Small pet birds and anything related by Pete Etheridge – aka – 'Stanton Birdman'

Continuing our world tour of pet birds and whilst we are in Australia here’s some essential facts about lorikeets and their suitability as pet birds.

Illustration showing brush-like tip to tongue of lorikeet

Unlike many other breeds of parrot the lories and lorikeets are especially adapted to live on a pollen, nectar and fruit diet. A brush like tip to the tongue, long narrow beak and special digestive enzymes are what makes them unique from other parrot type bird species. Small to medium sized and often brightly coloured there are several species from Australia, which all have similar requirements.

An Introduction to Australia Lorikeet Species on YouTube.

There are over 50 species of lories and lorikeets in areas and countries nearby but only about 7 from Australia itself: ‘musk lorikeet’, ‘little lorikeet’, ‘rainbow lorikeet’, ‘varied lorikeet’, ‘scaly-breasted lorikeet’, ‘red-collared lorikeet’, and ‘purple-crowned lorikeet’. I will mention each briefly with pet potential information.


Musk Lorikeet.  Glossopsitta concinna.

Musk Lorikeet

(green keet, red-eared lorikeet) Weighing in at about 60 grams with a length of approximately 22 cm (9 inch).

The musk lorikeet relies mainly on native flowering shrubs and trees for food and can cause some problems in commercial orchards. In the wild the musk lorikeet inhabits coastal woodlands and eucalyptus forests, often in large flocks of several hundred.

Area the musk lorikeet inhabits

Very rare as pets in America and Europe but makes a delightful pet in Australia but still not very popular due to government regulations that require a licence to keep native birds.

Wikipedia article about musk lorikeet.

Click here for Video showing Musk Lorikeet.


Little LorikeetGlossopsitta pusilla.

(red-faced lorikeet, green parakeet) Approximately 40-45 grams and about 15 cm (6 inch) long.

Little lorikeet

Like others in the family the little lorikeet eats mainly fruit, pollen and nectar but prefers to be high in the canopy of trees. In the wild the little lorikeet inhabits East Australian forests, coastal heath and open woodland, and is very sociable often forming large flocks.

Little lorikeet habitation

Not kept as a pet in its native Australia and a very rare pet in Europe and America.

Little lorikeet Wikipedia.

Video of little lorikeet.


Rainbow LorikeetTrichoglossus haematodus Malaccans.

Rainbow lorikeets

(blue mountain lorikeet, green collar lorikeet, bluey, swainson’s loris) 125 grams approximately with a length of about 30 cm (12 inch).

Around flowering trees and sometimes in the company of scaly-breasted lorikeets, the rainbow lorikeet may congregate in noisy flocks of several hundred to roost and eat.

Distribution of the rainbow lorikeet

The rainbow lorikeet is very popular as a pet bird in its native Australia and also quite popular in Europe and America. A pet one can be a good source of amusement as they are always playing, and a young bird can become tame quite quickly.

Rainbow lorikeet on Wikipedia.

Rainbow lorikeet video on YouTube.


Varied LorikeetPsitteuteles versicolor.

About 55 grams and average 19 cm (7.5 inch) long.

Varied lorikeet

In the wild the varied lorikeet is mainly found in large flocks in melaleuca and eucalyptus woodlands in the tropical lowlands of Australia.

Varied lorikeet distribution

Virtually unknown as a pet in America and Europe and very rarely a pet in Australia with just a few in captivity.

Wikipedia about the varied lorikeet.

Video of varied lorikeet.


Scaly-breasted LorikeetTrichoglossus chlorolepidotus.

Scaly-breasted lorikeet

(green and gold lorikeet, greenie) About 75-80 grams and about 23 cm (9.5 inch) in length.

Although common in urban areas where it makes use of nectar rich garden plants, in its natural habitat the scaly-breasted lorikeet will form large flocks, often in the company of rainbow lorikeets. These flocks will travel from tree to tree in the open forested areas of its native land.

Scaly-breasted lorikeet natural distribution area

A quiet pet bird which is also playful and affectionate and can be taught to talk really well. This makes it a popular species of pet bird in Europe, America and its native Australia.

Scaly-breasted lorikeet on Wikipedia.

Scaly-breasted lorikeet video.


Red-collared LorikeetTrichoglossus haematodus rubritorquis.

Red-collared lorikeet

Approximately 125 grams in weight with a length of about 30 cm (12 inch).

Distribution area of the red-collared lorikeet

Unlike most of the other species of lorikeet the red-collared lorikeet prefers to abide as a pair or in a small flock. These move around often due to their food source, the eucalyptus flower being a favourite food so they tend to inhabit the open eucalyptus forests most of the time.

Although good pet birds they are kept in low numbers because of availability and price.

Wikipedia about red-collared lorikeet.

Video of red-collared lorikeet on YouTube.


Purple-crowned LorikeetGlossopsitta porphyrocephala.

Purple-crowned lorikeet

(blue-crowned lorikeet, purple-capped parakeet) About 45 grams and around 16 cm (6 inch) long.

Will form large flocks where food source is plentiful, including urban gardens and orchards. Their natural habitat in the West is in forest areas, whereas in the East they tend to go for coastal heath, mallee and open woodland areas.

Distribution of purple-crowned lorikeets

Not very often kept as pets or companion birds anywhere, but a little more popular as aviary birds.

Purple-crowned lorikeet on Wikipedia.

YouTube video starring the purple-crowned lorikeet.


Accommodation and feeding

A large aviary is not required to keep lorikeets but you really should have a suspended mesh floor on your lorikeet aviary.  This is because the nature of the lorikeet diet produces lots of droppings that are difficult to clean from a solid floor (plus you will be constantly cleaning).   It is much easier and efficient to have a suspended mesh floor so you can then just hose it down to clean.  For the larger lorikeets such as the musk, rainbow, or scaly-breasted an aviary about 8 foot (2.4 metres) long, by 2 foot (0.6 metres), by 3 foot (0.9 metres) is fine.  For the smaller lorikeet species like the purple-crowned for example, an aviary of about 4 foot (1,2 metres), by 2 foot (0.6 metres), by 3 foot (0.9 metres) will be sufficient.  Don’t forget the suspended mesh floor!

Remember that unlike most parrots, lorikeets by nature live mainly on a pollen, nectar and fruit diet so you must give these types of foods to keep them at their best.  The larger species will eat seed but this should by no means be their main diet and should only be given as an extra on occasion.  Of course fresh clean water should always be available to them for bathing as well as drinking and should go without saying.  There are commercially available mixes and recipes for your lorikeets but you may need to shop around a little.  Both dry mixes and wet mixes should be provided every day along with fruit such as apple, pear, grapes, melon, paw paw, mango, oranges and tangerines for example.

Here are a couple of recipes suitable for lorikeets:

Dry recipe.  1 dessert-spoon pollen (optional), 1 cup of glucose powder, 2 cups of rice flour, 2 cups of baby rice cereal, 2 cups of egg & biscuit mix, 1 teaspoon vitamin mineral powder.  Mix all the ingredients together and store in an airtight container in the refrigerator.

Wet nectar recipe.  0.1 litre of powdered skimmed milk, a half teaspoon of calcium carbonate, 1 tablespoon of honey, 1 litre of fresh water, a half teaspoon of multi-vitamins, 0.5 litres of high protein baby cereal, 1 tablespoon of pollen.  Mix all the ingredients together (the resulting mix should be very watery), freeze the mix in ice cube trays.  Serve 1 melted ice cube (1 dessert-spoon) per bird per day.

Of course if you can get hold of some nectar bearing fresh flowers your lorikeets will love them!

Visit my ‘Facebook’ page to see more pictures of lorys and lorikeets

For more about lorikeets click on any of these three links:

Pick up your copy of my pet bird keeping ebook on ‘Amazon Kindle’ by clicking here.

If you prefer the ebook as a ‘pdf’ on CD-rom to use on any PC (including ‘mac’) then click here.  If buying the ‘pdf’ on CD-rom I’ll throw in a free bonus as a special thank you, once your order has been confirmed I’ll email it straight out to you so no waiting for the postal service.

Loads of thanks for your interest!

As Featured On EzineArticles

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