All About Scaly Breasted Lorikeets: Pet Birds and Wild Birds

I have a scaly breasted lorikeet, Artie, who has a big personality. I love sharing what I've learned about these beautiful birds.

Life With My Pet Lorikeet, Artie

I have a four-year-old scaly breasted lorikeet called Artie. He is pretty much always talking, muttering, screeching, whistling or singing, depending on his mood. He constantly calls the dog, whistles at the dog, calls to the wild birds or is talking to his companion bird, a green-cheeked conure. That is, when he is not screeching!

Artie knows me by name and says hello to me when I come home from work. Apparently he asks where I am when I am not home. Artie also talks to himself. He says "Good boy, Artie" to himself a lot, and when he sees something he likes, he says "Look, Artie."

Not only can Artie recognise people and other animals, but he knows specific words for food and other activities. He is an excellent mimic and copies the cries of wild birds. It is not unusual to hear Artie making magpie, minor, cockatoo and corella noises. Lorikeets are definitely not quiet birds!

Basic Facts About These Birds

  • The technical name for the scaly breasted lorikeet is Trichoglossus haematodus chlorolepidotus. They are about 23 cms in size and weigh an average 86 grams.
  • They are usually smaller than rainbow lorikeets.
  • They are mostly green in colour and are easy to tell apart from the more colourful rainbows.
  • They have little red 'epaulettes' and varying degrees of little yellow flecks on their chests and neck areas.
  • Their beaks are red.
  • They can sometimes be yellow or blue instead of green due to an unusual mutation.
  • They can also come in cinnamon and jade colours, which are even rarer mutations.

Background and Diet

Scaly breasted lorikeets are a member of the parrot family. A native bird of Australia, they live in urban and rural areas of coastal Eastern Australia from Cape York down to about Wollongong in New South Wales.

They are not currently at risk of extinction, although I understand their numbers are reducing in Sydney due to fighting a losing battle with rainbow lorikeets over food sources. They are sold in many pet stores around the world and are relatively easy to obtain (unless your country has a restriction on the sale of certain birds).

They eat nectar and fruits and can often be seen squawking and eating in groups in trees including grevillea, acacia, eucalyptus, banksia, melaleuca, and any fruit-bearing or pollen-producing tree or shrub. Sometimes they also eat grains and seeds, but they primarily prefer sweet things.

How to Keep a Scaly Breasted Lorikeet

Based on my experience with Artie, here is some advice on caring for your lorikeet.

Prepare for Messes

Lorikeets are really messy birds. Their faeces are wet, almost all liquid at times. They like to 'squirt' everywhere.

This means that it is easier for them to pick up diseases and conditions than a lot of other birds, even though they seem more robust to me. (Maybe Artie has never been sick because his cage is cleaned every day.) This can happen if they 'squirt' into their food container and then eat it later.

The most important thing to know is that their cages and aviaries must be kept clean. A useful tip is to place the food containers higher up on the sides of the aviary to reduce the chances of contamination.


Also important is to provide fresh fruit and veggies every day as well as the special lorikeet food. I cut up little bits of fruit and veggies for the birds every morning and they also get fresh water.

Artie loves apples, oranges, pears, grapes, lettuce, carrots, spinach, pineapple, watermelon, paw-paw, strawberries, plums, apricots, and any other fruits. He hates bananas.

Schedule and Activity

They sleep in cages inside at night. In the morning, they go out into their aviaries for the day where they can see the wild birds and get some fresh air. In the afternoon or evening when I get home from work, they come inside to be with each other and with the family for a few hours before bedtime.

Lorikeets need entertainment and can be destructive if bored. I made a bird gym for them and they play on it in the family room. This keeps the mess isolated to that area.

Artie loves music and will sing along; he will also pay attention to the TV. Sometimes he will get really mad if he doesn't like a particular show or movie. He really hated Vampires Suck. He screeched so badly every time the music got loud that I had to put him to bed. It was a pretty awful flick, so he was on the money there! One time he got really scared when we were watching a horror movie and screamed and screamed as the killer was chasing the girl to do away with her.

