Red-bellied Parrot: Bird Species Profile

Temperament, Diet, and Care Tips

Male red-bellied parrot perched in a tree.
Male red-bellied parrots have bright orange bellies.

Getty Images/webguzs

While its name can be confusing to some people since it doesn't actually have red on its belly, the red-bellied parrot is a small to medium-sized bird in the parrot family that is full of energy and affection. Knowing its history and care requirements can help you determine whether or not this bird may be the right pet for you.

Species Overview

Common Name(s): Red-bellied parrot, Red bellied parrot, Orange-bellied parrot, African orange-bellied parrot, Red-breasted parrot, Abyssinian parrot

Scientific Name: Poicephalus rufiventris

Adult Size: 9 inches long and weighs about 5 oz.

Life Expectancy: Up to 20 years

Origin and History

Red-bellied parrots are found in the wild in multiple East African countries including Ethiopia, Tanzania, Kenya, and Somalia where there are woodlands, dry brush, and scrubland areas. They are not an endangered species so they may be found in zoos as well as private homes as pets.

Red-bellied parrots got their name before the orange fruit was discovered in English-speaking countries. Their name would, of course, more appropriately be the orange-bellied parrot, but the word for both the fruit, and therefore the color orange, was not used until after this parrot was already named.


Red-bellied parrots are very social and active birds. A well-socialized red-bellied will be quite friendly and will even enjoy being petted, especially on its neck or head. These birds are also very smart and love to climb.

Biting can, of course, happen with any animal with a mouth, but if you are patient and not forceful with a timid red-bellied parrot, you will be rewarded with an opportunity to give and receive some affection.

Speech and Vocalizations

Red-bellied parrots aren't thought of as vocal birds, but when they are compared to the nine other types of birds in the Poicephalus genus, they are known as the most talkative of the bunch and have excellent mimicking skills.

Red-bellied Parrot Colors and Markings

Both male and female red-bellied parrots have red irises, dark gray beaks, and gray feet with four claws on each foot. Male red-bellied parrots can be told apart from females by their orange-coloured bellies, ashy-brown shoulders and neck, and a pale blue bottom.

Females, on the other hand, have gray feathers on their chests, pale green feathers on the belly with an occasional hint of orange, and a more pale gray head. These differences between the sexes are sexually dimorphic traits.

Male and female red-bellied parrots on a tree branch.
Male and female red-bellied parrots have different colors.  Getty Images/Gerard Soury

Caring for the Red-bellied Parrot

Red-bellied parrots need a lot of space and toys to play with to stay entertained. In the wild, they are flock species so they will either bond with other red-bellied parrots in the household or a human companion.

They are easily trained and socialized but require regular attention. A flight cage is ideal but not practical in most households. Regular time outside a cage is necessary for a red-bellied parrot to stretch their wings and do what birds do best.

Common Health Problems

Birds are prone to a number of respiratory issues including aspergillosis and pneumonia, as well as Bornavirus, liver disease, and behavioral issues. A proper diet, clean living environment, plenty of exercise, and regular check-ups with an avian veterinarian can help keep your red-bellied parrot healthy.

Diet and Nutrition

While seed mixes are often fed as staple diets for red-bellied parrots, a high quality, pelleted bird food is a more ideal option. This combined with fresh fruit, vegetables, and occasional healthy treats such as multi-grain bread, pasta, and sugar-free cereals, will provide a more balanced diet than seeds alone. Seeds can be given on occasion, but diets heavy in fatty seeds like sunflowers will only lead to obesity and health issues.


Since red-bellied parrots are active and avid climbers, plenty of horizontal cage bars, various sized perches and branches, and a safe flight area should be provided.

Ropes, swings, and other items that a red-bellied parrot can hang upside down from or grab with its feet will be popular with your bird.

  • Friendly

  • Easily learns vocalizations

  • Playful

  • Small to medium sized

  • Requires a lot of attention

  • Needs space to exercise

  • Requires fresh fruits and vegetables

Where to Adopt or Buy a Red-bellied Parrot

Red-bellied parrots are not the most commonly found birds in pet stores, but that doesn't mean you can't find them. Some larger pet stores and bird speciality stores may have red-bellied parrots for sale or contact information for a local breeder.

Parrot rescue groups may have these birds up for adoption and websites like and are also good resources to explore.

Finally, your local avian veterinarian may have contacts for rescuing or purchasing a red-bellied parrot. Expect to pay more for a socialized compared to younger, unsocialized birds.

Regardless of where you decide to get your red-bellied parrot from, make sure the facility is clean, the birds there are alert, and there isn't fecal matter built up on their enclosures. Signs of an unhealthy bird include sneezing, fecal matter build up, closed eyes, and puffed feathers.

More Pet Bird Species and Further Research

If you’re interested in similar species, check out:

And for more bird information, check out: