Lorikeets are a bit different from other Parrot species. This means there are a few things you will need to consider when training your Lorikeet. One of the main things to think about is what Lorikeets like to eat as a treat. Many Lorikeets like certain kinds of fruits, like bits of grape or apple.
Be sure to use tiny pieces. Lorikeets are very small and can get full very fast on a large piece of fruit. Try to make your pieces of fruit no bigger than a grain of rice. Also expect a little bit of a mess if you plan to use fruit to train your Lorikeet. This is because sometimes Lorikeets like to suck the juices out and leave behind little bits of the fruit. It can get very sticky on your hands.
A nice way around the mess is to use something else that Lorikeets love, nectar. You can buy a powder nectar mix and add water to it. There are also some recipes to make your own version of Lorikeet nectar. You can buy it here.
Check with your veterinarian, breeder or zoo professional who knows about Lorikeet diets to make sure your recipe is healthy. If nectar is not an option, you can also try a small amount of fruit juice. Try to look for pure organic fruit juice. Apple is often a favourite.
When you are ready to train, use a small syringe to suck up a bit of nectar. You don't really need to press on the plunger, when you want to offer your Lorikeet a taste. You can have a small drop hanging off the tip, or simply let your Lorikeet stick his tongue into the syringe. It's important not to press hard on the plunger when you're ready to give your Lorikeet another taste. You don't want to accidentally shoot fluid into your bird's mouth. When this happens sometimes liquid can get into the lungs, which is not healthy for your bird.
Let your Lorikeet have just a few licks every time you want to give him a treat for good behaviour. This is the same idea as offering small bits of fruit. You don't need to give big giant treats every time your Parrot does something that you like. Just a little taste is sufficient. Buy syringes here.
Many Lorikeets are quite curious and will often investigate a syringe right away. It is usually easy to get your Lorikeet to drink nectar from the syringe. Once your bird is doing that, you are ready to train some behaviours.
Lorikeets are fast-moving birds. This means you will need to be on your toes and paying attention. During a training session your bird may be ready for the next step before you are. This means it's a good idea to have each step of your training session planned before you bring your bird out for training. This way you'll know exactly what to do next once your bird has mastered a step in your training plan.
Even though Lorikeets are small, they can learn all the same behaviours that other Parrots are trained to present. This can include targeting, flying to your hand, turning around in a circle on cue, and retrieving an item.
Because Lorikeets often hop, I think hopping on cue is a fun behaviour to train them to do. If you are using a syringe to deliver nectar during training, you will find your Lorikeet will learn to orient towards it just like the target stick. You can use this to help train behaviours like turning around in a circle or hopping onto a scale.
Lorikeets are often considered to be the clowns of the avian world because they are so playful. These are birds that are always on the go and eager to explore and investigate. These qualities also make them great candidates for training. I hope you get the chance to train a Lorikeet. It is guaranteed to be fun!
For more on training and behaviour please click here.
Barbara Heidenreich has been a professional animal trainer since 1990. Her company Good Bird Inc (www.GoodBirdInc.com) provides Parrot training DVDs, books and workshops. She has been a featured speaker in twenty countries and has been published in nine languages. Barbara also consults on animal training in zoos.
For more information on how to train your Parrot visit Good Bird Inc
Copyright 2014 First appears in Fledglings Magazine by The Parrot Society of Australia
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