Like all lorikeets, Artie needs to be played with regularly or he will not stay tame. A good game is to play tug of war with a bit of string (it must be large enough for him to hold with his beak).

Lorikeet Behaviour: Weird Things Artie Does

Artie is naughty by nature. One of his favorite games is to tip over his water bowl and then kill himself laughing. He laughs his head off when I tell him off and then re-fill it. Then he just does it again.

He loves playing with a tennis ball. He laughs as he rolls it around and pushes it with his feet and beak. He likes to play with all sorts of toys—ropes, balls, things to chew. If I do not give him enough toys, he will destroy the furniture. He adores teasing the dog and especially likes to bite his ears, as you can see in the video below.

Like other lorikeets, Artie is domineering. He can get very territorial and does not like it when some people reach into his aviary or try to play with our other bird, whom he regards as 'his.' He doesn't mind me, but he will often not let others enter his domain. He dominates the other bird, so now I have a 'split' aviary. This really works as they are together but separated, and the other bird can get enough food.

If you had to sum Artie up in two words, it would be adorable ratbag!

Artie and Our Long-Suffering Whippet

Should You Get One?

Lorikeets are not for the faint-hearted! If you want a gentle, sweet-natured bird who will cuddle up, do not get a lorikeet.

Lorikeets are rough and tumble birds. Sometimes they get agitated and will bite. On the other hand, they are incredibly funny, intelligent and interesting. They are the larrikins of the bird world.

Artie is more like a little green dog than a bird at times! I really enjoy him, but others might not.

Annette on September 06, 2020:

Was just wondering how long can I leave my Lori alone. I work 12 hours 3 days a week and I take her with me but I would love to leave her home sometime and also should I get her another bird for company.

valerie mcdonald on May 18, 2020:

I have a s/b/loriket how long do you give them wet food

Suzie Davies on October 15, 2019:

My male scaly is wanting to mate everything a lot of his feathers have fallen out, it was recommended that I take out his toys, now I want to know how to help grow his feathers it has been awhile and not coming back

Summer Millar on March 30, 2018:

Hi, My Dad and I found a Lorikeet trapped in some blueberry nets near our house. Its wings and feet were tangled in the netting and now it can't fly

Dot on March 10, 2018:

Hi Mel. I inherited a rainbow lorikeet when I went to pick up some books. Owners were going overseas and had nowhere to put him, and me being a sucker for orphans. He cant fly, apparently they picked him up off the ground and hand raised him. He has a damaged wing, and cant fly. It would appear he was kept in a small cage for the 5 years, but well looked after, although not taken out of the cage. We call it a he but we dont exactly know. Being 5+, he doesnt talk at all, he doesnt really play that much if at all with toys we bought, but we have put him into a very much bigger cage, and he has the run of the house during the day. He loves hiding under a box, picks it up, and gets under it and will do this for hours screeching all the time. His other enjoyment is depiling the carpet in our back room which is now ruined, but oh well. He has managed to work out the different rooms and usually finds me in the office where I have a portable perch. Also the only food he will eat is the bought nectar and pink lady apples. My reason for writing is that at times if I am busy in the office, he will cuddle up to my right hand, close his eyes and squawk every 10 seconds or so. This can go on for a while. Do you have any idea why he would do that. Btw his name is Trinity as he was found outside the Trinity church.

Jivan Leela on March 12, 2017:

Hi Mel, great article thankyou , I have two of the little feather trumpets..Monkee & Peanut,...needless to say I adore them and also now have tinnitus, but that's family for you isn't it.

We were given Monkee as a baby as he was a runner, at the time we didn't know, I was looking after him for a wilvo friend until he got his flight feathers and tail but it never happened of course. He is now three and a strapping healthy boy, a great mimicker and boy can he move fast and bite around his territory!!!!!

I am a musician so they keep me company during all rehearsals, although to be honest I am not sure who is louder! I taught Monkee how to play a drum and he has his own glockenspiels and even has a go at the gasong drum...he used to play all the time, especially on swings and with bottle lids..however, I got him a little female for company and now he is such a domineering little bugger, plays less but does protect her really well....

