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How do I Care for a Moluccan Cockatoo?

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  • Written By: B. Koch
  • Edited By: Susan Barwick
  • Last Modified Date: 12 November 2016
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The Moluccan cockatoo, also known as the salmon-crested cockatoo, is a smart bird that can make a loving pet if its needs are fulfilled. Their diet consists of nuts and fruits, and they need plenty of space in order to thrive. These birds also need sufficient attention from their owners or they could suffer from stress reactions.

Native to eastern Indonesia, the Moluccan cockatoo is the largest of all the white cockatoos, standing 20 inches tall (about 50 cm). Their plumage is white with a pink or peachy tone, while the crest of feathers on their head is a definite salmon color. In their native habitat, Moluccan cockatoos consume nuts, seeds, fruits and coconuts. The wild Moluccan cockatoo is on the endangered species list, and in the United States, it is illegal to capture or trade these birds from the wild.

Feeding should ideally occur at multiple, regular times throughout the day. A varied diet is important for Moluccan cockatoos and may include diced apples, pears, oranges, bananas, papayas and other fresh fruit, as well as dry seeds, nuts and cooked beans. Food should always be fresh and replaced daily. Dietary pellets should also be included in the Moluccan’s diet to ensure balanced nutrition, and fresh, filtered water should always be available.

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Large and strong cages are needed for Moluccan cockatoos, since they have very strong beaks. A stainless steel cage is recommended so that they do not break the bars. Cage bars should be no more than 1 inch (2.54 cm) apart. These birds are very smart, and cages should be padlocked so that the bird is unable to pick or break the cage lock. Moluccan cockatoos need a cage that is at least 36 inches (about 91 cm) wide, 36 inches (about 91 cm) deep and 48 inches (about 122 cm) tall. Ideally these birds will live in a bird room with a caged outdoor area.

The Moluccan cockatoo can be a very needy pet, and even if its physical needs are met, failure to meet the bird’s mental and emotional needs may cause it to languish and become stressed. Overstressed cockatoos will scream excessively, pluck their feathers and engage in self-mutilation. New toys and objects to chew and shred are important to keep these birds active, and potential owners must decide if they are able and willing to spend the necessary amount of time with their pet before committing themselves to owning this type of bird.

These birds can also suffer from behavioral issues in the form of aggression. Moluccans may become emotionally attached to a certain individual and become territorial, attacking other members of the household. Proper training of young cockatoos may help to avoid these problems.

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