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Lories and Lorikeets (Honeyeaters)

Subfamily Loriinae

Lories and Lorikeets

NATIVE TO:

Forests, mangroves and eucalyptus groves of Australia, Indonesia, New Guinea, Pacific Islands, Philippines, and Solomon Islands.

LIFE SPAN:

10 - 15 years

AVERAGE ADULT SIZE:

6 - 15 inches; 20-280 grams

MALE OR FEMALE:

Lories and Lorikeets are not sexually dimorphic, which means males and females are not visually different. A proper DNA test by a qualified avian veterinarian can tell you whether your pet is a boy or girl.

PHYSICAL CHARACTERISTICS:

All species of lorikeets and lories are strikingly beautiful birds with colorful and/or shiny plumage. They are known as one the most beautiful parrots.

The basic differences between lorikeets and lories are:

Lorikeets - Smaller, have a long pointed tail; body color is generally green with patches of red and yellow. Lories - Larger and heavier bodied, have a short blunt tail; body color is generally red with patches of yellow, purple and green. However, there are always exceptions, of course! Lories and Lorikeets have unusual “paintbrush” tongues made of thousands of papillae (tiny hairs on the surface of the tongue). The lories/lorikeets use these special tongues to get nectar and pollen, which is the mainstay of their diet, out of flowers. They will “unfold” or widen the tongue when they are using it to gather food, and then fold it back up when they are finished using it!

SIGNS OF A HEALTHY ANIMAL:

Perky, active and alert with bright clear eyes, cere and “nares” (nostrils). You should observe your parrot eating and drinking throughout the day, although this activity is most apparent in the morning and early evening or when you are eating. Feathers should be neat and well groomed. Feet and legs should be smooth and free of bumps and rough scales.

NORMAL BEHAVIOR & INTERACTION:

Birds are flock-oriented animals, and they do very well with other birds in the home to communicate with. However, YOU as the caretaker become a flock member as well. Daily attention is extremely important for your parrot. A neglected bird becomes a problem bird. Extreme screaming and biting is often the result of a badly trained animal that is not often handled. As a parrot owner, be prepared to interact and work with your pet on a regular basis. Respect the high intelligence level of your parrot by talking with, playing with and caring for him as if he is a small child. Lorikeets/Lories vocalize regularly with clicks, whistles and chirps. They enjoy communicating and mimicking.

The larger, tropical lories/lorikeets are better talkers than the smaller, Australian species. This tropical species is also known for its excellent mimicry abilities and can imitate the sounds of household items such as microwaves and telephones. They are extremely intelligent, energetic, boisterous and quite loud. These larger species are not recommended for apartment dwelling. The larger lorikeets require an owner who is patient and committed. Also, the larger species must be well trained and socialized from the very start; otherwise, they will end up “owning the owner”.

The smaller, Australian species are able to talk as well, but their voices tend to be a bit high and squeaky and therefore harder to understand. These smaller species are relatively quiet and most can be kept in apartment settings. They are sweet, charming, loving birds and make excellent family pets. They are playful, enjoy music and love to dance. Lorikeets/lories will play-wrestle, chase and hop - especially with others of their species. They are very entertaining to watch.

DO NOT buy a parrot solely for their ability to speak and mimic. There is NO guarantee that your bird will talk.

A healthy bird is very confident and inquisitive, although he may be extremely cautious as well. Some lorikeets and lories like to wrap themselves up in a blanket to sleep, and some will sleep on their backs.

Lories/lorikeets can become very territorial of their cage and environment. They may hang off the side of their cage and lunge at passing family members and pets.

Every parrot, even within the same species, has his or her own personality. Some parrots can be very bold and interactive, and some can be more withdrawn and shy. The more you work with your pet, the more comfortable he will become and the more his personality will emerge. Purchase your parrot ready to accept whatever he may become - just like having a child. Buying a parrot is a long-term commitment-consider the fact that he or she may live 50 or more years!