My only challenge is getting babysitters for them on occasion when I finally want to go away for a couple of days, I did have one lady but she had to retire...I live on the sunshine Coast...any ideas anyone?

Amparo on January 31, 2017:

I got the most playfull and same as your loreeke and his name is Kikito 8 months old, never bit me and today when i came from work he was talking as always he does , and when I got him on my soulder , he atack me biting me on my neck and finger , and scriming and be so agresive mood, so , I put him back on his cage and lock him , his never lock in always free inside of my house, but he was so agresive so I spray water and lock him,

my question is is that ok what i did , im feeling sad because we got so trusted between eachether,never bit me before:(

jesse on March 28, 2014:

maxie, it is a shame i only just saw your comment know! i have a scaly he's name is calypso and he would love a girly play mate! i also live on the nsw/qld border in the northern rivers.. if anyone else is just like maxie let me know haha

Mel Jay (author) from Australia on February 01, 2014:

Sorry sandy, I have no idea how to tell how old birds. Some birds live so long. I think it would hard to know. Cheers, Mel

sandy on February 01, 2014:

Funny story Mel. I was wondering if anybody knows how you can tell how old a scaly lorikeet is?

Mel Jay (author) from Australia on January 03, 2014:

Thank you :)

Scaly lover on December 31, 2013:

Fantastic blog, I have two of the ratbags, an olive mutation and a mustard mutation. I smiled whilst reading about Artie and I've seen videos of him prior to reading this, adorable! :)

Dani on October 19, 2013:

Love it

Maxie's mum on July 30, 2012:

We have a 3 year old who we saved from a certain death (3 years ago) we named him Maxie. Maxie talks, plays and all the other things that Artie does except he has now started laying eggs! Needless to say he is now Maxine. We would like to find a nice home for Mxie as we feel she needs companionship of other birds. My concern is that she has been so pampered she will not adapt to a full aviary life without being brought in at night etc. We live near the NSW/Qld border, anyone interested.

tigerbaby777 from Nampa on March 11, 2012:

What an excellent HUB! You just sold me on a Lorikeet for a companion to my Green Cheek Conure. He gets lonely while I'm at work and I think the gregarious nature of this bird would make him very happy. Thank you so much for sharing Artie with us. I voted UP!

Mel Jay (author) from Australia on March 26, 2011:

Thanks for the feedback Ghost32 :) You are right - Lorikeets are certainly not for everyone! Your kitten sounds like a real cutie - Cheers Mel

Ghost32 on March 26, 2011: I know why I prefer cats! LOL!

It's easy to see your love for Artie, but I think I'll stick to watching the wild birds through the window with Gato (kitten) as he tail-lashes and "chirr-r-rs" at them almost like a squirrel....

Voted Up, Awesome, Beautiful.

Mel Jay (author) from Australia on March 25, 2011:

Hey thanks RJ - Much appreciated :) - I will certainly visit your hub with Linda - Cheers Mel

Reynold Jay from Saginaw, Michigan on March 25, 2011:

ONE follower? You jut doubled your follwers. THis is incredible with all these cute little creatures. I enjoyed this very much. You have this laid out beautifully and it is easy to understand. Keep up the great HUBS. Up one and Useful. Hey! I'm now your fan! If you visit my HUB with Linda, please leave a brief a comment as it will brighten her day. RJ

Aggression in Lories and Lorikeets (Psittacidae, Lorinae)

The 56 lory and lorikeet species are among the most gorgeous and active of all parrots, and are usually quite bold in character. In both the wild (particularly Australia) and in zoos, lory feeding stations are a great hit with tourists, with hundreds of colorful birds flocking onto treat-bearing visitors.

The Effect of Feeding Ecology

Lory and lorikeets rely primarily upon a relatively scarce, widely-scattered food source – pollen and nectar, and herein lays the explanation for their aggressive feeding behavior. Competition at feeding sites has fostered in these birds a repertoire of over 30 threat displays…a far greater number than is seen in other parrots. Unfortunately, these tendencies often express themselves as aggressive behaviors in captivity, with even long-paired birds sometimes running into difficulties.

