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Suggestions for College/University Student

shubamei

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Hello!

I'm currently looking into (possibly) owning a cockatiel while in college/university, so I was wondering if anyone knows the feasibility of this? I've always dreamed of owning a cockatiel so now here I am, trying to look for a sense of what it could be like. I'm definitely not going to make any decisions until I have a full perspective view on all of the possible problems that could arise, so any input would be greatly appreciated!

Here's my current situation: living alone off campus (pets are allowed in this building), but one issue is that I'll be moving around quite often (at most once every 4 months, maybe once a year) although this would only be for the next 4-5 years. I do realize that this will definitely make moving much more complicated--and also possibly be stressful for the bird--but as not all cockatiels are the same, I'm just looking into the possibilities of what could happen.

Another thing to consider would be the time commitment. I've thought about this (and will continue on doing so) but assuming I'm able to handle my workload, around how much time commitment would it take at minimum? I'll most likely be spending the time not in class at home, so assuming (at maximum) a full day of classes, I would be at home from at least 6pm in the evenings on weekdays, and mostly at home during the weekends.

One final thing that I'd like to add would be the cost. Specifically, I was wondering how often I could expect to make a visit to the vet and/or how much would medical fees cost on average per month? On top of this, are there be any other expenses to note when taking care of a cockatiel (or just birds in general)?

Again, I'm just looking at the possibilities and won't make any decisions until I've gained a full perspective on the situation.
If there's anything else that I missed, or should note, I'd greatly appreciate if you could let me know!

Thanks in advance :)
 

Zara

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I was wondering how often I could expect to make a visit to the vet and/or how much would medical fees cost on average per month?
You would need a check up once bringing home a new bird. From there on, it really depends. Some birds end up ill often and need more vet trips, others don´t. Maybe they have an accident and need a vet trip. Maybe they have an accident in the middle of the night and you have to fork out for the expensive emergency vet.
It´s incredibly hard to say how much, but you could get insurance. Though I don´t know exactly what it would cover so you would have to read the fine print.

On top of this, are there be any other expenses to note when taking care of a cockatiel (or just birds in general)?
Toys. Food. Boarding/sitter (if you go on holiday).
Toys will de destroyed, shreddables don´t last long but are fun toys so they will need replaced as and when. Pellets are more expensive than cheap seeds but offer better nutrition.
 

tka

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Hello :) I'm a university lecturer ("professor" in the UK is a very senior title and I'm a good 15 years away from that!) and I'm here to tell you that this is probably the worst possible time to commit to a bird.

The work you do at university will be a lot more demanding than what's you're doing now. You will be expected to do a lot more independent work and take responsibility for your own learning, so while you may have fewer scheduled contact hours, you will be expected to be doing independent reading, making notes, writing essays or doing problem sets, maybe taking part in study group sessions. We can tell when students aren't putting in the hours we expect from them. You may have opportunities to study abroad or to do fieldwork, depending on your subject. I know people who studied or worked in in Austria, Germany, Ghana, New Zealand and Tanzania. One of my friends is currently doing a masters and is studying Arctic Biology because they feel in love with it as an undergraduate.

It is often difficult to find off-campus accommodation that allows birds. Unless you can afford to live alone, you will probably be sharing a flat or a house with housemates. Your housemates may be irresponsible and leave windows and doors open, be unwilling to use teflon-free kitchen equipment (pans, baking trays, waffle makers etc), smoke, use candles/incense or like to play loud music or computer games when the bird is asleep.

You will also have many other commitments that may not give you enough time to care for a bird properly - anything from volunteer work to sports. My students do everything from student journalism, work in a community garden, lead student societies and so on.

A lot of my students work part-time and often find it very challenging to balance their studies with work. A lot of them work in the evenings (generally in restaurants or bars) or at weekends (generally in retail). Sometimes they get the balance wrong and find that work cuts into their studying time which means that they do less well than they could have done in assessments. Adding a bird - who needs at least two to three hours out of cage time every day and your company - to this mix will only make it harder to find that balance.

After finishing university, many new graduates will find themselves working long hours, perhaps freelancing or working multiple jobs, doing additional training or moving around a lot. Many people rent an apartment or live in a shared rented house rather than own their own property, and it can again be difficult finding a place that will accept pets. If you're moving frequently, you need to make sure that every single one of your moves is into somewhere that allows pets, and this will likely be very difficult.

Bird veterinary care can be eye-wateringly expensive. I've heard anything between £30-90 for just a consultation. A full health check involves blood tests, faecal tests and crop swabs. These can cost several hundred pounds/euros/dollars just for screening. If the bird gets sick, treatment can cost thousands. If you aren't earning your own money you must have your parent(s) or guardian(s) on-board, aware of veterinary costs and willing to pay them. You must have a very honest conversation about exotic vet prices and their willingness to pay them, and at what point they deem treatment too expensive. It is absolutely heartbreaking when a teenager posts here about their extremely sick bird but tells us that their parents refuse to take the bird to the vet. The bird usually dies, often in pain or with needless suffering.

The next decade or two of your life is going to involve lots of changes, many of which you may not be able to predict. You've got to think about what's fair on both you and a potential bird. It's not fair on a bird if you're unable to spend time with it or can't afford vet treatment. Equally, it's not fair on you to miss out on rewarding, enjoyable and/or valuable things or potential careers because you're responsible for a being with toddler level needs.
 

Mizzely

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Costs vary for sure.

For a cage you'll want to make sure you have a flight cage (footprint of about 32 in x 20in) so your bird can move around while you are out. Expect to pay $100 to $200 for a basic cage.

