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how to care for a rainbow lorikeet

How To Look After A Rainbow Lorikeet

(Last Updated On: March 20, 2023)

The rainbow lorikeet (Trichoglossus moluccanus) is a popular medium-sized pet parrot.

Rainbow lorikeets derive their name from their colorful plumage. 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 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 2 true rainbow lorikeets: the Swainson’s Lorikeet (T. m. moluccanus) and the Northern Moluccan Lorikeet (T. m. septentrionalis).

Green-naped lorikeets (coconut lorikeets) are from 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 that can learn new skills and tricks. However, they require a specialized diet, ample cage space, and 2-4 hours of socialization per day.

Ideally, keep 2 rainbow lorikeets rather than a single bird, as they like same-species companionship.

Is It Legal to Own a Rainbow Lorikeet?

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

The lorikeet must have been bred within the U.S., not imported. Importing or owning wild-caught exotic birds, including rainbow lorikeets, is illegal in most U.S. states.

To ensure you’re buying a captive-bred rainbow lorikeet, source one from a reputable breeder. Ask for proof of its 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 lorikeets. The license you’ll require varies between states.

Before adopting a rainbow lorikeet, check specific legislation in the state. Also, check with your landlord or Homeowner’s Association to ensure pet birds are permitted in case they have a no-pets policy.

How Much Do Rainbow Lorikeets Cost?

You may need to visit a specialist breeder to find a rainbow lorikeet.

Expect to pay $400-1,000 for a rainbow lorikeet. You’ll also need to buy a cage, accessories, and toys. Other costs include food, cleaning supplies, and vet checkups/insurance.

Here’s a breakdown of the costs:

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 the lorikeet 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 a rainbow lorikeet, learn how to house, feed, and handle it. Also, you must learn how to identify common health problems and deal with behavioral problems.

Rainbow Lorikeet Cage Requirements

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

  • A parrot’s cage with minimum internal dimensions of 36″ H x 48″ L x 24″ W. The cage must be 36″ H x 60″ L x 36″ W for a pair of lorikeets. The length of the cage is more important than the height.
  • Bar spacing should be 3/4 of an inch to prevent injury and escape.
  • Stainless steel food and water dishes, which clip onto the cage bars.
  • At least 3 natural wood perches at different height levels.
  • Various toys to keep the rainbow lorikeet entertained, including hanging rings, climbing toys, swings, wooden chew toys, and noisy toys (such as jingle balls).
  • A shallow bath because rainbow lorikeets like to bathe.

Line the cage with newspaper or paper towels to make cleaning easier.

Place the cage stand on a hard floor, such as wood, linoleum, or tile, rather than carpet because rainbow lorikeets spray their feces, so some may get outside the cage.

Spot-clean the cage daily to remove waste and sanitize the food and water dishes.

What Does A Rainbow Lorikeet Eat?

Wild lorikeets feed on nectar and pollen from flowers and fresh fruits. Okajimas Folia Anatomica Japonica said lorikeets’ tongues have a grooved, brush-like tip adapted for a liquid diet.

You can buy special food for rainbow lorikeets in powder form, which is mixed with water to produce a thick liquid. It replicates nectar from flowers, containing the nutrients rainbow lorikeet need.

Lorikeets also benefit from eating fruit, such as:

Rainbow lorikeets enjoy eating nutritious vegetables, such as dark leafy greens. Also, supplement their diet with occasional insects, such as beetles, worms, and grasshoppers.

Rainbow lorikeets need constant access to fresh, clean, chlorine-free water. Without adequate water, a rainbow lorikeet can dehydrate and die within 48-72 hours.

Rainbow Lorikeet Temperament and Behavior

Rainbow lorikeets are friendly and outgoing birds. Captive-bred rainbow lorikeets are particularly friendly and confident around humans.

Trusting you will take time, but once a rainbow lorikeet has bonded with you, you’ll have a friend for life.

Rainbow lorikeets are intelligent birds, so you can train them to come when called, navigate obstacles, perform tricks, and mimic speech.

However, rainbow lorikeets can be loud, squawking frequently. 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 hostile to other bird species and animals. If you keep rainbow lorikeets, they should ideally be the only animals in the house.

A rainbow lorikeet requires time and attention, so spend 2-4 hours a day in their company. These active and energetic birds must spend several hours flying outside their cage.

can you keep a rainbow lorikeet as a pet?

Handling a Rainbow Lorikeet

You can train a lorikeet to perch on your hand, arm, or shoulder.

