The Moustache Parakeet - A Playful and Clever Pet Parrot

A pair of wild moustache parakeets during courtship; the female has a black beak while the male has an orange one
A pair of wild moustache parakeets during courtship; the female has a black beak while the male has an orange one | Source

Moustache Parakeets

Moustache parakeets are attractive, intelligent and playful birds belonging to the parrot family. They’re entertaining to watch and can be trained to talk. Unlike some birds kept as pets, such as my dusky conure, moustache parakeets are generally not cuddly. They do like and respond to human attention, however. If they’re socialized and handled daily from an early age they are friendly and affectionate birds and make lovely pets.

Moustache parakeets are also called moustached parakeets, mustache parakeets and mustached parakeets. The bird's scientific name is Psittacula alexandri. The wild birds are known as red-breasted parakeets. They live mainly in Indonesia and Southeast Asia.

It's very important that pet moustache parakeets are hatched in captivity from eggs laid by another pet. The wild population needs to be protected. The moustache parakeet is endangered in some parts of its range. The species as a whole is classified as near threatened by the IUCN (International Union for Conservation of Nature).

A lovely view of a female and male moustache parakeet perched side by side in the wild
A lovely view of a female and male moustache parakeet perched side by side in the wild | Source

The word "parakeet" refers to small or medium-sized parrots that generally have long tails.

What Does a Pet Moustache Parakeet Look Like?

Pet moustache parakeets are attractive green birds with a salmon-coloured chest and upper abdomen. The upper part of the lower abdomen is lilac and the lower part is green. Females usually have a paler colouration than males. The birds have a blue-grey head, a thin black band between their eyes and a wider black band on each side of their face, which looks something like a moustache. There is a yellow patch on each wing. The tail is a mixture of blue and green.

When the birds are mature, the males have an orange beak while the females have a black beak. Immature birds of both genders have a black beak and a green chest and abdomen. Adult birds are between 13 and 16 inches in length.

A Wild Red-Breasted Parakeet

Wild Moustache or Red-Breasted Parakeet Appearance

There are eight subspecies of moustache parakeets. The chest and upper abdomen colour of the wild birds ranges from orange to pink and the amount of lilac on the abdomen varies. In addition, the grey feathers look bluer in some birds than in others. In some subspecies, the upper mandible of the male's beak is orange and the lower mandible is black.

Feral populations have become established in some areas, such as Singapore, and hybridization between subspecies has occurred. This has resulted in a wide variety of appearances in the species. Even pet birds vary in appearance depending on their genetic background.

Wild moustache parakeets are in trouble for three reasons. They are captured for the pet trade, which is the main problem in most areas. They are also persecuted by farmers because they feed on cultivated grain and fruits. In addition, their forest habitat is being destroyed by logging and the desire for agricultural land.

My moustache parakeet
My moustache parakeet | Source

Petra - My Moustache Parakeet

Petra is my moustache parakeet. He was hatched in captivity and hand reared. Hand rearing is very important in the case of moustache parakeets to develop their friendliness and prevent any aggressive tendencies from appearing.

Moustache parakeets are often said to be feisty, but Petra is a calm bird. He’s affectionate, but he’s not as outgoing or as cuddly as Cece, my dusky conure. Petra is free-flying most of the time. He will get on to my hand and likes to be carried around on my head or shoulders. He enjoys nibbling my ears and will let me stroke him in certain places on his body. He has a very different personality from Cece, who loves to be stroked all over his/her body. Judging by his behaviour, I suspect that Cece is a male. A DNA test is required to confirm the gender of conures.

Although some moustache parakeets enjoy being petted, others are very particular about where they are touched or like to be touched by only one person. Moustache parakeets need to be handled daily to maintain their friendliness with humans. Keeping them used to being handled also makes vet visits less traumatic.

Moustache parakeets live for about twenty to twenty five years in captivity. They have a loud voice, although I don’t consider Petra to be a loud bird compared to my noisy, shrieking conure!

