Minimum requirements


Report on the minimum requirements for the care of parrots

10th January 1995
Translation: Jennifer Bergk (Thanks a lot!)
  1. General Information
  2. Specific Information
    1. General Keeping Requirements
      1. Parakeets

      2.   1.1 Basics
          1.2 Accommodation
      3. Short-tailed parrots

      4.   2.1 Basics
          2.2 Accommodation
      5. Macaws

      6.   3.1 Basics
          3.2 Accommodation
      7. Lories and other nectar-feeding parrots

      8.   4.1 Basics
          4.2 Accommodation
    2. Special Requirements
      1. Sick or injured birds
      2. Pet shops
      3. Transportation inside Germany
      4. Bird shows
      5. Bird markets and fairs
      6. Transitional periods


I. General Information

Parrots (Psittacidae) are social birds that are found on every continent except in Europe. They populate different habitats, for example tropical rainforests, savannahs, semi-deserts, mountain forests and Páramos up to 4000 meters and more above sea level.

The diet of different parott species varies widely. Many feed on seeds while others are specialised on fruits or nectar.

Parrots are, with a few exceptions, cavity-nesting birds.

At present 340 parrot species are known, 203 species breed regularly in captivity (AZ breeding statistics 1984 - 1993). Budgerigars (Melopsittacus undulates) and cockatiels (Nymphicus hollandicus) are bred since the middle of the 19th century, are domesticated and not included in this report (a separate report is in progress).

With few exceptions, parrots live in pairs or in groups. As a rule, they must kept like that in captivity. Exceptions are irreconciable birds or currently existing birds that were imprinted only on humans, as well as sick or injured birds. Going forward, the requirement for keeping parrots in pairs should be pointed out when selling them and parrots, as a rule, should only be sold in pairs. Young birds must be raised in a way that ensures imprinting on their own species.

Parrots should be allowed to breed, if the offspring can be provided for.
The extensive behaviour repertoire must be met throught he provision of varied furnishings for aviaries, cages and cold shelters, e.g. fresh branches or suitable toys.

The need for social interaction must be satisfied by keeping the birds in pairs, or, in the case of justifiable single keeping, through sufficient daily interaction with the bird.

Parrots can be kept together with other animals, but it must be ensured that they get along.

Import, export and keeping of parrots (with the exception of cockatiels and budgerigars) are governed by laws for the protection of species (1).

The breeding of all parrots requires a permit according to the Animal Epidemic regulation (Tierseuchengesetz (3)); according to the decree on psittacosis (Psittakoseverordnung (3)) all parrots must be marked. The domestic market decree on protection from animal epidemics (Binnenmarkt-Tierseuchenschutzverordnung (4)) requires a quarantine for the import of parrots from third countries.

II. Specific Information

In the following parrots are divided into four groups: parakeets, short-tailed parrots, macaws and lories as well as other nectar-feeding species.

A. General Keeping Requirements

Parrots must not be chained or kept on a stand. Birds incapable of flight must be kept in an area equal to the area of the cage or aviary and provided with varied climbingopportunities. They must be able to enter their shelter at any time.

The specified dimensions for cages and aviaries are applicable for pairs and may not be reduced, even in cases of justifiable single keeping. The footprint must be increased by 50% for each additional pair.Cages must be positioned at a height of at least 80 cm (3 ft).

For wild caught parrots a larger space is required for their keeping in the first two years, in order to allow the bird to withdraw. The footprint of cages or aviaries must be at least 50% larger than the size specified in items 1-4 of clause A.

Partition walls might be needed between cages or aviaries to prevent injuries due to bites. If the birds are kept in an outside aviary, a shelter (5) or, in individual cases, weather protection must be provided that can be sought out by the birds at any time. Only during adverse weather conditions, such as deep frost, may the birds be kept in the shelter during the daytime. For those species that must generaaly be kept in tempered rooms, an indoor aviary must be provided with the same dimensions as the outdoor aviary.Details on minimum temperature requirements for individual species are listed below. Food and water is to be offered inside the shelter during the winter. Food and water is to be prepared freshly every day, the bowls must be cleaned before refilling.

The floor of the cage, indoor aviary and shelter must be covered with sand, wood chips made of untreated wood, wood pellets, bark mulch or other suitable substrate and should be cleaned preferably weekly. The floor of an outdoor aviary may be natural ground or may be covered with sand, gravel, etc.
The material of cages, aviaries and their furnishings may not be harmful to the birds' health. It should be easy to clean, and made and attached in such a way as to preclude injuries. The wire should consist of horizontal bars or mesh. Cages, aviaries and shelters must be equipped with at least two wooden perches of various diameters, attached to maximise flying distance.

