Lory and Lorikeet Care Sheet

Maria Zayas, DVM
By Maria Zayas, DVM on Oct. 26, 2023
Lorikeet close-up

In This Article

Species Overview

Lory and Lorikeet Species Overview

There are over 100 known types of lories and lorikeets. This care sheet outlines basic care needs for a variety of lory and lorikeet species, including: 

  • Yellow-backed lories 

  • Yellow-streaked lories 

  • Red lory (also known as Mollucan lory) 

  • Rainbow lorikeet (also known as Green-naped lory) 

  • Swainson's Blue Mountain lorikeet 

  • Goldie's lorikeet 

Unlike many other pet bird species, lories and lorikeets have very specific housing and feeding requirements, making them best suited for pet parents with some experience keeping birds.  

Lories and lorikeets are sometimes referred to as “brush-tongued parrots,” as their tongues have brush-like tips that help them retrieve pollen and nectar from flowers in the wild. 

Lory and Lorikeet Handling and Behavior

Pet parents should socialize their lory or lorikeet by allowing them time outside of their enclosed habitat each day. While outside of habitats, birds must be supervised to ensure they don’t injure themselves or interact with something that could harm them.   

Some rainbow lories sleep on their backs on the floor of their enclosure, which can look alarming to pet parents but may be a normal behavior. 

Lories and lorikeets may nip or bite at their pet parent on occasion, especially when feeling excited, confused, or threatened. For this reason, parrots like lories and lorikeets should not be left unsupervised with children. 

Do not yell at a bird if they bite you. By giving attention to the behavior, you will encourage him and increase the chance of it happening again. Instead of reacting to the bite, put the bird down (in a pet-safe area) and walk away. This acts as a “time-out” for the bird that teaches them that biting does not get attention. 

Pet parents should always pay attention to a lory/lorikeet’s body language before approaching or handling him. If the bird has pinned eyes, flared tail feathers, or is lunging at you, he may be telling you that he is scared, angry, or stressed and that you should not try to handle him.

Lory and Lorikeet Characteristics 

Difficulty of Care 


Average Lifespan 

Up to 15 to 30 years with proper care, depending on species 

Average Adult Size 

5-13 inches long, head to end of tail, depending on species 


Nectarivores (nectar-eaters) 

Minimum Habitat Size 

36” L x 24” W x 36” H 

Lory and Lorikeet Supply Checklist

To keep a lory/lorikeet happy and healthy, pet parents should have these basic supplies on hand: 

  • Appropriately sized habitat (at least 36” L x 24” W x 36” H) 

  • Commercially available nectar/pollen substitute 

  • Commercially available, low-iron pelleted diet 

  • Habitat paper or other paper litter 

  • Food and water dishes 

  • Variety of perches 

  • Variety of toys 

  • Mister spray bottle 

  • Grooming supplies 

  • Play gym 

  • Cuttlebone 

  • Cuttlebone holder 

Lory and Lorikeet Habitat

Choosing the Right Enclosure 

Lories and lorikeets are highly active, so it’s important to provide them with a habitat that’s large enough for them to play, exercise, and fly comfortably. A single adult lory or lorikeet should be housed in a habitat that’s no smaller than 36” L x 24” W x 36” H.

The space between the cage’s bars should be ½ in apart or smaller to prevent the bird from escaping or getting their heads or legs stuck. As these clever creatures are known for escape attempts, make sure the habitat can lock securely to prevent birds from getting out and possibly injuring themselves. Always provide the largest habitat possible. 

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Homemade habitats or any habitat made with wood or galvanized wire are not recommended. These materials can expose birds to potentially toxic chemicals that can cause serious medical problems if ingested. 

Setting Up Your Habitat 

Lories and lorikeets are comfortable in average household temperatures between 65 F and 80 F. Pet parents should be cautious of extreme temperature changes. Habitats should be kept off the floor and in a draft-free, well-lit area that is not near an air conditioner or accessible to other pets, including cats and dogs.

As lories and lorikeets are highly social, it’s best to place their habitat in an area of the home with lots of traffic and activity. Birds should not, however, be housed in kitchens, as fumes and smoke can be toxic to birds if inhaled.

Make sure that no habitat parts or toys are made with lead, zinc, lead-based paints, galvanized metal, or other potentially toxic materials. All these materials can cause serious medical issues if ingested. 

Habitat Mates 

Lories and lorikeets should always be housed singly, as they are highly territorial and will fight other birds. Never house different species of animals together. 

Bedding & Lighting 

The bottom of a lory or lorikeet’s habitat should have a removable metal grate so droppings can fall below the bird’s feet. Pet parents should line the tray at the base of the habitat with habitat paper or other paper-based bedding. This will help keep the environment clean and minimize dust. 

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Birds need exposure to ultraviolet (UV) light to produce vitamin D in their skin so they can absorb dietary calcium. Glass windows filter out UV light, so placing their habitat next to an indoor window is not enough. Instead, birds can get natural UV exposure by spending time outside in an escape-proof cage each day. Birds should never be left unattended while outside and should not be placed in direct sunlight. 

