Things To Know About Keeping Citron Cockatoo As a Pet

Citron Cockatoo, Sumba cockatoo, or citron crested cockatoo is a more wonderful and beautiful parrot as compared to other parrots of this species due to various reasons. Though initially they are found on only one Indonesian island but now you can also find cockatoos born in captivities with private breeders for sale. In this write up I am introducing you to citron cockatoo if you want to keep them as pets in your home.

Introduction With Citron Cockatoo

There are 6 subspecies of lesser Sulfur-crested cockatoos and the Citron cockatoo is one of them. Among other subspecies of lesser sulfur crested cockatoos, Citron is a bit quieter, and smallest variety as from head to tail it is just 12 to 15 inches long. Their orange crest makes them different from other subspecies of lesser sulfur-crested cockatoos.

They look amazing due to their orange ear coverts with white plumage and yellow feathers under their tail and wings along with their orange-colored crest. Many people like to have them as pets due to their attractive personalities. In ideal circumstances, they can live up to 50 years in captivity.

Citron crested cockatoo

History And Origin Of Citron Cockatoo

Originally the citron cockatoo belongs to the Sumba and Sunda islands of Indonesia and for that reason earlier they were known as Sumba cockatoo. Citron cockatoos are also found on the Timor and Palau islands near northwest Australia. They usually prefer to live along the edges of tropical forests.

Officially the entire range of native cockatoos, including all the 6 subspecies, has been classified as a rare species because of a decline in their population due to illegal trapping for trading as pets as well as loss of habitat. The small natural range of citron cockatoos is found in closed-canopy-type forests. But their existence is at a greater risk these days due to the rapid disappearance of their habitat due to cutting down forests for sale.

Conservation Of Citron Cockatoos

The main threats to the survival of the species of citron cockatoo included the loss of habitat due to logging and urban development as well as a collection of wild birds. Citron cockatoos are also facing habitat problems due to competition with larger parrots and owls to find nesting sites high above the ground or in hollows in the trees in the forest. Similar to other animals that live on small islands, the citron cockatoo also has to face overnight disasters due to storms and other natural events. So their future is considered to be at great risk.

For this reason, conservationists focus on the survival of the citron cockatoo. In order to stop the extinction of citron cockatoo, a program was initiated by the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species or CITES in 1992. Since then the number of citron cockatoo increased slowly and steadily with the start of recovery efforts.

The Temperament Of Citron Cockatoo

Though as compared to most of the species of cockatoo, citron cockatoos are quieter but they have attractive personalities and love to interact and play with their owners. As compared to other cockatoos citron cockatoo is a bit more reserved by nature and takes somewhat more time to be familiar with the new environment.

This bird is more affectionate and curious than others once it feels comfortable with you. It will like to be as near as possible to its owner. I recommend keeping this species as a pet to the bird owners who have a lot of space and time to spend with it. Generally, as compared to other parrots, cockatoos, especially citron cockatoo, need more human attention.

All species of cockatoos are in general intelligent birds. They can easily learn to do tricks like wave, play fetch, and dance as well as speak.

Vocalization And Speech Of Citron Cockatoos

In the early morning, most of the talker birds are most vocal. Though citron cockatoos are not as skilled at imitating vocals as other parrots still they can have nearly 15 phrases and words in tier vocabulary. As per vocal standards of parrots, citron cockatoos are usually quieter still they can suddenly make startling high-pitched shrieks and loud growing sounds. Those living in condos or apartments may not find citron cockatoos as the right choice as a pet as their vocalization and screams can be a matter of concern for their neighbors.

Feeding And Care For Pet Citron Cockatoos

The cockatoos eat varied and rich diets in the wild including insects, fruits, seeds, and nectar, etc. They usually destroy crops and feed at the plantations of coconut. It is mainly due to the loss of their habitat in the wild.

In captivity, you can start feeding your citron cockatoo with the commercially mixed seed to give it a balanced diet. They need a protein-rich diet because they are strong and big birds. For this reason, you should add chicken meat and cooked rice to its diet along with a lot of fresh vegetables and fruits. The cockatoos of this species can eat anything as they are not choosy by nature. But you should feed them carefully as obesity can be a problem for them.

Common Health Conditions

Due to their larger size citron cockatoos are strong and big parrots. They can live and become a good companion for over 50 years if cared for properly and allowed to live in the best environment. Mostly they grow in common conditions still you have to be careful and pay attention in two conditions including plucking feathers and obesity. A cockatoo can start plucking its feathers when it feels traumatized, neglected, and alone. In such a condition, you should be ready to provide social interaction, attention, and care to your pet.

A citron cockatoo can be at risk for a disease caused by the Chlamydia psittaci bacteria, psittacosis. Respiratory problems, lethargy, and discharge from the eyes are the signs of this disease. It can be treated by giving it antibiotics.

plucking citron cockatoo
Image Credit: Audrey, flickr.

