Rainbow lorikeets are some of the most colorful and active parrots that you can keep as pets. With their bright green wings, blue heads, and vivid orange-red chests, they’re stunning to look at. But you must learn how to care for a rainbow lorikeet correctly if you wish to keep one.
The rainbow lorikeet must be fed a specialized diet of fresh fruit and powdered lorikeet food mixed with water. This kind of food goes bad quickly and must be replaced every few hours. Rainbow lorikeets should live in pairs and require large cages filled with toys and perches. You should spend at least 4 hours a day interacting with your rainbow lorikeet.
Your rainbow lorikeet should be allowed outside of the cage for most of the day to fly around and explore. These intelligent parrots can become bored and stressed easily and aren’t ideal for beginners.
Can You Keep a Rainbow Lorikeet as a Pet?
The rainbow lorikeet, Trichoglossus moluccanus, is a medium-sized parrot that can be kept as a pet. It gets its name from its vibrant coloring. It has a blue head and belly, an orange-red chest, and a bright green back, tail, and wings. Its beak and eyes are also orange-red.
Rainbow lorikeets are native to Australia and Indonesia and are quite common in the wild. They are listed as of least concern on the IUCN Red List, meaning they’re not vulnerable or endangered.
There are two different types of true rainbow lorikeets: the Swainson’s Lorikeet (T. m. moluccanus) and the Northern Moluccan Lorikeet (T. m. septentrionalis). Green-naped lorikeets, also known as coconut lorikeets, also belong to the same genus as rainbow lorikeets. They are so similar that they were once considered the same species.
Most captive-bred rainbow lorikeets for sale in the U.S. are actually green-naped lorikeets. All rainbow lorikeets, regardless of subspecies, look virtually indistinguishable and have identical care requirements.
Rainbow lorikeets make beautiful and unique pets. They are friendly, inquisitive, and confident birds and can learn tricks. However, they require a specialized diet, plenty of space, and several hours of undivided attention each day.
Ideally, you should keep two rainbow lorikeets rather than a single bird. Rainbow lorikeets are highly social animals and crave the company of their own kind.
Is It Legal to Own a Rainbow Lorikeet?
In the U.S., it is legal to keep a captive-bred rainbow lorikeet as a pet. The bird must have been bred within the U.S. rather than imported from a different country. In most U.S. states, it’s illegal to import or own wild-caught exotic birds, including rainbow lorikeets.
To ensure you’re buying a captive-bred rainbow lorikeet, source one from a reputable breeder. Ask to see proof of the bird’s lineage to ensure you aren’t sold a wild-caught specimen.
You don’t need a permit to keep a rainbow lorikeet as a pet in the U.S. However, you may need a permit if you plan to breed them. The exact license you’ll require will vary from city to city.
Before adopting a rainbow lorikeet, it’s worth checking specific legislation in your state or municipality. Some cities, for example, have limits on the number of pet birds in one household. You should also check with your landlord or Homeowner’s Association to ensure that pet birds are permitted.
How Much Do Rainbow Lorikeets Cost?
Rainbow lorikeets are exotic birds and not often available in pet stores. You may have to visit a specialist avian store, or a professional breeder, to find one.
Expect to pay anywhere between $400 and $1,000 for a young, healthy rainbow lorikeet. You’ll also have to purchase a cage, accessories, and toys for your new bird. There are also recurring costs such as food, cleaning supplies, and veterinary checkups.
|Rainbow lorikeet||$400 – $1,000 per bird|
|Cage||$100 – $500|
|Lock for cage door||$5 – $20|
|Travel cage (for transporting the bird home, and to the vet)||$50 – $100|
|Perches||$10 – $30 per perch|
|Toys||$10 – $20 per toy|
|Water and food dishes||$10 – $20 for a set of 2|
|Food||$15 – $30 per 3lb bag of lorikeet food, plus fresh fruits daily|
|Cleaning supplies (bird-safe disinfectant, newspaper, cleaning cloths/sponges)||$10 – $20 per month|
|Yearly veterinary checkups||$50 – $100|
Your rainbow lorikeet will need a minimum of 20 toys. Rotate toys in and out every week so that your bird doesn’t get bored. You can also get additional enrichment items, such as shower perches and stands for outside the cage.