If birds are kept indoors, free flight is recommended.

A bath should preferably be available at all times. If the birds do not bathe, they should be sprayed with water at least once a week, weather permitting.

Natural light or artifical lighting emulation natural light must be provided in the aviaries, as well as in the shelters. Daily lighting should be 12 hours, but not more; the day-and-night-rhythm must be maintained.

If the parrots are kept in a flock, significantly more nesting boxes than pairs must be provided during breeding season in order to minimize fights..

Special attention must be paid to a varied and appropriate diet. It is not sufficient to feed parrots seeds throughout the year. Depending on the species, sprouted seeds, fruits, vegetables, greens and, at least during the breeding season, animal protein must be offered.
Lories, Hanging Parrots and and Swift Parrots must be offered nectar and must not to be switched to a seed-only diet. Hanging Parrots, Swift Parrots and some Lory species need seeds in addition to Lory food and all nectar feeding species need fruits.

Parrots are to be checked daily for injuries and signs of illness. In the event of a suspicion of illness or of an injury a vetinarian must be consulted. Records on examinations and treatments should be kept.

  1. Parakeets of the genera (6):
    Alisterus, Aprosmictus, Aratinga, Barnardius, Bolborhynchus, Brotogeris, Cyanoliseus, Cyanoramphus, Enicognathus, Eunymphicus, Geopsittacus, Leptosittaca, Myiopsitta, Nandayus, Neophema, Ognorhynchus, Pezoporus, Platycercus, Polytelis, Prosopeia, Psephotus, Psittacula, Purpureicephalus, Pyrrhura, Rhynchopsitta.

    1.1 Basics
    Parakeets are long-tailed parrots that live in open environments like savannahs, steppe as well as forests. The smaller representatives are for example the Grass Parrots of the genus Neophema with a total length (TL) of about 20 cm and a body mass (BM) of about 37 g. One of the biggest birds in this category is the Thick-Billed Parrot Rhynchopsitta pachyrhyncha with a TL of about 38 cm and a BM of 440 g.
    Outside the breeding season most parakeets live in family groups or in swarms of varying sizes, during the breeding season most species live in pairs.

    1.2 Accommodation
    South American parakeets of the genera Aratinga, Pyrrhura, Brotogeris and Bolborhynchus need adequate sleeping boxes throughout the year, other parakeets need nesting boxes only during the breeding season. The following dimensions for cages and aviaries must not be undershot.

    Total length of the species in cmDimensions of the cage/aviary
    (length x width x heigth in m)
    Floor space of the shelter in m2
    up to 251.0 x 0.5 x 0.50.5
    over 25 to 402.0 x 1.0 x 1.01.0
    over 403.0 x 1.0 x 2.02.0

    The temperature inside the shelter should not be under 5°C, for wild caught parakeets the temperature must be above 10°C for the first year.
    For Ring-necked Parakeets, Quaker (Monk) Parakeets, Derbyan Parakeets, Patagonian Conure and Australian parakeets the shelter must be frost free.


  2. Short-tailed parrots of the genera:
    Agapornis, Amazona, Bolbopsittacus, Cacatua, Callocephalon, Calyptorhynchus, Coracopsis, Cyclopsitta, Deroptyus, Eclectus, Eolophus, Forpus, Geogroyus, Graydidascalus, Gypopsitta, Hapalopsittaca, Micropsitta, Nannopsittaca, Nestor, Pionites, Pionopsitta, Pionus, Poicephalus, Prioniturus, Probosciger, Psittacara, Psittacella, Psittaculirostris, Psittacus, Psittinus, Psittrichas, Strigops, Tanygnathus, Touit, Triclaria.

    2.1 Basics
    These parrots inhabit very different environments from sea level to alpine regions. Among the smaller representatives are Parrotlets of the genus Forpus (TL 12 - 15 cm, BM 25 - 30 gr), among the biggest are the Sulphur-crested Cockatoo, Cacatua galerita (TL 50 cm, BM 900 g) and the Kea, Nestor notabilis(TL 50 cm, BM 950 g). These parrots live in family groups or in swarms outside the breeding season, during the breeding season most species live in pairs.

    2.2 Accommodation
    During the breeding season Agapornis- and Forpus species can be kept in cages of 0,8 x 0,4 x 0,4 m. The following dimensions for cages and aviaries must not be undershot.

