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Breeding & Caring for Lorikeets
by Paul Stevens


Breeding Pair of Rainbow Lorikeets


Breeding Pair of Red-Collared Lorikeets

Red-Collared Lorikeets Olive cock & normal hen


Olive & Normal Musk Lorikeets

Many people have classed Lorikeets as to hard to care for, and maybe years ago this was probably true. Today though, is a completely different situation, with the idea of suspended cages, availability and price of suitable birds, and of course, new Lori-dry and Lori-wet mixes, Lorikeets can now be quite easily looked after. Of course there will still be those people who will not agree. These people do not give Lorikeets a chance.

To be quite honest, Lorikeets are really impressive birds with their colour, character and wit. They are one of only a few species of birds that stay active all day long. They can keep themselves amused with the slightest of things, which in turn keeps their neighbouring birds amused.

Apart from a few Lorikeets that are mostly green in colour all over, the majority of Lorikeets are very colourful displaying all the colours of the rainbow and more.

Lorikeets are found on most of the world's islands with Australia having seven species. Those being the Little, Purple-crowned, Varied, Musk, Scaly, Red-collared and Rainbow. The Rainbow Lorikeet is the most commonly known of all our lorikeets and is named the “Lory of the Blue Mountains” in other parts of the world. Aviculturists have had mixed success with breeding our Lorikeets but usually they are they are easily bred with the right diet and housing. Without a doubt Scalys and Rainbows are the easiest to breed in captive conditions, they seem to adapt sooner than the other species of Lorikeets. I have kept over the years, all of the Australian Lorikeets except the Varied, but now I only specialize in three species. These being, the Rainbow, Red-collared and the Musk Lorikeets plus a few foreign Lories.

For my Australian Lories I have set up a set of suspended aviaries, as I believe this is the only way to have Lorikeets for easy maintenance and minimum mess. The bank of suspendeds consist of 16 cages measuring 900mm high x 600mm wide x 2meters long. These are fully enclosed with a walkway at the rear to check nest boxes easily. At one end I have a conventional aviary measuring 2meters high x1.8 meters wide x 2.4 meters long and this is only used for holding young birds. In the suspendeds I house 6 pairs of Olive Rainbows, 4 pairs of Olive Red-Collareds, 4pairs of Olive Musks and 2 pairs of foster Rainbows. I relate to Olive pairs, as 1 olive to 1 normal, olive being dominant in Lorikeets, so more olives will be produced over a period of time. Whether the Olive is male or female has no bearing on young Olive birds being produced in my experience.

I have mentioned in other articles, all my aviaries have watering and sprinkler systems, which is a great plus for the caring of Lorikeets. Lorikeets use water quite regularly, both for drinking and bathing. All watering is done at the front of the suspendeds in stainless steel containers, which are cleaned at least twice a week. Calcium Sandoz is given once a week when containers are cleaned.

Feed is also given at the front, again in stainless steel containers and these are cleaned at least three times a week. I feel it is very important to keep feed and water containers clean. I feed dry mix every morning and wet mix given only once a week. Lorikeets make their own wet mix, so in my experience, I don’t feel it is necessary to supply them with a lot of wet mix. My breeding results prove this in my own collection, but other breeders may not agree with it. This is my own opinion.

To go out and buy a commercial dry mix, to feed my lorikeets, would cost me a small fortune so I have been using one I got of a mate and just changed one ingredient. This dry mix is:

2 parts Breadcrumbs

2 parts Rice flower

2 parts Weetbix

1 part Dextrose (or glucose)

1 part Raw Sugar

1/2 part Skim milk powder

3 pkts Farex (rice cereal)

 

1 part = 1 x 2ltr container. This is all blended together and kept in a sealed container. My Lorikeets are all fed a 1/2 apple per pair a day, with pear, corn, orange, endive and spinach given on a regular basis.

Wet mix is given once a week and is my own dry mix, mixed with applesauce and hot water. It is given to the lorikeets in the morning and taken out when finished.

Most people know that Rainbows, Red-collared's and Musk Lorikeets usually lay two eggs, but sometimes can and do lay more. They hatch around 22 to 25 days later. I use a mixture of woodshavings and potting mix for nesting material, which is changed every two weeks when parents are raising their own young to fledging. The nest box is sprayed with Coopex every change to prevent Mites etc. I leave one out of four clutches with the parents to hatch and raise their chicks themselves. I feel this is very important to the parent birds and it also gives my wife a break from hand rearing.

The other three clutches are taken away at two weeks of age to be hand reared by my wife Donna. They are placed in 1or 2 brooders, depending on how many, with the temperature at 27deg cel. From 2 weeks of age they are fed with my wet-mix solution, as mention earlier, 5 times day, with the last feed being at around 11 PM. As they grow older, both temperature and feeding comes down to suit.

As other handrearers know, handrearing birds is a very stressful but enjoyable job with long hours and good patience needed. Handrearing is done with a bent up spoon, not a syringe. Too many unnecessary accidents happen with syringes.

Lorikeets make excellent companions either parent or handraised, but handreared birds stay very quiet. Hand-rearing Lorikeets is a long process but the end results are always rewarding.

In my conclusion to this article, I would like to add that I have had only pleasure in caring for and breeding Lorikeets with very little heartache. I can only ask my fellow aviculturist to give them a try, and maybe you will agree with my thoughts, but then again I am know I’m a bit biased to these great little birds.

Yours in aviculture: Paul Stevens.