Moluccan Cockatoos as Pets-Everything You Need to Know


Moluccan Cockatoos as Pets-Everything You Need to Know

Moluccan cockatoos are beautiful birds so you may be wondering what it’s like to own one. Perhaps you’re used to owning other birds and you’re curious if these are any different.

Moluccan cockatoos (also known as salmon-crested cockatoos) are affectionate, well behaved, and overall are great birds to own — for the right person.

These birds are different than other types of parrots. But if you have the time to spend with them and you know what to expect you’ll likely love having one for a pet.

Colors, and Markings Of The Moluccan Cockatoo

These parrots are beautiful with their bright pink colored feathers on the base of their crest. Although when the bird is relaxed or at rest these feathers blend in with the rest of their white and salmon-colored feathers. It’s when they show some sort of emotion (anger, excitement, fear) that they raise their crest and show off their pink feathers. Underneath their wings there are pretty pale-yellow feathers.

Moluccan cockatoos have black beaks and feet but because of the powdery down that these birds shed the black will often look more like a shimmery grey color.

When the Moluccan cockatoo is young (under about three years of age) it’s practically impossible to tell a male and a female apart. After they mature, you’ll see that the male Moluccan Cockatoos have black eyes, and the females have brown or dark red eyes.

Where Do Moluccan Cockatoos Live?

The Salmon-crested cockatoo is native to the Moluccas (Maluku Islands) in Indonesia. They tend to form large flocks and hang out in the lowland rainforests — annoying farmers!

Temperament Of A Moluccan Cockatoo

The Moluccan cockatoo is an intelligent, loving, extremely affectionate bird. They love to be around people — their owners especially. Their beaks are quite destructive and they will chew constantly so you need to provide them with wooden perches and other toys to allow them to continue their chewing.

If you fail to pay enough attention to your Moluccan cockatoo, they will make a lot of noise and start plucking out their feathers.

However, as affectionate as they are, they can get a bit aggressive as they get older — especially male Moluccan cockatoos.

What To Feed Moluccan Cockatoos

In the wild Moluccan cockatoos eat a variety of seeds, nuts, and fruit — especially coconuts. They will also eat insects they find on the ground.

However, if you own a Moluccan cockatoo you will want to feed it a pellet diet. Check with your veterinarian or pet food expert for advice on the right type of food for your cockatoo. You’ll want to supplement this with bird-safe fruits and vegetables. Good choices include:

  • Carrots
  • Bananas
  • Apples
  • Kale 

You’ll want to feed your cockatoo a mix of about 75% pellet and 25% other foods. Seeds and nuts can be given as occasional treats.

Never feed your bird chocolate or avocado because these can be fatal to them!

Average Life Span And Health Issues

You’ll need to be comfortable with a long-term commitment of ownership because these birds will often live to be at least 70 years of age!

Common health issues which can occur in Moluccan cockatoos are fungal infections, bacterial infections, localized herpes infections on their feet, and tape worms.

Size Of A Moluccan Cockatoo

These cockatoos grow to a length of about 21 inches and weigh about 1.9 pounds. Interestingly, female Moluccan cockatoos are often larger than males.

Exercise Needs Of A Moluccan Cockatoo

Moluccan cockatoos love to be active! And they need plenty of activity to keep themselves entertained (and therefore keep bad behavior at bay) as well as to stay healthy. Let them out of their cage to play for at least three hours every day in a safe, secure area.

Give your cockatoo plenty of toys to chew on both for entertainment and to exercise their beak. If you don’t, they will start to chew on your furniture! Always have a lot of bird toys on hand because not only will they destroy them quickly, but they may bore of the ones they have.

Proper Living Conditions For Moluccan Cockatoos

Moluccan cockatoos are an endangered species and should not be disrupted from their natural habitat. If you would like to have one as a pet you must find one that was bred in captivity. Here’s how you can make your Moluccan cockatoo comfortable in your home.

Avoid temperature extremes. Although wild cockatoos typically live in tropical or subtropical climates, they can acclimate to colder temperatures so you don’t have to worry much about keeping their living space at a certain temperature. As long as it’s not freezing or extremely hot, they should be fine but major temperature changes should be avoided.

Get the right-sized cage. Moluccan cockatoos aren’t meant to be kept in small cages. If at all possible, make your cockatoo’s room a full room or even an aviary, but preferable is a cage that’s at least two feet wide and three feet high. Your bird needs a space where they can stretch their wingspan and still have some room on either side.

Provide plenty of perches and toys. Remember, Moluccan cockatoos can be quite destructive so make sure the cage is sturdy and provides a lot of areas, many toys to chew on as well as soft perches and a few ropes.

Provide a place to sleep. Cockatoos do sleep roughly 10 – 12 hours every night so make sure their room is dark at night, not prone to sudden temperature fluxes, and provides the quiet they need to rest.

