Small Pets: Meet Benji

Meet Benji

First and foremost, how old is Benji?

Benji is approximately 6 months old. We got him after our budgie Toby (the namesake of the FB page) passed away suddenly overnight.

Where did the name Benji come from?

My sister and I tried out different names… I always loved “Benji” the dog on TV from years ago, and I was fairly certain that our little one was a boy when we got him. Plus he just looks like a “Benji”! 😛

Does Benji know any tricks or how to talk?

Benji has been with us for just a few months and is young. He doesn’t have any formal tricks up his sleeve and doesn’t “talk” – at least not clearly enough for any of us to hear. He only just started playing with the toys we provide for him and is coming out of his shell. He tosses balls and bells around and loves to chirp along to human conversations, basketball games on TV, and the sound of running water (or a toilet flushing). Budgies usually pick a sleeping “spot.” Every night Benji gets on his swing to sleep. It’s very cute and sweet.

Does Benji have any cagemates or siblings?

Benji is a single budgie. For now, he will remain that way.

Is Mr. Martian friendly?

Mr. Martian is there to provide something soft and warm for Benji to play with. He seems pretty friendly and to not mind Benji’s attention.

What is the difference between a parakeet and a budgie?

“Budgie” is short for “budgerigar.” Budgies are small, brightly-colored parrots from Australia (green in the wild, many colors as domesticated pets). The Latin name is Melopsittacus undulatus. Parakeets are any of numerous small usually brightly-colored long-tailed parrots. All budgies are parakeets, but not all parakeets are budgies.

What things do you recommend first time budgie owners do to their house before bringing their new budgie home?

I’d recommend doing the same as if child- or puppy-proofing a place. Budgies are inquisitive and, like babies, taste and pick up things in their mouths (beaks), so small items should be kept out of reach, as should objects you don’t want destroyed or chewed on, like books, leather items, clothes, at least until the new budgie has become familiar with its new surroundings and has settled in comfortably. Make sure there are no containers of water (like toilets with lids up) that a small budgie can fall into, and use caution when opening doors that lead to the outside world. Budgies are very small and light, so they can get caught up in a wind current and carried pretty far away if they manage to get outside and try to fly.

Anything else you would like to share?

Budgies often have been labeled as “starter pets” because they are small, fairly low maintenance (compared to other parrots and pets), and inexpensive. They are not starter pets. They are just as intelligent and full of life as any other pet parrot and require the same attention and care.

(This picture is courtesy of the wonderfully talented MAEVONNE  T. LEE, check out her paintings out at  http://ml-creations.tripod.com/)

Would you like me to dedication the article to the memory of Mr. Toby?

Yes. The Toby was a treasure whose light was the inspiration for the FB page, videos, etc. I know for a fact he touched many lives in just a short period of time. I like to believe that God took The Toby’s light and made it into a bright star to shine on everyone. 🙂

Dedicated to the loving memory of Mr. Toby

The Toby was a treasure whose light was the inspiration for the FB page, videos, etc. I know for a fact he touched many lives in just a short period of time. I like to believe that God took The Toby’s light and made it into a bright star to shine on everyone. 🙂

Parakeet General Information:

(taken from http://www.birdguys.com/pet-bird-articles-parakeet.html)

Parakeets are the most popular pet birds. They come in a wide range of beautiful colors and are affectionate and playful. There are many types of parakeets the most common pet parakeet is the budgerigar or budgie. With a life span of about 10-15 years in captivity, they offer the companionship of a parrot without the burden of a 50 year plus commitment. They make the ideal first bird for children and new bird owners.

(Taken from: http://www.birdtricks.com/Parakeet/parakeet-care.html)

Answer the following questions before deciding to buy a Parakeet:

1. Can I provide an appropriate location and space for this bird to live?
2. Will I be able to provide a safe environment for the bird?
3. Can I spend supervised time with this bird outside of the cage each day?
4. Can I handle the natural calls this bird makes?
5. Can I or another mature responsible person take care of this bird for its lifetime?

(Taken from: http://www.parakeetcare.org/about-parakeets.php#.UQr4sb_omYE)

Budgies are not expensive, which is another reason to why they are very common pets. They are usually found between 10 to 30 dollars, but some breeds can go up to 50.

Parakeets are intelligent and social animals and enjoy the stimulation of toys and interaction with humans as well as with other Parakeets. A common behaviour is the chewing of material such as wood, especially for female Parakeets.