JoJo the Moustache Parakeet

Feeding a Moustache Parakeet

Wild moustache parakeets usually live in flocks in forests or wooded areas. They feed on fruit, leaves, grains, seeds and nuts. Pet birds also like a varied plant diet.

A moustache parakeet does well on a mixture of pellets, fresh, raw vegetables such as broccoli, spinach and carrots, raw fruits such as bits of peeled apple, orange and strawberries, and small amounts of protein, such as hard-boiled egg. My birds love cooked sweet potato. They also enjoy corn on the cob, after the cob has been cooked for a short time. Cooked rice or beans can also be given to a moustache parakeet. Seeds and nuts should make up only a small proportion of the diet. Avocado is poisonous to pet birds and should never be given to them.

If you have a pet bird, make sure that all produce is pesticide free and wash it thoroughly before you give it to the bird. Remove uneaten produce quickly so that it doesn't spoil. Also make sure that seeds and nuts are unsalted and unsweetened and are as fresh as possible. Petra loves peanuts, but they are high in fat and should be given as an occasional treat rather than as a regular food. He loves spray millet too, but this should also be given occasionally, since a bird can gain weight if he or she eats a large amount of millet.

Moustache parakeets are messy eaters, dropping food to the ground as they eat. My dog takes advantage of this behaviour. He waits wherever Petra and Cece are being fed and tries to pounce on the dropped food before the other dog in the family gets it!

A juvenile bird that hadn't yet developed adult colouration
A juvenile bird that hadn't yet developed adult colouration | Source

Entertaining a Pet Bird

A moustache parakeet should have a large cage with plenty of room for climbing. The cage should contain lots of interesting toys. Since the moustache parakeet is intelligent, its mind needs to be kept occupied. Boredom will make the bird miserable and may lead to behaviour problems. Even if a bird has to be left in the cage at some times, it should be let out for a lengthy period each day. Before you let your bird out of the cage, make sure that the room is safe for exploring, especially if the bird can fly.

Moustache parakeets love to chew. They need to be provided with lots of safe, chewable toys and equipment. Chewing is a natural instinct that needs to be satisfied. Toys are an ongoing expense when you own a moustache parakeet, since he or she will love destroying wooden ones! Other wooden items that are safe for birds can also be put into the cage for the bird to chew.

Like most birds, moustache parakeets enjoy a water bath. I put water in a dog bowl for my birds to have a wash, which they both love. Cece in particular gets very excited when she has a bath.

A Moustache Parakeet and his Toy

Molting in Birds

Molting is a normal process in a bird's life as new feathers replace old and damaged ones. Molting in a moustache parakeet can be an alarming process the first time you see it, because in addition to the loss of feathers the bird may look dowdy and seem quieter than usual. I make sure that Petra is getting highly nutritious food during this period and also give him special molting food. He soon returns to normal.

You should watch your bird carefully during the molting process to make sure that he or she really is molting and isn’t sick. It's also a good idea to record the molting date so that you can see if your bird is molting with the change of seasons, for example, and know what to expect in the future.

Moustache Parakeet Tantrum

Cleaning a Bird Cage

To keep pet birds healthy, their cages and the objects they come into contact with need to be kept clean. Food and water bowls need to be washed daily and filled with fresh material. The cage liner also needs to be replaced daily. The whole cage should be cleaned once a week. The job is made easier - and the cage kept healthier - if small sections of the cage or items in the cage are cleaned once a day.

Bird droppings stick to bars, trays, perches and toys. Cleaning the cage is an easier job than it used to be now that there are bird-safe liquids on the market that dissolve the droppings. A damp cloth or brush plus a cage cleaner liquid gets the job done efficiently. Every when you're using a cleaning liquid that's claimed to be non toxic, the cage and equipment should be rinsed thoroughly after the liquid is used. Everything needs to be dry before a bird gets into the cage again. Since wooden perches and toys take a long while to dry, it's helpful to have a selection of toys and perches so that some can be used while others are drying.

