Lories and Lorikeets - General

By Gregory Rich, DVM; Rick Axelson, DVM

lory perching with lorikeetsGeneral Characteristics

There are approximately 50 species of lories and lorikeets (subfamily Loriidae) distributed throughout southeastern Asia, Papua New Guinea, Australia, and Polynesia. These birds come in a delightful assortment of sizes and brilliant, glossy colors. The only significant difference between lories and lorikeets is in their tails. Lorikeets have longer, more slender tails compared to the short and blunt tails of lories.

These birds have effervescent personalities and inquisitive natures. They can be fun-loving, loud, cocky, comical, and obnoxious trouble-making clowns all in the same day. They have adjusted well to captivity and can be charming pets, as they are also entertaining and affectionate. They spend a lot of their day hopping, hanging upside down, playing, and exploring. They need a spacious cage or large play area with various hanging and "grabbing" toys to accommodate their behavioral needs.

Lories and lorikeets are reasonably high-maintenance pets. They are easily bored with the same daily routine. They need a special liquid diet along with fresh fruit daily. They are known to be messy eaters. A consequence of feeding this necessary liquid diet is the resulting liquid and often projectile droppings. Fortunately, bathing is one of their favorite daily occupations. Lories and lorikeets are not known to be friendly with other birds and may attack other birds in the home.

Purchasing a lory or lorikeet

group of rainbow lorikeets feedingLories and lorikeets can be purchased from a pet store or a reputable breeder. When selecting a lory or lorikeet, try to choose a young bird, as it may be easier to tame and train. Older, wild-caught, colony-raised, or parent-raised birds may prove challenging to tame. Hand-raised babies often make better pets since they have been socialized with humans and are less likely to have learned aggressive behaviors. Young birds are easier to tame and adapt to new environments and situations more readily. Your new bird should be exposed early to different events (young and old people, males and females, other pets, car trips, visits to the veterinarian, etc.) to help promote a calm, well-adjusted pet. After purchasing your new bird, have it examined by an avian veterinarian.

Veterinary Care

Lories and lorikeets require regular, routine veterinary health check-ups. Your veterinarian can perform a physical examination, grooming (beak, nail, and/or feather trims as necessary), and laboratory tests as needed. Health, nutritional, and maintenance issues can be identified and addressed during these semi-annual checkups. Veterinary check-ups help prevent disease and will aid in the maintenance of a long-lasting, healthy relationship between you and your bird. As lories and lorikeets are prone to a specific liver disease called hemochromatosis or iron storage disease, it is recommended to run liver function tests every couple of years.

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