How To Take Care Of Baby Moluccan Cockatoos

If you get a Moluccan cockatoo while it’s still a baby there are a few extra precautions you should take to help it thrive.

Get a big cage. Although your bird is just a baby you should still put it in the cage you intend to keep it in once it’s fully grown. Stock the cage with all the toys before you bring your baby Moluccan cockatoo home.

Pad the bottom of the cage. Since baby birds may still be learning how to jump and flap around you should put some bird-safe padding (newsprint layered with towels) on the bottom of the cage to protect it against any falls.

Get the proper food. Although babies generally eat what adult Moluccan cockatoos do, they will eat it in smaller portions. Make sure you put their food and water bowls where they hang out most often in their cage for easy access.

Respect their space. Let your baby Moluccan cockatoo get settled without interfering too much. Slowly approach their cage and if they seem jittery give them some extra space.

Have all family members approach the cage and play with the bird on the first day or two to get them used to everyone who will be around. Let your Moluccan cockatoo set the pace for how much attention they need.

What To Do If Your Moluccan Cockatoo Gets Sick

There are several symptoms you should watch for in your Moluccan cockatoo:

  • Slower response time
  • Feathers constantly puffed up
  • Sleeping more than usual
  • Fluid dripping or running from nose
  • Crusty or watery eyes
  • Labored breathing
  • Changes in eating
  • Losing weight
  • White spots or welts on feet

If your Moluccan cockatoo has any of these symptoms or you suspect they’re sick it’s best to seek the advice of a veterinarian — and ask if they’re trained to work with birds. While you’re waiting to seek help make sure your bird is warm and quiet. Try not to handle them during this time and keep an eye on their eating and drinking habits.

Talking Ability Of A Moluccan Cockatoo

The Moluccan cockatoo is known to be one of the loudest parrots you can find! They are quite vocal and known to scream at times. But as loud and vocal as they are, they don’t tend to mimic words effectively aren’t known to learn, say, and repeat words and phrases they’re taught like other types of parrots may.

Why Do Moluccan Cockatoos Scream?

Cockatoos will scream if they’re bored, scared, frustrated, or just generally want attention.

Try not to immediately go attend to your bird’s needs because this will mean they’ll continue to screech every time they want something. Wait until a few minutes after they have stopped to go to them.

However, if their screaming sounds different or is continuous it could mean they are injured or feel like there’s danger so you should go to them as soon as possible to ensure everything is alright.

What Sounds Does A Moluccan Cockatoo Make?

In addition to screaming and occasional talking your Moluccan cockatoo may make a few other sounds.

Chattering. Your Moluccan cockatoo may not say many words clearly, but they will chatter much like they’re “talking”. And if you have more than one bird you may hear a lot of this chattering between them.

Growling. Some Moluccan cockatoos may emit a low growling noise when they’re eating or grooming.

Hissing. If your bird isn’t pleased about something or they feel threatened they may hiss.

Moluccan Cockatoo Molting Process

Moluccan cockatoos typically molt once a year — typically right after the breeding season. The times they molt can vary depending on how much UVA and UVB light they are exposed to and where they live.

You’ll start to see some intact feathers on the bottom of their cage and it’s not uncommon for your bird to have some bald patches — although if they seem very uncomfortable or lose an excessive number of feathers please contact your veterinarian. Their molting process can last several weeks.

What’s The Breeding Age Of A Moluccan Cockatoo?

Female Moluccan cockatoos reach sexual maturity around 3 years of age; however, egg-laying can start much earlier. It typically ends around age 10. They will breed once a year and have about 2 or 3 eggs per clutch.

Female and male Moluccan cockatoos typically bond for life and if something happens to one of the partners the other may go into a deep depression.

What Happens With Moluccan Cockatoo Eggs?

If your bird lays eggs place them in an open container within her cage. Line the box with newspaper and pine shavings to keep them warm and prevent them from breaking. They will hatch in about 20 – 30 days.

Are Moluccan Cockatoos Good Pets?

Here are some questions you should ask yourself before you get a Moluccan cockatoo.

Do you have the time? If you have plenty of time to spend with your Moluccan cockatoo, you’ll both be very happy for a long time. If you still want to have one but can’t commit to the time every single day consider getting a second bird so they can keep each other company. But remember, they are very loud birds who do require a lot of attention so owning two can often be more difficult than owning one.

Do you have enough space? Your bird needs a fairly large cage to live in and a dedicated, safe area to fly around and exercise in daily.

Can you deal with the noise? Although you can train your Moluccan cockatoo to be quieter at night and to not scream when it wants attention they will likely still chatter and make noise because that’s simply what these birds do.

Can you make the commitment? As mentioned, Moluccan cockatoos can live to be at least 70 years of age! Know you’ll need to make provisions for your bird in case you can’t take care of it for its lifespan.

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