The Real Cost of Owning a Pet Cockatiel
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Pet birds are much different than traditional pets like dogs and cats, but they are wonderful in their own way. If you’re considering a pet bird, the cockatiel is a great one to start out with.
They are moderately sized, brightly colored, and they are intelligent enough to learn commands.
If you’re thinking about getting a pet cockatiel, you should know that it’s a long-term commitment.
Cockatiels can live 15 years or more and they require a significant amount of space and social interaction to keep them happy.
Before you get a cockatiel, make sure you can handle the responsibility, including the financial responsibilities.
Here’s what you need to know about how much it costs to keep a pet cockatiel.
Bringing Home A New Cockatiel – One-Time Costs
The first thing you’ll want to know before you decide to get a pet cockatiel is how much they cost to purchase. Cockatiels are the smallest members of the cockatoo family, but they are still considered medium-size on the spectrum of pet birds. They grow up to 12 inches long.
Cockatiels are fairly active birds and they do best when kept in pairs or groups, so you should provide a large cage to ensure the bird’s needs for space are met. The cage should be at least 24x18x24 inches, or twice the bird’s wingspan. For each additional cockatiel, add more space.
In addition to buying your cockatiel and his cage, you’ll need to certain supplies and accessories, including a month’s worth of food, to get you started.
Here’s what you need to know about one-time costs for pet cockatiels:
Buying A Cockatiel
The chart below provides estimated prices for different mutations, though these may vary. You can also put in a request at your local pet store and they might be able to accommodate you.
Cockatiel Cost by Mutation
|Mutation||Average Cost (Low)||Average Cost (High)|
Generally speaking, you should plan to spend $75 to $250 on a pet cockatiel. The prices vary depending on the age and mutation you choose.
Here are some of the most popular pet cockatiel mutations:
- Normal (grey)
- White (albino)
It’s fairly easy to find cockatiels at pet stores, especially national pet store chains. You are most likely to find the normal grey variety, but some stores may offer a selection.
If you have a specific mutation you want, your best option might be to contact a breeder.
Another option is to adopt a cockatiel. Because these birds are popular pets, they sometimes make their way to animal shelters. You could also find a local or regional bird rescue and put your name on a list. The cost to adopt a pet bird varies, but you should budget for $50 to $100.
Supplies And Setup
Cockatiel Supplies and Setup
|Cost Type||Average Cost (Low)||Average Cost (High)|
|Initial Food and Substrate||$10||$20|
|Initial Vet Visit||$35||$50|
|Total = $195 to $470 (without spay/neuter)|
While the cost to purchase a cockatiel is the most basic expense, it may not be the most important – you’ll likely spend much more on your cockatiel’s cage.
The minimum cage size recommended for a cockatiel is 24x18x24 inches, or about double the length of the bird’s wingspan. Because your bird will be spending most of its life in the cage, however, you should provide as much space as possible.
If you’re planning to keep a pair or trio of cockatiels, the larger the cage the better.
The cost to purchase a cockatiel cage varies wildly according to size and quality. You should expect to spend between $100 and $300.
In addition to your cockatiel’s cage, you’ll need certain accessories. Your bird needs at least two perches in different lengths as well as a food and water dish. Provide an assortment of toys as well as a mirror so your bird can plan.
The cost for accessories varies as well, but you should budget $50 to $100.
Don’t forget about the cost of food!
You’ll need a month’s worth of food to get started. You can purchase high-quality cockatiel pellet food and an assortment of fresh veggies for $10 to $20 which will last you more than a month.
The final start-up cost to consider is the cost of your cockatiel’s first vet visit.
It’s a good idea to take your pet to the veterinarian within the first few weeks so you can establish a baseline for his health. Most veterinarians aren’t well trained in bird care, so you’ll likely need to find an avian vet or exotics vet.
Budget about $35 to $50 for this initial visit and expect to pay $100 or more for testing or treatments your veterinarian may recommend.
Cost Of Cockatiel Ownership – Annual Expense Breakdown
Once you’ve set up your cockatiel’s cage and brought your new pet home, all that’s left is to enjoy his company! As you get the hang of being a bird owner, you’ll come to understand and love your cockatiel’s personality and quirks.
Part of your job as being a responsible bird owner is providing for your pet’s ongoing needs. On a monthly basis, that means restocking on food and supplies. On an annual basis, that means taking your bird for annual checkup.
