The lutino is a type of parakeet that belongs to the parrot family. These intelligent and affectionate pets are sometimes called budgies and budgerigars, and come in a wide range of vibrant feather colors and parents. The lutino variation of this species is caused by a specific sex-linked gene mutation that causes its yellow feathers. Because two non-lutino birds are capable of producing lutino babies, it is considered a recessive gene.
Parakeets are native to Australia, and this particular species is sometimes referred to as the albino or "yellow albino" version of the better-known green parakeet.
Common Name: Lutino parakeet
Scientific Name: Melopsittacus undulates (Parakeet)
Adult Size: 6-7 inches
Life Expectancy: 10 years
Origin and History
The lutino was first noted in the early 1800s by an explorer in Australia. In the wild, most parakeets have either green or yellow coloring, and these parakeets were introduced to England in the 1840s. Traders began selling parakeets as pets, and the yellow lutino was born as enthusiasts began breeding the birds to experiment with different colors and patterns.
Lutinos first officially appeared in the 1930s, and today they continue to be the result of careful breeding and are not commonly found in the wild (their recessive genes would have to resurface). This is good news because their vivid yellow coloring happens to make them easier for their predators to locate.
Parakeets remain the most popular of all companion birds, and for good reason. Much like other species of parakeet, the lutino is a curious, active, and sociable bird that makes a great pet. Of course, that also means they will need ample attention as they can get bored easily when left alone for long periods of time.
They are playful and friendly, and can also be trained fairly easily. Your lutino parakeet should be able to learn basic commands like "step up" or "step down."
Speech and Vocalizations
These parakeets are friendly and social and can be taught to talk. When providing their daily interaction, you will note that the lutino has a high-pitched yet sweet voice.
Lutino Colors and Markings
The lutino has lush yellow feathers on its body and head but a paler yellow color on its tail and primary flight feathers. They typically also have silver-white cheek patches and red or pink eyes (their legs and bills also have a reddish tint).
Caring for the Lutino Parakeet
Despite their unique coloring, lutinos are just like other varieties of parakeets -- they are active birds that love to fly and climb. This means they'll need a fairly large cage of a minimum of 18x18 x24 inches.
They will of course need fresh food and water every day, and since they are quite interactive, affectionate birds, they do enjoy bonding with their owners--you'll need to spend at least a half-hour with them daily. You should also consider providing an array of toys or other cage accessories for these playful parakeets.
When finding a home for your lutino's enclosure, be sure to keep them away from doors or windows, as they do not like cold drafts. You'll also want to avoid the kitchen as all parakeets are sensitive to strong odors, gases, and smoke. Try to place the cage at or below eye level. Lutinos that receive the proper care will live to be about 10 (or even up to 15) years old.
The lutino parakeet is generally considered to require a more advanced understanding of bird handling, as they can be difficult to tame. As such, they may not be the best choice for first-time parakeet (or bird) owners. Like many birds, the lutino can be "nippy" and will likely go through what's called a "bluffing" stage in their adolescence. With patience and positive, gentle interactions, however, they can be trained to become fantastic companion pets.
Lastly, parakeets appreciate staying clean, and you'll notice your lutino regularly preening itself. You can offer a warm birdbath a few times a week, or even just a refreshing mist from a spray bottle.
Common Health Problems
Although the lutino isn't necessarily associated with any specific diseases, they can be susceptible to the health issues that often impact parakeets. These can include fractures, mites, asthma and bronchitis, epilepsy, paratyphosis, and catarrhal inflammation. Many of these conditions can be prevented by providing your bird with a clean and dust-free environment as well as a proper diet and fresh water.
Diet and Nutrition
The lutino prefers a varied diet. Along with their regular bird food, be sure to provide a mix of nuts, vegetables, seeds, and fruits for optimal nutrition. For example, you can offer dark leafy greens and fruits like berries, papaya, and melon (just be sure to aim for about every other day). Other treats might include honey sticks or spray millet. They will also need fresh, clean water every day.
You'll want to refresh your bird's food bowl daily and aim to keep the bowl about 3/4 full with its regular pelleted food (this should only make up about 15 to 25 percent of their diet). You can also offer a birdseed blend, which should also remain about 3/4 full.
The lutino parakeet is not a bird that will be content to remain in their cage all day. They love interacting with their owners and climbing, and for optimal health will benefit from daily opportunities to fly.
Friendly, once you gain their trust
Can be "nippy"
Difficult to tame
Can't be left alone for long periods of time
Require a large cage and ample exercise/socialization
Where to Adopt or Buy
Lutino parakeets are selectively bred using a very specific gene mutation, so you'll likely have to connect with a local breeder if you're interested in taking one of these yellow parakeets home.
More Bird Species and Further Research
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