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How Much Does a Cockatoo Cost?

Last Updated on February 7, 2024
Written by CPA Alec Pow | Content Reviewed by Certified CFA CFA Alexander Popinker

Cockatoos are beautiful, exotic birds that make for unique pets. With their impressive plumage, intelligence, and big personalities, it’s no wonder cockatoos have become popular companion animals.

However, cockatoos require extensive, specialized care and a major financial commitment. If you’re considering adding one of these parrots to your family, it’s important to understand the costs involved with purchasing and properly caring for a cockatoo.

In this article, we’ll break down the initial and ongoing expenses associated with cockatoo ownership. We’ll look at the average purchase price, housing, veterinary care, food, enrichment and other necessities.

We’ll also discuss unexpected costs to factor into your budget as a responsible cockatoo owner. By understanding the full scope of expenses, you can make an informed decision if a cockatoo is the right pet for you.

How Much Does a Cockatoo Cost?

Bringing home a new cockatoo involves several upfront investments to properly welcome them into your family. Here are some of the key costs to budget for.

The price of a cockatoo can range quite a bit depending on the species, age, breeder versus pet store, and other factors. In general, expect to spend $1,000 to $3,500 for a cockatoo.

Some of the most popular cockatoo species like umbrella cockatoos tend to be on the higher end, averaging $2,500 to $3,500. More affordable species of cockatoo include Moluccan Cockatoos, Goffin’s, and citron cockatoos in the $1,000 to $2,000 range. Older, hand-raised cockatoos with established personalities and training usually cost more as well.

According to A-z-animals.com, Cockatoos like the Black Palm Cockatoo or the Sulfur Crested Cockatoo typically cost from $600 to $1,500 on average, depending on several factors including the breeder, species, age, and degree of training.

Hummingbirdsplus.org notes that the initial cost of purchasing a Cockatoo like the Galah Cockatoo can range from $700 to $23,000, depending on factors such as species, size, age, and appearance.

Singing-wings-aviary.com writes that you can buy a Cockatoo for a price between $500 and $1,200, with the cost of an umbrella cockatoo ranging from $1,000 to $3,000.

Cage and Setup Costs

Since cockatoos are large parrots, they require an appropriately sized cage, averaging 3-4 feet wide, 2-3 feet deep, and 4-5 feet tall. High-quality cages made of powder-coated steel cost $400 to $1,000.

You’ll also need perches, dishes, toys, and other essentials which can easily add $200 to $500 in additional setup costs.

Initial Veterinary Visit and Health Screening

It’s crucial to have your new cockatoo examined by an avian veterinarian, budgeting $100 to $200 for the initial visit. They’ll check for any health issues and parasites common in pet birds. Annual checkups and lab work typically run $100 to $300 per year after the first appointment.

You might also like our articles about the cost of Canaries, Cockatiels, or Talking Parrots.

Overview of Cockatoos as Pets

Cockatoos are highly social, emotionally complex birds originally from Australia and Indonesia. They require constant interaction and supervised time out of the cage daily. Cockatoos also have very long lifespans, averaging 40-60 years or more with proper care. This extensive, long-term commitment must be carefully considered.

Popularity and Unique Attributes of Cockatoos

Cockatoos are prized for their affectionate personalities, trainability, and natural curiosity. Their crest of feathers makes them easily recognizable.

Cockatoos also often learn to talk or whistle tunes. However, they’re extremely loud at times and prone to destructive chewing when bored. Proper training and enrichment is essential.

Factors Affecting Price of a Cockatoo

Many elements influence a cockatoo’s price tag. Here are some of the most significant factors.

Differences in Cost by Species

The cockatoo family encompasses over 20 species, varying greatly in size, coloration, temperament and price point. Generally the larger the bird, the higher the price. Rarer cockatoo species also command a premium.

For example, a pet store umbrella cockatoo will likely cost over $2,000, while a petite bare-eyed cockatoo could run $800 to $1,200.

Breeder vs Pet Store vs Adoption

Purchasing from a reputable breeder generally offers the best combination of health, socialization and fair pricing for cockatoos. Avoid big box pet stores, as their birds are often mass-produced. Adopting a rescue cockatoo is rewarding but may involve birds with undisclosed health or behavior problems – ask lots of questions.

Ongoing Care Expenses

Cockatoo Bird UpcloseOnce you bring your cockatoo home, you’ll need to budget for regular, recurring expenses to properly care for them. Here are some of the main costs.

