Lorikeets Of Australia - Lories, loris - Species descriptions, care, diet, cages - Pet Birds, Exotic Birds, Parrots
LORIKEETS OF AUSTRALIA
by Mike Owen, Queensland, Australia
The Lorikeets form a unique group of generally very colourful
parrots with several distinctive characteristics. The
principal difference from other groups of Parrots is their
adaptation to a pollen, nectar and fruit diet. This has led
to the development of a brush-like structure at the tip of
their tongue, a long, slender bill to assist probing into
flowers (and enabling them to give a very painful bite), and
the lack of a crop and poorly developed gizzard. These
adaptations, together with special digestive enzymes, allow
them to effectively utilise their special diet.
They are restricted to the western Pacific and the East Indies
area, with a total of some 55 species recognised, of which 7
species and subspecies occur in Australia. Many species from
Indonesia and adjoining countries are highly endangered due to
habitat destruction and collecting for aviculture.
All of the Australian species have many avicultural
requirements in common, and this introduction will discuss their housing and
dietary needs, with any variations being mentioned as each species is covered in the month's ahead.
Because of their special diet, the lorikeets are notorious for
the volume and nature of their droppings. If kept in a solid
floored aviary then cleaning is a constant and time consuming
chore. The advent of suspended aviaries, with mesh floors,
has been a minor revolution in their care, and in a breeding
setup no other type of aviary can be recommended. Cleaning is
a simple matter of hosing down the mesh of the floor. The
size of the suspended aviary does not need to be especially
large. The larger lorikeets such as the Rainbow, Musk and
Scaly can be kept in a flight around 2.4 metres (8') long by
0.6 metres (2') by 0.9 metres (3'). The smaller species such
as the Purple Crowned can be kept in a 1.2 metre (4') long
flight. The usual weather protection is always needed of
Lorikeets should not be fed seed. Having said that, it has
always been my experience that the larger lorikeets, such as
the Rainbow and Scaly, readily eat seed if it is available.
However if seed is made available (and canary seems to be the
most favoured) it should be minor to a diet more suited to
their digestive system. In captivity a nectar and pollen diet
is not practical however there are several recipes for
lorikeet diets available as well as good commercial mixes. My
preference is to have a dry lorikeet mix always available,
with a wet nectar mix
provided fresh each day, along with plentiful fruit. Apple,
pear, grapes, melon, paw paw, mango, oranges and tangerines are
all usually enthusiastically eaten. In fact virtually any
fruit except avocado can be given. Water, both as drinking
and for bathing, is also required.
A commonly used recipe for a dry lorikeet mix used in
Australia by Stan Sindel, a very experienced lorikeet breeder,
is made as follows
Ingredients mixed together dry and stored in air-tight
containers preferably in a fridge.
- 2 cups rice baby cereal
- 2 cups rice flour
- 2 cups egg and biscuit mix
- 1 cup glucose powder
- 1 teaspoon vitamin-mineral powder
- 1 dessertspoon pollen (optional)
A possible wet nectar mix is as follows:
Mix together (it should be a fairly watery mix) and freeze
into ice cube trays. give each bird a melted ice cube (about
a desert spoon in volume) each day.
- 1 litre water
- 1 tablespoons pollen
- 1 tablespoons of honey
- 0.5 litres of high protein baby cereal
- half teaspoon of calcium carbonate
- half teaspoon of multivitamins
- 0.1 litres of powdered skimmed milk
Any nectar bearing, fresh flowers are always greatly
Seven species or subspecies are recognised by Australian aviculturalists. They are:
Note that the Rainbow and Red-collared, while recognised as separate by avicultualists, are generally regarded as only races by most ornithologists. Since they are closely related, they are featured together as the initial Australian Parrot of the Month
Copyright © 1997 Mike Owen - All rights reserved.
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