Then it usually costs another $100 to $200 for initial set up items... Perches, bowls, toys, cleaners, etc.

Monthly expenses will depend on the bird, their habits, food, toy preferences, etc. For my smaller birds, I would estimate I spent about $35 a month. That's pellets, seeds, toys, cleaner, fresh foods, etc. Right now my Jardine's costs me about $70 a month.

Vet visits there are so many factors. I don't remember the last time my vet visits for birds was under $200. First time visit with a good health screen are about $400 for me. And that's for a presumed healthy bird. Check to see the availability of vets too. My closest actual avian vet right now is 3 hours away since mine is no longer practicing :(

Is it impossible to have birds in college? No. But it is a challenge. I moved 4 or 5 times in the last 10 years with birds and while the birds always adjusted just fine, it's stressful worrying about neighbors with noise complaints, inspections and maintenance you have no control over (spraying pesticides, painting, etc that can be harmful), and finding the next place that allows pets sometimes felt impossible.
 

sunnysmom

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Cockatiels are amazing birds and wonderful companions. However, I would really think about the limitations of owning a bird at this point in your life. It works for some people, and not knowing you, I won't say you can't make it work. But even as an adult, I sometimes feel the pressure of bird ownership. I've turned down dinner invitations. Left events early. Just not gone places at all because of my birds. You are young and in college. Do you want to go to social events at night? Go on spring break? Study abroad? Do an internship in a different city? These are all things which you might not be able to do with a bird.

As for vet bills, it really depends on where you live. Vet prices can differ in different parts of the country. And it depends on you bird. My first bird was sick a lot in the beginning. I was taking him to the vet probably 5 times a year. With testing and medicine, each vet visit was probably $180 (which is actually pretty inexpensive for a vet visit), except for the time I had to go to the emergency vet and it was more like $300. My current two tiels, I just take them for the annual exam and then a nail trim or two. Annual exam is about $89 and nail trims are $15.
 

shubamei

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Thanks all for the replies! Honestly, I was expecting to get replies like this, but I just had to try to make sure. It's unfortunate but I guess that's just the reality of things. I'm definitely not going to give up in the future, but I guess for now I'll just have to wait. I've definitely put a lot of thought into the restrictions that comes with owning a bird, but all of your input has given me even more insight so that I'll be able to judge when it is possible for me to commit to a bird.
 

Tazlima

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You've already gotten great advice above. Just wanted to add an anecdote.

When I was in my 20s, I was renting a room in a shared house. When I moved in, I had a dog, and one of my housemates had a dog, Cookie. Through *insert long story here*, I ended up getting a second dog. I hadn't intended to get a 2nd dog, because finding a rental with one dog had been challenging enough, but I wasn't too concerned, because I knew most places that permitted pets had a two-pet limit, so I was good.

Then, after about a year of living together, my housemate died unexpectedly.

Nobody wanted Cookie.

It wasn't her fault. She was a sweetie pie, an all-around good doggo, but my housemate's parents weren't in a position to take her, and none of his friends were prepared to adopt a a dog.

I had lived with Cookie for a year already. She was buddies with my dogs and liked me, and she had just had her heart broken by losing her person. I couldn't kick her to the curb.

I also knew that with THREE dogs (all well over 25 lbs), I would likely never find a rental again. Not only that, but I wanted to move ASAP; staying in the house where my friend had died was too hard.

And that's the story of how I ended up becoming a property owner. I literally bought a house just so I could keep my dogs.

15 years later, I still live in that house. Would I still live here if I hadn't purchased that place? Probably not. What might I have spent my money on if I weren't always having to repair or replace something? What jobs could I have pursued if I had the option to travel extensively? The decision to adopt Cookie literally shaped the trajectory of my entire adult life, even years after her own eventual death.

I don't regret my decision. I love my little house and I love my adopted city. But I have to admit, if someone had told me when I met Cookie that she would be the catalyst for half my life decisions... I wouldn't have believed them. Who would think a 40-lb furball, someone else's pet, had that kind of power?
 
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Sparkles99

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I’m glad you kept Cookie & am certain you’ll be blest for having done so.
 

Shannan

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I was 16 when I got my parrot and although it was a challenge at times, I don't regret getting him at that age. Walter was my consistent throughout it all. That said, it does help considerably if you have someone (parents, best friend, relative) who is willing to take on your bird during transitions in your life, that WILL happen because you are young and not yet settled. My family was willing for a time until my mom became allergic to birds at which time, my best friend was able to step in when needed. Walter spent a summer with my best friend twice. I would definitely save up some money before getting the bird as an emergency vet fund. I don't know if they have it but pet insurance might be really helpful if it is not outrageous. A smaller bird like a cockatiel, finch or budgie will be easier to convince landlords because the landlords are mostly interested in their rentals not being damaged. Also, when you do find a good landlord, ask them to let you know ahead of time whenever they are spraying for bugs as you will want to remove your bird for the day and air out your space. You will generally find better luck with houses than apartments but they can sometimes be pricey depending on where you are. Roommates are also something to consider. Another thing you might consider instead of owning a bird, is to check in with a rescue, pet store, or avian vet and foster. Also find other parrot owners in your area and pet sit. You will meet many birds and then when your life settles down you will have both experience and Know what kind of bird suits your personality. I worked at a pet store where my job was to train the birds. It was a lot of fun and I got to experience a lot of different breeds of birds. The one thing I did give up for Walter was joining the Department of Defense schools as I wanted to teach overseas but could not bring myself to make Walter go through quarantine. (Oh and I am pretty sure that Walter may have scared away a boyfriend or two but then again, he made sure I married a great guy). Good luck with whatever decision you make!
 
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