Parrotlets are a tiny species in the parrot family Psittacidae, and yet they carry the same temperament as a large-sized Amazon. Not too noisy, but certainly very active, these curious birds pack a walloping punch in a pint-size body.
But do they make good pets?
Often referred to as “pocket parrots” — parrotlets are loving and affectionate companion birds towards responsible and caring owners. These tiny feathered creatures are good pets that continue to attract many new adorning human owners.
Why Parrotlets Make Good Pets
Their small size is deceptive — parrotlets often have larger-than-life personalities that can parallel their larger-sized cousin. It is important to play, interact, and train them each day.
Providing a mentally stimulating playground and rotating their toys regularly is integral to the bird’s well-being.
Parrotlets are intelligent creatures and are highly trainable with reward-based methods. Before you begin training, you’ll want to gain the trust of your bird and establish a connection.
Parrotlets can be taught many of the same tricks you can teach dogs like “play dead,” “fetch,” “drop it,” and “shake.”
They are very active and it’s vital to provide ways for your little bird to stay engaged for several hours a day.
These little birds from Central and South America can learn to talk, but unless you’re a gifted expert avian behaviorist don’t expect miracles.
There is no guarantee that teaching any bird to talk will be successful.
If talking is important, you may have better luck with buying a male. Females aren’t known to say much. Parrotlets are ALWAYS good at chirping and screeching!
If not provided adequate enough care, a parrotlet at times may act out in warranted frustration. For these reasons, they may not be good beginner birds.
If this is a concern to you, consider a dove or pigeon. All pet bird species have their unique requirements.
Parrotlets are considered by many as one-person birds. This, however, doesn’t mean they cannot be friendly with other people. In the wild, they live in flocks and are monogamous.
Your parrotlet may view you as his mate and other people as flock mates. Your level of experience with birds and bird behavior will determine whether you decide on two parrotlets.
Parrotlets are at times territorial and have aggressive tendencies, and it isn’t always recommended you pair two birds together.
There’s always a 50/50 chance they will like other birds, including other parrotlets.
If you like the idea of a smaller bird that’s easier to take care of than its larger cousins — a parrotlet may be for you.
Are Parrotlets Good for Families With Children?
The Parrotlet isn’t recommended for a family with children under the age of 10. A young child may not be able to read the signs if shown aggressive and fearless behavior.
The bird’s larger than average beak to body size could potentially make a small nip into a bite. They are otherwise loving birds if handled with adequate love and care.
If you insist on a parrotlet and have young children consider consulting with your local animal shelter about adopting an adult parrotlet.
There is less of a chance of behavioral issues in an adult. You can also consult with a veterinarian specializing in avian care.
Do Parrotlets Like To Cuddle?
Some parrotlets like to cuddle and others don’t — like in all bird species every one of them is unique and develops a singular personality.
They are far more likely to cuddle if the breeder both hand-fed and spent adequate time socializing and handling them as chicks. A reputable breeder will also never clip the wings.
If you want to pet your new parrotlet it is important to assess their behavior. It may take time warming your tiny companion’s big heart to the feeling of your fingers gently stroking his head.
You can make positive associations by treating your pet bird after each stroke. A good book on clicker training will help guide you.
It’s important you raise an independent bird–many needy bird owners make the mistake of giving too much attention.
This can lead to destructive behaviors and a one-way ticket to the animal shelter.
How Do I Choose A Parrotlet?
The golden rule is to never buy on impulse. A bit of research can go a long way in helping you choose a parrotlet. To pick the right bird, you should:
- Assess the bird’s personality and behavioral patterns.
- Listen to what the seller has to say. He knows them best and can help you find the perfect fit for you.
- Never choose by price.
- Check the bird’s eyes and nostrils. Make sure the bird’s eyes are bright, clear, and open. The nostrils should also be clear with no discharge.
- Listen to the bird’s breathing. The parrotlet shouldn’t struggle to breathe or breathe rapidly.
- Make sure the feathers are clean and in top condition.
- If you want a talking bird, consider getting a male.
Male or Female
Male and female parrotlets make equally good companions, but there are some differences to look out for. A female will be a quieter chirper overall, but also less likely to talk.
If you want to increase the odds your parrotlet will learn to talk consider getting a male.
Though their talking ability is often nothing to be impressed with, and therefore shouldn’t be a deciding factor. The overall behavior is largely dependent on personality and not gender.
Pacific Parrotlet or Green-Rumped Parrotlet
There are several parrotlet species, but the two most popular as pets are the Pacific Parrotlet and the Green-Rumped Parrotlet. The most commonly found one is the Pacific.
The difference between the two comes down to colorings, size, and temperament. The green-rumped is said to be tamer but takes longer to adjust.
How Much Do Parrotlets Cost?
The cost of a parrotlet ranges anywhere from $60 to $350. Green colored parrotlets usually cost less than the more striking blues. Buying from a breeder will cost you a lot less than from a high-end pet store.
If you buy from a breeder, research well and find one with a good reputation. Also, consider adopting a feathered friend from your local animal shelter. This last option will be your most affordable.
A single parrotlet should have a minimum bedtime cage size of at least 18” x 18” x 24”. To prevent your little birdy from getting stuck, the cage bar spacing should be no smaller than ½-inch.
If your parrotlet will be alone during the day while you’re at work or school it is recommended you purchase a flight cage. It is important to give your bird proper space to prevent behavioral problems.
Parrotlets have a high metabolism. A commonly recommended diet mix consisting of an optimal nutritional balance is pellets, low-fat seed mix, grains, leafy green vegetables, and low-sugar fruits.
It is important not to overlook the nutritional value of dark leafy greens. Parrotlets eat their greens in the wild and deserve to eat them in captivity.
When introducing new food the best time is when they are hungriest — morning or evening. As you would your own food, always check the ingredients label for anything unhealthy.
Parrotlets might be small birds but they can live a long time. The lifespan of a parrotlet is often between 20-30 years.
If you’re a parent, be prepared to take care of the feathered pride long after your child leaves home.
Lifespan is largely dependent on the amount of care given to the bird over the course of its lifetime. Accidents often happen and it’s important to bird proof your home before housing.
You now have a better idea if a parrotlet may be the right fit. If you’re an inexperienced bird owner, it is best to consult the advice of an avian veterinarian or local bird expert in your area.
To take care of parrotlets well, you will need to know what and when to feed them, the ideal cage size, playtime, training, and keeping your feathered creature healthy.
If you have a proper handle on this, then taking care of a pocket parrot will be challenging at times but also enriching and rewarding.