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What’s the Optimum Age to Bring a Parrotlet Home?

Nicole Cosgrove

If you’re in the market for a parrotlet, you may be talking to some breeders to find the bird that’s right for you and your family. As you may have noticed, breeders will sell their young parrotlets at different ages, anywhere between 8 and 12 weeks. If you’re wondering when it’s safe for a bird to leave its mother and come home with you, the answer isn’t totally straightforward. However, general wisdom says you should not bring home a young parrotlet until it is completely weaned, generally between 6 and 10 weeks of age.

In this article, we will discuss what this means a bit more in-depth, as well as tips for what to do if your parrotlet regresses and whether or not you should adopt an older parrotlet.

divider-birdsWhat Does Weaning Mean?

When parrotlets are born, they are quite literally helpless. At the beginning of life, they are deaf, blind, and have no feathers. As a result, they rely completely on their mother to feed them. Like other birds, adult parrotlets chew and regurgitate their food in order to feed their chicks. They do this because baby birds are not capable of breaking down their own food.

Chicks are feathered by about 4 weeks of age, but they cannot fly and are still learning to break down their own food. They will usually learn to fly before they can feed themselves. Being able to fly is an important step in the process because it means the birds will be able to find their own food and evade predators. During the weaning process, the chick learns to be less reliant on its mother and begins to feed itself. This process doesn’t always happen overnight; it can take a week or two for the young parrotlet to be completely weaned.

Baby Parrotlet
Image Credit: Baby parrotlets, Siobhan Bickerdike, Flickr, Attribution CC 2.0

What Should I Do If My Baby Bird Regresses?

Sometimes, breeders sell young parrotlets shortly after they are weaned. When this happens, your pet might not eat very much even though it seems hungry. This phenomenon, called regression, can happen as a result of the stress a young parrotlet might experience when it is brought to a new environment.

If your bird regresses, you will need to hand feed it to make sure its nutritional needs are being met. You can purchase commercially sold hand-feeding formula for your young bird. You will also need a syringe and a food scale to help you portion out how much formula to give your pet. Make sure the syringe is small enough for your parrotlet; they are small birds, to begin with, but at only about 2 months old, your bird is unlikely to have reached adult size.

Try to find out from your breeder how many feedings it was getting per day. This will help you figure out how much formula it should be getting each day. When it comes to the feeding process itself, place your bird on a table or another easy-to-reach surface with a towel underneath it to mitigate spills. Your parrotlet will likely be accustomed to being fed with a syringe if it was hand fed by a breeder or previous owner. If your bird was fed by its mother, be very careful when aiming the syringe. Birds have two external holes in their beaks: one that leads to its crop, and one that leads to its lungs. Take care not to allow the formula to flow into the second hole that leads to your bird’s respiratory system, as this can be very harmful.

Continue to offer regular bird food throughout the process of weaning so that your parrotlet will eventually stop needing to eat the formula. In addition to pellets, try offering other foods such as fruits, vegetables, and grains such as millet to help broaden your parrotlet’s palate. Gradually reduce the number of formula feedings a day until your parrotlet is entirely off the formula.

Baby Parrotlet_Ploychan Lompong_Shutterstock
Image credit: Ploychan Lompong, Shutterstock

Is It a Good Idea To Adopt an Older Parrotlet?

While many families prefer to adopt young parrotlets, there are plenty of older birds looking for homes. Parrotlets can live to be up to 20 years old, so there are many different reasons why a bird may be rehomed during the span of its life. For example, some birds are rehomed after their caregivers die, or when a family is sadly no longer able to care for them. While birds you find in shelters may be several years old, it’s likely that they still have many years left to live. Adopting an older parrotlet will provide it with the opportunity to have a comfortable home to live out the rest of its days.

Of course, some people rehome their parrotlets due to certain qualities in the bird that they could not tolerate for whatever reason. If you are thinking about adopting an older parrotlet that has been previously owned, make sure to gather as much information as you can about the bird’s history and behaviors to determine if it is a good fit for your family.

divider-birdsConclusion

If you are wondering what the optimum age for adopting a parrotlet is, there is no one right answer. However, it is important to ask questions about a bird’s weaning process before bringing it home. It’s best for the bird if it is entirely weaned before being moved to a new home, otherwise, there is a chance that it will regress. Of course, if you are open to adopting a pet, there are many adult parrotlets in need of a good home. Whether they are 6 months old or 10 years old, adopted parrotlets can make wonderful pets.


Featured Image Credit: Yokwar, Shutterstock

Nicole Cosgrove

Nicole is the proud mom of Baby, a Burmese cat and Rosa, a New Zealand Huntaway. A Canadian expat, Nicole now lives on a lush forest property with her Kiwi husband in New Zealand. She has a strong love for all animals of all shapes and sizes (and particularly loves a good interspecies friendship) and wants to share her animal knowledge and other experts' knowledge with pet lovers across the globe.