Hamilton County Coroner Lakshmi Sammarco on Why Birds Make Great Pets

For our May 2020 Pets package, we talked with Hamilton County Coroner Lakshmi Sammarco about how she became a pet mom to her three birds, Spooky Ghost, Mango, and Cannoli, and what makes each one so special.

From left: Spooky Ghost, Mango, and Cannoli

Photograph by Brian Steege

Tell me about your birds and how they became your pets.

Spooky Ghost is a rescue Albino Indian Ringneck parrot. He’s 3-and-a-half years old, and we’ve had him for a little over a year. He’s very sweet and snuggly. We were going to name him Snowball or Fluffers, but about three weeks after we got him, he started saying, Spooky Ghost. Good boy Ghost. He also says Hello, Peekaboo, Give me a kiss, and Come here. He likes to shred paper and make spit balls!

Mango is a 5-year-old Sun Conure. He’s our guard parrot, squawks up a storm when someone pulls in the driveway. He came from a breeder in Sharonville. He’s bonded with Cannoli, and they share the same cage. I have harness-trained him since we got him when he was 12 weeks old, so I can take him for walks even though his wings aren’t clipped.

Cannoli is an 18-year-old rescue Green-naped Rainbow Lorikeet. We’ve had him for nine years. He is a complete clown. He’s very active, loves scritchies, and imitates all sorts of sounds, like the telephone, purring, house alarm, coughing, sneezing, and snoring.

Birds aren’t the most common pets. What drew you to them?

We had birds when we were kids, and my son is allergic to dogs and cats. For her 11th birthday, my daughter was begging to get a cockatoo, but I said, Why don’t we start a bit smaller? and looked around for a parrot rescue. We found the Emerald Parrot Rescue just outside Goshen, and that’s where we adopted Cannoli and Spooky Ghost.

What do you enjoy doing with your birds? Do they fly freely in your home or outside?

Spooky Ghost gets held a lot. He hangs out with me in my office while I’m working on my computer. He has a stand in the kitchen and loves just hanging out there while we’re there, too. If we leave, he starts making a lot of noise. If we sit down to eat dinner, he goes over to his food bowl and starts eating too. He is full flight and flies back and forth from the kitchen to the family room and to the sunroom, where the cages are.

Cannoli is also full flight. He rarely wants to leave the sunroom unless Mango comes inside, too. He likes to play with toys, take baths, play with people’s hands and toes. Mango likes to eat. He likes to bounce to music and hang out on your shoulder. He also likes to chew up my bougainvillea plant!

Do you have a funny “pet parent” story?

I took Mango campaigning [for County Coroner] with me in 2016. He attended festivals and events.

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