RED-FRONTED KAKARIKI
Cyanoramphus novaezelandiae
    
» Also called Red-fronted or Red-crowned parakeet
» About 11" in length and weight about 100 grams
» Endemic to New Zealand but has been extirpated from the mainland and only occurs on outlying islands.
» Common in aviculture. 
» Available as a companion parrot but not as popular as they should be. Breeders have created several mutations.
» Considered vulnerable in its native range

This little parrot-family bird was quite popular for a period of time but you don’t see them much anymore. Red-fronted and yellow-fronted (C.auricpes) are the two kept in captivity. They have been hybridized so often, it can be difficult to know which one you actually have. These are cold-weather parrots with thick feathers — some even die when exposed to heat too long. For example, while a heating pad is helpful for most sick parrots, it may cause serious problems for a kakariki. They love bathing in a shallow dish, especially on hot days. 

They are unusual busy parrots with relatively short attention spans ... I think that working with them is like trying to train a butterfly. For some time, I kept two Kakarikis. They were quite tame and liked to crawl around on me as if I was just another play gym. Although Kakarikis can be very friendly, they tend to be quite independent and generally don’t want to sit still long enough to be petted or cuddled for more than a few moments. 

Most of all, the ones that I lived with were fascinating to watch. They are fearless and extremely curious — they will want to be on and into everything. They are escape artists who will try to fit through any available opening in their cage. They need to be watched carefully when they are out or the room needs to be bird-proofed. Because of their energy and activity level, they need a larger sized cage than one would think. Kakarikis spend a lot of time on the cage floor and often scratch like chickens — consequently they do much better without a grate in the cage floor.  It is amazing to watch them reach through their cage bars with their feet stretched as far as they will stretch so they can drag anything they can reach back into their cages. They are pack rats so they are likely to pull anything they can reach into their cages so it is important to keep anything dangerous at least several inches from the cage. 

Kakarikis should always have clean, fresh water available. They often use their feet to manipulate and then wash their food before they eat. Most prefer to have their crocks on the floor of their cage instead of food bowls by their perches. Many Kakarikis die too young because of dietary deficiencies. A good diet with a high-quality complete protein source is essential. My Kakarikis loved meal worms and they seemed to like them more if I just put the crawling critters in the bottom of the cage rather than feeding them to the birds with my fingers. 

 


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