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Keeping a conure as a pet – Things to know

When you purchase a conure you should do as much as you can to find out exactly how to take good care of your new pet. This article covers the basics of keeping a conure as a pet. Any good pet vendor should supply you with a conure care sheet. However these are normally quite brief so this article will aim (along with the other articles on the site) to give you a better insight into caring for conures.

Conure toys and ‘playing’

All parrots are relatively intelligent and conures are no exception. If conures do not have things to keep them entertained they can develop a number of health issues so it is essential to stop them from getting bored and to allow them to develop. There are a number of toys available from retailers with items such as plastic puzzle toys, shredding toys, bells, mirrors and various other chewing toys. It is important to rotate the toys that you give your conure as they can get bored of them after a while. A common method is to have a ‘playform’ where the conures toys are placed. Your conure will soon realise that this is ‘his’ or ‘her’ area and he can play without getting into trouble. You will notice that the conure will quickly fly to the playform if you add any new toys – this demonstrates their inquisitive nature.

Wing Clipping

Wing clipping is quite a contentious issue amongst the avian community. Many people believe that it is unnatural and affects birds’ lives. Others suggest that it is essential in order to prevent the bird flying off. You should think carefully before having your conures wings clipped as there are a number of risks involved. Clipped wings re-grow after each molt and therefore need to be done on a regular basis. You should not be able to tell that a conure has been clipped unless it fully extends its wings and wing clipping should certainly not leave a conure unpleasant to look at. It is worth bearing in mind that flying ability is determined by the amount of clipping undertaken. It is possible to control the level of flight a bird can perform using clipping. However, even clipped birds should be able to fly a certain distance and in a straight line. Unequal clipping of the wings can cause issues. There are a number of reasons for clipping. Notably, there is less chance of your conure escaping. Furthermore it makes it easier to handle your conure and therefore tame it. The disadvantages are that if your conure is in danger, for example near a cat or the lie, it will not be able to escape. And of course, conures are designed to fly. In many peoples eyes by getting the conures wings clipped you are removing its ability to do something that comes naturally to it.

Security

It goes without saying that conures (as with all animals) should be given exercise. This means you should allow your conure out of its cage on a regular basis. In the wild conures are strong flyers so you should endeavour to let you conure fly as much as possible (the conure harness is a very good method for doing this). Whilst out of its cage your conure is going to be inquisitive and will want to explore its environment. Before you let it around your room you should remove any valuable or breakable (and chewable!) otherwise the situation will inevitably end in tears. Having a conure in the room is similar to having a baby wobbling about – you need to be vigilant! Potential hazards include:
   • Electrical wires
   • Open fires
   • Fish tanks
   • Some lamps
      o Kitchens are the worst places for conures – do not ever let a conure in your kitchen
   • Other pets – conures do not get on well with cats and if they end up together the conure will come off worse!
   • Children. You may decide to teach children how to properly handle a conure but it is pretty risky. Not only for the bird but conures give an evil bite.

Bathing

In order to keep their plumage beautiful conures love to bathe. In the wild they would bathe in the rain but indoors they do not have this. In addition centrally heated properties can very quickly dry out your conures feathers. You should provide a water bath which the conure can use when it feels like. These days many people use a mister to gently spray the conure with a fine mist of water, the mister is available from a number of good online retailers. Conures love being misted and will usually open their wings and flap around when you mist them. Occasionally they will even perform cheeky acrobats to get properly covered! Once misted the conure should be put in a draft free place and should be completely dry before going to sleep.

Sociability

Conures can be very good friends with other conures and parrot of similar sizes but caution should always be taken when introduced to each other as they can fight. Conures that become best friends are those that they have been brought up with. Conures differ in the way they treat humans such as family members or visitors. Some are very nice and others can be a bit trickier. Some conures are very shy of visitors whereas others are very inquisitive. To a large extent it depends on training and how it has been brought up. Some conures prefer males and some prefer females. Al conures are different with different traits and idiosyncrasies – this is one thing that makes them so interesting. One thing is for sure though – they all respond well to kindness and gentleness.

Talking

The ability to talk is not one of the conures highest acclaims. They can mimic a few human words but they are certainly not in the same league as some other parrots such as the African grey parrot. Ownership of a parrot for the reason that they can talk is not the best reason as they have so many other amazing characteristics to offer.

Screeching

Nobody can deny that conures can be amazing loud when so inclined! It is however possible to calm this cheeky tendency. It is perhaps not entirely desirable to completely mute your conure, they are of course doing something that is natural for them. There are a number of triggers for screaming; hoovers tend to set off conures quite frequently. They may also be doing it to grab your attention or to tell you that it is not happy about something. They screech to display a number of emotions such as happiness, sadness, well being, boredom or frustration. There is a very good article on screeching on the articles section of this site.

Teaching a conure tricks

Before you attempt to teach you conure any tricks you must gain its confidence and trust. This is done primarily by spending time with your conure. Once you have achieved this it is possible to tech a conure many simple tricks. The best thing is to use your own creativity to create tricks for you conure to perform. You could get it to ring a bell, push a ball, climb a ladder or spread its wings. It is also possible to get your conure to ‘shake hands’. This comes quite naturally to conures as they do this to pick up food. To do this, simply say “shake my hand” (or whatever you want) then take hold of the foot and shake it. Then reward the conure with a treat. After a few times the birds will soon get the hang of this and will shake your hand whenever you command. In order to do this successfully you must reward each time and repeat a number of times. After learning a few tricks the conure will get much better at learning new tricks.
 

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