Parakeets can be taught to speak, whistle tunes, and play with humans. Both males and females sing and can learn to mimic sounds & words. Both singing and mimicry are more pronounced and much more perfected in males. As a whole, females rarely if ever learn to mimic more than a dozen words or so. Males can very easily acquire vocabularies ranging between a few dozen to a hundred words. Generally speaking, it is the pet Budgies and even more so the ones kept as single pets which talk the best and the most.

How to care for a parakeet: 

(Taken from: http://www.wikihow.com/Take-Care-of-a-Parakeet)

  1. Prepare the cage. Line the cage with paper towels or copy paper (better choices than newspaper) and change them regularly. Set up the cage with perches, water/food dishes and toys. Bring the bird home to quiet place and play soft music for a few days.
  2. Acquire a parakeet.Acquire a parakeet. Find a reputable bird dealer where the birds are known to be very well cared for. Try to verify the quality of the dealer or pet store, and, if possible, learn who their breeder is.
  3. Make sure the birds aren’t overcrowded on the perches, and check to see that they are being fed clean, quality food, including fresh fruits and veggies.
  4. Make sure the birds look content, vigorous and in optimal health. You may need to visit at different times during the day, as parakeets take naps and look drowsy at times during normal waking hours.
  5. Avoid birds that stay on the bottom of the cage or have unclean vents or crusty nostrils.
  6. Change the food and water daily. Let the bird get used to you and the surroundings, doing nothing but maintaining his food/water and cage, before trying to train the bird to perch on your finger.
  7. Convert your bird to a healthy pellet diet. Seeds are a very common source of bacterial infection, and can easily lower the health and lifespan of your bird. Bacteria can build up and overwhelm your bird over time. Birds adapt to pellets at various rates, and initially may reject them, perhaps vigorously. However, usually 90% of parakeets will convert within two weeks using the following plan:
  8. Leave pellets in a food dish in cage at all time.
  9. Give birds seed for only one hour in the morning and one hour at night.
  10. The rest of the time they have to snack on pellets.
  11. Generally, the 10% of parakeets which don’t switch in two weeks will switch after a short period of reverting to a seed diet.
  12. Add fresh food frequently. Feed fresh vegetables such as kale, beets, peas, carrots, parsley, cooked yams, sliced apple, mandarin oranges, citrus, and the like. Food can be clipped to the bars of the cage or chopped small in a food processor and put in a bowl.
  13. Offer treats. Millet sprigs or “sprays” are a favorite treat, but don’t feed too much of it (about 1/2″ per day), as it is fattening like junk food. Avoid sweets or excess oats, both of which are fattening.
  14. Try to interact with your birds daily for at least 30-90 minutes. Without regular and sufficient attention, they will lose interest in human interaction. A pair will tend to bond with one another (regardless of sex) and ignore humans, but through interaction, you can be considered part of the flock.
  15. A way to interact with your bird is to sing together, give it baths and if it seems to be rapidly dropping a mobile toy, pick it up. There is a chance it is trying to play a game with you.
  16. Talk to it. Sometimes parakeets get lonely. A good way to get them happy again is to talk to them.
  17. To get them to climb up on your finger, push a little bit on their stomach, and say “Step Up.” By continuously saying that, they will start to say it by themselves, and will “Step Up” whenever they say it (which will usually be when they come to a stair/ledge).
  18. Let your parakeet exercise. Think about how your bird(s) can get exercise. Many people assume they can just leave the birds in a small cage all day, where the birds, which in the wild fly and exercise a lot, otherwise get fatty and fat related illnesses. If trimmed, just have a decently big cage with good toys and give the bird some play time out of a cage every day. Manual exercise can be achieved by a sensitive toss or holding it in your hand and sensitive dragging down until looks tired, shown by heavy breathing.
  19. Be conscientious. Parakeets are a lot of work but you will find them an affectionate and funny companion. Most will talk and how much they learn is really up to you. Be prepared to do some daily care, maintenance and offering of attention and time to talk and play with your birds, or consider getting another hobby.

Bird related blogs: http://harleybird.wordpress.com/


Author’s Note:

You can find Benji on facebook or youtube.com. Thanks so much to his mom for letting me interview him and share a bit about Toby as well as parakeets in general. If you like the watercolor budgies, you can find them at http://ml-creations.tripod.com/

This article is a part of the Small Pets Theme, featuring interviews of small or pocket pets. Please click the below badge for more interviews.

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4 Replies to “Small Pets: Meet Benji”

  1. What a great blog. I miss the Toby very much and miss his voice. Benji is very lucky to have you for his mommy. You have alot of love to give him. He is a cutie patootie.

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