Despite these interesting characteristics, it is their talkativeness, ability to mimic humans, and sharp, curved beaks that they are famous for. These factors, coupled with the long lifespan of this bird, ensures an intelligent and lifelong companion for humans, making them popular as pets. Sadly, it is this popularity which is driving some species towards extinction, as they are trapped in the wild and sold in pet trade. Of the 370 species of parrots, around 150 are usually kept as pets.
Despite the variety in their diet, the strong, curved beaks of parrots attest to the fact that most of their diet in the wild comprises nuts and seeds. In fact, these birds consume fleshy fruits just to reach their seeds which are discarded by most animals. The lower mandible is used to crack the hard shell, following which the nut is rotated to strip away the remaining shell. Some parrots also use their feet to grasp large food items while eating. Australian parrots have even been discovered preferring the use of one foot over the other, just like humans are left-handed or right-handed.
It is believed that most (up to 65 – 75%) of a captive parrot’s diet should comprise formulated or pelleted food. This food is nutritionally complete, which even renders additional supplements unnecessary. 15 – 20% of the diet should consist of fresh or cooked vegetables and leafy greens. Fruits, being mostly sugar and water, should be no more than 5%. As mentioned before, seeds and nuts should be served as an occasional treat.