Last Updated on: 25th November 2023, 04:02 pm
Parrots are social animals that live together in flocks, but most of us only have one pet bird. That can leave you concerned about loneliness due to a lack of same-species companionship.
Parrots are flock animals that dislike living alone. They’ll become unhappy, unruly, and stressed when lonely, resorting to stereotypies and destructive behaviors (like feather plucking) to self-soothe.
It’s better to keep a pair of parrots. If you don’t want the parrots to mate, ensure they’re the same gender. If you can’t get a second parrot, spend several hours a day playing and engaging together.
Do Parrots Get Lonely?
Due to the intelligence of parrots, they need the companionship of same-species birds.
According to the National Academy of Sciences, parrots have a similar number of neurons in their forebrain as primates. The more complex the brain, the more stimulation is needed.
That’s why prisons use isolation as a punishment for inmates who misbehave. Social isolation has adverse mental, emotional, and physical effects on humans (and caged parrots).
New owners with limited time should get a companion bird for their parrots. These social animals become attention-starved if neglected or left alone for too long.
Even an affectionate owner may not give parrots the companionship they crave. Another parrot will have unlimited time to dedicate to its new friend.
Why Do Parrots Get Lonely?
Parrots are a food source for some animals, so they evolved to live in flocks for safety. There are many benefits to parrots living in large groups:
- There’s safety in numbers because predators find it harder to single out one bird.
- While in a flock, parrots benefit from the early warning system of loud squawking.
- Flocks find resources and tell others where to find food, water, and shelter.
- Parrots can solve puzzles or overcome obstacles collectively.
- Finding mates and protecting eggs/hatchlings is easier in numbers.
Parrots have survived for thousands of years, so their logic is ingrained. It’s not something you can train out of parrots because the need for a flock carries across from wild to domesticated birds.
Solitude Represents Danger
Individual parrots won’t be warned and can’t defend themselves against predators as easily. When a pet parrot is alone, it raises red flags in its brain. To parrots, solitude equates to risk.
Solitude makes parrots feel on edge. After all, it may indicate that other parrots have fled a dangerous situation, yet it’s still there, which is stressful and anxiety-causing.
Parrots Crave Interaction
With intelligence comes self-awareness, and with self-awareness comes concerns.
Parrots are acutely aware when they’re alone. Other animals may feel contented if there isn’t an immediate danger, but parrots worry about what could happen next.
Can Parrots Die of Loneliness?
Loneliness can lead to a shortened life span but won’t immediately kill a parrot. Instead, the effects of loneliness are gradual and cumulative, adversely impacting parrots in the following ways:
- Quiet and less talkative or noisy and vocal.
- Stereotypies, like feather-destructive behavior and pacing.
- Hiding and avoidance.
- Inappetence and weight loss.
How Loneliness Shortens A Parrot’s Life
According to the University of Veterinary Medicine, social isolation reduces the longevity of parrots due to chronic stress. This is evident in the length of their telomeres.
Telomeres are specialized DNA complexes serving as protective caps on the ends of linear chromosomes that protect against erosion. The longer the telomeres, the better they can protect the chromosomes.
The body produces free radicals during cellular metabolism, which causes oxidative stress. This deteriorates the cells in an organism’s body, including telomeres.
Telomerase, the enzyme responsible for telomere length, is vulnerable to oxidative stress.
The study observed 45 captive parrots between 0.75 and 45 years old over 2 years. Of them, 26 were single, and 19 were paired. The telomere length between single and paired parrots differed.
Parrots Age Faster
Telomeres shorten as organisms age because the body wears down.
Researchers noted that the telomere length of a 9-year-old single parrot was the same as that of a paired parrot that was 23 years older. Also, 4 of the 45 parrots died non-traumatically, all single pets.
Isolation ages parrots due to cellular material destruction and telomere length reduction.
Stress is a feeling that manifests through physical tension and discomfort that weakens the defenses at a cellular level. The result will be biological disequilibrium, so lonely parrots age faster.
How Much Attention Do Parrots Need?
Wild parrots live in large flocks and often form monogamous pairs. For this reason, parrots need constant attention and throw tantrums when bored, lonely, and neglected.
It’s recommend that owners give their parrots 2-4 hours of daily time and attention.
How Long Can You Leave A Parrot Alone?
Parrots shouldn’t be left alone for more than a standard working day (about 8 hours). Some owners spend 1-2 days away from their pet birds, which increases the risk of starvation and dehydration.
Once you’ve bonded with a parrot, it considers you part of its flock. Wild parrots are accustomed to being with their flock and want to be around bonded humans.
Can You Leave A Parrot Alone While On Vacation?
If you plan an extended vacation, find a pet sitter to keep the parrot company. However, this only works if the parrot knows and trusts the pet sitter.
Can Parrots Befriend Other Pets?
Some people believe that cats and dogs make good companions for parrots. However, it takes just seconds for a misunderstanding between the 2 species to have dire consequences.
Parrots are prey animals that go on high alert when they perceive danger. Unfortunately, pet birds shouldn’t be left alone with cats or dogs while you’re away, even for a few minutes.
Is It Better to Have One Parrot or Two?
Since parrots need ongoing social interaction, keeping them in pairs is recommended. Parrots become less accepting of others with age, so getting a second bird while they’re still young is sensible.
There’s a chance the two parrots won’t like each other. If this happens, they may bully or attack each other. For this reason, introduce two parrots to each other slowly.
Parrots are stubborn birds. If 2 parrots don’t like each other, little can be done to make them get along. The new parrot must be rehomed and replaced with a suitable companion.
Growing To Dislike You
Parrots can grow to like each other too much. When parrots share a deep bond, there’s always the chance that their bond replaces the one that exists with you.
That’s another reason to introduce parrots to each other slowly. It gives them time to bond with you before bonding with each other. Bonded parrots may:
- Scream if you separate them, even just a few feet apart.
- Bite you when jealous.
- Go from being affectionate to indifferent.
A parrot’s personality can change once bonded with another parrot.
Can Two Parrots Live in the Same Cage?
Two parrots can live in the same cage, but conflicts can arise. This is even the case with parrots that are bonded and friendly toward each other.
For example, parrots are destructive and can be territorial about their food and possessions.
Parrots can grow tired of their cage mates and want some alone time. If the cage isn’t big enough, the parrot won’t get the space and freedom it needs.
Parrots enjoy same-species companionship, but owners don’t always have sufficient space. If so, you must spend 2-4 hours together, playing with, teaching, and talking to the parrot daily.