Space and Aggression

A change in the environment is frequently a pre-cursor to aggression. Giving the birds more room – a great concept in principal – often leads to fighting. This is true for many birds (and other animals)…I once lost 2 white-crested laughing jay thrushes to aggression after giving birds that had lived peaceably together for 18 month access to an adjoining cage. Of course, crowding can also lead to fights, but the possibility of extending or establishing a territory seems an especially strong factor. Lories seem particularly prone to this phenomenon.

Adding a Nest Box

The provision of a nest box may bring on breeding-related aggression in an otherwise peaceful male, and moving even a long-established pair to a new cage is always a cause for concern. Be sure to observe your birds carefully at such times, and separate them if you will be away for long periods when the change is first instituted.

Introducing Birds

Introduce new birds by caging them side-by-side, and confine a possibly troublesome individual to a small cage or carrier within the larger cage, if space permits, to allow the birds to get used to each other. I relied upon this method with a wide variety of birds in zoo situations, and found it most useful. If using a carrier for the introduction, choose one with barred as opposed to solid sides, so that the birds can interact. Pets International Take Me Home Traveler is ideal.

Other Considerations

Limiting mobility by clipping the wings of aggressive birds is another tried and proven method of easing the introduction process. The availability of a wide variety of bird toys and a complex, well-perched cage will go a long way in keeping your birds occupied with constructive (rather than destructive!) activities. Of course, proper lory nutrition is essential in fostering normal behavior and good relations among your pets.

Please also see my article on lory and lorikeet feeding behavior and natural history:

Tahitian Blue Lory, Vini peruviana

Despite having been bred in captivity since 1936, this tiny (6-7 inch) indigo and white lory is still found only in a few private collections and zoos. It is likely gone from its native Tahiti, courtesy of introduced rats, and now dwells only on the neighboring Cook and Society Islands.

In the mid 1970’s, a small group of confiscated Tahitian lories found their way into the Bronx Zoo and came under my care. Despite being well-bonded, the pair I kept quarreled frequently, but teamed up to harass the much larger Palawan peacock pheasants that shared their exhibit whenever the mood struck them.

Tahitians have smaller bills than most lories, and specialize on nectar and soft fruits. Mine did well on a “shake” of yogurt, honey, hummingbird nectar, papaya and blueberries, along with other fruits and insects. Like all lories, they squeeze insects to extract their softer parts, and discard the hard exoskeletons.

Lorikeet and Lori Care Sheet

For the first 3 days- do not over stress your new baby lorikeet but talk to him or her gently and give them a chance to get used to the new environment.

Cage– Choose a cage which is the biggest possible as this not only will make your lorikeet happier but will make your lorikeet a better pet as lorikeets placed in a small cage tend to be hard to train and become aggressive. Remember they need sufficient room for their toys and swings and a place to have a good flap of the wings.

Toys– Essential for these intelligent birds these birds make full use of all kinds of toys including foot toys, hanging toys, natural chew toys, luffa toys, plastic toys and so on. Why are environmental enrichment toys so important? It actually and literally keeps birds happy and stops aggression if you are wanting a friendly happy pet instead of an aggressive monster it is essential to raise your bird properly while the birds young and the brain is developing.

Swings– Great for these active birds as they have fun with swings it is also a form of exercise as they use muscles they normally wouldn’t use when standing on a still perch.

Some important tips for first time owners of baby Hand raised lorikeets.

Lite and mice spray– wait a week before spraying your new lorikeet with mite and lice spray, continue to spray your birds every 3 months for the remainder of the birds life.

Worming– Never worm a baby lorikeet right away, wait till they are at least 12 weeks old before worming and do not worm a bird until they have had 2 weeks to get used to their new environment. If you already have birds, worm them all at the same time.

Clean environment- This is very important for baby lorikeets as they have an undeveloped immune system and can become ill

Wet mix– Do not let wet mix spoil- change every 4 hours in hot weather as baby lorikeets are very delicate to bacteria as they have un developed immune systems.

Diet for Lorikeets

For the Health, vitality and longevity of pet lories lorikeets it is important to feed them a well researched quality lorikeet nectar supplement. There are many brands of lorikeet food many have good ingredient while leaving some to be questionable. If you are unsure talk to your local bird experts as they will have seen the breeding results in feeding good quality foods. Unlike other parrots Lorikeets feed on nectar from flowers as they main part of their diet in the wild.

