What Is a Grass Parakeet?

Marjorie McAtee

The grass parakeet is a type of small Australian parrot of the genus Neophema. Unlike the Australian parakeet or budgerigar, however, these birds usually won't bond with their owners. As a result, they are typically happiest when kept in a large aviary, with plenty of room to fly, in the company of other grass parakeets, or with finches, cockatiels, or doves.

Pet grass parakeets enjoy eating spinach and many other vegetables.
Pet grass parakeets enjoy eating spinach and many other vegetables.

The grass parakeet is usually about the same size as a budgerigar, about 6 to 8 inches (15.2 to 20.3 centimeters) long. They typically come in far more vivid colors, however. The domesticated grass parakeet often displays brilliant blue, red, green, yellow, and orange plumage.

Pet grass parakeets will appreciate being fed fresh fruits and vegetables.
Pet grass parakeets will appreciate being fed fresh fruits and vegetables.

Several species of grass parakeet can be found living in the wild in Australia, in various environments. Some species live in the forest, while others prefer the beach, others inhabit the mountains, and still others live on the grassy plains. These birds usually eat grass seed and will spend much of their time feeding, whether in the wild or in captivity.

Pet grass parakeets may be fed on a varied diet of spray millet and bird seed, with a cuttlefish bone provided to meet their calcium needs. They will usually appreciate vegetables and fruits. Cleaning these foods thoroughly of any pesticide residue before feeding can help keep the birds from getting sick, since they are often prone to pesticide poisoning. Apples, corn, dandelion, beets, and spinach are all good fruits and vegetables to offer to grass parakeets. Removing uneaten fresh produce a few hours after feeding can help protect these birds from the yeast infections to which they are prone, especially in hot weather.

These small exotic birds are considered fairly easy to breed. Boxes for nesting can be placed in the habitat above eye-level to offer these birds the privacy they prefer for breeding. The female will usually prefer to lay her eggs in darkness. The average female grass parakeet will lay between four and six eggs, one at a time, about 48 hours apart, and sit on them for about 18 days. The newly hatched birds can usually be separated from their parents and moved to another cage at about eight weeks.

These small parrots are usually very active, and may thrive best in a rather large aviary with a dirt floor. Though they will often take advantage of perches, they may also spend a lot of time running on the floor of the habitat. Different species of grass parakeet need different amounts of space and different temperatures for maximum comfort and health, however.

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