When people use the term “pet”, they’re often referring to traditional four-legged critters, like dogs and cats. Before you run out to your nearest shelter and start looking for a new furry friend to complete your family, we encourage you to think outside the box and consider a different option – a bird. Below, a Cumberland County vet shares 5 compelling reasons why birds make awesome family pets.

They’re inexpensive.

For families that are on a tight budget, birds are the perfect choice. They only require a small amount of water and food to survive, and their cage and other upkeep items are much less expensive than those of other companion animals. There are even some foods from your own kitchen that you may be able to share with your feathered friend. Just be sure to check with your vet first.

They’re low-maintenance.

If you don’t have the time or energy to go for long walks with a dog or brush a cat’s long fur, birds are a great option because they’re relatively easy to care for. You just have to provide them with a living space, food and water, a few toys and some attention at the end of the day. Plus, it’s much easier to manage the upkeep of a small cage than to clean a litter box or scoop the yard every day.

They’re smart.

Whoever coined the expression “bird brain” as an insult really missed the mark. Birds are incredibly intelligent creatures. They can learn tricks and some species of bird can even be taught to speak. When’s the last time you got your hamster to say “hello”?

They’re very social.

Contrary to popular belief, birds are extremely social and love to interact with their human family members. Many birds enjoy being close to their people, sitting on their shoulders or following them from room to room. Plus, you’ll always have a sympathetic ear to listen to you vent after a long, hard day.

They don’t take up a lot of room.

Some families find it challenging to adopt a pet when they live in smaller spaces, such as apartments or condos. Birds are the perfect solution, because they only require an area big enough to fit their cage. What’s more, because they are so much smaller and easier to handle than traditional pets, many landlords allow birds over dogs or cats.

Still not convinced? Talk it over with your Cumberland County vet. He or she can answer your questions, discuss your specific situation and help you decide if owning a bird is the right decision for your family.