If you’re shopping around for your next pet parrot, you may have considered purchasing a parrotlet, a small parrot species known for their fiery personalities.
While most people are familiar with the small parakeets and larger, brightly colored macaws, many are unfamiliar with the adorable parrotlets. They are, however, definitely worth exploring.
Do parrotlets make good pets? Parrotlets can be great pets, even for first-time owners. They’re highly intelligent, affectionate, and amusing and don’t require excessive care. Some parrotlets can be aggressive, but as long as you spend time training them and establishing a trusting bond, this should not be an issue.
In the following, we will cover some basic facts about the parrotlet as both a wild and captive species.
You’ll find answers to every common question about parrotlets, so keep reading if you are considering purchasing a parrotlet as your next pet.
Parrotlets, lovingly dubbed “pocket parrots,” refer to a group of cute and feisty bird species that are only about the size of a budgie.
Parrotlet Size & Appearance
There are several different species of parrotlets, but, as their name represents, they are all tiny parrots.
They vary in color from all green, to green and yellow, to blue and white, and they have pink beaks and feet.
Parrotlets are cute little birds measuring around 5 inches tall and weighing about 1 ounce.
Their beaks and facial structures are similar to a macaw’s, but they are closer in size to a parakeet.
Parrotlet Temperament & Personality
While personality varies widely by bird, parrotlets are known to be social, curious, funny little creatures with a lot of spunk.
They can be cute and cuddly, but they are known to have a strong will and might choose not to listen to you.
Parrotlets sometimes forget how small they are and could try to fight with larger pets in the household, and they should be housed away from any other pet birds, dogs, or cats.
Parrotlet Native Region & Habitat
Parrotlets are native to Mexico, Central America, and South America.
They live in a wide range of habitats, ranging from arid, shrubby regions to tropical woodlands.
Parrotlet Intelligence & Trainability
In various tests, parrotlets outperformed green-winged macaws, sulphur-crested cockatoos, and rainbow lorikeets, so there is no doubt that parrotlets have a superior level of intelligence.
Parrotlets’ sharp wit makes them easy to train as long as you have established a good amount of trust between you and your bird prior to beginning.
Are Parrotlets Smart?
Parrotlets, like other parrots, are very intelligent creatures. They are able to learn tasks and new tricks at any age.
To put things in perspective, it’s commonly believed that a parrotlet’s IQ is equivalent to that of a young child.
Additionally, parrotlets are known to live in highly developed social systems in the wild in which the young pass through a socialization process in “nurseries” as they mature.
Are Parrotlets Easy To Train?
Since parrotlets are so smart, they can be easy to train with positive reinforcement methods.
Some parrotlets have very feisty personalities and may be reluctant to listen to you, but if you establish a strong relationship with them and provide sufficient motivation, training is not difficult.
Parrotlet Sounds & Vocalizations
Parrotlets aren’t known to be super noisy. This is why they are sometimes termed “apartment parrots,” but they may let out a shriek when they are scared.
Male parrotlets can mimic a few human words, but most females do not mimic humans at all.
Here are some sounds you can expect from a parrotlet:
Taking care of parrotlets is very similar to taking care of other small parrots.
They require a good amount of time for play and hanging out with you, but they aren’t extremely high maintenance.
Ideal Pet Parrotlet Diet
In the wild, parrotlets eat mostly fruits and seeds.
If you have a pet parrolet, try to feed him or her a balance of fruits, vegetables (lots of dark leafy greens), commercial pellets, and some seeds.
Parrotlets can eat parakeet food purchased from the pet store, but they eat much more than parakeets since they require so much exercise, so make sure you are feeding your parrotlet enough.
Parrotlets need room to fly around in their cages, and the bigger the cage the more mentally stimulated they may be when caged.
You should purchase a cage that at least 18 inches wide and 18 inches tall.
You’ll also want to have a couple of perches in the cage, these can be purchased separately if they don’t come with the cage.
Exercise is super important for captive birds.
In the wild, parrotlets get a ton of exercise flying around and foraging each day. It’s important to strive to provide similar levels of activity in your home.
Be sure there are plenty of sturdy toys available both in and outside of the cage, and allow your bird several hours of cage-free play time each day – closely supervised of course.
There are a few ways that you can simulate their wild activities and provide mental stimulation for pet parrotlets:
- Buy toys like wooden chew toys, ropes, and ladders to hang in the cage.
