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Should I Replace a Parakeet's Lost Mate?

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A parakeet with a cage mate has someone to chat with, eat with, explore toys together and snuggle up against at night. If one of the pair dies, you can be sure he's missing that companionship. Whether to get another parakeet or not depends on the type of relationship you want to have with your feathered friend. Your lifestyle and overall availability also factor into deciding to bring home a new bird or go solo.

Give Him Time

A parakeet who loses his mate grieves just as any other animal or human does. It's not unusual to hear him calling for his mate. When he's out of his cage, he may fly around, searching for her. It's important to be patient and attentive during this time. Spend extra time with him, talking in a soothing voice and gently encouraging him to play with his favorite toys. Don't introduce a new mate yet. Give him time to adjust to his mate's absence. If he's truly despondent and not eating or drinking, call your vet for advice.

Ponder the Possibilities

While your parakeet is solo, you're his only playmate. Enjoy the extra time you spend with him, but as you do, ask yourself if you can devote this amount of time and attention on a regular basis. If your schedule requires you to be absent for a portion of the day, notice how he reacts when you return. Even if you leave music playing while you're out, it can't take the place of the cage mate he used to interact with. Biting, screaming and feather plucking are signs of frustration and loneliness. On the other hand, a new bird will require acclimation, training and understanding his unique personality.

Give Solo a Go

There's no need to rush out for another bird right away, even if you do decide to get your bird a new mate eventually. This can be a special time to bond one-on-one with your parakeet. He will need at list two play periods lasting an hour each per day. Play with him out of his cage, gently pushing a small ball or wadded paper over to him repeatedly until he shoots it back. Take turns ringing his bell. Introduce new foods and see if he'll eat from your hand. Repeat sounds or tunes and see if he repeats them. Even "old" birds can and do learn new tricks.

Introduce a Buddy

If you decide to bring home a new bird, quarantine him in a different room for about a month to be sure he isn't ill. The two birds will get used to hearing each other's voices. Then place their cages side-by-side for a week to let them get acquainted. Notice if they move closer together, chattering and tweeting, or if one is aggressive toward the other. Supervise play outside their cages and see whether they interact nicely or peck and fight. If they seem to enjoy each others company, try caging them together. Some birds will accept a cage mate; others will need to be housed separately but still enjoy the company. Two males, or a male and female, are more likely to get along than two females.