How Much Does A Cape Cost?
By Craig Harris
How much does a Cape Parrot cost? That is one of the first questions people ask after they meet my Cape Parrot Thor. The short answer is I paid $1100 for him. The real answer is that he cost quite a bit more than that. If you are really interested in obtaining a Cape Parrot or any parrot for that matter read on.
Here is what it costs to bring a Cape Parrot home:
|Bird (including shipping)||$1200-$1900|
Don’t forget that once you have purchased all this stuff and brought your new bird home you are still not done! There are many ongoing costs that you will need to account for over the next twenty to forty years.
The ongoing costs include:
|Food||$10-$50 per month|
|Toys||$20-$50 per month|
|Cleaning Supplies||$10-$20 per month|
BIRD – Cape Parrots are rare and as a consequence quite a bit more expensive than other members of the Poicephalus family. The price can vary quite a bit depending on where you buy your bird. Pet stores tend to charge significantly more than breeders. Many breeders charge more for females than males. Don’t shop for price, shop for a healthy well socialized bird. Buy your bird from someone you trust.
CAGE – Cage prices can vary a lot depending on size and quality. You could probably find a parrot cage for as little as $50 or you could easily spend many thousands of dollars on a custom stainless steel model. Capes are an active medium sized parrot with a very powerful beak. You need to buy a good sized quality cage not just for them but all they toys they love. Follow the usual recommendation and get the largest cage you have room for. We recommend you get a cage dimensions of around 3’W x 3’H x 2’D. You can find cages of this size for around $300 at bird shows. A quality cage such as a California Cage or King’s Cage will run $500-$600. Capes can live in a smaller cage but if you go this route your bird MUST be able to spend most of their waking hours outside the cage.
CROCKS – Most cages come with only 2 crocks for food and water. Bacteria from dirty water and food bowls are major causes of illness and death of parrots. To make it easier to keep clean food bowls in the cage I recommend you get several spare sets. You will be much less likely to get lazy and leave old water and food in the cage if you have a supply of clean crocks at the ready.
Toys – What can I say Capes love their toys, both foot and hanging toys. You need to provide them with lots of toys. Expect to pay $9-$25 for each hanging and $2-$5 for each foot toy. Some of the toys will be destroyed by the bird and need to be replaced. Some toys will be indestructible, and while they will last you will need to rotate them with other toys every couple of weeks to keep your bird from becoming board with them. Remember that your bird will need toys not only in his cage but also on his play stand and in his travel carrier.
Perches – Most cages only come with one perch and often it is made of a plain dowel and/or is the wrong size for a Capes feet. Capes love to climb around their cages and like several perches. Capes have big feet and seem to like perches around 3/4″-1″ in diameter. You should provide perches in a variety of diameters. Perches with bark are popular as ripping the bark off can be great fun. One of the perches should of the cement style to help trim your birds nails. You might also want to try a swing as many Capes love them.
Play stand – Your bird will need a place to call his own when out of his cage. Some cages have a play stand built on the top. These are really great and we recommend them, however unless you live in a very small place it probably won’t be enough. You will need another play stand (perhaps several) for times when the flocks activity moves away from the cage. Play stands can vary from a simple “T” stand bolted to a pizza plate to very elaborate structures on trays with casters. What ever type of play stand you choose make sure it is sturdy enough to support a Cape at play, it should also have food and water bowls, and a place for a hanging toy. We use a small table top model which I built myself. It moves from the coffee table to a dining room chair at meal times. We also have a homemade perch in the shower and a “boing” type perch by the patio door so that Thor can be near us just about anywhere we go.
Travel Carrier – If your bird doesn’t go anywhere else he will still need to visit the Vet. on a regular basis and need a travel carrier. A Cape will fit nicely into a standard cat carrier available in most pet stores for about $20, you will just need to bolt in a piece of dowel for a perch. There are many bird carriers on the market with prices ranging from $80-$180 for Cape sized carriers. Make sure the carrier you choose has lots of ventilation. Be very careful of plastic carriers in warm climates as they can get very hot inside.
