Who can possibly fail to be impressed by the brightly-coloured Rainbow Lorikeet? These active, pugnacious birds are some of the most colourful in the world, clothed as they are in vivid blues, reds and yellows. Little wonder, therefore, where their common name came from.
The rainbow lorikeet, Latin name Trichoglossus moluccanus, is a native of Australia and nearby Indonesia. Here they may be found in groups playing, eating and bickering.
While the Rainbow Lorikeet has understandably developed a firm following in pet-keeping circles it is important to appreciate that this mid-sized parrot has some very special requirements in captivity. For some people these requirements will be of no issue; for others, however, they may be deal breakers.
Rainbow Lorikeets as Pets
There are two factors that potential lorikeet owners need to understand before bringing home some birds. The first of these is that lorikeets are bold, active and very noisy birds. Their call is also far from pleasant – being a high-pitched shriek repeated over and over.
While this may not worry some owners, others will find the ear-piercing calls are a little too much to handle in a domestic situation. Echoing around the inside of a room these calls have the potential to upset family members or even neighbours in some instances.
The second issue is just how different the diets of rainbow lorikeets are in comparison to most other members of the parrot family. While everything from cockatiels to budgies, lovebirds to macaws, will happily feed on a basic diet of seeds, this lorikeet is altogether more specialist.
The rainbow lorikeet has a unique “comb-like” tongue which is specially adapted to lap nectar from flowers. This is supplemented with fruit, vegetables and flower heads. In other words, the rainbow lorikeet’s diet comprises of far more liquid sources than many of its relatives. This, in turn, leads to almost liquid-like faeces which can be far more messy in a domestic setting.
Rainbow lorikeets are therefore not a suitable pet for the house-proud. Owners can expect mess to be sent far and wide, and only certain home owners can deal with constantly vacuuming and mopping the floor around their pet.
Rainbow Lorikeet Cages
Rainbow lorikeets are tremendously active birds, and so require the largest possible cage you can afford. This should be a metre in length to allow for natural behaviour. Even better, rainbow lorikeets are arguably happiest in aviaries, where they can constantly fly about and interact with other birds.
Companionship is important to lorikeets, who may be seen en masse in some areas of Australia. Some tourist areas feed wild lorikeets with fresh fruit, and dozens of birds may be seen at one time feeding, arguing and chattering at one another.
For this reason, it is considered unkind to keep a single rainbow lorikeet on its own. Instead, two or more birds should be kept together for companionship. At the same time, owners should aim to build a bond of trust with their birds, especially if they are house-bound. In this way your pet can be let out to explore when you are present, remembering of course to keep a roll of kitchen towel handy for the inevitable splashes that your furniture will endure!
To keep as much mess inside the cage as possible, some owners opt to line the outer-surface of the cage bars with clear Perspex. This is placed far enough away from the bars to prevent the bird nibbling on the plastic and damaging it, but close enough to keep “spills” under control. In this way, most rooms can be kept reasonably clean and tidy.
An alternative is to place the cage into the corner of a room, where two side of the cage rest against walls. While the walls will likely need to be cleaned regularly, it can be a lot easier than trying to clean up all four sides of the cage at one time.
Feeding Rainbow Lorikeets
Before purchasing your first lorikeets you’ll want to do your homework, and make sure that suitable food will be available at all times.
Most owners of rainbow lorikeets use an artificial nectar-supplement as the basis of their pet’s diet. This may come in liquid form or may require you to add water to the mixture. This is best provided in drinking vessels, rather than open bowls, where messy birds can quickly splatter it far and wide.
To supplement this base diet a range of soft fruits and vegetables may be given. Lastly, Rainbow Lorikeets love nothing better than fresh flowers on which to nibble, though owners should satisfy themselves that the flowers provided are safe. Popular examples of safe flowers include hibiscus, eucalyptus, bottlebrush, dandelion, roses and pansies.
Growing to around 30cm in length, incredibly brightly-coloured and with feisty personalities rainbow lorikeets really are unlike any other cage bird on the market. While they require some rather specialist care, these birds can quickly grow to be surprisingly tame and endearing. They will often develop a strong bond with their owner, and may even learn to talk in time.
Often living for twenty years or more they are a serious long-term commitment, however for anyone with the motivation they can be one of the most appealing pet birds known to man.