A moustache parakeet in a botanical garden
A moustache parakeet in a botanical garden | Source

A Safe and Interesting Cage for Birds

Perches must have a suitable diameter for your pet’s feet. Natural wood perches are good. They should be placed at different levels in the cage so the bird can move from perch to perch as he or she would move from branch to branch in the wild. Don’t put perches directly above the water or food bowls, since bird droppings can contaminate the bowls. Perches covered with sandpaper shouldn’t be used, since they are too abrasive and can cause sores on the bottom of a bird’s foot.

You need to make sure that your moustache parakeet’s cage is safe and interesting, but you also need to make sure that the cage contains items that have surfaces with different textures to help your bird keep its nails and beak trim. However, you do need to be careful that the cage doesn’t become so crowded that the bird doesn’t have much room to move. Designing the inside of a cage is fun and it’s easy to get carried away!

I give Petra and Cece a seed bell occasionally, which they love. The white items in the photos are cuttlebones.
I give Petra and Cece a seed bell occasionally, which they love. The white items in the photos are cuttlebones. | Source

Finding an Avian Veterinarian

Try to find an avian vet or a general vet that has had a lot of experience with birds to attend to your moustache parakeet. As is true in human medicine, there is a great deal of information for a modern veterinarian to know. A specialist in a particular area of veterinary medicine - such as the care of birds - is very useful. Hopefully your bird will never get sick, but if it does you will need a vet visit. In addition, if your bird needs a nail or beak trim, you might prefer to get your vet or a veterinary technician to do it.

The breeder of your bird may know of a good avian vet. Bird clubs and societies may also be helpful. Even pet store owners may be able to help. Until recently, the store where I buy bird food was run by a couple who breed birds and are very interested in keeping them healthy. The couple are very knowledgeable and always had excellent advice to share when I visited the store, including the location of a good avian veterinarian.

Courtship Displays in the Red-Breasted or Moustache Parakeet

Wild moustache parakeets usually nest in hollows in tree trunks. The female lays three to five eggs, which she incubates for about thirty-one days. Anyone who would like to buy a pet moustache parakeet should find a breeder with a good reputation.

A Wonderful Pet

There’s a lot to plan before you bring any pet bird into your house. Once a bird has arrived it will need plenty of care. Owners should touch and interact with their moustache parakeet every day. If moustache parakeets are left too long without human contact they often become wary and unfriendly. If you’re ready for the commitment, a hand reared moustache parakeet bought when it's young and given plenty of personal attention is a wonderful pet.

© 2011 Linda Crampton

More by this Author

Comments 31 comments

Danette Watt profile image

Danette Watt 5 years ago from Illinois

I have a yellow-headed Amazon parrot and yes, they love to chew wood! I have to keep her perch/cage away from the windowsill or it would be all chewed up.

Can you tell me the name of the product used to clean bird cages or where I might find it? I could use something like that for Turkey's cage. Voted up useful and interesting

AliciaC profile image

AliciaC 5 years ago from British Columbia, Canada Author

Hi, Danette. My local pet store sells several non-toxic bird cage cleaners, but the one that I'm currently using is called "Lazy Person's Bird Cage Cleaner and Deodorizer". The bottle says that it contains only water, surfactants, active enzymes and fragrance, and that the liquid is non-toxic, biodegradable and safe for all birds, nursing animals, people and the environment. The other brands that I buy have similar ingredients. They're called "Poop Off Bird Poop Remover" and "Nature's Miracle Stain and Odor Remover". The only ingredient that I'd rather the cleaners didn't have is fragrance, so I always rinse thoroughly. The Nature's Miracle product claims that it has a natural citrus scent. I spray or pour the liquid on, wait a couple of minutes for it to soak in and then wash off the bird poop. I love these liquids because cleaning all the bars and crevices of a bird cage can be so time consuming otherwise, as I'm sure you know!

I have a full house of pets at the moment and couldn't possibly look after any more, but I must admit I'd like to have an Amazon parrot. The three birds that I've had have all been medium sized. It would be an interesting experience to have a big parrot in the house!

b. Malin profile image

b. Malin 5 years ago

Years ago, when my boys were little we had I believe a Moustache Parakeet. He was Happy and Fun until we bought him a friend. He then pulled out all his feathers and looked Bald! In the end we found new homes (apart ) for both of them and I was a lot wiser. This was a Wonderful and very Informative Hub, as usual, Alicia. Wish I'd have know all this back then.

