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Citron Cockatoo: Do They Make Good Pets?

Cockatoos are one of the more common pet birds today. One species of cockatoo, the citron cockatoo, is less common as a pet but is wanted by many because of their strikingly beautiful coloring. Find out all about these citron cockatoos and if they would make a good pet for your family.

Dr. Jess explains Citron Cockatoos below:

citron cockatoo with black background

What Makes For A Good Pet?

Some pet owners believe that a good pet is any animal companion that will stick by your side and be a friend when you need one. 

Other people think that a good pet is a pet that lives a long time. 

Maybe a good pet is an animal that does take a lot of time or expenses in upkeep. 

Maybe a good pet actually makes money for the pet owner. 

And some owners think that a good pet is actually a member of the family.

What is a Cockatoo?

Cockatoos are a type of parrot.

They have a mohawk-like crest on the top of their head and also have a curved beak.

Cockatoos are affectionate and curious birds.

In general, cockatoos are intelligent birds. They can learn to speak and do tricks like wave, dance, and retrieve things.

citron cockatoo sitting on ledge

What is a Citron Cockatoo?

Also known as the Citron-Crested Cockatoo, the Citron cockatoo, or Sumba Cockatoo (Cacatua sulphurea citroncristata), occurs naturally on the island of Sumba in Indonesia.

In the wild, they live in tropical forests or on the edges of these forests.

Unfortunately, these birds are endangered because their existence depends on this tropical forest on the island of Sumba, as well as the illegal trapping for the high demand of this bird in the cage-bird market.

In captivity the citron-crested cockatoo is still being kept and bred.

Citron cockatoos are a beautiful type, or subspecies, of cockatoo.

The Citron Cockatoo is one of 6 subspecies of the Lesser Sulphur-Crested Cockatoos, and is the smallest (12 inches in length) in size out of these cockatoos.

They are mostly bright white with pale orange patches on their cheeks/ear patches, pale light yellow on the undersides of their wings and tail feathers, and a bright orange crest.

The bright orange crest of these birds distinguishes them from the other sulfur-crested subspecies of cockatoo, which have yellow crests.

Males and females look identical, except that adult males have black eyes, and adult females have lighter, brown eyes.

The citron cockatoo has dark gray feet and gray-black beaks.

Citron Cockatoos are known to be friendly and curious, and are considered to be among the quietest of the cockatoos.  

These cockatoos mature between the ages of 3 to 5 years old.

Is There A Difference Between the Citron Cockatoo and the Citron-Crested Cockatoo?

The Citron Cockatoo is the same thing as the Citron-Crested Cockatoo.

The citron-crested cockatoo is classified as a subspecies (a different “branch” of the Lesser Sulphur-Crested cockatoo. Let me explain….

The citron-crested cockatoo (Cacatua sulphurea citrinocristata) is the same species as the Lesser Sulphur-Crested cockatoo (Cacatua sulphurea sulphurea).

The big different between these two subspecies is that the citron-crested cockatoo has an orange crest, while the lesser sulphur-crested cockatoo has a yellow crest and lacks the yellow/orange cheeks that the citron cockatoo has.

What Sets a Citron Cockatoo Apart from Other Birds?

Citron cockatoos are quieter than most other cockatoo species.

That does not mean that they do not have big personalities though!

This cockatoo is a little more shy of a bird than other types, and it may take them a little longer to become accustomed to new surroundings and people.

Once they feel comfortable, they are sociable, love to play, and interact with their owners.

Citron cockatoos are also known to be a bit less skilled at vocal imitation than other pet birds.

Needs of the Citron Cockatoo:

Even though citrons are one of the smaller of the cockatoos, they will still need plenty of living space.

The cage size for a citron cockatoo is a minimum of about 4-feet long by 4-feet wide and at least 4 feet tall. No matter what, the bigger, the better!

Cockatoos also need exercise. I recommend a minimum of 3 hours of time outside of their enclosure per day so that they can play and stretch.

You should also provide plenty of safe, durable chew toys and play items in their cage for them to interact with.

Dietary Requirements:

In the wild, cockatoos will eat seeds, nuts, berries, and fruits.

In captivity, a healthy, complete diet for a pet citron cockatoo should consist of high-quality pellets, fresh, clean bird-safe fruits and veggies, and occasionally seeds or nuts as treats.

Like all cockatoos, citrons are prone to weight gain, so owners should monitor their daily dietary intake.

Cons of Owning A Citron:

Citron cockatoos are not always the best pet for everyone.

Cockatoos, in general, need quite a bit of human attention compared to other types of birds. 

They are social birds that require human interaction to remain mentally content. A citron that feels neglected or bored may resort to squawking, screaming, and destructive behaviors like feather-pulling.

Nutritional deficiencies are also common in cockatoos. These are preventable with a balanced diet, supplemented with veterinarian-approved vitamin supplements if needed. 


The citron cockatoo can be a great pet for those pet owners who are knowledgeable with bird care, more specifically cockatoos. These special birds can make very caring, loving pets!

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