Are Cockatoos Easy to Care For?

Despite dogs and cats being the most popular pets in the UK thanks to a combined ownership of approximately 25 million, indoor birds are fast becoming a pet of choice for many animal lovers. At the last count, it was estimated that 2.5 million feathered friends were now homed in the UK by lovers of the chirpy characters. Despite that only being 10% of the combined dog and cat numbers, it still makes a significant enough dent in the UK pet market to make them the third highest population of animals we choose to look after at home.

Cockatoos are among the most popular variety of birds kept at home but have also proven to be among the most complex to look after. Regularly seeking attention, and affection, their friendly intentions can make them fascinating to look after, however, they can be both noisy and destructive. This is why many experts state that cockatoos are best raised by someone that is not only committed to putting a lot of time into looking after them but also somebody with a significant level of bird care experience. However, should you put the time and effort in, a cockatoo will form an incredible bond with its owner that is on par with that of a dog.

We took a look at what you need to do to make cockatoo care easy.

What types of cockatoos can you keep as pets?

There are a variety of cockatoo types but there tend to be just three that people commonly look to keep as pets. The white, the black and the grey roseate. Of the three, it is more common that the white is chosen by people looking to own one due to the level of care being somewhat less than what is needed with the other species. You will also see the white cockatoo labelled as an Umbrella Cockatoo with the black known as the Palm Cockatoo.

Is a cockatoo a parrot?

A commonly asked question is whether a cockatoo is in fact a parrot. You may be surprised to learn that it is. A cockatoo is any of the 21 parrot species assigned to the Cacatuidae family.

How much is a cockatoo?

Before settling on having a bird as a pet, it is always worth working out the costs. Sometimes, we rush into a pet-buying decision only to find that the long-term costs are way more than expected. Alternatively, the costs may never be that high, but the level of work needed to look after the animal could be huge. Typically, with a cockatoo, you can expect to pay, based on recent averages, around £900 for a small adult, however, these prices can change dramatically based on age, size and how well-trained the bird has been. In some instances, you can find a cockatoo for £200-£400.

You then need to factor in the cost of food, enclosure, toys, vet bills, and more. For this alone, you should expect to put aside another £300-500.

How long do cockatoos live?

This is perhaps one of the things that can determine whether a cockatoo is a pet for you. Many people expect a pet to live a few years and certainly not outlast their owners, however, some species of cockatoo can live for up to 80 years! That being said, the more commonly owned White Cockatoo can have a lifespan of anything from 40-60 years. With the need for care and attention being quite high, the demands on the owner can be tough as they will need to maintain a high level of focus on their bird even in later life.

Do cockatoos get ill?

As with any pet, an illness can be debilitating. In many cases, a brief treatment can rectify any issues however in some instances, the illness can take hold and be severely detrimental to the bird. Cockatoos are prone to several issues, some of which can be prevented or at least made to be less harmful. Some can even be passed to humans and cause both the bird and owner to get seriously ill.

Parasites, intestinal inflammation, and feather picking are common, but owners should always be aware of the potential for an outbreak of parrot fever, it is not too common but if there were to be a case, it can spread between bird and owner fast. White Cockatoos in particular are susceptible to Psittacine beak and feather disease, you may also see it named PFBD. This is highly contagious among other birds so your Cockatoo should be kept away from other birds either if yours has had the illness or others have been suspected of having it.

You may also notice your cockatoo regularly plucking itself and in some cases a degree of mutilation taking place. This is fairly common and tends to be due to how sensitive the animal is. If you feel unprepared for a bird that could exhibit these types of illnesses or reactions, it may be worth considering something different. However, if they remain fit and healthy, you can enjoy a great deal about a cockatoo.

How can I tell if a cockatoo is healthy?

Whether buying a cockatoo or already owning one, you should always keep an eye out for a few key health indicators. Any healthy cockatoo should exhibit:

  • Being agile with no signs of lethargy
  • Smooth feathers that remain flush to the body and not puffed up
  • Bright eyes and showing alertness
  • Clear breathing


What can a cockatoo eat?

To remain healthy, any species of cockatoo should be given a mixed but balanced diet. Seeds, vegetables, fruits, and nuts are all great but do not forget the importance of meat. Many people believe that a seed-based diet is often best for a bird, but this can lead to problems. The vitamin imbalance can see the development of a weakened immune system. In these cases, you may need a vitamin supplement to help keep your bird healthy. You should also look at the treat options you offer your bird. Anything too fatty, too often, can cause liver damage. Consider the occasional rose bell, honeybell, or millet sprays. Just not all the time.

When it comes to drinking, a supply of fresh clean water is important, and it is equally as vital to ensure that the water and food bowls are cleaned out frequently to reduce any risk of contamination.

Do Cockatoos rely on a lot of training?

They certainly can do, and this can be a huge factor many people weigh up when considering a cockatoo. They are prone to entertaining themselves but depending on their age they may find themselves craving attention other than their own.

How should I house a cockatoo?

An outside aviary is popular with many owners, but should you not have the outdoor space or prefer for them to be indoors, then a roomy cage is necessary. Too small and their ability to fly and climb is compromised. They enjoy climbing a great deal so finding a cage with decent height and horizontal bars is essential.

Within the cage itself, you should look to add a selection of toys, add some perches but don’t place them above any food or water sources. Furthermore, add in some chewable wood features to help keep them busy. Line the cage with sand sheets or bird sand and change frequently too. Mouldy food or droppings can lead to infections that can be very harmful. To further reduce this risk, look to clean the cage with an animal-safe anti-bacterial spray regularly.

Unfortunately, cockatoos can be susceptible to changes in climate so when setting up your cage, keep it away from areas that will either be draughty, in direct sunlight or in an area where damp or humid connections are prevalent.


Cockatoos can provide years of fun, interaction, and excitement but they do come with specific wants and needs that some pet owners may not feel ready for. If in doubt, speak to an expert for additional guidance. Perhaps you already own a cockatoo and the bond you have created is now unbreakable. If that is the case you may want to consider a bird courier so that your feathered friend can join you anywhere in the world. Our team at PBS Pet Travel specialise in facilitating all aspects of pet travel so that no matter where you are heading, we make it easy for you. Contact our team today to find out how we help keep you and your pets together.