Pros and Cons of Keeping a Macaw as a Pet

Known as the giants of the parrot world, macaws are one of the most fascinating birds in the entire world. They come in wonderful colour combinations and exhibit a variety of personalities. They are also very intelligent, fun loving, and demand plenty of attention from their owners.

Macaws, with their large beaks, can be very intimidating. However, a well-socialized macaw can be a very affectionate and friendly companion for a lifetime. While these large parrot species require extensive care and management, they can be excellent pets. In this article, we will discuss in detail the pros and cons of keeping a macaw as a pet.

curious macaw
Photo by Irina Blok on Unsplash

Pros of Having a Pet Macaw

The pros of having a pet macaw are discussed below.


The average lifespan of a macaw is around 50 years. Adult blue and gold macaws have a typical lifespan of 30 to 35 years when not kept as a pet. Otherwise, they can live for more than 50 years. Similarly, a Hyacinth Macaw also has a lifespan of 50 years, while a Scarlet Macaw can live up to 75 to 90 years if proper care is provided.


Therefore, if you are to get a macaw as a pet, then you might have to be ready for a lifetime companion, which can be considered as a major pro. The only problem is that in many cases, macaws tend to outlive their owners, which can be very painful for them.

Social, Affectionate and Attention Seeking

Macaws can be very social and affectionate birds if proper care is given. They exhibit a variety of behaviours and personalities and expect a good amount of attention in return. They are large in size, which makes them easy to handle. The more time the owner spends with their macaw, the better the relationship between them.

Once the bird starts trusting the owner, they become excellent companions and a friend for a lifetime, provided that the owner takes proper care of the bird consistently without any compromise.

Fun Feeding

Macaws in their natural habitat feed on seeds, fruits, flowers, leaves, nectar, exposed clay from river banks and much more. In any case, it is important that you feed them a diet which is rich in fat. Getting them popular readymade bird food should be good enough.

However, make sure that the food you provide is exciting and fun to eat as macaws love to tear apart their meals. Lafeber’s bird food is an extremely popular option. The berry and cake shaped foods from Lafeber’s provide an interactive and exciting meal. In any case, feeding your pet macaw is relatively easy and extremely fun to watch.


Intelligent and Fun-Loving Creatures

Macaws are not just big in size, but they are big in brains as well. They are naturally very intelligent and can learn to speak and mimic a variety of sounds. They also look for constant amusement and require plenty of toys and other safe items to destroy, especially those which are made of wood.

These large bird species thrive on activities that are designed to challenge them. These activities may include foraging activities such as searching for food and enjoying their time eating that.

Apart from this, macaws also have fun spooking other people out. They tend to do this by leaning forward and lunging towards them. They do this not to attack or show aggressiveness, but to enjoy the reaction it causes.

Available in Beautiful Colours

Macaws are beautiful creatures. They come in so many fascinating colour combinations that it is almost impossible to pick one over the other. The popular macaw species that are usually adopted as pets include Blue and Gold Macaw, Green-Winged Macaw, Hahn’s Macaw, Hyacinth Macaw, and Scarlet Macaw.

lisbon zoo macaw
Photo by Bruno Martins on Unsplash

Cons of Having a Pet Macaw

The cons of keeping a pet macaw are discussed below.


They Are Extremely Loud

If you are expecting your macaw to be a good, silent, and fun-loving pet, then you are in for a big surprise. Macaws are extremely loud, and their voice can become very irritating. If you have neighbours, or if you live in an apartment, then the noise can be loud enough to receive many complaints.

A pet macaw is expected to screech and scream at least twice a day, and there is absolutely nothing you can do about it. They are naturally loud and noisy and are definitely not recommended if you have neighbours close by.

They Demand a Lot of Attention

Just getting a pet macaw and feeding it every day will not be enough. Your pet macaw will not be happy until and unless you spend a dedicated amount of time with it every day. If proper attention is not given, they can become moody and aggressive.

If you are to get a pet macaw, then you will have to consider giving it enough time and attention. If you cannot spend a dedicated amount of time attending it, then it is recommended that you do not get one.

Health Problems

Macaws are prone to feather destructive behaviours, which might be mainly because of boredom or lack of appropriate mental stimulation, if not due to any medical causes. Therefore, it is recommended that you offer your pet macaw an exciting environment filled with nets and ropes to play and exercise.

Your pet macaw is also prone to other diseases such as proventricular dilatation disease (PDD), psittacine beak and feather disease (PBFD), psittacosis, beak malocclusion, and aspergillosis. Regular check-ups by an avian veterinarian can help diagnose and cure many of these diseases in the early stages.

Expensive Management

Managing a pet macaw can be very costly when compared to other birds and pets. They are very expensive to begin with, and also require a large cage, which should be big enough to accommodate them comfortably. Also, the cage should be tall enough to prevent the tail from hitting the bottom, otherwise it can lead to bending or breaking of its tail feathers.

Apart from this, a pet macaw requires a constant supply of toys and other safe items to destroy. They are naturally very energetic and ignoring the supply of toys and items to break can lead to the destruction of surrounding items. The cost of toys and breakable items should also be considered in the monthly budget of managing your macaw.

Pet macaws are also prone to many diseases. Therefore, regular check-ups by an avian veterinarian might be needed, which is definitely not cheap. When you club everything together, managing a pet macaw can prove to be very expensive.

Regular Cleaning

Macaws are big birds, reaching up to 40 inches from head to tail, and just like their big size, they poop big and they poop a lot. If you don’t want your house to smell of bird poop, then you will have to regularly scrub and clean the cage. There is no alternative to this, unless and until you can magically train your macaw to use the toilet.

tropical bird macaw
Photo by Chris Leipelt on Unsplash


Macaws can be excellent pets and lifetime companions, only if you can take care of them properly. They are big birds and require plenty of space to accommodate. They have a long lifespan and can live even longer with proper care.

In simple words, adding a macaw to your family is like adopting a new baby, which needs to be taken care of for a lifetime. If you have the time and dedication to responsibly take care of these giant parrots, then they are absolutely yours to keep. However, if you are not dedicated enough, then it is considered best to go for an easy to care for option.

References and further reading:

  1. Roger G. Sweeney. (2005).Macaws (Complete Pet Owner's Manual). Retrieved from
  2. Joanne Abramson and Brian L. Speer. (1996). The Large Macaws: Their Care, Breeding, and Conservation. Retrieved from
  3. San Diego Zoo. Macaw
  4. WWF. Macaw


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