Often, one person of the family in particular will pay the most attention to the family parrot, which the bird greatly appreciates. The bird, in turn, attaches himself to that one person. However, if each family member gives the parrot equal attention when the bird is young, the bird will become well adjusted to every family member.

Pay close attention to your pet parrot’s body language. Ruffled feathers can mean an aggravated parrot. Also, a parrot can “pin” his eyes - make the pupils smaller purposely - when angry or excited. A calm parrot will appear relaxed, with feathers smooth and an erect posture. An angry or threatened parrot will attempt to look larger and more threatening by puffing his feathers and crouching lower than normal.

In the wild, lories and lorikeets stay with one partner and can mate at any time of year. In captivity, be aware that lorikeets and lories can be very messy birds to keep. Because of their specialized diet of fruit and nectars, their droppings are wet, messy and colorful and are not always confined to the cage itself. The cage and its surroundings must be cleaned daily.

DIET:

Lories and lorikeets have a very specialized diet. They DO NOT and CANNOT eat seed. It can kill them. In their natural, wild environment, lory and lorikeet diets consist mainly of flowers, nectar, pollen, vegetables and fruit. In captivity, as pets, owners must replicate this natural diet as closely as possible. A proper lory/lorikeet diet consists of two main parts: high quality, balanced nectar and fresh fruits and vegetables.

Nectar: “Lory powders” and wet mixes are available commercially and must be fed daily as an important part of the healthy diet. Nectar mixes can also be homemade, but it may be difficult to ensure that all the proper ingredients and nutrients are present. Because of this, it is recommended that lory/lorikeet owners choose one of the better commercial brands. These mixes consist of nectars, pollen, ground fruits and vegetables and a proper balance of vitamins and minerals. This mix must be replaced every four hours, as it can harbor harmful bacteria which can make your pet sick.

All foods can be sliced, diced or cubed into bite-sized pieces.

Fruits: Your lory or lorikeet will appreciate: apples, grapes, figs, kiwi, pomegranates and papaya.

Vegetables: corn-on-the-cob, spinach, beans, parsley, broccoli and, carrots

Flowers: pansies, nasturtiums, roses, hibiscus, marigolds and dandelions - untreated

Other: pasta, rice, toast, eggs, mild cheese, mashed potato, chicken bones and other meats - all in moderation

Also provide untreated, fresh fruit tree branches with flowers and buds, such as from apple and pear trees when available.

All fruits, vegetables and flowers should be pesticide free. Organic is always best.

WATER:

Fresh water must be available to your bird at all times. Because your pet will often bathe in his water, it must be checked and changed several times a day. It is recommended that the bowl be wiped clean with a paper towel at every change to prevent a slimy film from collecting on the inside of the bowl. This ‘slime’ will harbor bacteria, which can be dangerous for your bird. Thoroughly wash the bowl with a mild dishwashing detergent and water at least once a day.

All water given to birds for drinking, as well as water used for misting, soaking or bathing must be 100% free of chlorine and heavy metals. (Not all home water filtration systems remove 100% of the chlorine and heavy metals from tap water). We recommend that you use unflavored bottled drinking water or bottled natural spring water; never use untreated tap water. If tap water is used, you should treat it with a de-chlorinating treatment. Do not use distilled water, which can cause severe medical problems, since it lacks minerals that are essential to important body functions. If only tap water can be used, at least de-chlorinate the water. De-chlorinator is available in the pet store fish department.

HOUSING & ENVIRONMENT:

Lories and lorikeets need a clean, warm, mentally stimulating environment. A wrought iron parrot cage, free of rust and chips is the best home for a pet lorikeet or lory. Since these birds can be extremely messy with their droppings - often “shooting” them out behind them - it is highly recommended to keep them against a solid wall. Consider placing plexi-glass around the lower perimeter of the cage to keep the wet droppings from exiting the cage area. A carpeted floor under a lorikeet/lory cage will be ruined quickly. If the room has carpeting, a suitable under-cage covering of plastic or tile would be a good idea.

