Illegal Pet Trade

Pet Trade & Parrots

Another animal being put in danger by the current pet trade is the parrot. Parrots are becoming endangered through a combination of habitat loss and being captured to meet the demands for the international pet trade (Beisinger & Bucher, 1992).  These parrots are being captured from tropical forests in South America, Southeast Asia and Africa to meet both domestic and international demand for avian pets.


Agapornis roseicollis by Brian Taylor, licensed by  Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic

Like the slow loris in the last post, captured parrots are exposed to inhumane conditions during transport to your local pet store. The birds are captured using mist nets, which can leave them trapped and dangling for days at a time or by a process called “liming” in which a sticky chemical is left on a branch, waiting for a bird to land and become stuck to the branch (Cronin, 2014). One study of the parrot trade in Mexico found that 75% of captive parrots died before reaching their destination (Miao, 2011). Additionally, the study found that of the 22 species of parrot the study identified, 20 were endangered, threatened or receiving special legal protection (Miao, 2011).  Even when the birds reach the United States, their ordeal isn’t over. Many of the birds will be selected for breeding to provide pet stores with parrot chicks. The conditions these birds will be kept in are dirty and cramped, with the parrots being exposed to disease and neglect (Cronin, 2014).


Image licensed under CC0 Public Domain

As is also the case with the slow loris, many people do not understand the needs of parrots before they purchase one. Parrots are social animals that live in groups and are very mobile, flying from place to place (Fitzsimmons, 2015). These conditions are not easy to replicate in the home, and thus many captive parrots experience neglect and abuse by being kept confined and isolated. Many people are also not able to provide a proper diet for a captive parrot, leading to malnutrition and its related diseases (Weston & Memon, 2009).

Wildlife Trade- crowded birds by Krotz, licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported

A number of laws have been introduced to try to end the illegal bird trade, but high demand for these birds has rendered these laws ineffectual. In 1992, the Wild Bird Conservation Act ( was introduced in the United States, placing an embargo on the import of wild-caught parrots (Miao, 2011). While this act has been found to have reduced poaching of wild birds from 50% to 20% of wild individuals, parrot populations have still been rapidly declining (Society for Conservation Biology, 2001). This decline may be due to the slow reproductive rate of parrots, making it difficult for populations to recover from poaching losses (Society for Conservation Biology, 2001).


Cited Sources

Cronin, A. M. (2014, January 27). 7 Things You Never Knew about the Exotic Bird Trade and How You Can Help. Retrieved from

Fitzsimmons, P. (2015, January 5). Why You Should Reconsider Buying a Pet Bird This National Bird Day. Retrieved from

Miao, L. (2011, July 28). The Illegal Parrot Trade. Retrieved from

Society For Conservation Biology. (2001, May 31). Pet Trade Dangers: Poaching Major Threat To Parrots. Retrieved from

Vallery, A. (2015, January 20). The Truth About the Exotic Bird Trade Will Make You Rethink Buying a Parrot in the Pet Shop. Retrieved from

Weston, M. K., & Memon, M. A. (2009). The illegal parrot trade in Latin America and its consequences to parrot nutrition, health and conservation. Bird Populations, 9, 76-83. Retrieved from


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