Last Updated on: 15th June 2023, 11:05 pm
The Dracula parrot (Psittrichas fulgidus) is a rare bird known for its gothic appearance.
Dracula parrots have red and black plumage, with a curved beak similar to a vulture. Due to their striking appearance, many ask whether you can keep Dracula parrots as pets.
Unfortunately, you can’t have a Dracula parrot as a pet in the U.S. because they’re a threatened species, which means importing, breeding, selling, or owning one is illegal.
Dracula parrots eat a specialized diet of figs, so it would be hard to provide them with the right nourishment. Also, because they aren’t domesticated, Dracula parrots aren’t friendly birds.
A pet Dracula parrot would be temperamental or hostile toward humans and other animals.
What Is a Dracula Parrot?
If you’ve never heard of or seen one, you may have wondered: is the Dracula parrot real?
It is, but despite its name, it doesn’t drink blood. Also known as Pesquet’s parrot, the Dracula parrot earned its name due to its appearance.
Dracula parrots are black with black beaks and eyes. They have bright red feathers on their wings, ventral (belly) area, and upper tail. Males also have a red spot behind the eye.
Their plumage resembles Dracula’s famous black and red cape when viewed straight on.
They also have few feathers on their small heads and scaly black facial skin. They have long, sharp, curved beaks, which make them look vulture-like and intimidating.
For this reason, an alternative nickname for the Dracula parrot is the vulturine parrot.
However, they shouldn’t be confused with Pyrilia vulturina, a bird with the same nickname. These Brazilian parrots have similar hookbills, but they’re bright green.
It’s thought that Dracula parrots lost their facial feathers due to their special diet of figs. An absence of feathers around their beak would prevent them from matting with sticky fig juice.
Where Do Dracula Parrots Live?
Dracula parrots come from New Guinea, an Indonesian island in the southwestern Pacific Ocean.
New Guinea is the second largest non-continental island in the world, after Greenland. Dracula parrots are endemic to New Guinea, meaning they can’t be found anywhere else.
You won’t find Dracula parrots all over the island, as they can only be found in dense rainforest areas, on the sides and foothills of mountains. This rainforest is called a cloud forest because it has a near-constant coverage of low-lying clouds.
If you were to explore a New Guinean rainforest, you’d unlikely encounter a Dracula parrot because few remain in the wild. New Guinea is over 300,000 square miles, yet under 50,000 Dracula parrots exist.
Dracula parrots haven’t been introduced to any other country as an immigrant species. Although they can fly, they haven’t migrated to any surrounding Melanesian islands.
Visiting a zoo is the easiest way to see a Dracula parrot in person. According to the Avicultural Society, the Bronx Zoo and Los Angeles Zoo have successfully bred Dracula parrots.
Are Dracula Parrots Endangered?
Dracula parrots aren’t considered endangered, but their numbers are threatened.
On the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species, Dracula parrots have had a vulnerable status since 1994. In other words, they face a high risk of becoming endangered.
There are 3 main reasons why Dracula parrots are vulnerable:
- Hunting. In their native New Guinea, poachers hunt Dracula parrots to sell their feathers for a high price. Their feathers are highly prized and used for ceremonial headdresses.
- Habitat loss. Dracula parrots are only found in hill and montane rainforests, and their homes are under threat due to deforestation.
- Selling to the pet trade. Though Dracula parrots are wild animals, they’re highly sought after as pets. Dracula parrot chicks are taken from the wild to sell to bird enthusiasts worldwide.
Researchers estimate that between 20,000 and 50,000 adult Dracula parrots remain. These numbers are decreasing, so Dracula parrots may become extinct unless conservation efforts are implemented.
Can You Have a Dracula Parrot As a Pet?
Because they’re such beautiful and exotic birds, you may wonder, can Dracula parrots be pets?
There’s no doubt that a Dracula parrot would make an interesting and exotic companion animal. If you’re into the gothic look, you may think a Dracula parrot would be ideal.
Unfortunately, it’s against the law to own Dracula parrots, and it would also be challenging to care for them in captivity because they’re wild animals.
Is It Legal To Own A Dracula Parrot?
Possessing (owning) endangered or threatened species is illegal, and it’s also unlawful to import, export, breed, or sell them. This is a federal law that applies to the whole U.S.
Because the Dracula parrot is classified as vulnerable, this law applies to them. You can’t legally keep a Dracula parrot as a pet in 50 U.S. states.
You could apply for a special government permit that would allow you to import or keep a pet Dracula parrot. However, permits are usually only granted for the following reasons:
- Scientific research.
- Zoological exhibition.
- Enhancement of survival (conservation work).
You wouldn’t be granted a permit if you just wanted to keep a threatened animal as a pet. Though Dracula parrots haven’t yet reached the ‘endangered’ category, they’re still vulnerable.
