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BIRD / new pets

Cockatiel Care Guide

Tips from home to health to food and fun


6 things to know about cockatiels

  • Experience Level: Beginner
  • Size: The smallest of the cockatoo family, cockatiels can grow up to 12 inches (30 cm) long
  • Lifespan: Cockatiels can live for 15 years or more
  • Temperament: They are extremely social and enjoy daily interaction with their humans
  • Behavior: They're intelligent enough to learn commands
  • Origin: Cockatiels are native to Australia

How do I set up my cockatiel's home?

  • Cockatiels get along well in pairs.
  • Choose a cage at least twice the size of your cockatiel's wingspan, a minimum of 20 x 20 x 30 inches. If you will be keeping more than one in the cage, increase the cage size accordingly.
  • Place your cockatiel's cage close to the family in a living room, den or bedroom.
  • Birds are sensitive to strong smells, gases, smoke and drafts. Keep your cockatiel's cage away from the kitchen and away from windows.
  • Your cockatiel's cage should include a variety of perches of different heights, thickness and texture. These variations help keep your cockatiel's feet healthy.
  • Don't put a perch directly above the bird's food or water bowl; droppings are likely to land there.
  • Line the enclosure floor with recycled-paper bedding or use a paper liner. Replace the liner at least every other day.
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What do cockatiels eat?

Cockatiels enjoy a range of foods, including commercial birdseed, pelleted food, vegetables, fruit and the occasional treat.

  • A mixture of 75% pellets and 25% seeds will be the mainstay of your cockatiel's diet. Keep your cockatiel's food bowl three-quarters full and refresh it daily.
  • Feed your bird dark, leafy greens and other fresh veggies every other day. These should make up no more than 20% of their overall diet.
  • Offer your cockatiel fresh fruit such as berries, melon, papaya or kiwi every other day.
  • Offer your cockatiel a honey stick or millet spray once a month as a special treat.
  • Be sure your bird has access to fresh, clean water at all times.
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How do I play with and groom my cockatiel?

Cockatiels are birds of play! They love to interact with their owners. They can also entertain themselves inside their cages with toys.

  • Spend at least 1 hour a day holding or playing with your cockatiel.
  • Cockatiels love to get out of their cages and perch on a T-stand.
  • Keep your cockatiel happy inside the cage with 2 or 3 toys, including puzzles that hide treats.
  • 2 or 3 times a week, give your cockatiel a shallow bowl of warm water to use as a bath. Or mist your pet gently with warm water from a clean spray bottle.
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How do I keep my 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 is recommended yearly but may be in order sooner 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
  • Change in droppings for more than 2 days
  • Discharge from nose or mouth
  • Sneezing

Talk to an avian veterinarian if you have questions about your bird's health.


  • Use caution when handling pets and remember they may bite or scratch (especially when stressed).
  • Supervise children around pets.
  • ALL ANIMALS can potentially carry viral, bacterial, fungal, and parasitic diseases contagious to humans.
  • Thoroughly wash your hands with warm, soapy water before and after contact with any pet or its habitat.
  • Adults should assist children with hand washing after contact with a pet, its habitat or aquarium water.


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.


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.