Medium Parakeet Care Sheet

Maria Zayas, DVM
By Maria Zayas, DVM on Nov. 16, 2023
Lineolated parakeet

In This Article

Species Overview

Medium Parakeet Species Overview

Medium-sized parakeets are intelligent, colorful members of the parrot family.  This care sheet outlines basic care needs for a variety of medium parakeet species, including: 

  • Alexandrine parakeets 

  • Ringneck parakeets 

  • Red rump parakeets 

  • Lineolated parakeets 

  • Golden-mantled rosella parakeets 

  • Quaker (monk) parakeets 

Medium parakeets are larger than the common parakeet, a more popular pet also known as budgerigars or “budgies.” Medium parakeets have all the characteristic long tail feathers that common parakeets share.

Parakeets are friendly birds that can be hand-tamed easily. When properly socialized, most parakeets enjoy daily handling and learn basic commands.  

Since medium parakeets are known to be highly vocal, especially at dusk and dawn, they might not be suitable companions for noise-sensitive pet parents. 

With some patience and training, certain medium parakeet species can learn to “talk” by mimicking humans’ words and sounds! Pet parents can encourage parakeets to talk by repeating simple words in the same tone every day.  

Although parakeets are social animals, pet parents need to take precautions before deciding to house parakeets together. Multiple parakeets should never be placed in the same habitat before they’ve been properly introduced. Introductions should be done slowly, held in neutral territory, and closely supervised.  

Parakeets have sensitive respiratory systems and should be kept away from products that could potentially emit toxic fumes, such as appliances with nonstick coating, candles, air fresheners, and aerosol sprays. 

Medium Parakeet Characteristics 

Difficulty of Care 


Average Lifespan 

20+ years with proper care 

Average Adult Size 

9–24 inches, from head to end of tail, depending on species 


Granivorous (grain-eaters) 

Minimum Habitat Size 

24” W x 24” D x 30” H 

Medium Parakeet Supply Checklist

To keep a medium-sized parakeet happy and healthy, pet parents should have these basic supplies on hand: 

  • Appropriately sized habitat 

  • High-quality, pelleted, medium-sized parakeet food 

  • Millet spray as a treat 

  • Cuttlebone 

  • Cuttlebone/millet holder 

  • Treats 

  • Habitat paper or litter 

  • Food and water dishes 

  • Variety of perches 

  • Variety of toys 

  • Spray bottle mister 

  • Grooming supplies 

  • Play gym 

Medium Parakeet Habitat

Choosing the Right Enclosure 

Ideally, habitats should be at least 30” W x 24” D x 30” H for a single, medium-sized parakeet. The space between the cage’s bars should be a half-inch apart or smaller to prevent birds from escaping or getting their heads or legs stuck.

It’s important to make sure that the enclosure has enough vertical height for the parakeet to stretch and perch comfortably without having their wings or tails contact any surface. Always provide the largest habitat possible.  

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 

Medium-sized parakeets are comfortable in average household temperatures from 65 F to 80 F. Pet parents should be cautious of extreme temperature changes.  

Keep habitats in a draft-free, well-lit area that is not accessible to other pets, including cats and dogs. Pet parents should 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.  


Medium-sized parakeets can be raised alone or alongside another parakeet to form a bonded pair.

Since they can be territorial, it’s best to introduce parakeets to each other at a young age if they’re going to be housed in the same habitat. In all cases, introductions must be done slowly and under close supervision to ensure the birds are compatible. If the two parakeets fight, separate them. Different species of birds should never be kept in the same habitat.  

Pet parents who choose to house their medium-sized parakeet alone should make sure that they have plenty of time to interact with their bird each day, or the parakeet will become bored and may develop destructive behaviors such as feather-picking and screaming. 

Bedding and Lighting 

The bottom of a parakeet'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. 

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 a parakeet’s habitat next to an indoor window is not enough.

Instead, birds can get natural UV exposure by spending time outside in an escape-proof outdoor cage when weather permits. 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 parakeet's habitat for 10–12 hours each day. UV lights should be about 12–18 inches away from where the bird perches. Lights should be replaced every six months because their potency wanes over time. 

Décor and Accessories 

Perches: Pet parents should install perches of various heights, textures, and materials into their parakeet’s cage so the bird can exercise their feet and prevent pressure sores from developing. 

Perches should be at least 5 inches long and about a half-inch 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 serious injury. 

Sandpaper perches and sanded perch covers are not recommended because they can cause painful abrasions on the underside of a bird’s feet.  

Gravel-coated perches should be avoided because they are abrasive to birds’ feet, and 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. 

Toys: Medium-sized parakeets are very intelligent, so pet parents can place a variety of appropriately sized toys in their enclosure to encourage exercise and provide entertainment.

Without adequate mental and physical stimulation, birds can grow bored and develop harmful habits, like feather-plucking. 

Toys should be made from cardboard, paper, soft wood, or plastic too hard for parakeets to chew off and ingest. They should be rotated regularly to prevent boredom. However, since birds are creatures of habit and are sometimes stressed by change, new toys should be introduced one at a time. 

Ensure that toys are securely attached to the inside of the habitat. Sometimes, birds can unscrew the C-clamps that are commonly used to hang toys if they aren’t secured properly, and this can lead to injury. 