The cage size should be at least 36” x 28” x 24”, with bar spacing between ½ and 5/8 inches.

If the bars are too far apart, your crafty bird is very likely to try to squeeze through them and then get stuck. The cage should be placed in a family centered room where the bird(s) will feel a part of the “flock”; however the back of the cage should be positioned against a wall to provide security. Your parrot will feel threatened and nervous if it is in direct traffic. Avoid drafty areas and any placement that will get too much direct sun for any portion of the day. If your bird spends time out of his cage, make sure that any ceiling fans are off while he is out. Do not place your bird’s cage in the kitchen, as cooking fumes and even a small amount of smoke can be fatal. Average room temperature will be fine for your bird, not to exceed 80 degrees. Be careful of drafts from air conditioning, especially when bathing and misting. Perches of varying materials and types should be included in the cage. We recommend having at least three different types. Having different types will exercise the feet and prevent sores and foot related health issues. See the recommended supplies section. At least three clean bowls should be ready for use: one for fresh water, one for seed/pellets and one for fresh foods. Your bird may appreciate a cage cover for nighttime. The cover can block out any extraneous light and create a more secure sleeping place. Be careful not to use any fabrics for your cover that your bird might catch his claws or beak in, or that he might pull strings from and eat.

DO NOT USE SANDPAPER COVERED PERCHES OR FLOOR PAPER. THESE PRODUCTS ARE DANGEROUS AND CAN CAUSE SEVERE DAMAGE TO YOUR BIRD’S FEET.

ALSO, DO NOT USE “BIRD DISKS” or “MITE DISKS”. THESE ARE NOT EFFECTIVE AND MAY HARM YOUR BIRD. SEE YOUR AVIAN VETERINARIAN IF YOU SUSPECT PARASITES.

DO NOT USE BIRD GRAVEL. BIRD GRAVEL IS USED FOR BIRDS WHO DO NOT CRACK THE HULL OR SHELL OF THE SEEDS THEY EAT. IT IS MEANT TO GRIND THE SEEDS IN THE CROP OF THE BIRD. DOVES AND PIGEONS CAN BE GIVEN BIRD GRAVEL, CANARIES, PARAKEETS, AND ALL SPECIES OF PARROT WILL CRUSH THE SEED OR NUTS BEFORE INGESTING THEM AND THEREFORE DO NOT BENEFIT AT ALL FROM GRAVEL. GRAVEL CAN BE SERIOUSLY DANGEROUS FOR BIRDS OTHER THAN DOVES AND PIGEONS- IT CAUSES SEVERE IMPACTIONS, WHICH ARE OFTEN FATAL.

CORN COB BEDDING CAN QUICKLY BREED MOLD AND MILDEW, WHICH IS DANGEROUS TO YOUR BIRD. BIRDS CAN ALSO BECOME IMPACTED FROM SWALLOWING CORN COB BEDDING.

ENRICHMENT:

In the wild, parrots spend most of their day from morning until night foraging for their food. In our homes in a cage, their food is right at their beaks, no need to go hunting! Because of this, it is very easy for our pet birds to become bored and lazy. Since these animals are so intelligent, it is a horrible sentence to be banished to a cage with nothing to do. “Enrichment” is important because it will keep your eclectus’ mind busy! At least three types of toys is a good number in this case as well. Purchase species appropriate sized toys, and remember that parrot toys are meant to be destroyed! Parrots enjoy shiny, wooden, rope, foraging, and plastic toys. It is very important to purchase toys made specifically for parrots as they are much more likely to be safer in construction and material. Birds can be poisoned by dangerous metals, such as lead or zinc. They can also chew off small pieces of improperly manufactured “toys” and ingest them, which of course can lead to a variety of health problems. Be sure to include “foraging” toys. These types of toys mimic the work that a bird might do to find food in the wild. Hide treats in cardboard tubes and balled up paper or purchase plastic puzzle toys, which force your pet to work for his treats! Several types of “play places” are available for safe out-of-cage playtime. A portable one can allow your bird to spend time with you in different rooms (just avoid the kitchen!).

