A LETTER FROM A PARROT
By Flick Clevenger
Dear person thinking of buying me,
I am not a dog. I am not your best friend, I do not love you unconditionally, I will not easily forgive you for mistakes, and I do not understand “dominance” or “obedience” the way a dog does. If you try to treat me like a dog, I will be afraid of you. This fear will likely cause me to bite you, or anyone else who tries to touch me.
I am not a cat. I will not be “seen but not heard,” I am not content to be left alone for long periods, and I will not quietly remove myself from the room when guests I do not like try to touch me. I will most likely bite your guests because they leave me no other way to defend myself if you do not protect me by instructing them on how to handle me and teaching me how to interact with them even if they look, sound, or move differently than you do.
I am not a fish or a flower – I will not quietly and neatly decorate your living room corner. I will make a huge mess by throwing my food everywhere, shredding my toys, scattering feathers and pooping on everything within 3 feet of my cage. Because I cannot simply run outside or to the litterbox, my home needs to be cleaned often. After all – you wouldn’t want to be forced to live in your own filth, would you?
I am not a “human toddler.” Yes, I am very smart and deeply emotional, but I most likely will never grasp human language beyond a few key phrases, and I may never learn to speak or whistle. I can be potty trained, but I will never be human, I will never “grow up” the way a human does. If I was hand raised, I may THINK I am a human, but as I mature I will develop sexual urges, as no safe “birdy birth control” or other method of sterilization has been developed yet, and I may develop very frustrating behaviors because I want to have your babies.
I need my own vet – an Avian Veterinarian is the only doctor who will understand my needs and be able to help me. Birds are very different than dogs and cats, and most vets do not have the training needed to give me the care I deserve.
I am not a short-term pet. Depending on the species, a healthy parrot can live up to 90 years! Before you bring me home, find out how long I will live. If I am likely to outlive you, please put me in your will, and find someone to care for me after you are gone.
Where I come from matters. Many breeders don’t understand my mental development and needs. Practices like improper hand feeding, clipping my wings too early, “flooding,” and other common occurrences in modern bird raising canlead to mental deficits and disabilities in birds just like humans who are abused and neglected as babies and children. The sad thing? Many of these breeders have NO IDEA that they are hurting us. Be sure you do your research and find a breeder who understands what I need to be a stable and healthy adult, no matter how “cuddly” their babies are.
I am not an easy pet to own, my needs are very complex. Neither am I “inexpensive” no matter how little you manage to pay the person “selling” me. In the wild I may fly up to 20 miles a day just looking for my food. I need exercise, both mental and physical, and a LOT of it. I am a natural wood chipper, paper shredder, alarm clock, etc. I need a varied diet of fresh food, not a dry seeddiet, and not a processed pellet diet. I need sprouts and vegetables, some fruits, nuts and seeds, and how much of each of these I need depends on my species, not just my size. No two species have the same needs, so making sure I am eating the right things can be a lot of work.
I am small but my mind is large. If I am neglected I will become bored, lonely, maybe even frightened. This can force me to scream, bite, destroythings, and even hurt myself by pulling out or chewing off my feathers. Sometimes, I might even chew holes in my own flesh.
Please do not bring me home without a lot of research. I can be the smartest, most rewarding pet you have ever had, but I deserve a forever family, not a prison, and not a short-term arrangement. In the wild I bond with my flock and rarely spend time alone. If you choose to bring me home, you force me to see you as my flock. Do not hurt me by adopting me before you are ready for the whole package – life span and all!
P.S. Other parrots have written similar letters, but I wanted to make sure you heard from me as well.