An Australian genus of broad-tailed parrots, the genus Neophema
comprises six species of small parrots commonly called grass parakeets or grass parrots or grasskeets. Of the six species, the Scarlet-chested Parrot or Splendid Parrot, Turquoise Parrot or Turquiosine Parakeet, and Elegant Parrot are commonly bred in captivity, along with a number of color mutations. This genus has some sexual dichromatism, with the males having brighter coloring than females.
These birds are not recommended as pets, as they are considered introverted and quiet (compared to the extroverted budgie) and do best as aviary birds or in large flight cages. For a hobbyist with a mixed aviary, Scarlet-chesteds get along well with other small harmless birds (i.e. doves and finches, even Cockatiels). Turquoisines and Elegants can also be kept in community flights, but may become quarrelsome during mating season.
Grasskeets kept in outdoor aviaries in warmer climates are susceptible to Candida infections. To avoid this their food and water dishes must be kept clean and any uneaten fruits or vegetables be removed from the aviary within one hour after feeding. Vitamins and minerals in their water is not recommended for this reason as well.
They are described as tender birds (not for beginners), that may die without apparent cause, succumbing to aviary mobbing or disease. Pairs kept in cages as pets are described as sluggish and unhealthy. Given the best circumstances, they have a 10-year life expectancy.
In the wild, these birds spend the majority of their day foraging for their regular staple of grass seeds. In an aviary, they would require a quality parakeet seed, the occasional spray of millet as a treat, cuttlebone and fresh water daily, as well as fresh fruit and vegetables (i.e. apples, kale, broccoli, carrot, corn and wheat grass is recommended).Scarlet-chested Parrot
Approximately 8” in length and 40 grams, the Scarlet-chested Parrot (Neophema splendida
) or Splendid Parrot is often the most popular, however this species is also the most tender of the grass parakeets. These parakeets hate moisture and are sensitive to temperature extremes and are very susceptible to Candida infections. However once established in a suitable environment, they readily eat all kinds of fruit and vegetables and they have trusting nature, appearing tame. Bonded pairs are very attentive. They are predominantly green and the males have a bright blue face and scarlet chest and yellow underparts, while females are similar but lack the red chest. There are several mutations to this species including the sea green, the par blue, the white-breasted blue, cinnamon, silver, lutino and pied Scarlet-chested parakeets.Turquoise Parrot
The Turquoise Parrot (Neophema pulchella
) or Turquoisine Parakeet is also approximately 8” in length and 40 grams. They are predominantly green, but while the male is characterized with a turquoise blue face, chestnut shoulders and red wing bards, females are generally paler without the shoulder patch of chestnut. Although hardier than the Scarlet-chested, they still require protection from moisture and cold. Pairs tend to bicker, as hens are feisty with the males, while males should be watched for aggressive toward fledged sons. Mutations include the yellow Turquoisine, red-fronted, red-fronted yellow, pied and red-bellied. Elegant Parrot
While not as popular as their brighter relatives, the predominantly golden olive green Elegant Parakeet (Neophema elegans
) is comparatively hardy and easy to care for. Approximately 9” in length and 45-50 grams, they have a two-tone blue brow band and a yellow abdomen and vent. The outer flight feathers are dark blue and the tail has shades of green and blue. Occasionally they have red thumbnail splashes on their abdomens. They have graceful courtship displays where the male rises to his full height and bows to the hen. Mutations include lutino, cinnamon and pied Elegants.