Feeding: Types of Food and Monthly Costs

Cockatoos thrive best on a varied diet including pellets, fresh fruits/veggies, and healthy human foods. Feeding a cockatoo a balanced diet costs approximately $50 to $100 per month. You’ll also need dishes, supplements, and treats.

Grooming and Health Maintenance

Cockatoos require daily interaction, supervised out-of-cage time, and positive reinforcement training. Proper grooming helps keep their feathers clean and prevents chewing problems. Routine trimming and cleaning of nails, beaks and wings should be done weekly.

Toys Add to The Final Cockatoo Price

Preventing boredom is crucial for these highly intelligent birds. Rotate new foraging toys, swings, puzzles and more to keep their mind and body active. Budget $50 to $150 per month for an assortment of engaging enrichment items.

Veterinary Care and Health Screenings

Like all exotics, cockatoos need specialized veterinary care to remain healthy. Here are some common medical costs:

  • Annual exams & lab work: $100-$300
  • Emergency vet visits: $200-$1,000
  • Medications: $50-$200 monthly
  • Beak/feather trims: $100-$300 annually
  • Microchipping: $50 one-time fee
  • Blood panels: $150-$500 annually
  • Surgery (if needed): $1,000-$5,000

Pet health insurance or an emergency fund can offset surprise vet bills. Review coverage limitations carefully.

Training and Socialization

Proper socialization and training improves behavior and strengthens your bond with a cockatoo. But professional help is often needed, costing:

  • $100-$150 per hour-long session with an avian-experienced trainer
  • 10-20+ sessions are usually required
  • Ongoing refreshers are recommended

Consult an avian-experienced vet for guidance on reinforcement techniques to practice at home.

Insurance and Unexpected Expenses

Cockatoos are prone to feather plucking, respiratory issues, fractures, and more. Pet insurance through providers like Embrace, Nationwide, or ASPCA ranges from $20 to $100+ per month depending on your coverage level.

You should also budget $5,000 or more in savings for unexpected veterinary costs. Emergency surgeries, hospitalization, and procedures can quickly become quite expensive.

Legal and Licensing Fees

Most states and cities legally allow cockatoos as pets without a permit. However, some locations restrict noise nuisances and exotic animals. Check your local laws. Average permitting costs are $25 to $250 depending on the regulations in your area.


Cockatoos require an immense, long-term commitment of time, attention, and finances. The average total first-year cost is $5,000 to $10,000 including the purchase price, supplies, vet care, and monthly maintenance. Ongoing annual costs average $3,000 or more.

While cockatoos make engaging companions for devoted owners, they are definitely not impulse purchases or casual pets. Make sure you’re fully prepared for the responsibility before acquiring one of these remarkable birds. With proper care and patience, cockatoos can make wonderfully affectionate, charismatic family members.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is a cockatoo a good pet?

Cockatoos can make excellent pets for the right owners. They are extremely social and demanding of attention, requiring several hours of supervised time out of their cage and interaction daily.

Cockatoos also have very long lifespans of 40-60+ years. So they are big commitments best-suited for dedicated bird lovers. But in the proper home, cockatoos become loving, charismatic companions with big personalities. Their trainability and talking ability are big attractions as well. Cockatoos thrive when kept engaged, active and showered with attention.

Do cockatoos live for 100 years?

No, the average lifespan of a cockatoo is generally 40-60 years or more with proper care and a healthy diet. Some have lived even longer – up to 80 years in rare cases! But it’s a myth that cockatoos regularly live over 100 years.

Their extremely long lifespans compared to other common pet birds leads to that misconception. Still, you should be prepared to care for a cockatoo for several decades when bringing one home.

Can a cockatoo talk?

Yes, many cockatoos have the ability to talk and mimic sounds and words they hear frequently. Specific species like the umbrella cockatoo are especially adept talkers.

With consistent positive reinforcement training, cockatoos can potentially learn dozens or even hundreds of words and phrases. Though it takes great time and patience to teach them.

The extent of talking ability varies greatly by individual bird based on training, personality, and their interactions with owners. So while you can’t guarantee a chatty cockatoo, many end up being prolific talkers with persistence.

Can you kiss a cockatoo?

It’s not recommended to kiss cockatoos or have them near your mouth. Like all birds, cockatoos harbor bacteria like salmonella in their feces which can easily be transmitted to people.

So for health safety, it’s best to avoid kissing cockatoos or any mouth-to-beak contact. Enjoy nuzzling, cuddling or scratching their head as safer means of interaction.

Also be sure to wash your hands after handling birds or cleaning their cages. While kissing cockatoos is inadvisable, you can certainly shower them with love and affection! Just be mindful of basic hygiene precautions.

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