Widely known for their colorful plumage and crests, the cockatoo is part of the Cacatuidae family, which houses a total of 21 bird species.
In their natural habitats, these feathered friends are medium-sized birds that can commonly be found in Australia, Indonesia, Papua New Guinea, islands of the Philippines, and the Solomon Islands.
Being one of the few species of birds that are kept as pets, the cockatoo has been viewed as cuddly, affectionate, mischievous, and intelligent.
They are also extremely social and are known to be very loud. Cockatoos screech when excited, bored, irritated, or simply just want to be heard.
Aside from all of the fun quirks, what most don’t see is the patience, attention, and care that goes into cultivating this sweet disposition, not to mention the expense.
How much do cockatoos cost? Cockatoo prices vary widely based on the specific species. Some of the more common cockatoos are between $1,000 and $5,000, but rarer varieties can cost as much as $17,000. Initial setup can cost several hundred dollars or run into the thousands. Average monthly costs are typically $50-$100.
Please note: Price ranges vary on store, type of Cockatoo, breeder and region. Vet care pricing does not include surgical procedures or emergencies.
Considering adding a new feathered addition to your family? One of the first things to think about is the commitment.
These avians have a life expectancy, if in proper care, of up to 100 years! So as a pet owner, this is a lifelong bond that if broken or mistreated can be detrimental to this bird’s well being.
Unsure if the cockatoo is the perfect aviary companion for you? Here are a few key topics to think about before you make your final decision.
Average Cockatoo Prices: What To Expect
In captivity, the most common types kept as pets are the umbrella, sulphur-crested, lesser sulphur-crested and Moluccan cockatoos.
Be sure to check out our article “How Many Types of Cockatoos Are There?” to see the incredible variety that exists.
Here’s a quick look at a few of the types of cockatoos that can be bred in captivity and purchased as pets.
These social butterflies make excellent pets if you are willing to provide them with the love and attention they need.
Umbrella Cockatoos are also easy to train and can learn a wide variety of tricks. They can even learn to imitate human speech!
When it comes to their adult size, they can measure up to 18 inches long.
At minimum, these birds require a cage of at least 2 x 2 x 3 feet and will need to be let out of their cage for at least 3-4 hours daily.
Average price: $5,000-$6,000
The sulphur-crested cockatoo is one of the smaller types and is sometimes seen as an “apartment-sized” pet. This bird is known for its docile and easy-going personality.
In addition, they are also praised for their obedience and ease of training. They appreciate a roomy cage unless they are let out for long periods of time.
Like other cockatoos, this bird also requires extensive love and attention from its owner.
Average price: $2,000
Lesser Sulphur-Crested Cockatoos
Though similar to the sulphur-crested cockatoo, this type is a different subspecies.
They are within the same family, but what separates them is that in the wild, they are found on different continents.
Lesser sulphur-cresteds are also known as the yellow-crested Cockatoo, this name is due to their yellow patches that can be found on their crests and underneath their wings.
Some even have patches, ranging from orange to yellow, on their cheeks.
Like others within their species, they are extremely intelligent and affectionate and can be trained to learn tricks.
Though they can learn to speak, their speech may not be as clear as other parrots.
Average price: $2,000
At 20 inches long, the Moluccan cockatoo is the largest of white cockatoos.
In addition, this bird is extremely high-strung compared to other commonly kept species and requires the most attention.
Some breeders even recommend that these birds not live alone unless their owners can give plenty of love, time, and attention to fulfill their needs.
The Moluccan, in addition, has the strongest beak and can exert up to 500 pounds of pressure.
When it comes to their skills and strong suits, like others, they can learn to sing and talk.
However, unlike other cockatoos, some of their unique talents can range from dancing, shaking, playing tug-of-war and even roller skating.
Average price: $8,000
Additional Cockatoo Costs: What to Expect
Price ranges for supplies are based on searches through PetSmart, Chewy, and Amazon.
Cockatoo Cage Average Prices
This is usually a one-time or occasional purchase.
Cage: $200 to $4,000
Cage Cover: $20 to $70
Cockatoo Food Estimated Costs
The following, with the exception of the dishes, will be recurring monthly costs.
Pellets and Nutritional Supplements: $15 to $125
Fresh fruit, vegetables and/or nuts: Prices vary on item and store, but can range between $3 to $30.
Food and water dishes: $8 to $30
Average Prices for Cockatoo Toys & Accessories
Generally, these will be part of the initial setup costs, but on occasion, you’ll want to update toys and perches to add variety and interest for your cockatoo.
