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how to care for a rainbow lorikeet

How To Look After A Rainbow Lorikeet

The rainbow lorikeet, Trichoglossus moluccanus, is a medium-sized parrot that can be kept as a pet.

Rainbow lorikeets derive their name from their vibrant coloring. They have a blue head and belly, orange-red chest, bright green back, tail, and wings, and their beaks and eyes are orange-red.

Rainbow lorikeets are native to Australia and Indonesia. They’re listed as being of least concern on the IUCN Red List, meaning they’re not vulnerable or endangered.

Can You Keep a Rainbow Lorikeet as a Pet?

There are two 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’re so similar that they were once considered the same species.

Most captive-bred rainbow lorikeets for sale in the U.S. are green-naped lorikeets. All rainbow lorikeets, regardless of subspecies, look indistinguishable and have the same care requirements.

Rainbow lorikeets are friendly, curious, and confident birds and can learn tricks. However, they require a specialized diet, lots of space, and 4 hours of undivided attention daily.

Ideally, you should keep two rainbow lorikeets rather than a single bird, as they’re social animals and crave the company of their kind.

Is It Legal to Own a Rainbow Lorikeet?

In the U.S., keeping a captive-bred rainbow lorikeet as a pet is legal.

The bird must have been bred within the U.S. rather than imported. 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 for 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 license you’ll require varies from city to city.

Before adopting a rainbow lorikeet, check specific legislation in your state or municipality. Also, check with your landlord or Homeowner’s Association to ensure pet birds are permitted.

How Much Do Rainbow Lorikeets Cost?

You may have to visit a specialist avian store or professional breeder to find a rainbow lorikeet.

Expect to pay $400 to $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.

Here’s a breakdown of the costs:

ItemCost
Rainbow lorikeet$400 – $1,000 per bird
Cage$100 – $500
Lock for the 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

Rotate toys weekly so that it doesn’t get bored. Also, you can get additional enrichment items, such as shower perches and stands for outside the cage.

How To Care for A Rainbow Lorikeet

Before bringing home your rainbow lorikeet, you must learn how to house, feed, and handle it. Also, you must learn how to identify health problems.

Rainbow Lorikeet Cage Requirements

Rainbow lorikeets are extremely active, medium-sized parrots. To house a lorikeet, you’ll need:

  • A parrot’s cage with minimum internal dimensions of 36″ H x 48″ L x 24″ W. The cage must be at least 36″ H x 60″ L x 36″ W for a pair of lorikeets.
  • A secure lock for the cage door, as lorikeets are escape artists.
  • Stainless steel food and water dishes, which clip onto the cage bars.
  • A variety of natural wood perches inside the cage.
  • 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 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.

Clean the cage daily to remove waste and sanitize the food and water dishes. Regularly clean and disinfect cage perches and accessories, and remove any uneaten fresh food to prevent spoilage.

What Does A Rainbow Lorikeet Eat?

Wild lorikeets feed on nectar and pollen from flowers and fresh fruits; seeds are only an occasional feature. Okajimas Folia Anatomica Japonica said their tongues have a grooved, brush-like tip adapted for a liquid diet.

You can buy special food for rainbow lorikeets from specialist avian stores. This food comes in powder form, which you mix with water to get a thick liquid.

It replicates nectar from flowers and contains 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’ll take 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.

Rainbow lorikeets are highly intelligent birds. You can train your lorikeet to come when called, navigate obstacles, perform simple tricks, and mimic speech.

However, there are negatives 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 toward 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 requires time and attention, so 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 left alone for too long can develop behavioral problems. They don’t make good pets for people who spend most of the day at work or school.

can you keep a rainbow lorikeet as a pet?

Handling a Rainbow Lorikeet

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 attempting to handle or touch your rainbow lorikeet, you’ll need to tame it. Depending upon your rainbow lorikeet’s personality, this may take several weeks.

To tame a rainbow lorikeet, spend time talking and singing to it. Allow the bird to eat treats out of your hand, as 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 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, as this will cause your bird to think you’re its mate.

Rainbow Lorikeet Common Health Problems

Rainbow lorikeets are prone to certain health conditions and diseases, including:

  • Nutritional imbalances: Lorikeets require 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: These can be due to fungi, bacteria, viruses, and parasites. For example, rainbow lorikeets are susceptible to Tyzzer’s disease, a bacterial infection.
  • Injuries caused by self-mutilation typically arise due to boredom, confinement, or a lack of mental stimulation.
  • Toxicosis: This is caused by inhaling fumes (such as bleach) 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 hours.
  • Obesity-related problems: These include atherosclerosis and organ disease.
  • Egg binding and egg yolk peritonitis in female birds.

Rainbow lorikeets’ most common signs of illness include food refusal, lethargy, depression, weight loss, and puffed-up feathers. If you suspect 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, problems can be identified and prevented before they become an issue.

Facts About the Rainbow Lorikeet

Even if you’re accustomed to keeping parrots, learning as much as possible about them is important. 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 medium-sized parrots, reaching their maximum size after around 24 months.

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 2.6 to 5.5 ounces. If your adult bird weighs less than this or looks thin, there may be a 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’re 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 because they don’t face the same threats.

Pet lorikeets aren’t in danger from predation, starvation, or extreme temperatures. They also have a much lower risk of injury and illness and have access to veterinary care.

You can expect your pet rainbow lorikeet to live for 10-20 years, but there are reports of rainbow lorikeets living for up to 30 years.

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 breeder can tell you the exact date that your parrot hatched.

Rainbow lorikeets don’t visually change much once they’ve 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 that turn orange and 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 age.
  • 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 special 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 most of their diet is liquid, which 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 off hard surfaces. However, avoid waiting too long before cleaning it up, as the waste will attract fruit flies.

rainbow lorikeet common health problems

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’ll take time for your bird to bond with you. However, it shouldn’t behave aggressively or attack you. 

If a rainbow lorikeet acts aggressively toward a human, your bird may be stressed, sick, in pain, or frightened. Lorikeets may also exhibit aggressive behaviors when bored or lacking mental stimulation.

Rainbow lorikeets can be territorial birds and protective over their owners. 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 call ‘barks.’

Rainbow lorikeets 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 talking to each other.

Most owners soon get used to the noises. However, some people may find lorikeet sounds grating after a while. Their calls are loud enough to wake a sleeping baby, 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, it may be bored, under-stimulated, hungry, thirsty, or stressed.

Can a Rainbow Lorikeet Talk?

Rainbow lorikeets can learn to mimic human speech, although they won’t start talking immediately. Teaching your rainbow lorikeet to talk is a time-consuming process.

The more time you spend talking to your rainbow lorikeet, the faster it’ll learn to speak. Your bird will likely begin by picking up the words and phrases you use most often.

Most rainbow lorikeets respond better to human speech when spoken in a high-pitched voice 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 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.