A beautiful bird, the Indian ringneck parakeet is a very popular pet. It may not be right for everyone because it requires a lot of attention and care, but it is a very social bird and can become an excellent companion for the entire family. These birds love to talk and enjoy a good challenge, which makes training a ton of fun.
Common Names: Indian ringneck parakeet, Indian ringneck parrot, rose-ringed parakeet
Scientific Name: Psittacula krameri manillensis
Adult Size: 16 inches in length including tail feathers and 4 ounces in weight for a medium-sized parrot
Life Expectancy: 25 to 30 years; some instances up to 50 years
Click Play to Learn More About the Colorful Indian Ringneck Parakeet
Origin and History
The Indian ringneck parakeet is an Asiatic subspecies of the rose-ringed parakeet (Psittacula krameri). It is an Asiatic parrot originally from Ceylon. Now, you can find it in many parts of Asia, notably India and Pakistan. It also lives in the western and southern areas of Sudan and the Middle East.
In the wild, they live in lightly timbered areas, as well as farmed areas of the countryside. They travel in flocks of 100 or more birds, so they are used to having company.
Indian ringneck parakeets have been kept in captivity from as early as 200 BC. In India, they were regarded as sacred beings after religious leaders began to recognize their ability to mimic human language clearly. Highly regarded by wealthy Indian royals, ringneck parrots were kept in decorative cages and admired for their colors and charming dispositions.
During the 1920s, aviculturists began breeding captive ringnecks, and, with the advent of different color mutations, the popularity of the bird started to explode. Now widely available in the pet trade, Indian ringneck parakeets continue to gain increasing popularity as pets. Their relatively small size and beautiful markings help to make the ringneck the right choice for many bird owners.
Although the Indian ringneck has something of a reputation for being nippy and hard to train, it is mostly undeserved. Since they are so smart, ringnecks get bored very quickly, and will often resort to chewing and other destructive behavior if they feel neglected.
They also go through a bluffing stage during adolescence that is difficult for some owners to manage. This stage comes with slight aggression, but the phase lasts only a few weeks or months.
Generally, ringnecks handled often and adequately cared for have sweet, charming personalities. Their voice is almost comical, as it is very high-pitched yet soft. You will also notice that they're great at alerting you to danger, a wild instinct that is accompanied by loud calls.
They do not have a reputation for being very affectionate, though females tend to form a stronger bond with owners while males are more easy-going. They are generally a low-maintenance bird—if there is really such a thing. Despite their aloof personalities, they do require a lot of time and attention.
Speech and Vocalizations
The Indian ringneck is one of the best talking birds among the domestic species. They can typically start speaking between 8 months and 1 year old, and they can learn over 200 words. The bird can range from an average speaking level to yelling or screeching, but they are more generally known for their intelligence and quick learning when it comes to speech.
Indian Ringneck Parakeet Colors and Markings
Ringnecks are available in shades ranging from bright yellows, greens, and blues, to albinos, cinnamons, and lutinos. Though the color mutations are common, the typical coloring of this species is bright lime green with blue tail feathers and yellow under the wings.
They are known as a dimorphic species, meaning that its colors and markings can determine a bird's sex. Males sport deep red beaks, black facial markings, and three bands of color around their necks. The black ring develops at about 18 months, and blue and pink rings appear by the time they reach 3 years old. Females, while still beautiful, lack the facial and collar bands, although some do display a slight darkening of color around their necks.
Caring for the Indian Ringneck Parakeet
With adequate attention, handling, and love, an Indian ringneck parakeet can quickly become a beloved companion and family member. They enjoy learning new things and are exceptionally proficient with owners who want to challenge their intelligence. That's one reason they develop such large vocabularies and are great at bird tricks.
If you notice any aggressive behavior, it's best to avoid scolding as the bird can develop a lifetime fear of people. The best way to handle this bird is to ignore bad behavior and use positive reinforcement for good behavior.
The cage for this bird needs to be larger than you might expect. It should accommodate its long tail and let the bird hop around and play when you're not around. Make sure the bar spacing isn't large enough for them to get stuck in or escape through; the ideal size is 1/2-inch to 5/8-inch spacing.
Clean the food and water bowl daily, perches and toys weekly, and the floor monthly. Once a year, plan on taking everything outside to be hosed down.
Common Health Problems
While the Indian ringneck parakeet is generally known to be a healthy pet bird, they are prone to common diseases like psittacosis, polyomavirus, aspergillosis, and a number of bacterial infections. If bored, left alone for too long, or depressed, this bird may turn to self-destructive behaviors such as feather plucking.
Diet and Nutrition
Wild Indian ringnecks usually feast on a diet of fruits, vegetables, nuts, berries, and seeds. They also enjoy the nectar from flowers and the flowers themselves.
While most vets agree that it is best for captive birds to eat a nutritionally balanced pelleted diet, a ringneck will appreciate a variety of fruits and vegetables in their diet. Leafy greens and vegetables are crucial for any companion parrot to maintain a nutritionally sound diet, and the Indian ringneck parakeet is no exception. They can also eat healthy cooked food you would eat and are particularly fond of chicken, though beans, grains, and rice are also acceptable. Avocados, rhubarb, and chocolate are toxic to birds.
Some ringneck owners find that their bird will sort out and leave behind pellets if it's mixed with seeds. These birds seem picky about eating pellets. If you find that to be the case, offer pellets and seeds separately and rotate them on a regular schedule. They usually come around to pellets. As a rule of thumb, start off by offering your bird 1/4 cup of pellets and 1/4 cup of fruits and vegetables daily. Increase the amount as needed. Remove the uneaten foods to prevent spoilage.
As with all birds, food and water containers should be emptied, cleaned, and refilled daily to reduce the risk of bacterial growth and infection.
Parakeets are very active birds. As with most other bird species, it is a good idea to have a safe area for the pet to play and stretch its wings out of its cage for at least 3 hours each day.
Ringnecks also have powerful jaw muscles to maintain. It is wise to provide an array of chewable toys, perches, and cage accessories, so the bird is less likely to gnaw on something valuable or dangerous. This species enjoys puzzles and any complex toys you can find, which should help keep the bird busy as well.
Providing a mister and a dish of water to bathe in will also keep your feathered friend very happy.
Social and friendly
Intelligent and can speak up to 200 words
Can be loud, so not well-suited for apartments
Can be more dependent on their owners than other birds
Where to Adopt or Buy an Indian Ringneck Parakeet
Indian ringnecks are relatively common in the United States and can be rescued, adopted, or purchased at verified organizations like RescueParrots.org or adoption websites like Petfinder. Pricing ranges from $400 to $500, though you can expect to pay up to $700 depending on the organization and the bird.
If you're going the breeder route, make sure that the breeder is reputable by asking them how long they've been breeding and working with Indian ringneck parakeets. Ask for a tour, but don't be alarmed if you are unable to tour the facilities in which they keep the birds. Many reputable breeders opt to work under closed aviaries, which prevents diseases from infecting the flock.
Also, make sure that the bird you want to take home is as healthy. Make sure the parakeet is alert, active, and exhibits all the signs of a healthy bird, such as bright eyes, clean feathers, and full crops.
More Pet Bird Species and Further Research
If you’re interested in similar species, check out:
- Bourke's Parakeet Species Profile
- Lineolated Parakeet Species Profile
- Plum-Headed Parakeet Species Profile
Otherwise, check out all of our other small parrot species profiles.
Kovalkovičová, Natália et al. Some food toxic for pets. Interdisciplinary toxicology vol. 2,3 (2009): 169-76. doi:10.2478/v10102-009-0012-4