- Play a variety of music (not too loud).
- Provide a variety of foraging toys.
- Allow for exploration and free flight in a bird-safe area of the house.
Due to their high intelligence, boredom can be a real problem for parrotlets and can lead to behavior issues as well.
I spoke with avian expert Jessica, from BirdSmart in California, about combating this situation. Her advice is as follows:
Parrotlets tend to really enjoy having a lot of toys. Try rotating toys routinely to keep them interested, and rearrange the toys in the cage often.
I’ll often play recordings of wild birds for my parrotlets, and they really seem to like that. Also be sure to frequently let your parrotlet out of the cage to explore.
Just remember that they can easily get into trouble, so never let them have total free range or let them out of your sight.
Parrotlets typically cost around $200 to $350. They’re quite a bit more expensive than budgies and cockatiels and are not nearly as readily available.
Prices vary based on the type of parrotlet, demand in the immediate area, and whether the birds were hand-raised and hand-fed or not.
Parrotlets live 15 to 30 years. They have a shorter lifespan compared to parrots like macaws, so they may be a better pet for you if you’re not looking for a lifelong commitment.
Parrotlet Interesting Facts
Here are some fun facts about parrotlets.
- Parrotlets are the smallest parrots.
- Males have different coloring from females.
- Parrotlets exercise a lot and eat a lot.
- Parrotlets are so curious that they can sometimes put themselves in dangerous situations (always keep an eye on your little friend).
- There are many species of parrotlets and many mutations within those species.
Types of Parrotlets
There are at least 17 different species of parrotlets spanning three different genera. The most common pet species are:
- Green-rumped parrotlet.
- Mexican parrotlet.
- Pacific parrotlet.
- Spectacled parrotlet
Other common parrotlets include:
- Blue-winged parrotlets.
- Sclater’s parrotlets.
- Yellow-faced parrotlets.
- Amazonian parrotlets.
- Tepui parrotlets.
- Golden-tailed parrotlets.
- Sapphire-rumped parrotlets.
- Scarlet-shouldered parrotlets.
- Spot-winged parrotlets.
- Brown-backed parrotlets.
- Lilac-tailed parrotlets.
- Red-fronted parrotlets.
- Blue-fronted parrotlets.
Which Type of Parrotlet Makes the Best Pet?
The Pacific parrotlet and the green-rumped parrotlet are two parrotlets that are known for being great pets.
However, any parrotlet species you are able to get as a pet will likely be a playful and sweet companion.
Do Parrotlets Talk?
Parrotlets aren’t as talkative as some other parrot species.
Male parrotlets can learn a few words, but only a small percentage of females will ever speak a word, and most females will never talk at all.
At What Age Do Parrotlets Start To Talk?
Baby parrotlets may start speaking between five months and a year old. However, this can vary based on the level or training and the way in which the bird was raised.
If your parrotlet has not attempted to utter a word by the time he reaches 1 year old, he may never talk at all.
Do Parrotlets Like To Be Held?
If your parrotlet was hand-fed as a baby, he or she may like to be held.
If you try to hold your parrotlet and she doesn’t like it, do not force her as this can irritate the bird.
Instead, focus your efforts on teaching your bird to “step up” and perch contently on your finger.
Are Parrotlets Cuddly? Affectionate?
Some parrotlets are very affectionate and can enjoy being held and cuddling with you.
However, not all parrotlets are cuddly; this trait just depends on their individual personalities.
Do Parrotlets Like To Be Petted?
Parrotlets are known to be affectionate and may like to be petted on their heads.
If your parrotlet doesn’t seem to like pets, we’d recommend finding a different way to connect with them.
Are Parrotlets Loud?
Parrotlets may make shrieking sounds when upset, but when they’re happy and comfortable, they’re known to be quieter than most parrots.
In fact, they’re regularly recommended as good “apartment birds” due to how quiet they are known to be.
Can You Keep Multiple Parrotlets Together?
It’s not recommended to cage multiple parrotlets together as they are known to be aggressive with each other sometimes.
If you purchase a bonded pair, they should be fine together, but otherwise, try to keep your parrotlets in separate cages.
Housing a pair together may also make your parrotlets less affectionate towards you as they will naturally bond closely with one another.
