Species Profile Alexandrine Parakeet
- The Alexandrine parakeet or Alexandrian parrot (Psittacula eupatria) is a member of the psittaciformes order and of the Psittaculidae family. An average size parrot with a very long thin tail that gives this bird a very elegant and classical appearance. It’s beak is quite big for the size of the parrot and has a nice red-salmon color. Plumage is mostly green with the wings being a couple of shades darker with a red salmon patch on the shoulder.
- Species Name: Alexandrine Parakeet
- Latin Name: Psittacula eupatria
- Country of Origin: India, Nepal, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Burma, Thailand, Kampuchea, Laos, Vietnam and Andaman Islands (Parrots in Aviculture by Rosemary Low)
- Availability in the Pet Market: Fairly available and a few generations of captive breeding
- Size: reach 58 cm including tail (which can reach 36 cm or 14 in long)
- Weight: 250 gr (9 oz)
- Clutch size: 2-4
- Number Clutches: 2-3 per year
- Incubation of Eggs: about 24 days
- Fledgling Age (in the wild): 7 weeks (feathers fully grown)
- Average (healthy) Weaning Age: 10 to 14 weeks
- Reproductive Maturity: 3-5 yrs old
- Expected Lifespan: Between 25 to 40 years
Alexandrine Parakeet Behaviour Rating – Scale of 1 to 10
(10 being the highest)
- Personality: (2-5) Very gentle and calm. The Alexandrine Parakeet can be very peaceful, not usually the bully type bird! Despite its large size for a medium sized parrot, and very large beak, it can be intimidated by a smaller and more aggressive bird. The female on the other hand, can be quite territorial and aggressive when she has reached maturity, if she is challenged and hormonally charged.
- Sociability: (7-9) They tend to be a bit shy and thrive in a peaceful environment. But I’ve known a few that lived in large families with teenagers and lots of activity around them and were doing very well. If you are looking for a “party” bird that loves to physically play, this might not be the right species for you. “If we can compare a lovebird to the adolescent running in your house on roller blades with a phone to one ear and his “Ipod” on the other, then an alexandrine is more like the quiet teenager reading a book at the kitchen table.”
- Easily tamed and gentle: (7-10) I found them to be some of the sweetest and gentlest birds I have hand fed. Even those that were put in breeding situation, when placed back in as a companion were still tame and gentle (although a bit more nervous at first).
- Family companion bird: (5-8) Depending on the family dynamic, I would not recommend an Alexandrine for a family with children with a lot of stamina. However, it’s usually not the kind of bird that would go out of its way to bite someone because it’s jealous and wants to keep you for itself.
- Playfulness: (2-6) Enjoys seeking treats in foraging toys and mostly, chewing wood.
- Biting behavior: Usually not a biter when raised properly and feeling secure.
- Physical contact & demonstration for affection: (6-8) Alexandrines can be real charmers. They love to hang on your shirt at chest level, anticipating a good head scratch.
- Singing ability: None
- Screaming strength: (6) Frequency: (4)
- Screaming pitch: (8-10) Raucous or very piercing
- Talking or mimicking ability: (5-7) Very nice sweet girly voice and most of them learn an average of 10 to 20 different words.
- Quality of pronunciation: (8-10) Usually quite good
- Destructive behavior: (4) They don’t usually go out of their way to destroy things if you provide them with lots and lots of wood to chew on.
- Chewing activity: (10) they usually chew more wood, and faster too, than a large macaw!
- What degree of independence can this species develop: (6 to 9). Some are very happy with just being in the same room as you while others prefer to have more interactive periods, one on one. Of course, all depending on how they were raised. We recommend, as with all other species, to teach your Alexandrine to play alone happily and to develop its autonomy and independence.
- Eating flingers and messy droppings: (7) Although they are not really food flingers they make a bit of mess with their water and feeding dishes, like most Indonesian parrots they are big soakers! Their droppings are quite normal though, no special messiness there.
- Tendency to engage in feather damaging behavior: (0-2) Not very common.
Caution: A special mention must be said about molting time: twice a year your Alexandrine will look a bit frumpy like it’s just getting out of bed and didn’t have the time to comb. Don’t worry… it’s molting time and it should pass in about 3 weeks. During that period additionally to offering an optimum diet, I recommend that you give 2 almonds (in the shell) to your Alexandrine to help with the molting.