RECOMMENDED SUPPLIES:

A wrought iron parrot cage, free of rust and chips. Cage should be at least 36” x 48” x 24”, with bar spacing between ½ and 5/8 inches. 36 x 60 x 36 for two parrots. As selection of at least 3 different perches, such as wood dowel, natural branch type, a therapeutic perch or a cement perch. A good supply of fresh foods.
At least 3 different toys. Purchasing more than 3 can allow you to interchange them in your parrot’s cage to prevent boredom. Calcium supplement such as cuttlebone, calcium treat or oyster shell. Avoid sugary treats like honey sticks and human junk food.
Sturdy dishes. Misting bottle and/or birdbath. A good species-specific book about your parrot.
Play gym or T-stand for out-of-cage use. Nail clipper & styptic powder. NOTE! Never use styptic powder on your bird’s skin - ONLY nails!! A bird safe cage cover. Be careful of using towels and blankets, which can catch bird nails and beaks in their threads or create too warm an environment inside.

CAGE MAINTENANCE:

Your parrot’s cage should be checked daily for any dirt that is accessible to your bird. Feces and spoiling food should be wiped clean of perches, cups and cage bars consistently to prevent health problems. You will need to clean your lory or lorikeet cage DAILY. Remove any uneaten fruits or vegetables at the end of the day and remember to change the nectar every four hours.

Cage paper (which should be under a floor grate to prevent access to droppings) can be changed every to every-other day. Check the metal parts & bars of your bird’s cage periodically for chipped paint and rust, which can cause serious health issues if your bird chews or swallows any flaked pieces.

The entire cage should be cleaned thoroughly at least once every month with: a mild dishwashing liquid (a weak dilution) in warm water, THEN Vinegar & water (1:8) OR bleach and warm water (1:32) Cage “furniture” should also be scrubbed clean with the same dilution.

RINSE OFF ALL SOAP AND BLEACH THOROUGHLY WITH PLAIN WATER BEFORE RE-INTRODUCING YOUR PET TO ITS ENCLOSURE!!

NEVER MIX VINEGAR AND BLEACH - IT CREATES A TOXIC SOLUTION

GROOMING & HYGIENE:

All birds should be gently misted with a water bottle dedicated to this use only. The spray should be room temperature and misty, sprayed up and over the bird to replicate a fine rain. NEVER spray the bird directly in the face. In addition to misting, a room temperature birdbath should be offered to your bird at least twice weekly. Monitor your bird while he is bathing, and remove the bath when he is finished. During misting and bathing procedures, make sure there are no drafts that may chill your bird when he is wet, which can cause respiratory issues. If your bird seems to stop grooming himself and becomes dirty and unkempt, contact your avian veterinarian. He may be ill. Be sure to see your avian veterinarian on a regular basis for wing and nail trims.

IF PROBLEMS ARISE, CALL YOUR AVIAN VETERINARIAN IMMEDIATELY! It is also highly recommended to have your bird seen by an avian vet for a yearly exam to make sure your pet stays healthy. Birds hide illnesses well; yearly exams can catch small issues before they get worse.

  • Fluffed feathers, missing patches of feathers, feathers being purposely plucked.
  • Evidence that your bird has stopped grooming him/herself.
  • Bird sitting still and low on perch with a puffed up appearance, drooping wings - may also stay at bottom of cage.
  • Beak swelling or unusual marks on cere.
  • Nasal discharge, eye discharge, wheezing or coughing.
  • Any change in stools including color or consistency.
  • Loss of appetite.
  • Favoring of one foot, holding a wing differently, presence of any blood.

© Dawn M. Trainor-Scalise

Courtesy of: Specialized Care for Avian & Exotic Pets

In conjunction with Pet Supplies “Plus”

10882 Main Street, Clarence, NY 14031

Ph (716) 759-0144

www.buffalobirdnerd.com