    Total length of the species in cmDimensions of the cage/aviary
    (length x width x heigth in m)
    Floor space of the shelter in m2
    up to 251.0 x 0.5 x 0.50.5
    over 25 to 402.0 x 1.0 x 1.01.0
    over 403.0 x 1.0 x 2.02.0

    The temperature in the shelter must not be under 15°C for Cyclopsitta, Deroptyus, Fclectus, Forpus, Geoffroyus, Grciydidascalus, Gypopsitta, Micropsitta, Pionites, Pionopsitta, Prioniturus, Psittacella, Psittaculirostris, Psittinus, Psittrichas, Tanygnathus, Triclaria, for all other genera not under 10°C.
    For captivity bred birds of the genera Cacatua, Callocephalon, Eolophus, Hapalopsittaca, Nannopsittaca, Poicephalus the temperature can be 5°C in the shelter, for Agapornis the shelter must be frost free. For Keas weather protection is sufficient.
    Caiques (Pionites-species) need sleeping boxes throughout the year, other species need nesting boxes just during the breeding season.


  3. Macaws of the genera
    Anodorhynchus, Ara, Cyanopsitta, Diopsittaca

    3.1 Basics
    Macaws inhabit lowland rainforests and lower mountain regions in South- and Central America. Habitats are mostly humid forests as well as forests on river banks and drier regions with deciduous trees.
    The smallest representative is Hahn's Macaw/ Red-Shouldered Macaw, Diospittaca nobilis (TL 30 cm, BM 136 g), the biggest is the Hyacinth Macaw, Anodorhynchus hyacinthinus (TL 98cm, BM 1500g).
    Outside the breeding season macaws live in pairs, in families or smaller groups.

    3.2 Accommodation
    The following dimensions for cages and aviaries must not be undershot.

    Total length of the species in cmDimensions of the cage/aviary
    (length x width x heigth in m)
    Floor space of the shelter in m2
    up to 402.0 x 1.0 x 1.51.0
    over 40 to 603.0 x 1.0 x 2.01.0
    over 604.0 x 2.0 x 2.02.0

    All macaws need a temperature of no less than 10°C in the shelter.


  4. Lories and other nectarfeeding parrots of the genera:
    Chalcopsitta, Charmosyna, Eos, Glossopsitta, Lathamus, Loriculus, Lorius, Neopsittacus, Oreopsittacus, Phigys, Pseudeos, Psitteuteles, Trichoglossus, Vini.

    4.1 Basics
    These food specialists live in forest or open, wooded environments. Their habitat ranges from sea level to alpin areas around the equator (up to 4000m above sea level).
    Hanging Parrots (Loriculus-species) have a TL of 10,5 to 16 cm and a BM of 12 - 36 g.
    Among the biggest lories is the Black-Capped Lory (Lorius lorry) with a TL of 31 cm and a BM of 240g.
    Outside the breeding season these parrots live in families, groups or swarm that roam in search of food, that is flowering trees that provide pollen and nectar.

    4.2 Accommodation
    The temperature inside the shelter must be at least 10°C for Hanging Parrots, for lories from alpine regions, for example Charmosyna papou, it must not be less than 5°C. For Swift Parrots, who are resistant to low temperatures, the shelter must be frost free.
    The floor of cages and aviaries must be covered with absorbant substrate due to the liquid excrements of the birds or it must be furnished with an inserted floor. The floor of aviaries can be tiled or made of concrete or another washable material.
    The food must always be prepared freshly and the bowls must be thoroughly cleaned.
    The following dimensions for cages and aviaries must not be undershot.

    Total length of the species in cmDimensions of the cage/aviary
    (length x width x heigth in m)
    Floor space of the shelter in m2
    up to 201.0 x 0.5 x 0.50.5
    over 202.0 x 1.0 x 1.01.0

B. Special Requirements
  1. Sick or injured birds
    The requirements for housing and care desribed in item 1 - 4 of clause A do not apply for sick or injured birds if the vetinarian judges that other care or housing is required.


  2. Pet Shops
    In pet shops cages or aviaries can temporarily hold twice as many parrots as specified above. This is only to be tolerated in pet shops which can definitely prove that the birds were not kept under limited conditions in other pet shops or chain stores and that the duration for limited conditions (including quarantine) of three months is not exceeded. There must be clearly visible signs attached to the cages that point out these conditions are only tolerated in pet shops for a limited period of time.


  3. Transportation inside Germany
    The birds must not suffer any injuries in consequence of the transport or the construction of the carrier cage. For this reason parrots should always be transported alone.
    Carrier cages must be contructed out of solid materials and massive dividing walls and must not cause any injuries. The cages should be covered to darken them and should be ventilated properly.
    The length of the carrier cage should match at least the total length of the bird. The bird must be able to move it's head freely.
    If birds are transported for longer than four hours they must supplied with food that also supplies water.
    The decree for the protection of animals during transportation applies in the currently valid version.