Alexandrine Parakeet Sexual Dimorphism
The male has a beautiful ring around the neck; salmon pink on the back and black on the front. The black ring goes up to the lower corners of the beak.
WARNING: This ring however can show as early as of 3 or 4 months old and as late as after 3 years old. So when buying a baby, DNA sexing is recommended if the sex of the bird is important for your selection.
Immature: They look like the female (lack of neck ring) but their tail is still short and their eyes are brown instead of crème.
Color Variations in Alexandrine Parakeet
Darkgreen, Greygreen, Turquoise Blue, Blue, Lutino, Lutino Greygreen, Albino, Albino Grey, Fallow, Clearhead Fallow and Pied.
Note: These are color mutation and combination from pure Psittacula eupatria origins. They are not hybrids between Psittacula krameri (Indian ring-necked parakeet) and eupatria.
Alexandrine Parakeet Housing Requirements
- How spacious should the day cage be: A bird cage should be spacious, secure and cleaned frequently. Ideally, a minimum of 36 X 24 inches would allow them more movement and activity, of course with a tail that long the height should also be proportioned and be at least 36 inches. CAUTION: Be sure to check the wire for resistance since they do have tremendous strength in their beak.
- Keep bird cage in a safe location: Keep away from dangers such as direct sunlight, kitchen fumes, cold temperature and predators.
- Sleeping cage size requirements: Could be as small as 20 X 20 inches (provided the height allows ample space for the tail feathers) since it is a sleeping cage and it could also be used as an hospital cage should your bird get sick.
- Stimulate activity: Prefer some horizontal bars to encourage climbing. An open roof cage play gym is not recommended for a bird that big since it will be probably too high for you to get it when it’s time to go back in its cage. Nonetheless, play gym and flying exercises are strongly advised. Interior flight cage easily be constructed with large gage wire.
Secure your homes from any potential dangers before letting your bird fly around freely; always monitor its flight. (eg. Mirrors, open windows, fans.)
- What perch sizes should be offered: Minimum 3 sizes or shapes & texture; ideally 1inch 1 inch or 3 cm diameter, a manzanita perch type and a chewing perch. Because they are active chewers they mostly chew through all types of perches, therefore I have rarely seen them develop have pododermatitis (bumblefoot).
- Additional in cage: Foraging toys (acrylic is recommended!) and lots and lots of wood to chew on; fresh branches, construction wood, wood toys, etc.
- Water dispenser: Ideally, drinking water should be changed twice daily. Train to drink from a water bottle as well as water bowl since they will always put lots of food in their water bowl. Most Asiatic parrots are quite messy with their food and water bowls.
Alexandrine dietary requirements
Offer a balanced nutritional diet. 70 % formulated /granulated pellets, 10 % seed mix or millet, 15 % fruits & veggies, rice, pasta, etc and 5 % of nuts i.e.1 almond or walnut a day (except when molting you can give 2 or 3 almonds in the shell) and occasionally dry egg food with additional dry insects. Plain seed mixes can lead to obesity as well as deficiencies in calcium and vitamins. Try to feed your bird formulated diets or at least provide nutritional supplements
Light requirements for Alexandrine Parakeets:
4 to 7 hours of full spectrum lighting and of course as much natural lighting as possible. 10 to 12 hours of non interrupted sleep is required.
CAUTION: Make sure to give plenty of chewing wood to your Alexandrine, they do need to chew more than most other parrots. Beware of their nails: they are as sharp as tiny needles, but please do not trim them too short or too round as they need to be able to perch firmly.
Cost of an Alexandrine Parakeet
$700 to $1,200 Canadian (higher for color mutation)
Time Require to be Handled per Day
Ideally, a minimum of 3 hours per day divided between interactive one on one playtime and training and a period shared by just being together in the same room (interactive non-contact interaction). However, should your busy schedule not allow you to spend contact interactive quality time together, this bird will be faithfully waiting for you and still be your friend when you have more time. Please don’t let that become a habit!
How susceptible is an Alexandrine Parakeet to disease
Generally they are very strong healthy birds that are not easily prone to sickness. They are very tolerant to cooler temperature since originally they come from places where it sometimes snows. In a nursery they are a charm to raise since they are in such good health and very robust chicks.
By Sylvie Aubin