Bright colours combined with clownish characters have made Dusky Lory Parrots popular aviary occupants for many years. Their loud and lively greetings also add flamboyance to them as they strut around in outdoor flights. What has stopped people keeping them as pets?

In the wild, lories feed on a very wide variety of foods. Flowers are their favourites. They use their brush like tongue to gather pollen. It is also long and perfect for reaching into flowers for nectar. Fruit and berries are high on their list of most favourite foods and they will also eat a few insects.

In aviculture, many foods have been fed to lories. They have been fed mashed potatoes, milk and sunflower seeds to name just a few.

The diet of lories has been the reason people have not kept lories as pets. Even now, each breeder has his own preferred diet. The diets vary greatly and this has caused confusion. Most diets are based around a nectar substitute. It is now possible to buy powdered diets to which water is added. These are preferable to some of the home-made mixes as they have been formulated to cater for the lories' calcium, vitamin, mineral requirements. Some breeders are trying different diets for their lories, with dry food being used more often. This is particularly done in hot countries where the nectar substitutes will go bad in the heat. Breeders that advocate dry-based diets also recommend more fruit. Some vegetables will also be offered, for example peas and sweet corn. A dry diet is far less worrying for the pet owner or breeder because it is quite safe to offer it while you are not at home.

The fruit and vegetables can be given when you are around, to monitor the freshness. Lories being fed a nectar substitute are far from ideal as house pets. The resulting droppings can be squirted by the birds - not very suitable for walls and carpets! The nectar needs changing two to four times daily to ensure it is safe to eat - impossible for most owners with busy work schedules away from home.

Lories fed on a dry-based diet and correctly hand-reared, do make excellent pets. They are still a little messier than a seed eating parrot (their droppings are looser, and they are messy eaters) although most of it will be confined to the cage. Perching and cage bars will need regular cleaning.

Due to their untidy eating they will enjoy regular bathing or spraying with tepid water to keep their vivid feathers in top condition. Hand-reared lories are clowns, mimics and a joy to know. They have great talking potential when compared with similar sized parrots.

We have kept and bred the Dusky, Violet Naped, and Green Naped lories which all make great pets. It is worth noting that the colours of Dusky Lories get stronger and brighter as they mature. They are just as much fun as the bigger lories, but their voices are not as clear when talking. All lories will make their presence known by jumping around, burrowing, swinging, climbing and making noise. They are very active, they will greet you first thing in the morning and last thing in the evening they will still be trying to get your attention. I hope more people might consider these wonderful parrots for pets, and enjoy them.

We are grateful to Liz for the contribution of this article which was published in the UK bird keepers magazine.

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