Before handling or touching a rainbow lorikeet, you must tame it. Depending upon the rainbow lorikeet’s personality, this may take several weeks or months.

To tame a rainbow lorikeet, spend time talking and engaging with it. Allow it to eat treats from your hand to help it associate your presence with positive outcomes, like food rewards and petting sessions.

Eventually, a rainbow lorikeet will feel comfortable hopping onto your hand for a delicious treat.

Stroke the lorikeet’s head and beak. However, avoid touching a rainbow lorikeet on its back, on or under its wings, or around the tail area, as this will cause it to think you’re its mate.

Rainbow Lorikeet Common Health Problems

Rainbow lorikeets can develop illnesses and diseases, including:

  • Nutritional imbalances: Lorikeets require specialized diets of nectar and fruit. For example, if fed the wrong foods, they can become vitamin A deficient (hypovitaminosis A).
  • Iron storage disease: Lories are vulnerable to hemochromatosis, where iron levels in the liver increase, leading to oxidative harm.
  • Lorikeet Paralysis Syndrome (LPS): Leads to paralysis and inability to fly in wild lorikeets.
  • Beak and Feather Disease (PBFD): An airborne condition with no cure that leads to dead and abnormal feather formation.
  • Respiratory conditions: Birds are vulnerable to various pathogens. Viral, bacterial, and fungal conditions can lead to severe respiratory problems, such as aspergillosis.
  • Injuries caused by self-mutilation arise due to boredom, confinement, or no mental stimulation.
  • Toxicosis: This is caused by inhaling fumes from cleaning products, candles, non-stick cookware, etc.
  • Illness caused by food spoilage: Food can go bad and grow bacteria.
  • Obesity-related problems: Weight gain can cause atherosclerosis and organ disease.
  • Egg binding and egg yolk peritonitis in female birds.

Common signs of illness include food refusal, lethargy, depression, weight loss, and puffed-up feathers.

Schedule annual veterinary checkups for a rainbow lorikeet, even if it’s seemingly in good health.

Facts About Rainbow Lorikeets

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 full size after about 24 months.

An average adult rainbow lorikeet is 10-12 inches, including the tail. Most healthy rainbow lorikeets weigh 2.6 to 5.5 ounces. There’s no sexual dimorphism, so males and females are identical in size.

What Is The Lifespan of A Rainbow Lorikeet?

Wild rainbow lorikeets live for 7-10 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 lower risk of injury and illness and have access to expert veterinary care.

According to Louisville Zoo, pet rainbow lorikeets can live for 25-35 years.

How To Tell The Age of A Rainbow Lorikeet

Rainbow lorikeets don’t visually change much once they mature after 24 months. For example, they don’t lose their pigment or turn gray in old age.

To estimate a rainbow lorikeet’s age, consider the following factors:

  • Beak color: Baby lorikeets have black beaks that turn orange and red as they mature.
  • Eye color: Juvenile lorikeets have dark eyes that turn orange-red as adults.
  • Activity level: They sleep more and become less active as they age.
  • General health: Cataracts, arthritis, and other health problems may occur in older birds.

If you buy a rainbow lorikeet from a breeder, they’ll have recorded when it was born.

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 specialized diet. As mentioned, 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, so their droppings are 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 and solidify.

rainbow lorikeet common health problems

Are Rainbow Lorikeets Aggressive?

Rainbow lorikeets are confident, outgoing, energetic birds that won’t shy away from human interaction.

When you bring a lorikeet home, it’ll take time to bond with you. However, it shouldn’t behave aggressively, bite, or attack you if you give it time to adjust to its new life.

If a rainbow lorikeet is hostile toward a human, it 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 of their owners. As the relationship grows, lorikeets may become jealous if they see you paying attention to another person or pet.

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 squawk and chirp when excited, happy, annoyed, or trying to get your attention. A pair of lorikeets may spend hours vocalizing to each other.

Most owners adjust 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 consider.

Rainbow lorikeets may also emit lengthy, high-pitched ‘screams.’ If a rainbow lorikeet doesn’t stop screaming, it may be bored, under-stimulated, thirsty, or stressed.

Can a Rainbow Lorikeet Talk?

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

The more time you spend talking to the rainbow lorikeet, the faster it’ll learn to say new words.

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 a rainbow lorikeet to speak, talk to them in an excited, enthusiastic, and high-pitched tone. When the lorikeet repeats a sound you’ve made, reward this behavior with positive reinforcement.