Why Parakeets Should Not be Left Home Alone and LooseA few parakeet owners I know won't let even their keets out of the cage with unclipped wings, never mind the incredible thought of the human then walking out of the room ... out of the house ... and driving away while their parakeet was running around loose in a room. I have to convince them it's safe to leave the keet's wings unclipped, never mind take further risks. But it seems that a few parakeet owners out there feel it's fine to walk away from their house while their keet was free flying in a room.
A parakeet has the intelligence of a three-year-old toddler. If a parent drove off and left their 3 year old toddler roaming around a house without anyone there, they would be arrested for child abuse and the child would be sent to a better home. So you have to ask yourself, why is that? What could happen to this three-year-old toddler, let's say that the kid is sitting and watching TV in a room with the doors closed, while the parent is off drinking at the local bar for five or six hours?
OK, the obvious stuff first. Tons of kids, and parakeets, have died over the years in fires. If the pet is in a cage, the firefighters have a chance of grabbing the cage and rescuing it. I know keets that have been rescued like that. If the keet is flying loose around in the room, the firefighters have no chance. The keet often collapses to the floor from smoke inhalation. It burns alive. If the keet manages to fly out through a burned-out hole, the bird will then die of exposure.
Fire is not the only danger that strikes residences. There are trees that fall onto houses in high winds. There are cars that go off the road and plow into houses. There are sinkholes that open up and swallow houses whole. Earthquakes, tornadoes, hurricanes. Think it'll never happen to you? That's exactly what the other keet owners who wrote me thought, too.
If you are there with your keet, you can control what happens. If you are NOT there, you have no control. Burglars break into homes. There were about 2.1 million burglaries in the US in 2002. That is a HUGE number. Just about every adult I know has had at least one burglary attempt happen in their life. In a house I lived in a number of years ago, a group of teens attempted to break into it while I was in it with my child. I scared them off. Nowadays I work from home, and just a short while ago someone tried to break into the house next to me while I was home. I saw the teen get out of the car and walk towards their house; I thought it was just a visitor. It was only the next day when we talked to our neighbor that we heard what had happened. If the burglars steal your stuff it's bad enough - but I doubt they'll think to keep the doors closed to keep your keet safe. Your keet could easily escape and suffer a long, lingering death.
Don't think it's only "bad neighborhoods" that have burglaries. Burglaries happen in every single town in the US. If you have a lock on your door, the burglars assume something in there is worth stealing.
The gas can spring a leak and the gasman needs to come in to fix something. The electrical system can go haywire and need to be fixed. The plumber can come to fix the sink :). You are now going to trust that your keet *never* gets out of the room during this, while you're not there? Your keet's health is not something to take so lightly that you assume things will be OK without you there. It is your responsibility to ensure your keet IS safe and healthy. Your keet can't do that on his own! Your keet is only thinking at a 3 yr old's level. You are the parent, you are the responsible one who is the only one who can make these safety decisions. Either you make the right ones, or your keet can die. That is the serious and awesome responsibility you accepted when you agreed to be the owner of this living creature.
It just takes one cable TV repairman to open the wrong door while looking for the bathroom to cause your keet to panic, fly out of the room you had locked it in, and get to a deadly situation. The only thing you can guarantee if you are not there is that you cannot ensure your keet's safety. It is you responsibility to do so before you leave.
Hazards In the Room
Your bird doesn't have to get out of the room to have an issue. The purpose of a cage is to keep your keet in a reasonably confined area where they cannot fall far or build up enough momentum to cause themselves harm. Let's say something spooks your bird - thunder, lightning, a car engine outside. Your bird spooks and flies head-first into a wall, window, or mirror. Now your bird has a life threatening injury, maybe a broken wing and flowing blood - and there is nobody there to rush her to a hospital. Birds only have a tiny amount of blood in them. If the injury is not handled immediately, the bird will be dead before anyone even knows about it.
Birds love to gnaw and chew. Unless you live in an Amish settlement, you have electrical outlets and cables in your room. Your keet only needs to decide to give a nibble to your clock radio cord, and ZAP, her light will go out forever. You can say "but my keet has never chewed on wires before". That's exactly what other crying keet owners have told me, too.
Be a Responsible Parent
The aim of this article is not to scare you. It is to make you think. When parents come home with a newborn baby, they scour the house thoroughly from top to bottom for dangers. That is what the 'Household Safety Checklist' is about - it is about the house being safe while you watch over your pet. Even with a safe house, when a six-month-old is crawling around the floor, parents don't wave goodbye and take off to work for eight hours, leaving the baby roaming alone! The baby is always watched by someone.
You responsibility to your parakeet is just as solemn an obligation as a parent's obligation to a child. You cannot do things "because the keet made me" any more than a parent gives a child candy for breakfast, lunch and dinner just because the child screams. What about car seats? Even if a child screams, it must be put into a car seat while in a car, for its own safety. To fail in this task because "the child didn't want it" has led to many deaths. Death cannot be undone, it is a permanent mistake.
Being a parent isn't easy. But it is an awesome responsibility which you now possess. If you intend to stay the parent of your keet, then it is important that you fully accept all of the charges which that entails.
Parakeet Household Safety Checklist
Poisonous Foods and Plants to Avoid
Parakeet Safety Medical Kit
Cat / Parakeet Info Homepage