Home » Can I Own A Dracula Parrot? (Pet Pesquet’s Parrot Ownership)
can you have a dracula parrot as a pet?

Can I Own A Dracula Parrot? (Pet Pesquet’s Parrot Ownership)

Last Updated on January 28, 2024 by Carrie Stephens

Renowned for its gothic features, the Dracula parrot (Psittrichas fulgidus) is a rare avian species.

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. This 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 suitable nourishment. Also, because they aren’t domesticated birds, Dracula parrots are unfriendly.

A pet Dracula parrot would be temperamental or hostile toward humans and other animals.

What Dracula Parrots Look Like

Also known as Pesquet’s parrot, the Dracula parrot earned its name due to its appearance.

Dracula parrots have primarily black feathers, 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. Dracula parrots shouldn’t be confused with Pyrilia vulturina, a bird with the same nickname.

It’s thought that Dracula parrots lost their facial feathers due to their diet of figs. An absence of feathers around their beak would prevent them from matting with sticky fig juice.

Where 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’ll only be encountered 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. New Guinea is over 300,000 square miles, yet well under 50,000 Dracula parrots exist.

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.

is it legal to own a dracula parrot?

Are Dracula Parrots Endangered?

Dracula parrots aren’t classified as endangered, but their numbers are threatened.

On the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species, Dracula parrots have been vulnerable since 1994. In other words, they face a high risk of becoming endangered.

There are three primary 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.
  • Sale 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 enthusiasts worldwide.

Researchers estimate that 20,000 to 50,000 adult Dracula parrots remain. These numbers are decreasing, so Dracula parrots may become extinct without significant conservation efforts.

Suitability of Pet Dracula Parrots

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 bird. 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. Caring for them in captivity is also challenging because they’re wild animals.

Illegal 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. Permits are only granted for the following reasons:

  • Scientific research.
  • Education.
  • 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 To 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.

Buying a Dracula parrot isn’t recommended because the bird would be for sale illegally. You don’t know whether it’s been bred in captivity, stolen from the wild, and imported into the U.S.

You could face prosecution if you’re 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.

You’re breaking the law if you buy a Dracula parrot from abroad and import it into the U.S.

How Much Dracula Parrots Cost

It’s 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 costly.

Even in countries where it’s legal to sell Dracula parrots, they’re far from cheap. Their numbers are so low in the wild that it isn’t easy for breeders to obtain 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.

Dracula Parrots Aren’t Good Pets

Although illegal, you may still wonder what keeping Dracula parrots as pets would be like.

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.

Dracula parrots are wild animals that have never been socialized or trained to live near humans.

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 bite their owners.

What Dracula Parrots 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 hard to replicate this diet. You couldn’t just feed them parrot pellets from a pet store. If you provide a Dracula parrot with the wrong food, it could become malnourished.

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.

are dracula parrots endangered?

How Big Dracula Parrots Get

The average adult Dracula parrot is 18 inches from head to tail. These medium-sized birds need a large enclosure. To house a single bird, you’d require a cage measuring at least 36″ x 48″ x 48″.

How Long Dracula Parrots Live

Dracula parrots have an average lifespan of between 20 and 40 years. Parrots live longer in captivity because wild birds’ lives are cut short by predators, disease, injury, dehydration, and starvation.

The problem is that giving a pet Dracula parrot everything it needs would be impossible. This is primarily due to their specialized diet, which would be challenging to provide.

Birds Similar to Dracula Parrots

There are alternatives to keeping a pet Dracula parrot. Though many are brightly colored, some species look similar to Dracula parrots, with primarily 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.

While Dracula parrots are fascinating birds, they’re unsuitable for life in captivity. They’re a threatened species, and owning a Pesquet’s parrot in America is illegal.