To supplement UV exposure, pet parents can shine a full-spectrum UV light designed for birds on their lory or lorikeet's habitat for 10–12 hours each day. UV lights should be about 12­–18 inches from where the bird perches. Replace lights every 6 months, as their potency wanes over time. 

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Décor & Accessories 

Perches: Lories and lorikeets need perches of assorted sizes, heights, textures, and materials so they can exercise their feet and prevent pressure sores from developing. 

Perches should be around ½-¾ inch in in diameter. If a perch’s diameter is too wide, the bird will not be able to grip it properly. This can lead to falls and other serious injuries. 

Concrete, wood, braided rope, and natural branches all make suitable materials for perches.  

Sandpaper perches, gravel perches, and sanded perch covers are not recommended, as they can cause painful abrasions on the underside of a bird’s feet. Gravel-coated perches should also be avoided because birds can pick off the gravel and ingest it.  

Do not place perches above the bird’s water or food bowl— waste droppings will land there. 

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Food and water dishes: Pelleted food, nectar, and water should all be offered in separate dishes. Water dishes should be large enough for the bird to bathe in.  

Dishes should be washed and rinsed thoroughly each day to prevent bacterial growth.   

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Toys: Lories and lorikeets are known for their highly active, curious personalities. Pet parents should stimulate their bird’s mind by providing them with an assortment of toys. Aside from helping the bird bond with his pet parent, encouraging physical activity with toys can help keep harmful habits (like screaming and feather-plucking) at bay.   

Toys may be made from cardboard, paper, soft wood, or plastic that is too hard for birds to chew off and ingest. 

Toys should have a range of colors, shapes, and textures to attract interest. Rotate toys regularly to prevent boredom. 

Toys should not have small parts that can be chewed off easily and swallowed. Ensure that toys are securely attached to the inside of the habitat to prevent injury. 

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Cuttlebones: Cuttlebones are an excellent way to supplement calcium and other trace minerals in a bird’s diet. Calcium is a vital nutrient that helps keep birds’ bones, beaks, nails, and feathers strong and healthy. 

A cuttlebone holder can help keep a bird’s cuttlebone in place and prevent cuttlebone debris from falling outside the cage. 

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Lory and Lorikeet Maintenance

Pet parents should spot-clean their lory or lorikeet’s habitat daily, removing any soiled material and discarded food. Water and food bowls must be washed daily. Substrate, bedding, and habitat liners should be replaced at least once a week. 

Pet parents should only use cleaning agents formulated for pets when cleaning their lory or lorikeet’s cage, as birds’ respiratory systems are sensitive to aerosolized fumes. 

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To clean a lory or lorikeet’s habitat, take these steps: 

  1. Move the bird to a secure environment (such as another habitat or travel cage) in a separate air space. Remove any old substrate, bedding, and accessories from the habitat. 

  1. Use a bird habitat cleaner or 3% bleach solution to wash the habitat and any accessories.  

  1. Rinse the habitat and accessories thoroughly with water, making sure to remove any trace amounts or residual smells left by the cleaning agent or bleach solution.  

  1. Allow the habitat and its contents to dry completely before placing new substrate, bedding, and clean accessories back into the habitat. 

  1. Return the bird to the clean habitat. 

Perches, dishes, and toys should be replaced when worn or damaged. Swap old toys with new ones regularly to prevent boredom. As birds are creatures of habit and are sometimes stressed by change, new toys should be introduced one at a time. 

Lory and Lorikeet Diet

A well-balanced and nutritious diet for a lory/lorikeet diet consists of:            

  • A high-quality, commercially-available powdered nectar or pollen substitute mixed with water, or a low-iron pelleted diet formulated for lories/lorikeets. 

  • Nectar/pollen substitutes should be served in a separate dish from pellets, fruits, and vegetables. 

  • Nectar diets are high in sugar and will spoil quickly once mixed with water. Pet parents should make a fresh nectar mixture each day and remove it from their bird’s habitat within a couple of hours 

  • Lories and lorikeets do well eating low-iron containing pellets. Make sure pelleted foods have an iron level of less than 100 ppm (100 mg/kg of food). 

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Fruits and vegetables, fed in limited quantities; all fruits and vegetables should be cut into bite-sized pieces. 

  • Do not feed lories and lorikeets citrus fruits or other fruits/vegetables rich in vitamin C, such as strawberries, cantaloupes, and papayas. These foods will increase iron absorption, which can be toxic to lories and lorikeets. 

  • Carrots, sweet potatoes, broccoli, corn, squash, and pumpkin can be offered in small amounts. 

  • Uneaten fruits and vegetables should be discarded after 10 hours, as they may spoil and cause infection if eaten. 

Fresh, clean water; water should be changed daily. 

Feeding Guidelines 

Lories and lorikeets are sensitive to excess iron in their diet and will develop a disease called hemochromatosis, or “iron storage disease,” when they eat foods high in iron. This disease refers to iron deposits in the liver and heart muscle, which then cause the abdomen to swell and can cause difficulty breathing. Pet parents should seek immediate care from an avian veterinarian if they suspect their bird has iron storage disease. 

