Scarlet-Chested Parakeets: Bird Species Profile

Temperament, Diet, and Care Tips

A Scarlet-chested Parrot eating grass seeds in Melbourne, Victoria, AU. Melbourne is outside the normal range of this bird, so its suspected that this is an escaped aviary bird.

Kauos/Wikimedia Commons/CC By 3.0

Like most hookbill birds, scarlet-chested parakeets are true parrots, which means they have hooked beaks and larger heads that are capable of more brain power. They are popular for their vibrant, colorful plumage, and they are generally peaceful and quiet. As pets, they tend to have a sweet disposition. They are small, do not require a large footprint of your space, and can be tame, affectionate birds if they get a lot of one-on-one time with you.

Species Overview

Common Names: Scarlet-chested parakeets, splendid parakeets, scarlet-breasted parrots, or orange-throated parrots

Scientific Name: Neophema splendida

Adult Size: 8 inches in length, about 2.5 ounces in weight

Life Expectancy: 10 to 15 years

Origin and History

This bird species is a type of grass parakeet that is native to Southern and Western Australia and New South Wales. In nature, they feed on the ground and fly low, keeping close to cover. They thrive in a variety of climates, including dry interior areas, eucalyptus woodland, arid sparse growth, and forest edges. They also travel around the land from one water source to another, often in large flocks.

Temperament

For many years, scarlet-chested parakeets were considered by most to be an "ornamental" bird, basically meaning that they should be seen and not touched. This is a false characterization, since most scarlet-chested parakeets are tame, loving pets. However, these birds are among the more temperamental types of parakeets that may not enjoy handling as much as other types of birds.

You can train a scarlet-chested parakeet to be comfortable with handling. Except for some outliers, it is not a bird known for doing tricks or talking.

Scarlet-chested parakeets can make excellent companions for the right people. With time, patience, and proper bonding techniques, they can be loving and affectionate pets that can be socially involved with their owners.

Scarlet-chested parakeets prefer to softly chatter among themselves rather than resort to screams and loud contact calls.

Speech and Vocalizations

When they do make their calls, the sound is soft, melodious, and in two-syllable notes. In a flock, they produce light, continuous twittering. They emit clear, sharper whistles when alarmed. Like many small birds, they are receptive to songs, music, and whistling.

Scarlet-Chested Parakeet Colors and Markings

Scarlet-chested parakeets exhibit a brilliant rainbow of colors in their plumage. They are a sexually dimorphic species, so males and females are colored differently.

Mature male scarlet-chested parakeets have dark blue faces, red chests, and bright green on their backs and the tops of their heads. They have yellow bellies and sky blue feathers on the undersides of their wings.

Although mature females also have blue faces, green wings and backs, and green chests, their head has less blue and more brown. Their chest and wings are green, and their abdomen and thighs are bright yellows. Like the males, they also have yellow feathers on their bellies.

Caring for the Scarlet-Chested Parakeet

Relatively quiet and small as far as parrots go, these birds can be an ideal pet if you live in an apartment or condominium. The cage should be about 4 feet long by 2 feet wide and 2 feet deep. The bars should be no more than 1/2-inch apart. They can get along with most other peaceful small birds like finches and budgies and can be housed in the same cage or aviary if there is enough space for all the birds.

Scarlet-chested parakeets prefer warm, dry climate. They are uncomfortable in humid and damp conditions and cannot handle extreme temperatures.

These birds prefer taking a bath in standing water or on wet foliage. Keep a small clean bowl of bathing water inside the cage. They also like to sunbathe by puffing out their feathers and bending their wings.

Common Health Problems

As scarlet-chested parakeets are accustomed to staying in dry places, they might suffer from respiratory problems when exposed to extreme cold and humidity. 

Scarlet-chested parrots are vulnerable to Candida infections. As prevention, remove everything from their diet that encourages fungal growth, like refined flour and sugar (most ripe fruits). Add natural antifungals to their diet like fresh crushed garlic, oregano, thyme, and rosemary. 

As with most other parrots, they may start to feather pluck or self-mutilate if they do not have enough room in their cage or if not given flight time outside of the cage.

Diet and Nutrition

Scarlet-chested parakeets in the wild regularly eat a diet consisting mainly of grasses and seeds found in the fields where they live. Their diet is supplemented by other offerings available throughout the seasons, including flowers, fruit, insects, and berries.

In captivity, they seem to do quite well on seed mixes formulated for small parrots or parakeets with supplementation of canary seed and sunflower seed. They also enjoy and thrive on sprouts and leafy greens like spinach and kale. Offer these fresh vegetables daily, as well as bits of fruits like apple, banana, and orange. Cuttlebone is another recommended offering. It contains a variety of proteins, and more importantly, calcium.

Exercise

Scarlet-chested parakeets spend a lot of time on the ground foraging for food in the wild. To emulate this behavior in captivity, provide plenty of foot toys. The toys keep the bird engaged and active. You can also put some soil and grass at the bottom of the cage to let it scratch around. Hang small, wooden branches, perches, and swings in the cage to keep them busy throughout the day. Provide a secure, bird-proof area where they can play in a safe area outside of their cages, supervised, for 3 to 4 hours per day.

Pros

  • Social and friendly

  • Does not take up too much space

  • Relatively quiet for a parrot, good for apartment dwellers

Cons

  • Can be temperamental, needs time to warm up to you

  • Requires three to four hours daily of supervised exercise

Where to Adopt or Buy a Scarlet-Chested Parakeet

If you're interested in learning more about whether or not a scarlet-chested parakeet would be a good addition to your family, the best thing to do is contact your local aviculture society or a nearby scarlet-chested parakeet breeder. Any good breeder or adoption agency will want to make a lasting placement for their birds. Describe your home and lifestyle to people who are familiar with the species and get sound advice on whether adopting one of these birds would be a good option for you and your family. These birds average about $250 to $300.

Rescues, adoption organizations, and breeders where you can find scarlet-chested parakeets include:

Take a look at the care conditions of the bird before you buy it. Steer clear of a breeder or pet store if the birds are living in small, dirty cages, their diet is missing fruits and vegetables, and the proprietors are resistant to answering your questions.

More Pet Bird Species and Further Research

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

Otherwise, check out all of our other small parrots.