Where Can I Buy a Dracula Parrot?
It’s illegal to breed, import, or sell Dracula parrots, meaning you won’t find any for sale.
Pet stores don’t stock them, and private parrot breeders aren’t allowed to breed them. The Endangered Species Act (1973) prohibits the sale of threatened species as pets.
If you were to find someone selling a Dracula parrot, buying it wouldn’t be a good idea because the bird would be for sale illegally. You don’t know whether it’s been bred in captivity or stolen from the wild and imported into the U.S. Either way, it’s against the law.
You could face prosecution if found keeping a Dracula parrot as a pet in the U.S. The minimum penalty is $3,500 for the first offense, which increases to $13,000 for the third violation.
The only places you’ll see Dracula parrots for sale are overseas. In some countries, such as the U.K., owning a Dracula parrot is legal.
However, you’re breaking the law if you buy a Dracula parrot from abroad and import it into the U.S.
How Much Do Dracula Parrots Cost?
It’s almost impossible to say how much a Dracula parrot would cost because they aren’t often put up for sale due to the laws against selling them.
If you were to find a Dracula parrot for sale, it would be very expensive.
Even in countries where it’s legal to sell Dracula parrots, they’re not cheap. As their numbers are so low in the wild, it isn’t easy to get hold of them.
Few breeders work with Dracula parrots, which are notoriously difficult to feed and care for. The minimum you’d pay for a pet Dracula parrot would be $2,500, but it would likely be significantly more.
Are Dracula Parrots Good Pets?
Although illegal, you may still wonder what keeping Dracula parrots as pets would be like. After all, Dracula parrots might not always be on the threatened list.
If their wild numbers increase, there’s a chance that it might be legal to own one. To decide if a Dracula parrot would make a good pet, you’d have to consider its:
- Diet, and how easy it would be to feed and keep healthy.
- Temperament and personality – would the bird be friendly or aggressive?
- Size and energy levels, and how much space you’d have to provide.
- Longevity (lifespan), and whether you could care for it for its entire life.
Are Dracula Parrots Friendly?
Dracula parrots are wild animals that have never been socialized or trained to live near humans and would make unpredictable pets.
A wild-caught Dracula parrot wouldn’t cope well with being cooped up. It would be wary of humans and difficult to tame. Frightened birds would act aggressively and may bite their owners.
What Does A Dracula Parrot Eat?
Dracula parrots have highly specialized diets. According to The Auk, Dracula parrots are obligate frugivores, meaning they only eat fruit.
Specifically, Dracula parrots feed almost entirely on a few species of figs native to New Guinea. It would be difficult to replicate this diet for a pet Dracula parrot.
You couldn’t just feed them parrot pellets from a pet store. If you fed a Dracula parrot the wrong food, it could become sick due to malnutrition.
Avian Diseases describes two captive Dracula parrots who died from a bacterial disease at 6 weeks old. The researchers posited that both birds had been predisposed to infection due to nutritional deficiencies.
How Big Are Dracula Parrots?
Dracula parrots are medium-to-large-sized parrots that need a sizeable enclosure. You’d need a cage measuring at least 36″ x 48″ x 48″ to house a single Dracula parrot.
The average adult Dracula parrot is 18 inches from head to tail. This is about the same size as some species of conure. Dracula parrots aren’t as big as macaws, which reach 37-39 inches long.
They’re social birds that live in groups of up to 20 in the wild. You’d need a pair of Dracula parrots in captivity and an even bigger cage or aviary.
How Long Do Dracula Parrots Live?
Researchers estimate that Dracula parrots have an average lifespan of between 20 and 40 years.
Most parrots live longer in captivity than in the wild because wild birds’ lives are cut short by predators, disease, injury, or malnourishment.
They would live longer in captivity if given exemplary care. The problem is that giving a pet Dracula parrot everything it needs would be impossible.
This is largely due to their specialized diet, which would be almost impossible to provide. Because they’re such rare creatures, you’d also struggle to find a veterinarian who treats them.
Birds Similar to Dracula Parrots
Even if it wasn’t illegal to own a Dracula parrot, it’s clear that they wouldn’t make the best pets. However, there are alternatives to keeping a pet Dracula parrot.
Though many are brightly colored, some species look similar to Dracula parrots, with black plumage. Here are some gothic-looking parrots that you can legally keep as pets:
- Black Lory. They have red and gold under-tail feathers.
- Red-tailed black cockatoo. They have bright scarlet feathers under the tail.
- Vasa parrot. These long-necked parrots can be black, dark gray, or brown.
Never adopt a new pet parrot based on its appearance alone.
While Dracula parrots are fascinating birds, they’re unsuitable for life in captivity. They’re a threatened species, so owning a Pesquet’s parrot in America is illegal.