Here’s what you need to know about annual costs for pet cockatiels:
Annual Medical Expenses
Even if your cockatiel isn’t sick, it’s a good idea to take him to the vet for an annual checkup. Remember, most veterinarians aren’t well trained in bird care, so you’ll likely need to find an avian vet or exotics vet.
Regular vet visits help you monitor your pet bird’s health so you can identify problems in the early stages when they are still treatable.
Here are some of the health problems to which cockatiels are prone:
- Respiratory problems
- Xanthomas (fatty tumors)
- Baldness (feather loss)
- Psittacosis (parrot fever)
Plan to spend $35 to $50 per visit without any additional testing or treatment. If your cockatiel shows symptoms of any of the conditions above, you could be spending $100 or more on testing.
Many pet owners consider pet insurance to help offset the costs of their pet’s care.
What you need to know, however, is that many plans don’t cover birds and, if they do, the cost to pay your monthly premium could very well be more than the cost to take your bird to the vet, especially if he doesn’t need any testing or treatment.
Instead of spending on pet insurance, consider putting what you’d pay in premiums into a savings account in case of emergencies.
Estimated Medical Costs for Cockatiels
|Cost Type||Frequency||Average Cost|
|Veterinary Checkup||Annual||$35 to $50|
Food And Supplies
The most important thing to keep your cockatiel healthy is a balanced diet.
If you want to make sure your pet gets the nutrients he needs, feed him a high-quality commercially balanced pellet as the staple of his diet. Seeds provide nutrients as well, but it may be best to offer them as a treat because birds tend to pick out their favorites and leave the rest.
In addition to pellets, feed your cockatiel dark, leafy greens every other day and small amounts of fruit once a week. Your bird also needs access to fresh water on an unlimited basis.
The cost to feed your cockatiel may depend on the quality of the food and how many birds you have. Budget $10 to $20 per month to be safe.
On top of food, you may want to put a few extra dollars a month away for additional supplies. Things like replacement bowls and toys won’t be necessary every month, but it helps to budget for it anyway.
Food and Supply Costs for Cockatiels
|Cost Type||Frequency||Average Cost|
|Food and Treats||Monthly||$10 to $20|
Total Annual Cost Of Owning Cockatiels
The cockatiel is not the most expensive pet bird you could keep, but it does come with some considerable costs. Not only are you likely to spend $100 or more on the bird, but your costs double or triple if you keep a pair or small group. Providing your cockatiel with a large cage is essential but expensive, and you’ll also need to think about veterinary costs.
Here’s a quick summary of the estimated annual cost for keeping cockatiels:
- Purchasing/Adopting = $75 to $250
- Cage and Setup = $195 to $470
- Annual Veterinary Costs = $35 to $50
- Monthly Food and Supplies = $15 to $25
The costs to keep a pet cockatiel vary depending on a variety of factors, but these estimates should help you get started.
Remember, cockatiels can live for 15 to 20 years, so you should be prepared to make a long-term commitment as a pet owner.
Frequently Asked Questions
How much does a cockatiel cost?
Generally speaking, cockatiels cost between $75 and $250. The cost depends on the mutation you choose and where you buy the bird. You might be able to save money on a normal grey cockatiel by purchasing directly from a breeder, but the cost goes up for other mutations.
How much does it cost to neuter/spay a cockatiel?
It is generally unnecessary to spay or neuter pet birds. Not only is the procedure very invasive, but it’s possible to prevent breeding through other means. By not providing nesting material or making certain changes to the cage, you can prevent breeding. You can also simply keep the sexes separated.
How much does a cockatiel vet checkup cost?
Most veterinarians aren’t trained in bird care, so you may need to find an avian vet or an exotics vet. Expect to pay $35 to $50 for the exam and about $100 and up for additional testing and treatment.
How much does it cost to microchip a cockatiel?
The cost to microchip a pet is usually a one-time fee of $35. This procedure is not recommended for cockatiels, however, because the microchip is typically embedded under the skin on furry pets.
How much does cockatiel food cost?
Cockatiels are fairly small, so they do not require a lot of food at once. You can purchase a bag of high-quality pellets or seed mix for under $20 and it will last you more than a month. Include in your budget the cost to feed your bird fresh veggies and fruits a few times a week as well.
How much does a cockatiel cage cost?
The cockatiel is a medium-sized bird and an active one, so you need to provide a large cage – especially if you keep more than one cockatiel. Plan to spend $100 to $300 on a large cage for your pet cockatiel.