Ethics of Pet Keeping

I sometimes think that it’s a little weird that people keep animals as pets, but I also know that it can be quite beneficial. The positive effect that my sister’s dog had on her life is inspiring. But dogs and cats are one thing; the domestic kind do not, and have never, lived in the wild. Parrots, on the other hand, are wild animals. As much as I wanted a budgie I weighed the question of “Should I?” for many months.

I learned that budgies have been around for five million years, and that their conservation status is “least concern”. Also, it seems that wild budgies are no longer exported from Australia at all. So no chance that my desire to have a pet was going to contribute to the endangerment of a species. Check.

I also discovered that a wild budgie rarely lives more than five years. They are prey animals, so they survive by making lots of babies, not by living long lives. In captivity, however, they can live 10 to 20 years, which suggests that they adapt very well to living with people. I found this article about the plight of blue budgies in the wild a few months after getting Apollo. It was nice to know that I had already given him a longer, happier life at that point even, then he ever would have gotten in the wild.

There is some controversy out there about whether or not it is ok to have a single budgie or not. They live in flocks naturally, and become very attached to their mates. They regurgitate food for each other, preen each other's feathers, and sing, dance, and play together. Because of this some people say that they do not do well on their own because they get lonely and depressed. Other people claim that they have very happy solo budgies because they see their people as their flock. What does not seem to be disputed is that budgies are easier to tame and train, especially to talk, when they are the only bird in the house. I’ve also read claims that after training a single budgie, getting a second one goes much smoother because it will follow the lead of the first who is already tame.

After considering all these perspectives, I decided that getting a budgie doesn’t violate my moral code, as long as I made the commitment ensure his good health and well-being by providing him with plenty of stimulating toys, good food, and by making time every day to play with him.