Playstands, chewing toys, and activity centers: $12 to $100
Travel cages: $29 to $250
Leash and harness: $18 to $35
Pet Bird Insurance Estimated Cost
Nationwide charges $15.95 monthly, but prices can range between $15 to $40 per month depending on the insurance company.
Cost of Bird-Safe Cleaning Supplies
Prices for cleaning products safe for use around birds can be anywhere between $3-$60 each month.
This homemade cage cleaner may be able to help you keep your bird safe and save you money and a trip to the store.
All you need is an empty spray bottle, 3 cups of hot water, 3 tablespoons baking soda and 2 tablespoons lemon juice. This DIY cleaner should be made fresh with each use.
Routine Vet Care Expected Costs
Many owners only take their bird in for an annual checkup, but always be prepared for the unexpected emergency.
Exams and Checkups: $25 to $35
Gram Stain: $8
Wet Mount: $10
Chlamydia testing: $25 to $30
Cockatoo Grooming Costs
Usually grooming services help maintain the upkeep of nails, wing trimming, bathing, and preening and can range between $15 to $40.
Aside from actually going to a groomer when needed, cockatoos require weekly baths to remove the dirt that builds up in their feathers.
This dusty powder is self-created by the feathers closest to the skin. This healthy dander keeps their feathers looking clean and silky but can also collect dirt.
To clean your cockatoo, a shower perch is highly recommended, but soap is not needed.
Simply, install your shower perch, turn on some lukewarm water, and the bird will do all the rest.
The shower should last between 5-15 minutes. Your bird should not be completely soaked after getting cleaned.
Adopting an Older Cockatoo
After speaking to Richard Weiner of Rescue the Birds of Northbrook, IL, I learned that the adoption of an older cockatoo varies on the previous environment it was raised in.
Weiner adds that if adopting or purchasing a cockatoo as a baby, they soak up all of the love like a sponge.
If the owner provides the adequate care and attention they desire, then the adoption of an older cockatoo is not easier, per say, but this can help the bonding process.
If from an ill-equipped environment, the bird could have a variety of issues, such as missing feathers, malnourishment, abuse, or other physical/emotional illnesses.
From this, the bonding and adjustment process can be more difficult and can create additional issues. This can lead to possible rehoming or the bird being surrendered again.
Are Cockatoos Good for a Beginner?
Cockatoos are not the best choice when it comes to owning a bird for the first time.
First-time bird owners tend to become frustrated when they discover the hard work that is needed when caring for a cockatoo.
From the constant need of love, exercise, and attention, to dealing with potential hormonal rampages and stubborn tendencies, there’s a lot involved with cockatiel ownership.
Without proper research and care, this can lead to potential problems with your cockatoo’s health and temperament.
In addition, these birds are not a great pet to have around small children.
Although they may be respectful, small, prodding hands could be badly damaged if bitten by a cockatoo’s powerful beak.
According to Weiner:
Cockatoos are the most surrendered birds due to inexperienced, or first-time, owners who are unable to meet the needs of this species.
These birds require consistent care and attention. If these are not met, this can be dangerous, not only for the bird, but for the owner as well.
What’s the Difference Between a Cockatiel and a Cockatoo?
Though in the same family of species, the cockatiel is a completely different bird. The easiest way to spot the difference is with their size.
The cockatiel is the smallest variation of cockatoo and is only 12-13 inches long. The majority of their height actually comes from their tail!
Cockatiels tend to be more affectionate towards their owners. They can be trained to mimic household sounds rather than human voices.
This is because their voices are softer and cannot recreate the human sound as well as a cockatoo can.
What makes cockatiels better for beginners is that even though they appreciate attention, these birds can tolerate being left alone and don’t require extensive exercise outside of their cages.
A cockatiel can live between 15-20 years, while cockatoos can live up to 100 years!
Are Cockatoos High Maintenance?
Cockatoos require an extensive amount of care. From daily exercise and attention, to cleanliness and well-rounded diets, they are not for the faint of heart or inexperienced.
Before making your final decision, anyone considering a cockatoo should really evaluate if they are able to commit to the time and care that goes into raising and living with this bird successfully.
The cockatoo is a medium-sized bird that requires extensive knowledge, attention, and maintenance.
This bird should only be considered if one truly feels that they can handle the commitment of the animal, even if there are times when the bird is being difficult or the owner’s life changes.
Cockatoos are a lifetime commitment, if not longer than that.
Overall, cockatoos make great companions, but if you’re a first-time bird owner or have a constantly busy schedule, this bird may not be the best fit for you.