Citron cockatoo can also suffer from nutritional deficiencies which can be prevented by providing it with vitamin supplements or a balanced diet.

Markings And Colors Of Citron-Crested Cockatoo

Mostly citron cockatoos are white with patches of pale orange color on their cheeks as well as undersides of their tail feathers and wings. They also have crests of bright orange color to distinguish them clearly from other subspecies of sulfur crested cockatoos with yellow crest. The beaks of citron cockatoos are greyish black and feet are grey.

Female and male citron cockatoos look similar but they can be differentiated from the color of their eyes. Females have brown eyes whereas males have black eyes. This difference can be noticed only in adult birds from the age of three years to five years.

Citron Cockatoos In Captivity

If you want to keep citron cockatoo as a pet then in my opinion you can find them from private breeders instead of any pet stores. These parrots are regularly bred successfully even if they are not captivated in large numbers.

The main reason for their successful breeding is that if proper accommodation is provided to the mated pair, they can prove to be exceptionally good parents. They lay 2-3 eggs in captivity and incubate them turn by turn for one month. At the age of nearly 90 days, the wing feathers of the young birds start developing still they are fed by their parents for a long time. These youngsters have to leave the nest to find some other accommodation when their parents mate again and start nesting.

Usually, citron cockatoos are curious and friendly as well as considered the quietest of all the other subspecies of cockatoos. However, if they live in a stress-free and sociable environment then they may need more closeness to humans like other cockatoos and unlike other parrots. For their well-being, it is necessary to provide them a large outdoor or indoor cage as well as enough time to remain out of the cage.

Requirements Of The Citron Cockatoo In Captivity

Citron cockatoos need a lot of space to live in even if they are the smallest subspecies of cockatoos. The size of the cage for a citron cockatoo should not be less than 4′ x 4′ x 4′. It is better to have a bigger cage for this bird than a smaller one. This parrot also likes to exercise every day. In my opinion, you should take it out of its enclosure for at least 3 hours to stretch and play. I also recommend you to provide it a lot of durable and safe chew toys and other items to play with as well as interact in the cage.

Citron cockatoo cage
Image Credit: kelly, flickr.

Care For A Citron Cockatoo In Captivity

Citron cockatoos are social birds like all species of cockatoos. So to keep them emotionally healthy, they need a lot of interaction with humans. Though citrons are the smaller species of cockatoos still they need a lot of space to live in. For a citron cockatoo, you will have to arrange at least a 4′ x4′ x4′ indoor or outdoor cage. They may show destructive behavior and start screaming if they feel neglected and lonely. According to some owners, radio or TV can keep citrons engaged if their owner is not able to interact with them as they like to listen to music.

Nutrition And Diet In Captivity

The owners of citron cockatoos have to be careful about the fat intake of their pets as they are likely to gain weight like other cockatoos. They usually eat nuts, seeds, fruits, and berries in the wild but in captivity, they have to be given a healthy diet containing fresh vegetables and fruits as well as high-quality pellets in daily routine and treats of nuts or seeds occasionally. You can also give them a protein-rich diet including cooked meats including chicken etc.

To start with you can give nearly ¼ cup of fresh vegetables and fruits as well as ¼ cup of a formulated diet every day. You can gradually increase its diet as required if it consumes all of the food provided to it. However, you should never give chocolates or avocadoes to citrons as they are toxic food for them.

Routine Exercise

Exercise is a must for all parrots including citron cockatoos. The owners of citrons should allow their pet to spend at least 3-4 hours out of its cage every day to allow it to stretch its muscles and play. These bird owners can also use this time to come in contact with their pets and interact with them. They can also use this time to train their pets to speak and talk to prepare them for the social interaction they crave for.

You can also provide some safe and durable toys to play in the cage as some of the cockatoos have the strongest jaws and beaks among parrots. However, you should often rotate the toys as they can quickly get bored playing with the same toys.

How Citron Cockatoos Are Different From Other Birds

Though as compared to most of the species of cockatoos citron cockatoos are quieter still they have big personalities. Citrons are shyer than other types of birds and for that reason, they can take a bit longer time to be familiar with new people and surroundings. But they are very sociable, as well as interact and play with their owners once they feel comfortable with them. However, as compared to other pet birds citrons are less skilled to imitate vocal sounds.

You may need to read the following article when considering choosing a parrot as your pet:

Where to get a Citron Cockatoo?

If you want to have a citron cockatoo as a pet due to its attractive personality and beautiful colors then you should find a reputed breeder to get it as you may not find them in pet stores. To keep this bird in captivity you must buy a CITES certified bird as trading of the birds born in wild is illegal. While buying a bird from the breeder you must ensure that the bird is active and alert and look healthy with clean feathers, full crops, and bright eyes.

Leave a Comment