AliciaC profile image

AliciaC 5 years ago from British Columbia, Canada Author

I'm sorry that you had such a sad problem with your moustache parakeet, b. Malin. Petra has had two bird companions and has got on fine with both. When I got Petra we already had a Senegal Parrot in the house, and the two birds got on well. Then when our Senegal Parrot died of old age we brought Cece, the dusky conure, home. I wouldn't say that Petra has been in love with either of his two bird companions, but he's never had any problems getting on with them.

prasetio30 profile image

prasetio30 5 years ago from malang-indonesia

I had never knew about this parrot before. I am bird lovers. Thanks for writing and share with us. I always learn much from you. Vote it up! Cheers...


AliciaC profile image

AliciaC 5 years ago from British Columbia, Canada Author

Thank you very much, Prasetio. I agree with you - birds are lovely animals!

Danette Watt profile image

Danette Watt 5 years ago from Illinois

Thanks for the info AliciaC - I made a note of the cleaner and am going to look for it this week.

AliciaC profile image

AliciaC 5 years ago from British Columbia, Canada Author

You're welcome, Danette. Good luck with finding a cage cleaner.

carriethomson profile image

carriethomson 5 years ago from United Kingdom

very nice hub..loved reading it.. we had an injured bird a few days.. but it flew away as soon as the wounds healed.. rite now we have a squirell, the cage is too small so we have to leave her free and she consantly chews at the curtains..she has torn my living room surtains, dont know why she loves to chew at them.. leaving aside every thing else even nuts..

AliciaC profile image

AliciaC 5 years ago from British Columbia, Canada Author

Hi, carriethomson. Thanks for the comment. I've rescued injured birds too. Luckily, there is a wildlife rescue centre near my home that does a great job of looking after injured animals, so I always take birds that are in trouble there. It sounds like you are having an interesting time with your pet squirrel! Squirrels do love to chew. The danger (besides the destruction of your curtains!) is that the squirrel may chew something that hurts it. I hope you find a solution!

Pollyannalana profile image

Pollyannalana 5 years ago from US

Since I have a cat I never got to have a bird but since she is 17 now and lost hunting interest maybe it would be safe to have a caged one. Great hub.


AliciaC profile image

AliciaC 5 years ago from British Columbia, Canada Author

Hi, Polly. Thanks for the comment. I have both cats and birds. The cats were trained to leave the birds alone when they were kittens, but I never leave the cats and birds in the same area when they are unsupervised.

carriethomson profile image

carriethomson 5 years ago from United Kingdom

yes i know, have keep a constant watch, but squirrels are generally very active and keep on running here and there so caging her for a long time is not good.. more over she was brought when she was just a baby, hurt and coverd with ants and almost dying.. and has recovered from that and so cant leave her outside also..lets see i too hope to find a solution probably will give it away to a friend who has a big garden and keeps such animals..

AliciaC profile image

AliciaC 5 years ago from British Columbia, Canada Author

Hi again, carriethomson. It's great that you saved your squirrel from dying! You're right, she would be miserable in a cage. I wish you the best of luck in finding a good solution to the problem.

Simone Smith profile image

Simone Smith 5 years ago from San Francisco

Wow, I had never heard of Moustache Parakeets before! and Petra is so cute! Thanks for the great Hub, and for introducing me to a new kind of bird!

writer20 5 years ago

Love Petra very cute.

When living at home my Mum always had budgies and made them talk up a storm.

Thank you for the information

AliciaC profile image

AliciaC 5 years ago from British Columbia, Canada Author

Hi, Simone. Thank you very much for the comment. I didn't know about moustache parakeets either until my sister met Petra's breeder!

AliciaC profile image

AliciaC 5 years ago from British Columbia, Canada Author

Thank you for the visit, writer20. I've never trained any of my birds to talk, so I find it very interesting to hear other pet birds talking. Some of the cleverer types of birds even seem to understand what they're saying, instead of just mimicking their owners!

