Choosing a new pet to join your family is a huge decision. If you are fond of feathered friends, you may decide to adopt zebra finches.

But how do you pick the right one for you? To start with, finches are like potato chips in that it is hard to have just one.

Adopt Zebra Finches: How to Pick the Right One for You

Zebra finches, who are one of the most popular breeds of finches kept as pets, are very social creatures and don’t do very well on their own. In fact, your best option may be to adopt a male and female pair. They can also be kept in large groups with some experts recommending six as the magic number for happy finches. Being so popular, bird rescues are overrun with these adorable little finches. So zebra finches are the perfect candidates for adoption.

Zebra Finches As Pets

Zebra finches make great pets. They are active and quite entertaining to watch. However, when it comes to vocalization, zebra finches tend to be rather quiet as far as birds go. They do provide a chorus of various chirps and peeps, but the majority of people tend to find their “talking” rather pleasant to listen to.

Even though zebra finches are small, they do need a fairly large cage in order to thrive. You can find a variety of recommendations regarding the minimum size of a suitable cage but as a general rule, this is definitely a case of bigger is better. So, go with the largest cage you can to make sure your new feathered friends have the space they need. Also keep in mind that the more zebra finches you have living in the cage, the bigger it needs to be. This may mean that you will have to build your own aviary if you decide to keep a large colony.

Image CC by CC 2.0, by lilivanili, via Wikimedia Commons

Whatever cage you choose, you want to make sure that it is easy to clean. While zebra finches are extremely social with each other, they don’t crave human interaction in the same way some other bird species do. Instead of putting the cage in the center of all the action, it is better to find a quiet corner for your finches to call home.

Zebra Finches Care

Some breeds of finches are difficult to care for. Zebra finches, on the other hand, are pretty easy to take care of. They need fresh water to be available to them at all times. You can provide them with water either in a dish or by using a tube-style dispenser that attaches to the cage. Regardless of which style of waterer you choose, it will need to be cleaned on a daily basis.

There are plenty of good quality foods for zebra finches that come in seed form. Although these foods provide a good starting point for your zebra finches’ diet, this is not enough to keep them happy and healthy. You should also feed your finches fresh greens such as romaine lettuce, dandelion greens, and kale, as well as other fruits and vegetables in small amounts. Experiment to find which foods your finches prefer, but never feed them avocado, as this can do great harm to them. Pellets for zebra finches are also available, however, these should never be their sole diet and it may take a while for them to eat this type of food if they aren’t already used to it.

In addition to what you feed your zebra finches, providing them with supplements is also important to make sure that all their nutritional needs are being properly met. Eggfood can either be prepared in your own kitchen or you can buy it from a pet supply store. Cuttlebone is another supplement that can be beneficial for birds as it supplies an important source of calcium. Supplements are absolutely vital if your finches are breeding.

Zebra Finches: Males, Females, and Egg

Male Zebra Finches

Male zebra finches tend to be much more vocal than their female counterparts and love to sing. Like much of the animal kingdom, males tend to have brighter coloring than females. Male zebra finches have orange patches on their cheeks, stripes on their throats, black bars on their chests and a chestnut colored flank with white spots. The beaks of the males are bright red.

Pictured here is a male zebra finch. Image CC by CC A-SA 3.0 Unported, by Peripitus,via Wikimedia Commons

Female Zebra Finches

Female zebra finches are much quieter than the males, who tend to be the singers of this bird species. The females also have different coloring than the males. Whereas males are brightly colored with distinctive markings, the females are mostly gray. Female zebra finches have beaks that are more of an orange than the red seen in males. Juvenile zebra finches — regardless of gender — have the coloring of adult females but have a black beak rather than orange or red.

This is a handsome example of a juvenile zebra finch, who share the markings of adult females — with the exception of a black beak — until maturity. Image CC by A-SA 2.0, Lip Kee Yap, via Wikimedia Commons

Zebra Finch Eggs

Zebra finches are very prolific breeders, even if they are faced with adverse conditions. When breeding, females need extra calcium supplements. Without them, the results of calcium depletion during egg laying can be fatal. Provide a nesting box, which needs to be at least 8 by 8 by 8 inches. Line it with a safe nesting material, such as shredded paper. Zebra finches usually lay between three to six eggs in a single clutch, but have been known to lay up to eight. Unless you are serious about raising baby finches and intend on providing a home for them, the eggs should be removed as soon as they have been laid.

Females will lay one egg a day until the clutch is completed. Once the last egg is laid, she will begin incubating them by sitting on the eggs to keep them warm. This incubation period lasts approximately 12 to 15 days. If twenty days have passed and an egg has not hatched, it is safe to remove it assuming it is simply not viable.

Pictured here is a zebra finch hatchling. Image CC by CC0, by PookieFugglestein, via Wikimedia Commons

Hatchlings should not be handled by humans if at all avoidable (despite the picture above). The parents should be allowed to raise the young on their own without interference. Make sure there is a generous supply of millet for the parents to feed the babies. Baby finches are usually fully weaned in about four to six weeks.

Zebra Finches for Sale

Although zebra finches can be found for sale in many pet stores, it’s always preferable to adopt not shop. Always. You can begin your search for zebra finches in need of homes by contacting any bird rescues in your area. A simple Google search should be able to help you find any rescues that are local to you and veterinarians can also prove to be a valuable source of information. is another a great resource for finding animals of all kinds in desperate need of rescuing, including birds like zebra finches.

All in all, zebra finches make fantastic pets. Watch the video below to see just how danged adorable these tiny creatures really are.

Featured image CC by  2.0 Generic, by Peripitus, via Wikimedia Commons

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