Keeping Parrotlet – 15 Things to Know
By Sviat Oleksiv | Updated on June 27, 2021
What exactly is the parrotlet and would these tiny birds make good pets for you and your family? Here’s everything you need to know about parrotlets.
Parrotlets are one of the most popular, fascinating, and fun types of pet birds you can get. They are ideal for people who want to have a parrot but can’t look after a huge bird that needs too much space. Aside from being compact, Parrotlets have a lot of other interesting advantages too – they are cute, social, playful, and quite charming.
They do have some specific needs too. Even though Parrotlets are one of the easier pet bird species you can get, they still have their requirements if they are to live a long, healthy, and happy life.
So, what do you need to know about this bird?
The 15 things you should know before getting a Parrotlet
Parrotlets are the smallest parrot you can get. The small size of these adorable birds cannot be overstated. They are often called “Pocket Parrots” and their average length (including their long tails) is 4.5 to 5 inches (or around 28.5 cm). This is still bigger than many other pet birds but it’s also exceptionally small for a parrot.
In other words – Parrotlets are the perfect “middle ground” for a lot of wanna-be bird owners. Especially if this is going to be your first bird and you have to buy all the necessary inventory, the compact size of the Parrotlet means that you won’t need to get too large of a cage and other accessories.
Getting the right cage is essential. Speaking of the Parrotlet’s cage, the bird’s smaller size does mean that you can get by with a smaller cage. However, when we say “smaller” we only mean relative to the cage you’d need for larger birds – it still shouldn’t be “small”, however.
The minimum we’d recommend is 18” by 18” by 18” for a single Parrotlet. That’s 3x46 cm in metrics. If you can afford a bigger cage – please do so. Parrotlets may be small but they are also very active and need to move. If the cage is so small your Parrotlet won’t be able to move enough which will lead to both physical and mental problems for the bird.
Also, it should go without saying that if you want to look after more than one Parrotlet in the same cage then it needs to be better. The rule of thumb is +50% in the cage’s dimensions for a second bird. However, we’ll touch more on getting a second bird below.
The Parrotlet is a very friendly and affectionate bird. Parrotlets are very energetic and social birds that love when their humans are around them. Some may tell you that Parrotlets love to bite and that’s certainly true – they do love to bite when they are not properly socialized. If you’re wondering how a bird can be “socialized” here’s a good video guide:Once you’ve trained your Parrotlet properly, however, and the bird has gotten used to you and your home, these little beauties can make amazing pets. Playful and fun, Parrotlets love to interact with the world around them as well as with people.
Two or more Parrotlets in a cage are certainly an option. There is a myth around Parrotlets that they are too territorial and “bird aggressive” for you to house more than one per cage. This is definitely false. You can easily house two or even more Parrotlets in the same cage – here’s a good example by Parrot Bliss.Of course, there are some things you’ll need to do and some general rules you’ll need to adhere to if the cohabitation is to be successful:
Proper socialization is important.
Make sure the cage is big enough so the two birds don’t need to argue for territory.
As was shown in the Parrot Bliss video – put enough water and food bowls everywhere so the Parrotlets don’t need to compete for resources either.
If you want to house a male and female Parrotlet together, be wary of the risk of breeding. Birds can’t be spayed and neutered the same way dogs and cats can. Of course, there are ways to dissuade a male and female bird from breeding – check this Budgie World video for some ideas.However, an even easier solution is to just not house two birds of the opposite gender together.
These tiny parrots love to play with toys and people. If you want your Parrotlets to be happy, active, and engaged, you’ll want to give them plenty of toys. This doesn’t necessarily mean overspending in the pet store either – like cats, dogs, and all other animals, Parrotlets can find joy in the simplest things – a piece of paper, an empty carton of eggs, and anything they can dig their beaks into and toss around the cage.
Parrotlets and kids. Parrots, in general, are not recommended for kids below the age of 6. This is mainly because such small children can’t be properly thought how to play with such a bird. The end result is usually lots of drama and a potentially bitten child and a hurt bird.
Parrotlets are very small for a parrot, however, does this change things?
Not really – as small as Parrotlets are, that doesn’t change the fact that you can’t explain to a 4-year-old how to handle them.
However, if your kid is of an age where they can follow instructions, the Parrotlets can make excellent pets for them. Colorful, playful, and interactive, well-trained and properly handled Parrotlets are excellent pets for 6-year-or-older children.
These parrots are not too pricey but the long-term expenses are not insignificant. If you don’t want to overstrain your budget, Parrotlets are one of the best parrot species you can get. Their initial price is much lower than that of most other birds which means that the cage will be your main significant initial investment.
Of course, as with all other birds and pets, the real expenses come with the food, toys, inventory, and vet care over time. That can be much more significant than the initial purchase. However, even in that regard, Parrotlets are more affordable than other parrots.
A charmer and potentially - a talker. Parrotlets are not the most talkative pet parrot you can get but they can be taught some words and phrases. This puts them ahead of many other parrots as a lot of these birds can’t talk at all.
So, how do you teach a Parrotlet to talk?
Well, the first thing to note here is that not every Parrotlet develops this ability – some simply have no interest in doing so and prefer to stick to chirping and singing. So, if you want to be sure that your Parrotlet will learn how to talk, the smartest thing to do is to buy/adopt a Parrotlet that has already started talking. If the bird has learned even a single word, this means that they have an interest in mimicking human speech and will gladly continue to do so.
As for some actual training tips – check out this cool video by Chewy.
Plan for some “fly time” every day. As big as your Parrotlet’s cage is, it’s strongly recommended that you let them out of the cage at least once a day. This will give them the opportunity to stretch their wings, to interact with you and their surroundings, and will make them much happier and healthier.
You will need to have socialized the birds properly before that, however. If your Parrotlets don’t trust you, they won’t let you put them back in the cage once you’ve let them out.
You’ll need a bird-proof home or living room. Naturally, if you are going to let your birds out of their cage, you’ll need to bird-proof the room(s) they’ll be in. This means no open windows or doors, no things the Parrotlets can break or chew through, nothing that can harm them, and no tight crevices they can hide in.
The Parrotlet has some specific dietary requirements. Parrotlets have a very fast metabolism and they are not prone to getting overweight, especially if they can move enough every day. This means that it’s easy to just keep their bird feeders full at all times and let them eat whenever they want.
As for what to put in their feeders – a mix of seeds and chopped fruits and veggies is the way to go. Parrotlets are not too happy with commercial pellet mixes but stuff such as seeds, grains, sprouts, any tropical or moderate-climate fruit, and even cooked legumes can work.
Don’t forget the water. Parrotlets can be prone to dehydration so never forget to clean and refill their water bowls. That’s why it’s important to have multiple sources of water too.
Monitor your Parrotlet’s health. Parrotlets are relatively healthy birds but you’ll still need to watch out for things such as the bird’s droppings, their behavior, appetite, and so on. Any deviation from the norm should be noted and acted upon. This doesn’t mean getting your bird to the vet every time it oversleeps in the morning, of course, but a quick consultation over the phone is recommended.
Find a good vet who specializes in pet birds. Speaking of vets, keep in mind that not every neighborhood veterinarian specialized in birds and parrots. It’s wise to find a good vet that has experience with Parrotlets even before you’ve got the bird itself.
With the right care, you can expect your Parrotlet to have a lifespan of around 20 years. And, with a bit of luck, a Parrotlet can even live up to 30 years – that’s much more than almost all other types of pets and certainly more than you’d expect from such a tiny bird.