K9keystrokes profile image

K9keystrokes 5 years ago from Northern, California

Petra is the cutest bird name ever! What a unique little feathered cutie. I, like many others, was not familiar with the mustache parakeet, but now am in awe of this little wonder. What a beautiful face with that adorable "swish" of a mustache! Fun and informative hub.

Up and very interesting!



AliciaC profile image

AliciaC 5 years ago from British Columbia, Canada Author

Thank you, K9keystrokes! I think that moustache parakeets are pretty, too. I'm very fond of Petra - he's a lovely bird.

Binaya.Ghimire 5 years ago

Once my mother had a parrot, and as a child I envied the bird because when it said mommy, my mother shook with delight that she never did when I called her. This was a wonderful hub

AliciaC profile image

AliciaC 5 years ago from British Columbia, Canada Author

Thank you very much for the visit and the comment, Binaya.Ghimire. It is fun to hear birds speak!

daniel_98 4 years ago

i just got my moustache parakeet yesterday, he is a very nice bird indeed, however we are having some problems with it, can you please help me

AliciaC profile image

AliciaC 4 years ago from British Columbia, Canada Author

Hi, daniel_58. One day is a very short time to have a new bird in your family. The bird has to get used to you and your home and you have to get used to the bird! The best person to ask for help would be the bird’s breeder. Breeders have a lot of experience and can give you great suggestions for looking after birds. There are also websites with care tips and forums where you can submit questions about the specific problems that you are having and get answers. If you do an Internet search for “moustache parakeet forum” or "parrot forum" you should find helpful sites.

Anne 4 years ago

Hi I am thinking of purchasing a moustache the one I am interested in is very noisey but also very pretty in a cage buy herself in a shop with no attention the bird is also hand raised. I am worried about the noise as owner says it chirps all day does anyone think that if i buy bird and give lots of attention and maybe get a friend for it too it may not be so noisey????

AliciaC profile image

AliciaC 4 years ago from British Columbia, Canada Author

Hi, Anne. I've only owned one moustache parakeet, and he is quite noisy even though he has a companion. I don't find his noise excessive, though, and it's not continuous. He just gets loud when he's excited about something!

Anne 4 years ago

Thanks If I end up buying him then I will expect him to be quiet noisy. We do have other birds but I find them all ok. Just when owner said he chirps all day long it worried me a little and he was quiet loud. I get very attached to all my animals and would not want to have to onsell one. Maybe I should give this one a miss.

Ramona 4 years ago

We recently found a moustache parakeet in our back yard, walked right up on my shoulder! Went and purchased a large cage, toys etc and now he just wants to nip and bite every time we hold our finger up for him to climb to step up, what happened to mr. friendly? We try to interract with him but he is not having any of it. :-) Advise?

AliciaC profile image

AliciaC 4 years ago from British Columbia, Canada Author

I'm sorry that you're having problems with your moustache parakeet, Ramona. It's wonderful that you rescued the bird. I've never been in the situation that you're in, but I would suggest that you have patience and keep persevering, taking baby steps as you train your bird.

In the beginning you could try sitting by your bird's cage several times a day and talking softly to him for about five minutes each time. Then you could try offering him food by hand through the cage bars once he calmly accepts your presence close to him every time you sit by the cage. The next step could be to open the cage door and to hold food at the entrance -- and so on. If you do an Internet search for "training an unfriendly bird" or "training an aggressive" bird you will probably find some good ideas to help you solve your problem. Good luck!

Parrotdise profile image

Parrotdise 4 months ago

Hi Linda,

What is the average weight for a Moustache Parakeet?


AliciaC profile image

AliciaC 4 months ago from British Columbia, Canada Author

Hi, Kathleen. An adult moustache parakeet is said to weigh between 110 and 140 grams, or between 0.24 pounds and 0.31 pounds.

    Sign in or sign up and post using a HubPages Network account.

    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    No HTML is allowed in comments, but URLs will be hyperlinked. Comments are not for promoting your articles or other sites.

    Click to Rate This Article