Many diseases found in captive lorikeets can be avoided with the correct diet and feeding practices.

Lorikeet wet mix– this wet mix is essential for Baby lorikeets we recommend feeding baby lories a mix of lorikeet wet mix and hand rearing formula. This mix should be fed as a poor-able mixture resembling milk. Do not let the wet mix spoil especially in summer you will need to be vigilant as spoil t food can cause a bacterial infection which can cause sudden death. Wet mix is important and should be fed to lorikeets through the remainder of the birds life, after a lorikeet is 8 weeks old it may be weaned onto Lorikeet dry mix which is easier to feed and can be left out all day. Some great wet mixes include Sheps wet mix, Passwell Lorikeet food, Wombaroo lorikeet food, avione rearing and conditioning food, attraction lorikeet food, vetafarm lorikeet food and Elliots Lorikeet.

Lorikeet Dry food– This should be on offer at all times and must be replaced freshly on a daily basis. Some Mixes we have trialed with our birds which we recommend are Sheps Lori Dry, Passwell lorikeet food, Attraction lorikeet food, and avione lorikeet rearing and conditioning. You may have noticed that some of these were mentioned above this is because these foods mentioned twice can be used as a wet mix or a dry mix.

Vitamin supplement– Added via the water supply some Lorikeets are sensitive to high levels of vitamins so i would not over dose them but add to water maybe 2 times a week. Because of the reason that some lories are sensitive to High levels of vitamins only add vitamins to a lorikeets diet that has no vitamins added to the formula already. Sheps wet and sheps Dry have been specifically designed not to have vitamins added for this reason. Do not add Vitamins to the other Brands of lorikeet food mentioned above.

Fruits– pears, apples, citrus, watermelon, stone fruit, kiwi fruit, strawberries,rockmelon, banana, star fruit, pomegranate and grapes in moderation.

Vegetables and greens– Silver beet, sweet potato, carrot, green beans, peas, corn, capsicum, endive, broccoli

Calcium– Do not feed your lorikeet grit as a calcium source but instead add a calcium source to the water or supply calcium bells or a calcium perch.

Vitamin D supplement– This is essential for all birds to absorb calcium this supplement is not necessary if your bird gets over 3 hours of unfiltered sunlight a week. FYI sun through a window is filtered and they are enable to receive the necessary vitamin D

Iodine– many Lorikeets are iodine deficient

Water– always have a fresh supply of water and be careful as sometimes they can bath in their water bowl on a hot day and die of dehydration due to a lack of water.

Wild flowers– Be very careful in Baby Lorikeets clippings from plants as they have not built their immune systems yet and can be highly susceptible to bacteria’s spread from wild birds. Do not feed baby Lorikeets wild flowers until they are 6 months old. When feeding lorikeets flowers stick with native Australian trees.

Do not feed – Seed, lettuce, avocado, cocoa, milk or alcohole.

Training– visit our bird training page

Rainbow Lorikeets: Bird Species Profile

Sweet-natured, vibrantly brilliant rainbow lorikeets are long-lived, medium-sized parrots that get just over a foot long from beak to the tail feathers. They are busybodies that like to be in the midst of the action. And, like a young puppy, this bird encourages play whenever its favorite person is around. This bird is not shy and will let you know when it needs attention. If you're looking for a laid-back bird, this may not be the right bird for you.

Species Overview

Common Names: Rainbow lorikeet, lory, rainbow bird

Scientific Name: Trichoglossus moluccanus (Subspecies: Swainson's Lorikeet (Trichoglossus moluccanus moluccanus), the Lake Eyre Lorikeet (Trichoglossus moluccanus eyrei), and the Northern Moluccan Lorikeet (Trichoglossus moluccanus septentrionalis)

Adult Size: Up to 15 inches in length and 2.5 to 5.5 ounces in weight

Life Expectancy: Up to 30 years

Watch the video: Hybrid Scaly breasted Lorikeet u0026 Violet necked Lory

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