Insurance for rainbow lorikeets isn’t necessary, but it is a worthwhile investment. It will safeguard you against any unexpected medical costs.
How To Care for A Rainbow Lorikeet
Before you bring home your rainbow lorikeet, you must learn how to house, feed, and handle it. You should also learn how to spot potential health problems.
Rainbow Lorikeet Cage Requirements
Rainbow lorikeets are extremely active, medium-sized parrots. To house a lorikeet, you will need:
- A parrot cage with minimum internal dimensions of 36” H x 48” L x 24” W. For a pair of lorikeets, the cage must be at least 36” H x 60” L x 36” W
- A secure lock for the cage door, as lorikeets are known for being escape artists
- Stainless steel food and water dishes which clip onto the cage bars
- A variety of natural wood perches for inside the cage (replace when damaged)
- Several toys to keep your rainbow lorikeet entertained. These may include hanging rings, climbing toys, swings, wooden chew toys, and noisy toys (such as jingle balls). Rotate toys frequently to prevent your bird from getting bored
- A shallow bath for inside the cage (rainbow lorikeets love to bathe)
Line the cage with newspaper to make cleaning easier. Ideally, place the cage on a hard floor, such as wood, linoleum, or tile, rather than carpeting. This is because rainbow lorikeets spray their feces, and it frequently lands outside the cage.
You’ll need to clean the cage daily to remove waste and sanitize the food and water dishes. Regularly clean and disinfect cage perches and accessories. Remove any uneaten fresh food as soon as possible to prevent spoilage.
What Does a Rainbow Lorikeet Eat?
All lorikeets, including rainbow lorikeets, have highly specialized diets. Most pet parrot species can live on a dry diet of nuts, seeds, and pellets, with occasional fruits and vegetables. However, this is not the case for rainbow lorikeets.
In the wild, lorikeets feed mainly on nectar and pollen from flowers and fresh fruits. Seeds are only an occasional feature. According to Okajimas Folia Anatomica Japonica, their tongues have a grooved, brush-like tip, adapted for a liquid diet.
You can buy special food for rainbow lorikeets from most specialist avian stores. This food comes in the form of a powder, which you mix with water to get a thick liquid. It’s designed to replicate nectar from flowers and contain all of the nutrients your rainbow lorikeet needs. The packet will provide instructions for how much water to add and how much food to give. Lorikeets also benefit from daily fresh fruit, such as:
You can supplement your lorikeet’s diet with parrot pellets. Ensure that you choose a soft, low-iron pellet, as lorikeets are sensitive to too much iron. Rainbow lorikeets also need constant access to fresh, clean, chlorine-free water.
Rainbow Lorikeet Temperament and Behavior
Rainbow lorikeets are highly sociable and outgoing birds. Captive-bred rainbow lorikeets are particularly friendly and confident around humans.
It will take some time for your bird to learn to trust you. But once your rainbow lorikeet has bonded with you, you’ll have a friend for life. Rainbow lorikeets are affectionate and enjoy head scratches. They are rarely aggressive towards people.
Rainbow lorikeets are highly intelligent birds. You can train your lorikeet to come when called, navigate obstacles, perform simple tricks, and mimic your speech.
However, there are some downsides to a rainbow lorikeet’s temperament. For example, they can be loud. Lorikeets aren’t ideal pets for apartments or families with young children that need to nap during the day.
Rainbow lorikeets can be territorial and aggressive towards other birds and animals such as dogs. If you’re going to keep rainbow lorikeets, they should be the only animals in the house.
Your rainbow lorikeet will require a lot of your time and attention. Be prepared to spend a minimum of 4 hours each day playing with and talking to your bird. These active and energetic birds also need to spend several hours per day flying around outside the cage.
Rainbow lorikeets that are left alone for long periods of time may develop behavioral problems. They don’t make good pets for people who spend most of the day at work or school.
Handling a Rainbow Lorikeet
You can’t snuggle with a rainbow lorikeet as you could a cat or a dog. However, you can train your lorikeet to perch on your hand, arm, or shoulder. You can also give your bird gentle head and neck scratches.
