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BIRD / new pets

A Set-up Guide for New Parents of Cockatiels

Tips for home, health, food and fun


5 things to know about your cockatiel


  1. Are extremely social
  2. Like daily interaction with their humans
  3. Are intelligent enough to learn commands
  4. Grow up to a foot long
  5. Can live for 15 years

Your cockatiel’s home


Birds need cages about twice the size of their wingspan. For a cockatiel, this means a cage at least 18 inches high and 22 inches wide. Cockatiels get along well in pairs and even in groups, but if you have more than one in a cage, increase the cage size accordingly.

Cage placement

Birds are sensitive to strong smells, smoke and wind. Keep them close to the family in a living room, den or bedroom, but not in the kitchen. Keep their cage away from windows.

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Your cockatiel’s cage should include at least two perches of different heights, thickness and texture. These variations help keep your cockatiel’s feet healthy and, to a bird, are a ton of fun. Don’t put your cockatiel’s food or water bowl directly under a perch, where droppings may land.

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Corncob bedding, aspen-wood shavings or recycled-paper products all make nice bird bedding. Cage liners work nicely, too. Spot clean the bedding weekly and completely change it once a month.

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Your cockatiel, happy as a lark

Cockatiels are birds of play! They love to interact with their owners, entertain themselves inside their cages with toys, and take baths.


You’ve got a smart bird on your hands. Keep your cockatiel stimulated with two or three toys, including puzzles that hide treats.


Give your cockatiel a “spa” treatment two or three times a week. Supply a bowl of warm water and let your cockatiel take a bath, or use a gentle mist from a clean spray bottle as a shower.


Cockatiels love to get out of their cages and perch on these homes-away-from-home.

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Help keep your cockatiel healthy

Cockatiels should be allowed to settle into their new home for a few days before you handle them. Even once your feathered friend is settled in, a vet visit may be in order if you notice any of these signs of illness or distress:

  • Sitting at the bottom of the cage
  • Decreased appetite
  • Weight loss
  • Less activity and preening
  • Feathers fluffed for long periods of time
  • Runny droppings for more than two days
  • Discharge from nose or mouth
  • Sneezing

Talk to a PetSmart store associate or avian veterinarian if you have questions about your bird’s health.

PETSMART CARES: Pets purchased at PetSmart are part of our exclusive Vet Assured program, designed by PetSmart veterinarians to help improve the health and well-being of our pets. Our vendors meet a high standard in caring for pets and screening them for common illnesses. This program also includes specific standards for in-store pet care.

The PetSmart Promise: If your pet becomes ill during the initial 14-day period, or if you’re not satisfied for any reason, PetSmart will gladly replace the pet or refund the purchase price.