Food – When you first get your bird ask what diet it is used to and try to reproduce it exactly. You can modify the birds diet after he has settled into his new home. A typical diet might include pellets, soak-n-cook, Nutriberries, fruit and vegetables, millet and nuts. Pellets cost $8-$25 for a months supply depending on the brand. Roudybush is very good and reasonably priced. Harrison’s is considered the best and is much more expensive. Nutriberries, a $7 tub will last about a month. A $5 bag of soak-n-cook will last a couple of months. Fruit and vegetables need not cost much since you can share with your bird. You may find yourself eating better so you can have good stuff for your bird. $2 of millet will last at least a month. Finally a good assortment of nuts. We buy Thor’s nuts at the organic food store. Be prepared for sticker shock, we bought Thor a couple table spoons of each nut to see what he liked and spent over $20. His favorite pine nuts cost $15 a pound. Your vet. may have additional suggestions for your birds diet and you will find an abundance of expensive treats at your pet store.
Vet. – The first thing you should always do after bringing a new bird home is see your Vet. Do this no more than a couple days after you get your bird. Most breeders warrantees are only good for 3 days to a week so get your bird checked out. Your initial check up will cost about $50 in most places. You will be asked if you want to do blood tests, do all the tests your Vet. recommends. The blood tests will add about $200 to your bill but can uncover many problems un-detectable by physical examination. The blood panel will also provide your Vet. a base line of reference in case problems develop down the road.
Medical Savings – Some people may argue with me on this but I believe that as a member of your family your pet deserves the same level of medical care as any other member of your family. You should never deny your pet medical care just because you can’t afford it! You never know when an accident or illness may happen so you should always have some cash set aside to take care of it. Vet. bills can add up fast and I see $500 as a bare minimum. Most Vets. take credit cards or accept payments but instead of letting Vet. bills become a burden put a little cash aside ahead of time.
Scale – A scale is a basic bird supply which is often overlooked. Since parrots are prey animals they will try and hide signs of illness. A scale is one of your best tools for detecting a sick bird. You will need a scale which reads in 1 gram increments and can handle at least 500 grams. You should be able to get a scale at most any office supply store for between $70 and $120.
Emergency Supplies – You never know when an accident may happen. Having something as simple as some blood clotting powder handy could save your birds life. You can pick up a bird first aid kit at most bird stores for around $25. If they don’t offer a ready made kit they should be able to help you piece together all the supplies you need. Be sure to read how to use them before disaster strikes!
Cleaning Supplies – If you don’t know already you will soon learn that parrots excel at making messes. You will need a bird safe cleaner such as “Poop Off”, around $10 a bottle, for cleaning bird dropping’s off the cage and perches (Note: Thor doesn’t like to poop in his cage so it is very easy to keep clean. I don’t know if all Capes are like this). You will need lots of paper towels for wiping up messes (we buy the 15 roll pack at Costco for just one bird). I also recommend a “Dust Buster” type vacuum, around $25, as a necessary appliance. You should also have some plain bleach on hand. Mix water with bleach at a 32:1 ratio and wash all new new toys, perches, etc. with the mix before you give them to your bird.
Towels – You are going to need a bunch of towels to play the “Towel Game”, wrap your bird for nail clippings etc., and to keep yourself from being pooped on. Perhaps now is a good time to buy new towels for the house and donate your old ones to the bird.
Misc. – What can I say, you are going to spend a ton of money on things you never knew you needed or wanted. Some of these things might include: books, magazines, behaviorist advice, bird club dues, bird show tickets, gifts with Cape pictures on them, bird leash, “Teach Your Parrot to Talk” software, parrot conservation donations, and on and on and on…
Total Cost – Well this is what it all comes down to, a bird which can cost as little as $1100 will end up costing you at least $2300 and could cost more than $4000 up front. In addition to that you are looking at $40-$140 a month to take care of your bird. Could you cut corners and do it for less? Sure you can but why would you, your pet deserves the best you can give it.
In this article I have outlined the costs in dollars of owning a Cape Parrot, the real cost is time! A Cape Parrot is not a pet, it is a member of your family. Think of a Cape Parrot as a little person, the bird certainly will! You will be spending hours everyday changing food and water, washing bowls cages and toys, sweeping and vacuuming, along with training loving and entertaining your bird. This will continue non-stop for the next 30-40 years! It has been said that a parrot has the intelligence of a 3 year old child and the emotional maturity of a 2 year old, and it will never grow up. Think long and hard about this before you bring a parrot into your life. Remember that the bird will be part of your life but you will be the birds entire life. That is a big responsibility, don’t take it lightly.
When assembling this list I tried to remember everything I needed to get for baby Thor. If you feel there is something I missed please make a comment below.
How Much Does A Cape Cost?
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