P ointers from the Professionals:

We set out to talk to some moms who have actually (gasp), allowed some foreign creatures into their homes, to find how they and their children care for them. We chose two kinds of pets that are easy to care for: parakeets and goldfish.

SHAINDY: Mommy and owner of two PARAKEETS named T.J. and Sunny.

Here are Shaindy’s tips on caring for parakeets:

First, if you want a pet, you need to realize that you will be responsible for keeping it safe, clean, and fed. It is not your parents’ job. Also remember that this is a long-term commitment. If you think you’ll get bored of your pet after a week or two, it’s not a good idea to ask your parents for one for your birthday.

Here’s what your parakeet will need to keep it happy and healthy:


FOOD:

Parakeets need to be fed once a day. They eat millet, a kind of seed that is luckily kosher l’Pesach. The birds pick out the inner, nutritional part of the seed and leave the shell, which can result in a big mess you’ll need to clean up. They will also need a water dish, and the water needs to be changed once daily. Tap water is fine for parakeets. Remember that it’s a mitzvah to feed your animals before you feed yourself. Also make sure to ask your rav about the halachos of feeding your pet on Shabbos and Yom Tov.


SHELTER:

-You’ll need to keep your parakeets in a cage. You can buy a cage with a special tray that can be pulled out for easy cleaning. Line the tray with newspaper and change it once a week.

-Once a month, it’s a good idea to give the entire cage a thorough cleaning. You will have to let the birds out of the cage while you clean it. (We keep the birds in a contained area like the bathroom, with the toilet closed and the mirror covered.)

-You don’t have to worry about cleaning the birds. They take care of that themselves. They splash in the water and pick at their feathers.


ENTERTAINMENT:

-Parakeets are very sociable and vocal. They like to chirp a lot. When we noticed that our first bird, T.J. (Tookie Junior), seemed kind of depressed, we bought our second bird, Sunny, (named after his bright yellow color), to keep him company, and he immediately became more animated.

-Parakeets like to play with nesting toys such as bits of string. There are differing opinions regarding whether or not it is a good idea to let them fly around on their own. (Excerpted from Mishpacha Jr., Issue 672)