but avoid alcohol, chocolate, coffee or avocado as these may be toxic to birds.
Common lorikeet diseases seen at Bird Vet Melbourne
* Lorikeet paralysis - resulting in lameness and paralysis in their legs.
* Trauma - broken beaks, legs, wings
* Obesity caused by lack of exercise and poor diets resulting in fatty livers and high cholesterol
* Poor diets causing high cholesterol, liver and heart disease
* Circovirus (Beak and Feather Disease) causing damage to wing feathers with birds not able to fly.
* Yeast infections - Candidisis
* Bacterial infections - especially sinusitis
* Injuries - especially of feet and tongue injuries from rope toys
* Fungal infections- e.g. Megabacteria (Macrorhabdus)
* Reproductive disorders
Health Care for Pet Lorikeets
We recommend a health check with us, at our Melbourne Bird Vet facility, with testing as appropriate, when you acquire your new lorikeet and each year thereafter, to ensure that basic care is not overlooked to check for and prevent common illnesses. We can also help with wing trims (if needed), nail care and bird behaviour.
A good book that Dr Phil recommends is Birds for Dummies by Dr Brian Speer. Talking Birds is a good newpaper style journal with excellent information about bird care.
Birds often hide signs of illness and may only appear unwell when they are very sick. It is important to seek advice early if your bird looks unwell.