How Do You Bond With a Parrotlet?
Bonding with your parrotlet is all about getting them comfortable with you.
When you first get your parrotlet, just try to spend time around their cage and speak in a soft voice.
You can also offer your parrotlet lots of treats to help them begin to trust you.
After you’ve had your parrotlet for a while and he or she is comfortable with you, you can bond with your parrotlet just by letting her out of the cage and playing with her.
Training a Parrotlet: 5 Tips for Success
Training parrotlets is much like training most other parrots, but some can be a bit more stubborn.
- Make sure your parrotlet is getting enough exercise. These birds get a ton of exercise in the wild and may be agitated and not want to train if they haven’t flown around enough.
- Spend lots of quality time with your parrotlet to establish a trusting bond.
- Pay attention to parrotlet’s body language. These birds can get easily agitated or bored. If you notice your bird feeling upset, take a break from training and try again later.
- Mitigate external stimuli as much as possible. Your parrotlet will be able to focus more on your training if there are fewer distractions in the room.
- Find your parrotlets’ favorite food to use as a treat. Having a high-reward treat will make your parrotlet more likely to pay attention to you during training.
Are Parrotlets Hard to Train?
Parrotlets can be hard to train if they are feeling feisty.
However, if you wait until they settle down and if you have some high-value treats, you should easily be able to train the parrotlet simple tasks.
Why Do Parrotlets Bite?
Parrotlets are high-energy birds that can get aggressive when they’re upset.
They might bite you if they feel like they need space apart from you or if something scares them like a loud noise or a strange person.
How Do You Stop a Parrotlet From Biting?
Never yell or try to punish your parrotlet from biting; this will only encourage them to be aggressive.
Instead, you’ll want to reward them when they are behaving well.
For example, if your parrotlet bites you, put the bird down and walk away.
Once time has passed and the bird looks calm and isn’t acting aggressive, reward him or her for this good behavior.
Over time, your bird will begin to associate nonaggressive behavior with getting treats.
It’s also important to desensitize your parrotlet from things that trigger him or her to get aggressive.
For example, if your parrotlet is afraid of the vacuum, put the vacuum near its cage without turning it on, and give the parrotlet a yummy treat.
How Do You Calm a Parrotlet?
If your parrotlet is agitated, it’s important to not react. Yelling at your parrotlet will only make him or her more upset.
Instead, try to ignore the bird until he or she has calmed down, and then reward the parrot.
How Do I Know My Parrotlet Is Happy?
Here are some common signs that your parrotlet is happy:
- Very active (not cowering in the cage)
- Beak grinding
- Sleeping when you’re near them
- Coming towards you when you walk in the room
Learn to notice your parrotlet’s body language so you can tell when your parrotlet is happy and when she is upset.
If you’re truly interested in your parrotlet’s happiness, you’re sure to enjoy our article “What Do Parrots Like? What Do They Hate?“
Parrotlet vs. Parakeet
Parrotlets and parakeets are different in appearance and personality.
Parrotlets have larger beaks and are a more solid color compared to most parakeets.
They also are more active and feisty compared to parakeets. This means they can also be more aggressive than parakeets.
Although they’re more active, parrotlets are generally a bit quieter than parakeets.
Which Is a Better Pet – Parakeet or Parrotlet?
Parakeets and parrotlets are both great pets for different reasons, but if you want an easier bird you should get a parakeet as a pet.
While parrotlets have super fun personalities, they can also have some behavioral issues that make them hard to deal with.
The aggression of some parrotlets might make it difficult for you to train him or her or have guests, dogs, or children around him or her.
Parakeets are known to be much more easy going and aren’t known to bite.
However, they can be louder, so if you’re living in an apartment or any other shared space, a parrotlet might be a better bet.
Can a Parrotlet and a Parakeet Live Together?
It is not recommended to house a parrotlet and a parakeet together.
Parrotlets are not really supposed to live with any other bird because parrotlets can get aggressive towards them.
There isn’t a huge chance of your parrotlet hurting your parakeet, but you wouldn’t want to risk it. Try to keep them housed separately.
Parrotlets are little balls of energy that need lots of exercises. If they are taken good care of and you have a great bond with them, they can be affectionate, cuddly creatures.
A parrotlet makes a great pet (even for first-time owners) as long as you’re willing to put up with some potential behavioral issues.