Rosellas are a group of small to medium-sized birds that are known to be fairly energetic and have strikingly bright feathers. They are popular pet birds in aviculture because they are relatively easy to breed. This guide will educate you on this family of birds and give you the pros and cons of looking after one.
The Rosella is the name given to a family of parrots spread across Australia and are from the Platycercus genus, which is part of the Platycercini, from the Psittaculidae family. Their distribution is across Australia, with some introduced populations in New Zealand. Their natural habitat is made up of forests, shrubland and savannas. They are a type of broad tailed parrot that is small to medium in size, being on average around 30cm (11.7 inches) in length and weighing around 120 grams (4.2 oz). Depending upon the subspecies of the bird, there is often a slight difference in the coloring of the plumage between the male and female birds. Species of Rosellas include:
- Eastern Rosella
- Crimson Rosella
- Pale-Headed Rosella
- Western Rosella
- Northern Rosella
- Green Rosella
|Colors||Varies depending upon species but mostly bright colors of red, yellow, green and blue|
|Size||Around 30 cm (11.7 inches)|
|Weight||Approximately 120 grams (4.2 oz)|
|Lifespan||20 to 30 years|
|Price||$300 to $600|
|Conservation Status (IUCN)||Least Concern|
|Distribution||Australia, New Zealand (introduced)|
|Habitat||Forests, shrubland and savannas|
|Food||Insects, flowers, berries, seeds, fruits and grains|
|Intelligence||Basic to medium|
|Noise levels||Loud singing, calls, whistling|
|Talking ability||Not really, basic mimicking|
The nature and personality of the Rosella can vary greatly depending upon the individual bird and the environment in which you house them. Some birds can be calm and quiet, but usually the Rosella bird is known to be territorial and aggressive. Provide plenty of space in a large cage, plenty of feed and a lot of face-to-face time with the bird. Ideally, you should house your Rosella with a companion to prevent it from getting lonely, however, if you work from home and don’t go out much then keeping a solo bird might be possible. They’re likely to have the most energy during the twilight periods of each day.
They have a fair amount of energy and so should be stimulated with toys. Since they do not have large beaks, they are unlikely to harm any children that are also in the household. Whilst inquisitive, they are not as intelligent as other species of parrot such as the macaw, and they cannot be trained to talk. However, you can still train a Rosella to perform basic actions such as stepping up and providing them with treats as a reward will work. The video below shows an example of some of the training that a Rosella can perform:
You should keep your Rosella bird at a temperate range of 20 to 30 degrees celsius. Try to house this bird in a cage that is as large as possible, but at a minimum the cage should be 24 inches x 24 inches x 30 inches. The bar spacing for this should be no more than 1/2 inch to prevent them from sticking their heads too far out. Provide plenty of toys, perches, and accessories inside of the cage. They should be fed a diet predominantly of pellets, supplemented with fresh fruit and vegetables with occasional seed based treats.
The Rosella will like to bathe so providing the bird with a bird bath is necessary. Occasionally you may need to clip the nails of the bird, but it should be possible to avoid this if you have coarse perches that help to file down the nails.
Each day, your Rosella should be taken out of its cage so the bird can fly around, stretch its wings and interact with you. The component to care is of the primary importance.
Rosellas are known for their very brightly colored and varied plumage of feathers. Perhaps the most striking of which is the Eastern Rosella which comes with bright red, yellow, green, black and blue feathers. Others such as the Western Rosella have similar color variations but are predominantly red in color. The Northern Rosella is mostly blue and black, whereas the Green Rosellas is a pale yellowy-green.
Aside from the Western Rosella, most Rosella species have similar color variations in the genders and so it is difficult to tell if one is male or female. DNA testing can help if you want to know the sex of your bird. To see an Eastern Rosella in action, check out the video below:
As with other parrots, the Rosella is known to make contact calls to keep in touch with other members of its flock and it has high pitched squawks when it is frightened. They can be fairly noisy, particularly during the sunrise and sunset of each day, but they are not as noisy as other species of birds such as cockatoos. Lower pitched chattering sounds are made when the bird is feeling calm. They’re not known to be a species of parrot that can be trained to talk, however it is possible to get them to say a few basic murmurs that sound a bit like words.
A Rosella is likely to live 20 to 30 years and with some rare outlier cases living longer. Providing a healthy diet, lots of exercise, plenty of attention and companionship, plus a good cage environment will all be factors in helping the bird to live a long life.
The price range for a Rosella bird starts at $300 and can go up to $600 or higher. These prices mostly depend upon the age, health, and plumage of the bird being bought. Keep in mind that the cost of the bird isn’t the only price, you’ll still need plenty of money for the cages, food, toys, medical care, and other supplies to properly look after your bird. They can be cheaper to own in Australia, where the bird is originally from. They are not a threatened species in the wild and are legal to own, but you should look for registered breeders or consider adoption.
Species such as the Eastern Rosella are very common and not threatened in the wild. Because of this, they are quite common in aviculture, especially amongst breeders in Australia. They will breed quite easily if they have a mate and produce clutches of around 5 eggs, which take 20 days to incubate and will fledge at around 5 weeks. In Australia, this breeding season generally occurs July to March. The Rubino Rosella is a selectively breed version of this bird that has a red, yellow and white feathered appearance.
The most common health condition you need to look out for with a Rosella is psittacine beak and feather disease (PBFD). Keep an eye out for issues affecting the feathers, beaks and claws. Visit the vet regularly and make sure you have avian pet insurance.
The main diet of Rosellas in the wild is mostly made up of fruits and seeds. However, in captivity owners can end up feeding their birds a diet that is too high in fat or sugar. Rosella specific pellet based diets have been formulated because of this issue and are possible to order online. This, in combination with fruit and veg is the recommended balance.
Whilst not as difficult to look after as larger birds such as macaws, Rosellas can still be a little bit of a challenge due to the energy of the bird. However, with proper care, preparation and education, a Rosella can make a good pet. You just need to ensure that you have the time, dedication and money to look after and house this bird for its entire lifespan.