Do not offer your lory or lorikeet seeds. Unlike other parrots, since lories and lorikeets do not eat seeds in the wild, their stomach (gizzard) is not muscular enough (like that of other seed-eating parrots) to crush and digest seed kernels. 

Healthy lories and lorikeets fed a nutritionally balanced diet of nectar/pollen and pelleted food should not need supplemental vitamins or minerals. 

Do not allow lories or lorikeets to ingest seeds, chocolate, caffeine, or alcohol, as they are all toxic and can cause death or serious illness. Avoid treats that are high in fat, sugar, or salt. 

Lory and Lorikeet Grooming

Compared to other parrots, lories and lorikeets have shorter digestive tracts that are adapted to their natural, high-moisture diet. Because of this, lories and lorikeets tend to produce more frequent, runnier droppings.  

Lories and lorikeets that consume spoiled nectar/pollen substitutes are at a greater risk of developing potentially life-threatening yeast infections in their gastrointestinal tract.  

Avoid using nonstick cookware and other appliances with a nonstick coating (such as Teflon™). Nonstick coatings have a polymer called polytetrafluoroethylene (PTFE). When heated, PFTE releases colorless, odorless fumes than can kill pet birds if inhaled.  

For pet parents interested in wing clipping:  

  • Wing clipping temporarily prevents a bird from gaining lift and flying away.  

  • A properly performed wing trim allows a bird to sail safely to the ground without lift  

  • Only a trained professional or someone that has been taught how to trim feathers should clip a bird’s wing feathers. Improper trimming can cause severe injury.  

  • When done correctly, clipping the outermost “flight feathers” can help keep birds from flying away accidentally and becoming injured.  

  • Before trying to trim a bird’s feathers, pet parents should consult an avian veterinarian for help.  

  • Wing clipping must be repeated every few months, as feathers grow back in.  

Bathing: Lories and lorikeets should have access to a water dish that’s large enough to bathe in. Pet parents can groom birds that do not regularly bathe themselves by gently misting them with warm water from a clean spray bottle a few times a week. 

Nail Care: Nails must be trimmed on an as-needed basis, which can range from every few weeks to months. Nails should be trimmed by a trained professional, avian veterinarian, or someone otherwise trained to trim birds’ nails to prevent injury. 

If bleeding occurs, a styptic powder can be used to stop the bleeding quickly. 

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Most birds will not need to have their beaks trimmed, as they should stay in good condition with daily use. Underlying conditions, such as liver disease or deformity from trauma, can cause abnormal beak growth and must be addressed by an avian veterinarian. 

Lory and Lorikeet Veterinary Care

Annual Care

Lories and lorikeets should be seen by a veterinarian once annually. A transport carrier or cage should be used and pictures of their cage, diet, and supplies at home can be shown to the veterinarian as part of the exam.

Signs of a Healthy Lory or Lorikeet

  • Clean, clear, bright eyes

  • Clean nostrils

  • Symmetrical, intact beak that articulates appropriately

  • Intact, clean, bright feathers

  • Clean feet with strong and equal grip

  • Clean vent/cloaca

  • Full and equal range of motion of wings

  • Consistent droppings

  • Outgoing attitude

When to Call a Vet

  • Eye discharge

  • Nasal discharge

  • Overgrown beak or fractures to beak

  • Feather plucking, bleeding feathers, uneven feather growth

  • Itching

  • Lack of foot grip and/or falling off perch

  • Foot sores or favoring a foot

  • Moist feathers around cloaca or any discharge from cloaca

  • Runny, liquid, or abnormally colored droppings

  • Limping, unwillingness to use a limb or wing, or holding a wing abnormally

  • Loss of appetite

  • Hiding

  • Not vocalizing

  • Constantly fluffed feathers

  • Rapid breathing

  • Wheezing or sneezing

  • Head tilt

  • Vomiting or regurgitating

Common Illnesses in Lories and Lorikeets

Lory and Lorikeet FAQs

Is a lory a good pet?

Lories are great avian pets with outgoing and silly personalities that pet parents love.

Do lory parrots talk?

Lories definitely talk and you’ll likely find them to be very vocal.

How much is a rainbow lory?

A rainbow lory will usually cost at least $500–$1000. Depending on the bird and your location, the price can climb as high as $2000.

What is the best lorikeet as a pet?

The best lorikeet depends on your personality and lifestyle, but smaller lorikeets can be best for beginners as they have less bite force, or rainbow lorikeets are very popular due to their spectacular coloring and personality.

What is the lifespan of a lorikeet?

Lorikeet lifespans vary by individual species, ranging from about 10 years or up to 35–40 years.

Are lorikeets affectionate?

Lorikeets are affectionate birds and this is typically why lorikeet pet parents prefer them over other popular bird species.

Featured Image: tracielouise/iStock / Getty Images Plus via Getty Images

Maria Zayas, DVM


Maria Zayas, DVM


Dr. Zayas has practiced small animal and exotic medicine all over the United States and currently lives in Colorado with her 3 dogs, 1 cat,...

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