Before you attempt to handle or touch your rainbow lorikeet, you’ll need to tame it. Depending upon your rainbow lorikeet’s individual personality, this may take up to a few weeks. It shouldn’t take longer than this, as rainbow lorikeets are generally outgoing and trusting of humans.
To tame a rainbow lorikeet, spend as much time around your bird as possible, talking and singing to it. Allow the bird to eat treats out of your hand. This will help your lorikeet associate your presence with a reward.
Eventually, your rainbow lorikeet will feel comfortable hopping onto your hand to receive a treat. You can then try gently scratching or stroking your lorikeet’s head, beak, and neck.
Never touch a rainbow lorikeet on its back, on or under its wings, or around the tail area. This will cause your bird to think that you’re its mate. If this happens, your lorikeet could become aggressive towards other people in your home.
Rainbow Lorikeet Common Health Problems
Rainbow lorikeets are prone to certain health conditions and diseases. These include, but are not limited to:
- Nutritional imbalances. Lorikeets require highly specialized diets of nectar and fresh fruit. If fed the wrong foods, they can become deficient in vital nutrients, such as Vitamin A.
- Avian diseases caused by fungus, bacteria, viruses, and parasites. For example, according to Veterinary Pathology, rainbow lorikeets are susceptible to Tyzzer’s disease (a bacterial infection).
- Injuries caused by self-mutilation, e.g. feather plucking. These typically arise due to boredom, confinement, or a lack of mental stimulation.
- Toxicosis caused by inhaling fumes (such as bleach or bug spray), or consuming poisonous substances.
- Illness caused by food spoilage. Because a lorikeet’s diet is so high in sugar, it can go bad and grow bacteria within a matter of hours.
- Obesity-related problems, such as atherosclerosis and organ disease.
- Egg binding and egg yolk peritonitis in female birds.
The most common signs of illness in rainbow lorikeets include food refusal, lethargy, depression, weight loss, and puffed-up feathers. If you suspect that your lorikeet may be sick, take it to an avian veterinarian.
You should schedule annual veterinary checkups for your rainbow lorikeet, even if it’s in good health. This way, any potential problems can be identified and prevented before they become an issue.
Facts About the Rainbow Lorikeet
Rainbow lorikeets are unique pets that take a lot of getting used to. Even if you’re accustomed to keeping parrots, it’s important to learn as much as you can about them. This way, you’ll be able to provide the best care and won’t be surprised by their interesting behaviors. Here are some of the most frequently asked questions about rainbow lorikeets as pets.
How Big Is a Rainbow Lorikeet?
Rainbow lorikeets are considered medium-sized parrots. They reach their maximum size around 24 months of age. The total length of an average adult rainbow lorikeet is 10 to 12 inches, including the tail. Males and females are identical in size.
Most healthy rainbow lorikeets weigh somewhere between 2.6 and 5.5 ounces. If your adult bird weighs less than this or looks thin, there may be an underlying medical problem. Alternatively, your bird may not be getting enough to eat.
Although rainbow lorikeets aren’t as big as large parrots (e.g. macaws), they still require a lot of space. They are extremely active birds that benefit from a large cage and regular time outside of it.
What Is The Lifespan of A Rainbow Lorikeet?
Wild rainbow lorikeets typically live for 7 to 10 years. However, in captivity, the lifespan of a rainbow lorikeet is usually much longer. This is because they don’t face the threats that their feral counterparts do. Pet lorikeets aren’t in danger from predation, starvation, or extreme temperatures. They’re also at a much lower risk of injury and illness and have access to veterinary care.
You can expect your pet rainbow lorikeet to live anywhere between 10 and 20 years on average. There have been many reports of rainbow lorikeets living even longer (up to 30).
An individual bird’s longevity depends on many factors, such as genetics and the level of care provided. Your bird will live longer if it has regular exercise, a nutritious diet, and lives in a clean environment.
How To Tell The Age of A Rainbow Lorikeet
A responsible breeder will be able to tell you the exact date that your parrot hatched. It can be quite difficult to determine the age of a lorikeet without this information.