Water and food dishes: Dry food, fresh food, and water should all be offered in separate dishes. If more than one parakeet is kept in the same habitat, then each bird should have its own feeding station to discourage competition. 

Water dishes should be large enough for the parakeet to bathe in. 

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

Cuttlebone: Egg-laying female parakeets should always have access to at least one cuttlebone. Cuttlebones are an excellent way to supplement calcium and other beneficial minerals in a bird’s diet.

Calcium is a vital nutrient that promotes healthy egg production and helps keep birds’ bones, beaks, nails, and feathers strong and healthy. 

A cuttlebone holder, like the JW® Pet InSight Cuttlebone Holder Bird Toy, can help keep a bird’s cuttlebone in place and prevent cuttlebone debris from falling outside the cage. 

Medium Parakeet Cleaning and Maintenance

Pet parents should spot-clean their medium-sized parakeet'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 (or more often if more than one parakeet lives in the same habitat). 

Pet parents should only use cleaning agents formulated for pets when cleaning their parakeet’s cage. That’s because birds’ respiratory systems are sensitive to aerosolized fumes. 

To clean a parakeet's habitat, take these steps: 

  1. Move the parakeet 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 habitat, they are often scared of change; so be sure to introduce only one toy at a time gradually. 

Medium Parakeet Diet and Nutrition

Medium-sized parakeets enjoy a range of foods, including pelleted food, seed, vegetables, fruits, and the occasional treat. Parakeets should always have access to fresh, clean water. 

Pet parents should never share food from their mouths or plates with their parakeet. Human mouths have microorganisms that can cause illness in birds. 

A nutritious and well-balanced diet for a medium-sized parakeet includes a high-quality pelleted food formulated for medium parakeets. A nutritionally complete and balanced pelleted food should make up at least 60–70% of a parakeet’s diet. 

Use the manufacturer's instructions to determine how much food should be given daily. Uneaten food should be discarded and replaced before each feeding. 

Vegetables, fruits, and other table foods should be offered in limited quantities (not more than 30% of the total diet), with treats (including seed) not making up more than 10% of the total diet.

Parakeets enjoy and can safely eat a variety of fresh fruits and small amounts of vegetables, including:

  • Berries

  • Melons

  • Papaya

  • Potatoes

  • Bell peppers

  • Broccoli

  • Pea pods

Uneaten fruits and vegetables should be discarded after a few hours. 

Fortified seeds and millet can be fed as a treat. Like other parrots, parakeets remove the hulls of seeds before eating them, so pet parents do not need to give them a grit supplement to help them grind down whole seeds. 

Fresh, clean water should be changed daily. 

Do not allow parakeets to ingest avocados, fruit seeds, chocolate, caffeine, or alcohol, as they are all toxic and can cause serious illness or death. Pet parents should avoid treats high in salt or fat. 

Medium Parakeet Grooming and Care

Pet parents with birds should avoid nonstick cookware and other appliances with a nonstick coating (such as Teflon™). Nonstick coatings have a polymer called polytetrafluoroethylene (PTFE). When heated, PTFE 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 who has been taught how to trim feathers should clip a parakeet'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 getting 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: Water dishes should be large enough for a medium-sized parakeet 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. 

Most birds do not need their beaks trimmed; they should remain 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. 

Medium Parakeet Veterinary Care

Annual Care

Medium parakeets should be seen by a veterinarian at least once a year. 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. Be sure pictures contain the labels, not just the items. The carrier may be covered for protection and stress relief as needed.

Signs of a Healthy Medium Parakeet

  • Bright, social attitude

  • Talkative and vocal

  • Clean, clear, bright eyes

  • Clean nostrils

  • Symmetrical, intact beak that closes appropriately

  • Intact, clean, bright feathers

  • Clean, smooth feet of equal strength

  • Full and equal range of motion of wings

  • Consistent droppings

  • Clean and dry vent/cloaca

When to Call a Vet

  • Eye discharge or swelling

  • Nasal discharge

  • Wheezing or sneezing

  • Rapid breathing

  • Overgrown beak or fractures to beak

  • Feather plucking, bleeding feathers, uneven feather growth

  • Constantly fluffed feathers

  • Favoring a foot or open sores or lumps

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

  • Moist feathers around cloaca or any discharge from cloaca

  • Runny, liquid, or abnormally colored droppings

  • Loss of appetite

  • Vomiting or regurgitating

  • Not vocalizing

  • Head tilt

  • Lethargy

Common Illnesses in Medium Parakeets

Medium Parakeet FAQs

What is considered a medium parakeet?

Some of the most popular and common medium parakeets are ringneck parakeets and Quaker parakeets, but there are many other medium parakeet species, such as Alexandrine and red rump parakeets.

How big of a cage do two parakeets need?

The same-sized cage needed for one medium parakeet, 30”H x 24”W x 24”D, is the minimum cage size for two medium parakeets. Parakeets need more vertical space than width and enough space for their wingspan when taking flight, so when possible, increasing the cage size to account for two birds’ wingspans would be even better. Increasing the vertical space to 36” is a common recommendation, in addition to a couple of extra inches for width and depth when possible.

Featured Image: SylvieBouchard/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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