  4. Bird shows (7)
    1. The overall length of a show must not be longer than four days (journey time to and from the show included).
    2. The birds may be shown to the public for no longer than three days. Sufficient rest periods and sleeping periods with darkened cage must be arranged.
    3. Obviously shy birds are not to be presented in public or judged.
    4. The birds are to be transported to the show by their owner or by an appointee.The show and judging cages for parrots and parakeets must be placed at least at table height.
    5. The show and judging cages must be at least 1.5 times as long or deep as the TL of the bird kept therein. If a group of up to ten birds is kept in a show cage, the length or depth of the cage must be multiplied with the number of birds. For groups of more than ten birds the additional demand for space is reduced by 50% per additional animal.
    6. Show and judging cages must have at least two opposed perches.
    7. Food must not be used as substrate for hygenic reasons.
    8. Food and water must be offered in a way prevents it from being fouled by excrements. Food and water must be prepared freshly every day.
    9. The cages must be clean.
    If the minimum requirements for keeping parrots as specified in clause A are fullfilled, the length of the show is not restricted.


  5. Bird markets and fairs (8)
    Bird markets and fairs may only be held during one day and only captivity bred birds may be offered. In addition subitems d - j of item 4 in clause B must be observed.
    The offering and selling of parrots outside of climatised accomodations is adverse to animal protection laws.
    The conditions for bird markets and fairs with parrots can, as far as possible, be applied for birds market and fairs with other birds.


  6. Transitional periods
    If parrots are kept in conditions that do not correspond to the requirements specified above, the conditions should be adapted during a period of three years.
    During this time parrots that are kept alone should get a partner as long as they do not prove to be irreconcilable. As a compensation for social contact with conspecific animals the bird must be entertained and played with for several hours every day.
    If birds are bought for the first time or the stock is enhanced or replenished, the requirements of chapters I and clause A of chapter II must be fullfilled.


(1) Currently applicable:
1. Verordnung (EWG) Nr. 3626/82 des Rates vom 3. Dezember 1982 zur Anwendung des Übereinkommens über den internationalen Handel mit gefährdeten Arten freilebender Tiere und Pflanzen in der Gemeinschaft (AB1. EG Nr. L 348 S. 1) in der jeweils gültigen Fassung.
2. Verordnung (EWG) Nr. 3418/83 der Kommission vom 28. November 1983 mit Bestimmungen für eine einheitliche Erteilung und Verwendung der bei der Anwendung des Übereinkommens über den internationalen Handel mit gefährdeten Arten freilebender Tiere und Pflanzen in der Gemeinschaft erforderlichen Dokumente (AB1. EG Nr. L 344 S. 1).
3. Gesetz über Naturschutz und Landschaftspflege - Bundesnaturschutzgesetz - in der Fassung der Bekanntmachung vom 12. März 1987 (BGB1. I S. 889), zuletzt geändert durch Artikel 2 des Gesetzes vom 6. August 1993 (BGB1. I S. l458).
4. Verordnung zum Schutz wildlebender Tier- und Pflanzenarten (Bundesartenschutzverordnung- BartSchV) in der Fassung der Bekanntmachung vom 18. September l989 (BGBl. S. 1677, 2011), zuletzt geändert durch Artikel 42 des Gesetzes vom 25. Oktober 1994 (BGBl. I S. 3082)

(2) At present applies:
Tierseuchengesetz in der Fassung der Bekanntmachung vom 29. Januar l993 (BGBl. 1 S. 116), zuletzt geändert durch Artikel 7 §5 des Gesetzes vom 24. Juni l994 (BGBl. I S. 1416).

(3) At present applies:
Verordnung gegen die Psittakose und Ornithose ( Psittakose-Verordnung) in der Fassung der Bekanntmachung vom 14. November l991 (BGB1. I S. 2111).

(4) At present applies:
Binnenmarkt-Tierseuchenschutzverordnung in der Fassung der Bekanntmachung vom 8. Februar 1994 (BGB1. I S. l99).

(5) A shelter is a closed and illuminated room at least as high as the cage or aviary that has openings to allow the parrots to leave and enter the room in flight and that can be tempered according to the needs of the species kept.

(6) Systematics according to: Forshaw, J. M., W. T. Cooper (1973): Parrots of the World, Lansdowne Press, Melbourne, 2. rev. edition 1989.

(7) Bird shows are held for the public or non-public presentation and/or judging of birds from different owners.

(8) Bird market and fairs are events where birds are offered and sold, not including pet shops and breeder facilities.