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Do Parrotlets Make Great Pets?

Ashley Bates

If you are looking for a very spirited bird in a compact package, you might want to check out the parrotlet. They are the smallest parrots you can find at local pet shops—touting the nickname “pocket parrot.”

These tiny guys have a larger-than-life view of things, and they definitely think they are the boss. They can be choosy about who they interact with, so be prepared to potentially not be the favorite in your home. However, with enough socialization, any parrotlet can make a fantastic pet for the right family.

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Types of Parrotlets

blue parrotlet
Image Credit: Pixabay

There are tons of parrotlet types from tropical locations all over. Each has its own unique looks and coloration. Here are a few honorable mentions:

Many other parrotlets exist but are not as common in captivity.

Parrotlet Personality

Parrotlets can be cheerful and adventurous. They want to be a part of your everyday living and will happily engage with you out of their enclosure. They love to be in on all the daily gossip, so be prepared to spend a lot of time with this pet.

These cuties are loyal and affectionate. However, they do require everyday handling. The younger your parrotlet is upon purchase, the stronger your bond will be.

Don’t let their sweet little faces fool you—these little guys can be downright vicious sometimes. They are highly territorial and aggressive if they feel threatened. They also don’t like constructive criticism much and will be happy to challenge any authoritarian figure.

The more you socialize with your parrotlet, the happier they will be. However, that does not mean that they will be tolerant of just anyone. They will pick and choose who makes the cut, so certain family members will learn to steer clear soon enough.

We should also mention that they bond incredibly well with one another. If you have more than one parrotlet, it might cause some friction between you and your parrots. They tend to prefer their own kind, so that might interfere with your connection.

Naturally, it depends on their individual personality. Some parrotlets are sweeter than others. But frequent handling is a must, or else these little birds can lose the bond that they have with you quite quickly.

Parrotlet Intelligence

parrotlet on grass
Image Credit: Chelsea Sampson, Shutterstock

Even though these guys are small, they have an intelligence that’s on the same level as their larger parrot cousins. A major difference is that many larger parrots are quite vocal and noisy. Parrotlets tend to be very quiet in comparison.

They are capable of understanding complex concepts and benefit from mental stimulation and advanced training.

Parrotlet Care

Before you’re completely sold on this pocket parrot’s personality, it’s best to keep in mind the kind of care they will require. Don’t let their small stature fool you—these animals still need the proper space and diet to stay healthy and happy.

Enclosure

One of the good things about having a parrotlet is the fact that they are so small. Many larger parrots require a sizable enclosure which not all homes can accommodate. A parrotlet, on the other hand, needs a much smaller space, but still large enough for them to be able to stretch their wings, literally and figuratively.

Your parrotlet will need a space with minimal measurements of 18 by 18 inches. You should increase the size of the enclosure with each parrotlet you introduce.

Diet

parrotlet eating
Image Credit: Arcadio Marin, Shutterstock

Parrotlets, like many birds, are herbivores. They require up to 45% pallets, 25% low-fat seed mix, various grass seeds, and fruits and veggies. Since these guys are small, they don’t require a lot of food, which can be a really attractive thing for people looking to save money on parrot-owning.

If you offer your parrotlet fruits and veggies, make sure it’s on the “safe to eat” list. Also, if you don’t buy organic, make sure to thoroughly wash the vegetables and fruits to prevent any pesticide irritation.

Grooming

When it comes to traditional grooming, you don’t have a lot of work to do here. All you have to do is fill up a shallow, lukewarm bowl of water that they can’t tip over. Your parrotlets will gladly hop in and do all of the training and cleaning themselves.

However, it is your responsibility as a bird owner to ensure that flight wings are trimmed appropriately. If you don’t trim them every 6 weeks, they will grow back, and your bird will regain flight ability. This can cause serious injury to themselves, and it can also cause unwanted escapes.

If you don’t feel comfortable performing this yourself, you can always consult your avian veterinarian for guidance.

Health Issues

blue parrotlet
Image Credit: Midnight-Sight, Shutterstock

If you care for your parrotlet properly, they can live up to 30 years in captivity. As long as you closely monitor their behavior, provide a proper diet, and give them lots of overall care and attention—you should have a happy bird. However, sometimes the unexpected can crop up.

As with any other animal, your parrotlet is prone to specific health issues. To avoid any progressive illness, constantly monitor your parrotlet’s behavior—and get them to the vet right away if you think there is something wrong.

Some common ailments in parrotlets include:
  • Egg binding
  • Cancer
  • Malnutrition
  • Infectious diseases
  • Giardia
  • Parrot fever

Many birds don’t show symptoms until the sickness is advanced. So, if you notice any symptoms, such as lethargy, diarrhea, laying on the bottom of the cage, or lack of appetite—it’s time to act quickly.

Breeding

Parrotlets are very challenging to breed in captivity. We recommend avoiding this unless you are a very experienced hobbyist.

Both birds should be at least one year of age prior to breeding. Once breeding commences, the female’s vent becomes swollen before laying her clutch.

A single parrotlet can lay up to 10 eggs per clutch, but six is a good average. She will lay a new egg every other day until her cycle is complete.

After an incubation period of roughly 18 days, babies emerge from their eggs.

divider-birdsFinal Thoughts

Although these pocket parrots can be a little challenging to own (especially if you’re unfamiliar with the species), they can be equally rewarding. Just make sure you have space, patience, and commitment to care for these beautiful little creatures upon bringing them home.

Parrotlets are colorful in both personality and feathering—do they sound like they would make a good match for you?

Related Read: Where Should You Buy a Parrotlet?


Featured Image Credit: Rafael Cerqueira, Shutterstock

Ashley Bates

Ashley Bates is a freelance dog writer and pet enthusiast who is currently studying the art of animal therapy. A mother to four human children— and 23 furry and feathery kids, too – Ashley volunteers at local shelters, advocates for animal well-being, and rescues every creature she finds. Her mission is to create awareness, education, and entertainment about pets to prevent homelessness. Her specialties are cats and dogs.