In this article I am going to take a look at macaws as pets, and whether or not these beauties actually make good pets.
This site is mainly about my favorite pet, the cockatiel, but I am a parrot lover in general and when I was younger I used to babysit a macaw whenever the owners went away.
I always wanted one of my own, but the price, as well as their size and the noise levels, put me off a bit as I got older, so I opted for the smaller bare-eyed cockatoo.
What Is A Macaw?
A macaw is a large long-tailed parrot with brightly colored plumage, native to Central and South America. There are many different color variations of this bird.
Macaws are the king-sized members of the parrot family and have typical parrot features.
They have large and strong curved beaks designed to crush nuts and seeds.
They also have strong and agile toes which they use like we use our hands to grasp things.
Macaws make their presence know with loud screeching and squawking voices. They do this to make contact with each other and to define their territory. Their calls can be very irritating to humans. They also imitate sounds and those that live near humans often repeat the words they hear and practice it until they get it right.
Macaws are famous for their bright colors, which camouflage them well in their natural habitats where there are green leaves and red and yellow fruits.
They have streamlined bodies and tails and their wings don’t flap deeply so they can fly through dense forests. When they land, they drop their tail and feet downwards and use their wings like brakes to slow down before grasping their chosen perch with their feet.
Macaws tend to nest in the holes of trees or on cliff sides or earthen banks.
Macaws are very social birds by nature and spend a lot of time interacting with their mates and family groups. They are highly intelligent and curious and love to explore and play with interesting objects that they find. You will see them examining objects from all different angles and testing them with their tongues.
They love to chew things and can do serious damage to even the hardest woods.
They love water and enjoy bathing.
What Should A Macaw Eat?
Like people, birds may display individual preferences, but most of what you’d expect to find in the fruit section of a supermarket also qualify as nutritious for your macaw.
Macaw-friendly fruits include apricots, cherries, coconut; apples with seeds and stems removed; peaches, nectarines, plums, papaya and mangoes, all pitted; berries; grapes; kiwi; melons with rind removed; peeled pineapples; peeled bananas; pomegranates; star fruit; and seeded citrus fruits such as oranges, lemons, tangerines, and grapefruit.
As a rule, any part of the fruit that you don’t eat, the bird shouldn’t eat either.
Fresh fruits are always best but dried fruits such as raisins, cranberries and currants, and fruits that have been frozen and thawed are also fine.
Make sure you wash all fruit and vegetables well before feeding them to your macaw.
A well-balanced and varied diet must be maintained at all times. Avoid processed foods. This includes tinned fruit and vegetables.
What About Seed?
Wild macaws would normally eat a great variety of seed types in the wild as different plants come into season. Commercial all seed diets tend to be high in fat and provide a deficient or imbalanced source of many nutrients if fed as the only source of food, which could lead to ill health and perhaps shorten the life span of your macaw.
Often, your bird will pick through a large bowl of commercial seed mix and selectively eat 1 or 2 “favorite” types of seeds. Peanuts and sunflower seeds are often chosen preferentially, and these are particularly high in fats as well as being deficient in calcium, vitamin A and other nutrients.
So use these as treats as they will fill up on them and not eat enough of the healthy stuff if allowed to do so. Seeds should only be a small part of the diet and only a few nuts should be included daily.
What About Pellets?
Pellets have been developed to meet all your parrot’s nutritional needs and there are many different varieties available, depending on what stage of life your bird is going through.
It is difficult to get a parrot onto a pelleted diet if he is not used to it, but easier to start with hand reared babies. Pellets are actually the ideal diet so it is a good idea to slowly wean your bird off the seeds and onto the pellets. Ideally, pellets should make up about 80 percent of the macaw’s diet and here are just some of the great varieties available.
Click on the picture to find out more about the products.
Tips For Feeding Your Macaw:
- Always monitor the amount of food eaten every day by your bird.
- Offer a variety of fresh foods each day, including fresh fruit and vegetables.
- Offer fresh water every day.
- Clean all food and water dishes daily.
- No to a food item, one day does not mean no forever – KEEP TRYING!
Some Great Cages You Can Purchase Online For Your Macaw
If you want to take a closer look at the cage, simply click on the cage of your choice.
Who Should Own Macaws As Pets?
Here is a checklist for you to go through before you buy a macaw or macaws as pets:
- Do you have space for a large cage? This should be about 36 x 48 x 60 inches.
- Can you handle the noise? Macaws as pets can be ear-piercingly loud.
- If you only buy one macaw, be prepared to spend lots of time with your pet. Be prepared to lavish him or her with attention.
- Macaws live a long time, so be prepared to have a pet for life.
- I repeat, if you do not have space or the time for a macaw, don’t get one. Perhaps opt for a smaller bird instead like a budgerigar or a cockatiel.
- I wouldn’t recommend a macaw as a pet for a child. Here are some good choices for children.
Final Words Of Wisdom
Macaws are hardy pets if looked after and don’t get sick easily.
These are a few of the more common ailments that macaws as pets are prone to:
- Proventricular dilatation disease (PDD), which is an incurable viral disease.
- Psittacine beak and feather disease (PBFD), a contagious and fatal viral disease.
- Psittacosis (parrot fever, a disease that can be transmitted to humans).
- Beak malocclusion.
- Aspergillosis (a fungal infection).
Find a good avian vet and take your bird for regular check-ups.
Think carefully whether a macaw will fit into your lives before you venture out to buy one spur of the moment. A pet like this is for life and they quickly become a member of the family in their own special ways.