I have a scaly breasted lorikeet, Artie, who has a big personality. I love sharing what I've learned about these beautiful 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 areas.
- Their beaks are red.
- They can sometimes be yellow or blue instead of green due to an unusual mutation.
- They can also come in cinnamon and jade colours, which are even rarer 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
Based on my experience with Artie, here is some advice on caring for your 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 he 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.
Annette on September 06, 2020:
Was just wondering how long can I leave my Lori alone. I work 12 hours 3 days a week and I take her with me but I would love to leave her home sometime and also should I get her another bird for company.
valerie mcdonald on May 18, 2020:
I have a s/b/loriket how long do you give them wet food
Suzie Davies on October 15, 2019:
My male scaly is wanting to mate everything a lot of his feathers have fallen out, it was recommended that I take out his toys, now I want to know how to help grow his feathers it has been awhile and not coming back
Summer Millar on March 30, 2018:
Hi, My Dad and I found a Lorikeet trapped in some blueberry nets near our house. Its wings and feet were tangled in the netting and now it can't fly
Dot on March 10, 2018:
Hi Mel. I inherited a rainbow lorikeet when I went to pick up some books. Owners were going overseas and had nowhere to put him, and me being a sucker for orphans. He cant fly, apparently they picked him up off the ground and hand raised him. He has a damaged wing, and cant fly. It would appear he was kept in a small cage for the 5 years, but well looked after, although not taken out of the cage. We call it a he but we dont exactly know. Being 5+, he doesnt talk at all, he doesnt really play that much if at all with toys we bought, but we have put him into a very much bigger cage, and he has the run of the house during the day. He loves hiding under a box, picks it up, and gets under it and will do this for hours screeching all the time. His other enjoyment is depiling the carpet in our back room which is now ruined, but oh well. He has managed to work out the different rooms and usually finds me in the office where I have a portable perch. Also the only food he will eat is the bought nectar and pink lady apples. My reason for writing is that at times if I am busy in the office, he will cuddle up to my right hand, close his eyes and squawk every 10 seconds or so. This can go on for a while. Do you have any idea why he would do that. Btw his name is Trinity as he was found outside the Trinity church.
Jivan Leela on March 12, 2017:
Hi Mel, great article thankyou , I have two of the little feather trumpets..Monkee & Peanut,...needless to say I adore them and also now have tinnitus, but that's family for you isn't it.
We were given Monkee as a baby as he was a runner, at the time we didn't know, I was looking after him for a wilvo friend until he got his flight feathers and tail but it never happened of course. He is now three and a strapping healthy boy, a great mimicker and boy can he move fast and bite around his territory!!!!!
I am a musician so they keep me company during all rehearsals, although to be honest I am not sure who is louder! I taught Monkee how to play a drum and he has his own glockenspiels and even has a go at the gasong drum...he used to play all the time, especially on swings and with bottle lids..however, I got him a little female for company and now he is such a domineering little bugger, plays less but does protect her really well....
My only challenge is getting babysitters for them on occasion when I finally want to go away for a couple of days, I did have one lady but she had to retire...I live on the sunshine Coast...any ideas anyone?
Amparo on January 31, 2017:
I got the most playfull and same as your loreeke and his name is Kikito 8 months old, never bit me and today when i came from work he was talking as always he does , and when I got him on my soulder , he atack me biting me on my neck and finger , and scriming and be so agresive mood, so , I put him back on his cage and lock him , his never lock in always free inside of my house, but he was so agresive so I spray water and lock him,
my question is is that ok what i did , im feeling sad because we got so trusted between eachether,never bit me before:(
jesse on March 28, 2014:
maxie, it is a shame i only just saw your comment know! i have a scaly he's name is calypso and he would love a girly play mate! i also live on the nsw/qld border in the northern rivers.. if anyone else is just like maxie let me know haha
Mel Jay (author) from Australia on February 01, 2014:
Sorry sandy, I have no idea how to tell how old birds. Some birds live so long. I think it would hard to know. Cheers, Mel
sandy on February 01, 2014:
Funny story Mel. I was wondering if anybody knows how you can tell how old a scaly lorikeet is?
Mel Jay (author) from Australia on January 03, 2014:
Thank you :)
Scaly lover on December 31, 2013:
Fantastic blog, I have two of the ratbags, an olive mutation and a mustard mutation. I smiled whilst reading about Artie and I've seen videos of him prior to reading this, adorable! :)
Dani on October 19, 2013:
Maxie's mum on July 30, 2012:
We have a 3 year old who we saved from a certain death (3 years ago) we named him Maxie. Maxie talks, plays and all the other things that Artie does except he has now started laying eggs! Needless to say he is now Maxine. We would like to find a nice home for Mxie as we feel she needs companionship of other birds. My concern is that she has been so pampered she will not adapt to a full aviary life without being brought in at night etc. We live near the NSW/Qld border, anyone interested.
tigerbaby777 from Nampa on March 11, 2012:
What an excellent HUB! You just sold me on a Lorikeet for a companion to my Green Cheek Conure. He gets lonely while I'm at work and I think the gregarious nature of this bird would make him very happy. Thank you so much for sharing Artie with us. I voted UP!
Mel Jay (author) from Australia on March 26, 2011:
Thanks for the feedback Ghost32 :) You are right - Lorikeets are certainly not for everyone! Your kitten sounds like a real cutie - Cheers Mel
Ghost32 on March 26, 2011:
Intriguing...now I know why I prefer cats! LOL!
It's easy to see your love for Artie, but I think I'll stick to watching the wild birds through the window with Gato (kitten) as he tail-lashes and "chirr-r-rs" at them almost like a squirrel....
Voted Up, Awesome, Beautiful.
Mel Jay (author) from Australia on March 25, 2011:
Hey thanks RJ - Much appreciated :) - I will certainly visit your hub with Linda - Cheers Mel
Reynold Jay from Saginaw, Michigan on March 25, 2011:
ONE follower? You jut doubled your follwers. THis is incredible with all these cute little creatures. I enjoyed this very much. You have this laid out beautifully and it is easy to understand. Keep up the great HUBS. Up one and Useful. Hey! I'm now your fan! If you visit my HUB with Linda, please leave a brief a comment as it will brighten her day. RJ