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What is a Rosella?

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  • Written By: R. Britton
  • Edited By: Angela B.
  • Images By: n/a, Lesniewski
  • Last Modified Date: 01 November 2016
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A rosella is a small- to medium-size, brightly colored parrot native to Australia. There are several bird species belonging to the rosella family, all of which are brightly colored in hues of red, gold, green, blue and black, and have distinctive cheek patches that are either blue or white. Rosellas are identifiable from their harsh, loud call; bright coloring; and broad, flat tail. Most species reach 10 inches (25 cm) to 15 inches (37 cm) in length. Although native to Australia and the surrounding islands, a number of species have been introduced and naturalized in New Zealand and some of the more colorful varieties are also kept as pets throughout the world.

In its natural habitat, the rosella has a wide and varied diet consisting of a variety of insects, seeds, berries, fruits, shoots, seedlings, young leaves and nectar. In captivity, these birds should be provided with a varied diet to simulate the diet they would have in the wild; this helps them maintain good general health. In captivity, if kept in clean conditions with lots of positive stimulation and interaction, a rosella can live to around 20 years of age.

The rosella species are not as tactile as other parrots and will most likely never want much petting or cuddling from their human companions. Taming, rearing or training a rosella is more difficult and requires more knowledge, commitment and persistence than many other parrot species. Therefore, rosellas are not recommended as pets for beginners or novices.

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Even though they most likely won't want to be cuddled, the rosella is — like all captive parrot species — very social and requires a great deal of social interaction and stimulation from their human companions. If a person cannot commit to the level of interaction required, then a pair of birds can be kept together to provide the necessary stimulation. When there is a lack of interaction or stimulation for prolonged periods, captive rosellas are highly likely to develop poor mental and physical health, as are the majority of parrots.

If a rosella is suffering from a lack of interaction, it will exhibit distinctive physical and mental responses and behaviors. Symptoms usually include depression and anxiety, with the bird becoming lethargic, withdrawn and increasingly nervous. The rosella will most likely lose interest in feeding and grooming and will often pluck out many of its feathers, in extreme cases plucking large bald patches. Loud, harsh vocalization for prolonged periods also can be indicative of poor mental health, as can aggression. Many rosellas commonly develop self-harming behaviors such as cage biting or repeatedly banging their head or body against the sides of their cage.

Kept in captivity, a rosella also requires mental stimulation. Providing a variety of parrot toys is an excellent way of providing stimulation and occupying these intelligent birds. Hiding favorite foods around the cage or inside toys and logs designed for this purpose is another way of providing a captive bird with a stimulating and enjoyable challenge.

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