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Tiels and Other Species

Cockatiels are a very laid back mellow species of parrot. They are peaceful, nonaggressive, and gentle. This is why many pet owners seem to have the misconception that they can be caged with other species. This can result in disaster. In some cases, pet owners think it is cute that their cat seems to like their bird and they have them out together, even ride around on the cat's shoulder. Same with dogs.

If you take time to think of what can happen, maybe you would think twice. Cats, dogs, rabbits, guinea pigs, rats, ferrets and some reptiles are all potentially dangerous to birds. Besides the obvious claws and teeth risks, there is also the risk of deadly bacteria.

Predatory animals are an obvious risk. Cats, dogs, rats, ferrets, and snakes are common predators of birds. If you have these pets in your home, please keep your bird well away from them. Rats can and often do prey on birds, and will try to injure the bird or even kill the bird. If a bird lands on a rats cage, the rat can bite off the foot or toes of the bird, and they too can carry deadly bacteria to birds. Ferrets will hunt birds. They are a natural hunter of birds and they are fast and determined. Snakes can potentially hunt birds, particularly larger snakes, but salmonella can be a potential risk in some reptile species including turtles and some lizards, and snakes.

Bacteria is a silent killer. Pasteurella is a main killer. A bird infected with pasteurella will die within 24 hours if proper antibiotics specifically for pasteurella are not given. Cats, dogs, rabbits, guinea pigs, rats, and most rodents carry pasteurella. Pasteurella is carried naturally in the saliva of such species. Thinking that your tiel is safe on the back of your cat's back is not a good idea. Cats (and other animals for that matter) lick themselves clean, therefore the saliva gets on the fur, the claws, etc. If your bird preens the cat or other animals, it can ingest the bacteria and become very ill. If your bird tries to eat or drink from the same bowls as such animals, your bird can get ill.

Larger animals also pose a risk of stepping on a bird, therefore this should be avoided. Getting stepped on could break bones, cause internal damage, or kill a bird. Large dogs are more likely to step on a small bird.

Fish tanks can potentially be a danger. If the tank does not have a lid, a bird can easily fall in and drown, so be very careful about having fish and tiels in the same room. Make sure the lid is secure and the bird cannot get in.

It only takes one second, one freak chance that something can happen, no matter how laid back or how well trained any animal is. In that split second, your bird can be gone. It is not the predator's fault, it is in their nature.

Other parrot species can be dangerous to tiels.

It is very unlikely to house a cockatiel with any other species without problems.

Species you are likely to have the LEAST problems with are:

Lineoleated parakeets
Grass parakeet species such as bourkes and red rumped.

Budgies most often do not do well in the same cage, better chances of housing them together are in aviaries. Budgies often bully tiels who are pushovers. Even if the budgie does not outright attack the cockatiel, the budgie can bully the cockatiel away from food and water and this can result in the tiel starving. You should never breed cockatiels with other species, including budgies, in the same cage or aviary. Other species are known to take over the nest box and kill eggs and babies. Budgies can also nip the ankle of the cockatiel and bite the main artery and cause the tiel to bleed to death.

Lovebirds and parrotlets are small, but very aggressive birds who can injure or even kill a cockatiel. NEVER cage a cockatiel with either of these birds. Even if they are fine one day, your tiel could be badly injured or killed the next. They do not know the word "share" and will not want to share cage space with another bird. Even if you allow out of cage time with these species, be very careful and always supervise.

Larger species is a dangerous mix. This includes anything from a conure, rosella, cockatoo, ringneck to macaw. Larger birds often have a LOT of power behind their beak. The larger of species could even kill a cockatiel in one bite to the head. Some think that even if raised together as babies they will be ok, but they fail to realize that birds, especially parrots, are ruled by hormones. As they grow up, the hormones get worse and worse, and many larger species are very aggressive when hormonal. For months or even years a cockatiel may be ok with another parrot, but once that parrot hits maturity, they will get aggressive, moody, and territorial and can potentially take their frustrations out on the cockatiel, or perceive it as a threat to its territory and attack it. Even out of cage time with larger species can be dangerous. ALWAYS supervise out of cage play time if you allow both out together. Large parrots can bite feet and legs off of birds and do worse damage to the body or even kill a small docile parrot such as a cockatiel. Never house them together, no matter how well they seem to get along. It only takes one argument for the tiel to lose.

The following script was quoted from:

5. Other Animals

Birds should never be left unsupervised outside of the cage, especially if other animals, including other birds, share the same house. Even if a pet dog or cat has acted completely trustworthy around a , it should not be trusted. Many birds have died as a result of another housepet either "playing" too exuberantly with a bird, or from the pet biting or stepping on the .

For example, a client of mine had recently purchased a young military macaw, Kelly. Their medium-sized dog had been introduced to the new baby, and it had reacted with interest, trying to lick and sniff the bird. They hadn't even owned Kelly for one week when, left unattended for just a moment to answer the phone, the dog bit through the bird's beak, causing severe bleeding and injury to the still soft beak. Luckily, Kelly survived the bite, and with time, the beak has regrown and now appears quite normal, but the owners spent many anguished hours, not to mention a lot of money, working with me to keep the beak tissue infection-free, as it healed.

Birds may also injure each other. Lovebirds are notorious for nipping the toes of birds housed in neighboring cages. Toes are the most commonly injured body part, and bleeding may be serious, and even fatal. Especially with the onset of puberty, birds that previously got along together, may begin fighting, with fatal results.

Any animal bite should be considered extremely serious, possibly life-threatening. The bacteria found in the saliva and the mouth of a mammal can cause fatal septicemia (infection in the bloodstream) of a bird in very short order. Cat bites should be considered the most dangerous, as the Pasteurella bacteria commonly found in the feline mouth, are extremely hazardous to birds. Even a simple puncture by a tooth can result in a fatal infection. Scratches from claws are also extremely dangerous, as the risk of infection is very real.

Warning, links to images may be graphic

These are images from a bite from a lovebird to a cockatiel that nearly severed the toe.

This is a fatal injury to a budgie from a cat, most of gash is hidden by feathers, but wound was from leg to wing along flank, and very deep. This budgie had to be humanely euthanized. (WARNING very graphic) RIP/310_4834-Copy.jpg

Further Reading:

For pasteurella, cats, dogs, etc.

Top 10 Bird Killers, see number 5.

Hormones in parrots

Salmonella in reptiles and amphibians

Threads on this forum for further reading:

Copyright Casey Meanney 2012

4,598 Posts
This is great information! The pet store I got Izzy from had baby tiels and budgies in an open plexiglass box together and the budgies were absolutely terrorizing the tiels by jumping on their backs and chewing their tail feathers. I mentioned this to the worker and they just kind of laughed and shrugged. If I hadn't fallen in love with Izzy I would have walked out. I won't be back.

8,164 Posts
Another first-hand story on the dangers of other species being around our cockatiels:

I had my cockatiels out in the bird room, and let my green cheek out with them. He always seemed eager to play with them, so I thought I'd let him out and see what happened. I mean, I'm right there, right? Well, the cockatiels took an immediate interest in his red tail. They would poke at it, and when he would turn around, the one behind him would poke at it. I was actually giggling a little, because Stewie is such a character, it was funny watching him twirl one way then the next. Well...before I could stop him, he grabbed one of the cockatiels by the neck and threw him across the room. The cockatiel was fine, just a little indignant, but Stewie had to go back into his cage, and he seemed a little sad. He still wants to play with the cockatiels,and even says, BABIES! BABIES!...but alas, I know better.

Had the Green Cheek Conure really wanted to injure the cockatiel, the cockatiel's neck could have been broken in a split second.
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