Cockatoos are no doubt one of the most well-known and beloved members of the parrot family. Everything about them is unique, from the crest of a crown that they wear so proudly on their head to the fact that some species can live up to 60 years. They are remarkable birds.
There are generally two main types of cockatoos you’ll come across – The white Cacatua species and the dark Calyptorhynchus species. Some outliers like cockatiels don’t quite fit into any of the two categories but still make up part of this exotic family of birds.
If you have a pet cockatoo, or you’re thinking of getting one, we’ve put together a comprehensive guide on everything you need to know about them.
How Long Do Cockatoos Live?
The average cockatoo lifespan depends on the species. Some live for 30 years, while others can go up to 60 years out in the wild. Cockatiels have a shorter lifespan in comparison and generally live for around 20 years.
If you’re thinking of getting one to keep as a pet, you’re likely wondering – how long do cockatoos live as pets? It all depends on how well you take care of them.
Domesticated birds can outlive their wild counterparts if you provide them with everything they need to survive. This goes beyond their diet, although it also plays an important role in how long they live.
You also need to be able to meet their social and emotional needs. Yes, cockatoos have feelings, and they can act up if they feel neglected and ignored. They may even get depressed, which can drastically reduce their lifespan.
Cockatoo Care – The Basics
First, you need to learn how to handle a cockatoo. They need a strong cage with stainless steel or wrought iron bars strong enough to withstand the parrot’s tough beak. Make sure the cage has some horizontal bar wires to climb on. This is great for exercise.
They require 10 to 12 hours of uninterrupted sleep every night and will usually get up when the sun rises.
Cockatoos don’t have oil glands. Instead, they produce a fine powder that coats their feathers. They use it in preening. This fine dust is prone to spreading throughout your home, so it’s always a good idea to bathe them once a week to keep the powder in check. This is especially important for those with animal allergies.
Types of Cockatoos
Different cockatoo species are unique in their special way. Some exhibit different traits, personalities, and behavior. Here are some fun facts about them you might find interesting.
The Palm Cockatoo is the largest of all the different species that exist. They have massive and powerful bills that can effortlessly crack open nuts and seeds.
The Pink cockatoo can live up to a ripe old age of 80. The oldest recorded bird in the species lived up to 83 years.
The Sulfur-Crested cockatoo is one of the most popular pet species among bird lovers. However, they can be quite destructive to crops, and farmers tend to view wild flocks as pests as opposed to pets.
Where Do Cockatoos Live?
Out in the wild, cockatoos are quite selective when it comes to their habitat choices. Some cockatoo species can live in a wide variety of ecosystems, although most prefer a single type of habitat.
They’re mostly found in rainforests, shrublands, mangroves, and mountain forests. Some species live in parks, crop fields, and even farmland. Several species also live as pets in households across the world.
What Do Cockatoos Eat?
In the wild, the cockatoo diet comprises mainly seeds and nuts. However, in captivity, you need to provide them with a variety of fresh vegetables and fruits alongside high-quality avian pellets. These should make up roughly 70 to 80 percent of their daily dietary requirements. Vegetables and fruits should cater for the rest.
While seeds and seed treats are a favorite for many cockatoo owners, they should be kept to a minimum and fed to them as an occasional treat. This is because they are high in fat and low on other nutrients like calcium and vitamins, so a predominantly seed diet will inevitably lead to malnutrition.
Are Cockatoos Good Pets?
It’s all a matter of perspective here. Cockatoos are loud and can get quite noisy. They are among the loudest birds in the parrot family, and boy, do they love it.
They scream when communicating with each other; they scream when communicating with their owner; they scream when they need attention; they scream when they’re upset; they scream for the sheer joy of it.
They also love to chew and destroy things, so if you have one or you’re thinking about getting one, it’s probably a good idea to provide them with chewable toys. Cardboard, vegetable-tanned leather, tree branches, and softwood toys are great options to consider.
You also need to let your bird play outside its cage for roughly four hours each day. They need direct social interaction as well, so play with and talk to them for at least an hour daily.
Cockatoos are loving and affectionate birds. However, they’re also highly demanding and borderline obsessive. They need to be around people; otherwise, they’ll (literally) scream for your attention. If that’s music to your ears, then a cockatoo is just what you need in your life.
How Much Does a Cockatoo Cost?
Cockatoos are common in the US, and can be purchased from various organizations, adopted, or rescued. Different cockatoo breeds have varying price points and could set you back anywhere between $500 and $4,000 on average. The exotic Black Palm cockatoo, for instance, costs $20,000+.
Before you fork over a wad of cash, do the necessary due diligence to ensure that you’re buying a bird from a reputable breeder. Find out how long they’ve been in the industry and how well they know the particular breed you’re looking to buy.
Demanding But Worth It
There you have it – everything you need to know about cockatoos. All in all, if you’re thinking about getting one, go ahead and do it. They may be demanding, but these affectionate beauties are worth every minute of your time.
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