Rainbow lorikeets don’t visually change much once they have fully matured at 24 months. They don’t lose their pigment or turn gray in old age. To get a rough idea of your rainbow lorikeet’s age, consider the following:
- Beak color. Baby lorikeets have black beaks which turn orange and eventually red as they mature.
- Eye color. Juvenile lorikeets have dark eyes which turn orangey-red as an adult.
- Activity level. Rainbow lorikeets sleep more and become less active as they get older.
- General health. Cataracts, arthritis, and other health problems may occur in elderly birds.
An avian veterinarian may be able to help determine your bird’s age.
What Does Healthy Rainbow Lorikeet Poop Look Like?
New owners of rainbow lorikeets are often surprised at the consistency of their bird’s poop. Most parrot species’ droppings are semi-solid, with a similar texture to toothpaste. However, lorikeets have extremely loose and watery droppings that resemble diarrhea.
This is down to the lorikeet’s unique diet. Wild rainbow lorikeets get most of their nutrition from nectar, which they get from flowers. Pet lorikeets need to be fed a specialized “lorikeet nectar,” which contains essential vitamins, sugar, and amino acids.
Pet lorikeets can eat fresh fruit and seeds, but the majority of their diet is liquid. This is why their droppings are so loose. Lorikeets ‘spray’ their poop and may do so anywhere in the house.
Rainbow lorikeet poop is easy to clean and will effortlessly wipe off of hard surfaces. However, don’t wait too long before you clean it up, as the waste will quickly attract fruit flies.
Are Rainbow Lorikeets Aggressive?
Rainbow lorikeets are confident, outgoing, energetic birds that will not shy away from human interaction. When you bring your lorikeet home, it will take some time for your bird to bond with you. However, it should not behave aggressively towards you or attack you.
If a rainbow lorikeet is acting aggressively towards a human, this is a sign that something is wrong. Your bird may be stressed, sick, in pain, or frightened. Lorikeets may also exhibit aggressive behaviors if they are bored or lack mental stimulation.
Rainbow lorikeets can be fiercely territorial birds and protective over their owners. Lorikeets don’t get on well with other birds or animals. They may become jealous if they see you paying attention to another person or pet.
To prevent aggression in your rainbow lorikeet, shower your bird with praise when it is calm and friendly. When it shows aggression, completely ignore your bird and don’t give it any attention.
What Noise Does a Rainbow Lorikeet Make?
The call of a rainbow lorikeet is loud, shrill, and distinctive. Rainbow lorikeets emit high-pitched chirps, squawks, and squeaks, which some owners refer to as ‘barks.’
Rainbow lorikeets will vocalize most of the time while awake. They squawk and chirp when excited, happy, annoyed, or trying to get your attention. A pair of lorikeets may spend hours every day talking to each other.
Most lorikeet owners soon get used to their bird’s noises. However, some people may find lorikeet sounds grating after a while. Their calls are loud enough to wake a sleeping baby or child, so this is something to keep in mind.
Rainbow lorikeets may also emit lengthy, high-pitched ‘screams.’ If your rainbow lorikeet won’t stop screaming, there is probably something wrong. Your bird may be bored, under-stimulated, hungry, thirsty, or stressed because of something in its environment.
Can a Rainbow Lorikeet Talk?
Rainbow lorikeets can learn to mimic human speech, although they won’t start talking straight away. Teaching your rainbow lorikeet to talk is a time-consuming process, like any other type of training.
The more time you spend talking to your rainbow lorikeet, the faster it will learn to speak. Your bird will likely begin by picking up the words and phrases that you use most often. The word that most parrots learn first is ‘hello.’
Most rainbow lorikeets respond better to human speech when it’s spoken in a high-pitched tone of voice. This is likely because it sounds closer to a lorikeet’s high-pitched call. According to Comparative Cognition and Behavior Reviews, birds respond more readily to sounds that mimic their own song.
To encourage your rainbow lorikeet to speak, talk to your bird in an excited, enthusiastic, and high-pitched tone. When your lorikeet repeats a sound you’ve made, reward this behavior with positive reinforcement, such as a treat.