We spend a lot of time discussing all the benefits of getting a pet and from the companionship to the educational experience, there are a lot of advantages to discuss. However, it is also important to understand the reasons you should not get a pet. Take birds, for example, they are beautiful, interesting, friendly and sociable companions, but if you cannot give them the life and home they need and deserve, it would be unfair to adopt one.
Being a Responsible Bird Owner
A fairly common myth about owning a bird is that they are an easy to pet to have. It is often thought that a small bird in a cage can’t be too much work, time or effort, but, like all living things, they still need a lot of attention and care. While it may be true that a few breeds of bird are relatively less work than particularly intelligent and excitable puppies, they still require daily care.
Caring for an animal is so much more than just feeding and cleaning it. If you buy your bird on an impulse, you are likely to start neglecting their more complex needs, and this can negatively affect your bird’s happiness and behavior. Birds that don’t get the attention they need often start biting, yelling or screaming, and picking at their feathers.
This leads many of them to be given away to shelters. Parrot abandonment is a serious, growing problem in the United States, and sanctuaries are struggling to cope. Some sanctuaries are getting hundreds of requests to take in parrots a year – estimates even go up to 700 hundred! All birds have unique and complex needs, so you must be prepared to meet them before you adopt them.
No matter how much you want to own a bird of your own, being realistic and honest about your situation is an important part of being a responsible bird owner. There are many potential issues that could impact your ability to adopt a bird, so to help you make the right decision for your circumstances, here are eight reasons not to adopt a bird:
1. You Can’t Handle Mess
Everyone loves a clean home. It looks better, smells better, and is generally more inviting. If you cherish having a clean house, most pets are not going to make you happy, and this includes birds. They cause chaos and mess by tearing up newspaper and toys, spitting out or dropping half their food, and splashing their water about. If this sounds like a nightmare, do some research into tidier pets, such as, surprisingly, a pet rat.
You may think that having a bird in a cage means the mess is contained, but, unfortunately, a lot of can spread to around the cage as birds enjoy throwing things about. There is also the smell to get used to, and you have to remember that most birds need to spend part of the day outside their cage. Birds that need exercise or social time with you may use their daily freedom as an opportunity to shred your sofa, and generally cause yet more chaos.
2. You Have An Apartment With Thin Walls
If you share any walls with your neighbors, or are generally living in close proximity with other people, a bird is probably not a great pet for your circumstances. Birds make a lot of noise, from parrot chatter to squawking and squeaking, and they can do this at all times of the day. Many even prefer dawn and dusk. This will not put your neighbors in a good mood.
If you want to preserve a good relationship with the people who live around you, getting a pet bird is a bad idea. Don’t be fooled by a bird’s size. Small birds have been known to be even louder than huge parrots. You also can’t rely on training. Although some parrots can be trained to keep their squawking to a minimum, you will never get rid of it altogether.
3. You Don’t Have Enough Time
Birds are very sociable animals, and it is important that you spend plenty of time with them to support this. Some birds are so sociable that they must be bought in pairs! Social birds require handling as much as once a day. This interaction is vital to their happiness and health as, without it, they can start to get bored and will act out through screaming or over-grooming.
There are a few breeds that don’t require this social aspect of care, such as finches, but they will still benefit from your presence and attention. While birds that do not like to be touched should not be touched, or you may be bitten, there is nothing to stop you chatting to and spending time with your bird. After all, a secondary benefit of spending more time with your pet is that you are likely to notice potential health issues much sooner.
4. You Can’t Afford Pet Care
There are a lot of hidden costs when it comes to pet care, and you need to make sure you can meet them. Far too many birds are given up because their costs become too much. It isn’t just the bird itself that you are buying, you need to supply a cage, accessories, toys, food, replacement toys for when the first batch are inevitably destroyed, and vet’s fees.
Do your research, find out how much the breed of bird you are buying will cost over its entire life, not just how much it costs to buy it. Make sure you have a suitable local vet or specialist, and that you know how much they charge. Remember, there are other ways to spend time with animals if you can’t afford to house one yourself – volunteer at a local shelter or sanctuary! They can always do with the help, and it can be great practice for the day you can afford to take one in.
5. You Travel A Lot
The mess that birds make, their social natures, and their need for daily feedings mean that you cannot leave your pet bird alone for more than one day. Even though it may seem that they don’t finish the food and water you give them, they often dirty it so quickly with feces and mess that both need regular changing. Similarly, leaving them alone for long periods will make them more aggressive and unhappy because of a lack of attention.
You may travel often for work, or you may enjoy taking very long holidays, but, regardless of the reason, you cannot leave a pet bird alone for more than 24 hours. If you can afford a regular bird babysitter or caretaker, then it may be possible to continue your travels, but many parrots can be quite aggressive to strangers, so make sure this person is a familiar and beloved face.
6. You Have Allergies
One of the benefits of having a pet bird is that they suit households where one, or more, people have allergies to fur, but did you know you can also be allergic to feathers? Both feathers and feather dander can be allergens for humans. Feather dander is the white powder that covers some parrots’ feathers. It can waft easily through the air for you and your family to breathe in.
Unfortunately, many people who are allergic to fur will also have this allergic reaction, which makes it very difficult to care for your bird. Try to make sure that everyone who will come in regular contact with your bird is allergy-free. You don’t want to find you have to return the bird just a few days after you got it.
7. You Have Young Children
Although they can look so sweet and harmless, all birds can actually be very dangerous. Some are more dangerous than others due to the shapes, size and sharpness of their beaks and their temperament, but all of them have the potential to lash out and attack if they feel threatened. Children are, unfortunately, a common cause of stress in pets, so it is a bad idea to have a household with both birds and young children.
Some birds are incompatible of children of any age because they are naturally aggressive, but many birds will only become aggressive in self-defence. These birds are only incompatible with young children, who may not understand about good animal care so may badger or try to touch your bird. Don’t buy a bird until you are confident that your child is responsible enough to respect your bird’s space and not intimidate it.
8. You Aren’t Sure About Your Future Plans
Birds are a lifetime commitment. Some can live for as much as 70 years. Make sure you know the lifespan of your new pet, and plan accordingly. There are a lot of questions about your future that you must consider if you want to adopt a bird:
- Are you going to move house frequently?
- Are you going to have a child, who may terrorize or provoke the bird?
- Can you financially stable enough to support this bird for, possibly, decades?
- What will happen to your bird if it outlives you?
- Most importantly, can you commit to caring for this bird for the decades to come?
Ultimately, there are some birds with shorter lifespans of up to 10 years that you can choose if you want a bird without the long-term commitment, but always do the research and be aware of any pet’s potential lifespan and how that could affect your life.