All About Scaly Breasted Lorikeets: Pet Birds and Wild Birds
Life With My Pet Lorikeet, Artie
I have a four-year-old scaly breasted lorikeet called Artie. He is pretty much always talking, muttering, screeching, whistling or singing, depending on his mood. He constantly calls the dog, whistles at the dog, calls to the wild birds or is talking to his companion bird, a green-cheeked conure. That is, when he is not screeching!
Artie knows me by name and says hello to me when I come home from work. Apparently he asks where I am when I am not home. Artie also talks to himself. He says "Good boy, Artie" to himself a lot, and when he sees something he likes, he says "Look, Artie."
Not only can Artie recognise people and other animals, but he knows specific words for food and other activities. He is an excellent mimic and copies the cries of wild birds. It is not unusual to hear Artie making magpie, minor, cockatoo and corella noises. Lorikeets are definitely not quiet birds!
Basic Facts About These Birds
- The technical name for the scaly breasted lorikeet is Trichoglossus Haematodus Chlorolepidotus. They are about 23 cms in size and weigh an average 86 grams.
- They are usually smaller than rainbow lorikeets.
- They are mostly green in colour and are easy to tell apart from the more colourful rainbows.
- They have little red 'epaulettes' and varying degrees of little yellow flecks on their chests and neck area.
- Their beaks are red.
- An unusual mutation is that they can sometimes be yellow or blue instead of green.
- Even more rare are the cinnamon and jade mutations.
Background and Diet
Scaly breasted lorikeets are a member of the parrot family. A native bird of Australia, they live in urban and rural areas of coastal Eastern Australia from Cape York down to about Wollongong in New South Wales.
They are not currently at risk of extinction, although I understand their numbers are reducing in Sydney due to fighting a losing battle with rainbow lorikeets over food sources. They are sold in many pet stores around the world and are relatively easy to obtain (unless your country has a restriction on the sale of certain birds).
They eat nectar and fruits and can often be seen squawking and eating in groups in trees including grevillea, acacia, eucalyptus, banksia, melaleuca, and any fruit bearing or pollen producing tree or shrub. Sometimes they also eat grains and seeds, but they primarily prefer sweet things.
How to Keep a Scaly Breasted Lorikeet
Prepare for Messes
Lorikeets are really messy birds. Their faeces are wet, almost all liquid at times. They like to 'squirt' everywhere.
This means that it is easier for them to pick up diseases and conditions than a lot of other birds even though they seem more robust to me (maybe Artie has never been sick because his cage is cleaned every day). This can happen if they 'squirt' into their food container and then eat it later.
The most important thing to know is that their cages and aviaries must be kept clean. A useful tip is to place the food containers higher up on the sides of the aviary to reduce the chances of contamination.
Also important is to provide fresh fruit and veggies every day as well as the special lorikeet food. I cut up little bits of fruit and veggies for the birds every morning and they also get fresh water.
Artie loves apples, oranges, pears, grapes, lettuce, carrots, spinach, pineapple, watermelon, paw-paw, strawberries, plums, apricots, and any other fruits. He hates bananas.
Schedule and Activity
They sleep in cages inside at night. In the morning, they go out into their aviaries for the day where they can see the wild birds and get some fresh air. In the afternoon or evening when I get home from work, they come inside to be with each other and with the family for a few hours before bedtime.
Lorikeets need entertainment and can be destructive if bored. I made a bird gym for them and they play on it in the family room. This keeps the mess isolated to that area.
Artie loves music and will sing along; he will also pay attention to the TV. Sometimes he will get really mad if he doesn't like a particular show or movie. He really hated "Vampires Suck." He screeched so badly every time the music got loud that I had to put him to bed. It was a pretty awful flick, so he was on the money there! One time he got really scared when we were watching a horror movie and screamed and screamed as the killer was chasing the girl to do away with her.
Like all lorikeets, Artie needs to be played with regularly or he will not stay tame. A good game is to play tug of war with a bit of string (it must be large enough for him to hold with his beak).
Lorikeet Behaviour: Weird Things Artie Does
Artie is naughty by nature: One of his favorite games is to tip over his water bowl and then kill himself laughing. He laughs his head off when I tell him off and then re-fill it. Then he just does it again.
He loves playing with a tennis ball. He laughs as he rolls it around and pushes it with his feet and beak. He likes to play with all sorts of toys, ropes, balls, things to chew. If I do not give him enough toys, he will destroy the furniture. He adores teasing the dog and especially likes to bite his ears, as you can see in the video below.
Like other lorikeets, Artie is domineering. He can get very territorial and does not like it when some people reach into his aviary or try to play with our other bird, whom he regards as 'his.' He doesn't mind me, but will often not let others enter his domain. He dominates the other bird, so now I have a 'split' aviary. This really works as they are together but separated, and the other bird can get enough food.
If you had to sum Artie up in two words, it would be adorable ratbag!
Artie and Our Long-Suffering Whippet
Should You Get One?
Lorikeets are not for the faint-hearted! If you want a gentle, sweet-natured bird who will cuddle up, do not get a lorikeet.
Lorikeets are rough and tumble birds. Sometimes they get agitated and will bite. On the other hand they are incredibly funny, intelligent and interesting. They are the larrikins of the bird world.
Artie is more like a little green dog than a bird at times! I really enjoy him, but others might not.