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Parrotlet vs. Budgie: What’s the Difference? (With Pictures)

Nicole Cosgrove

Even if you can have a dog or cat, you can still enjoy the pleasures of pet ownership with a bird. Nearly 6 million households would agree with you, too. A Parrotlet or a Budgie will make an excellent companion. Either one is a suitable choice for a first pet for your child. While the care is similar, there are some stark differences between the two species that may tip the scale one way or another.

Our guide will cover the basics and move on to the specific things you should know before you invite a bird into your home. Bear in mind that both are relatively long-lived, making the decision to get one a commitment for you and your family. We’ll discuss the care of each one and what you can expect as a pet owner.

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Visual Differences

Parrotlet and Budgie side by side template
Image Credit | Left: Parrotlet (Chelsea Sampson, Shutterstock); Right: Budgie (sipa, Pixabay)

At a Glance

Parrotlet
  • Average height (adult): Up to 5 inches
  • Lifespan: Up to 20 years
  • Human Interaction: 2 hours a day
  • Grooming needs: Baths, two to three times a week
  • Family-friendly: Yes
  • Other bird-friendly: Can live in pairs but not with other species
  • Trainability: Can learn simple tricks
Budgie
  • Average height (adult): 21 – 26 inches
  • Lifespan: 7 – 10 years
  • Human Interaction: 2+ hours a day
  • Grooming needs: Baths, two to three times a week
  • Family-friendly: Yes
  • Other bird-friendly: Can live in pairs or small groups
  • Trainability: Can learn simple tricks

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Parrotlet Overview

Blue Parrotlet
Image Credit: klickblick, Pixabay

The name Parrotlet is a general term that describes the smallest parrots of primarily three different genera. All are native to Central and South America. It’s worth noting that their typical habitat is rainforests. That can give you valuable insight into what this bird needs to be happy and comfortable in your home.

Personality / Character

The Parrotlet is an intelligent bird with an attitude. In some ways, it acts like a Chihuahua, ready to take on any foe, real or imagined. That fact makes this one a better choice for someone who has worked with birds before and knows what to expect. Early socialization is imperative to keep your pet from developing bad habits like nipping.

Like other related avian relatives, this one needs challenges so that it doesn’t get bored. The same thing applies to Budgies, too. Pairs form strong bonds, which makes sense from an evolutionary perspective. They will defend their space fiercely to safeguard it. However, Parrotlets aren’t overly noisy, but they are vocal when they have something to say.

Exercise and Human Interaction

The Parrotlet is a social animal. If you get one as a pet, it’s imperative to interact with it daily or risk losing its agreeable nature. We suggest a few hours of exercise and play every day to keep its feistiness in check. It’s an excellent way to reinforce the bond between you and your pet. It will also give your Parrotlet the mental stimulation it needs to stay healthy.

We recommend keeping an eye on your Parrotlet if you let your Parrotlet out of the cage. Its instinct is to gnaw on wood—no matter if it’s your furniture. You can satisfy this need by adding some wooden toys to the cage.

Parrotlet perched on a wire
Image Credit: Rafael Martos Martins, Shutterstock

Training

The Parrotlet is quite capable of learning some tricks, especially if you use treats as a motivator. The key is consistency with positive reinforcement. If you work closely with your pet, it might pick up a few words, too. We suggest swapping out toys occasionally to challenge the bird mentally. Interactive toys are an excellent way to encourage them to learn new tasks.

Health & Care

The essential thing to remember when bringing a bird—especially one from a tropical place—is to place its cage in a draft-free area. The same caution applies to heat vents and registers. Their native habitat is relatively stable with few drastic temperature shifts. Covering the cage at night will keep your pet comfortable and help settle it down for the night.

The Parrotlet does best either alone or in a pair with no other birds in the cage. Daily cage cleaning is necessary as a routine of its care. Offer fresh food and water every day. We recommend getting perches of different diameters at varying heights to encourage your Parrotlet to explore its world. Larger cages are best, especially if you have more than one pet.

Remember that your pet will bond with you if it doesn’t have a mate.

Suitable for:

Individuals who have some experience handling birds are an excellent fit for the Parrotlet. If you can get a pet that has been hand-raised, all the better. Plan on getting bit a time or two until you both get used to each other. The same caution applies to all birds, but the Parrotlet has the bigger beak of the two.

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Budgie Overview

budgie on a tree branch
Image Credit: jggrz, Pixabay

The Budgie, or more formally, the Budgerigar, is a familiar resident of pet stores and conservatories since the mid-1800s. Unlike the Parrotlet, the Budgie’s habit is the dry shrublands of its native Australia. Whereas Parrotlets are perhaps less common, these birds are ubiquitous. They’re also relatively inexpensive, which helps explain their popularity. However, the next topic is the real reason.

Personality / Character

Budgies or Parakeets are sweet birds with a sense of humor and friendly nature. These pets will provide hours of amusement with their antics. They are also intelligent animals with a playful side you and your children will enjoy. Like the Parrotlet, the Budgie is an active bird. You’ll likely find that it is in motion always.

Whereas the Parrotlet acts willfully, sometimes, the Budgie always seems happy. It is a chatty pet, especially if you have more than one. However, its voice isn’t as loud as the Parrotlet with no shrill screams. You’ll likely find that covering the cage is an excellent way to cut down the chatter at night.

Exercise and Human Interaction

If you have only one Budgie, it’s essential that you interact with it daily. This bird thrives on companionship, whether it’s an avian friend or you. It may surprise you to learn that birds can become obese if they don’t get enough exercise. Fortunately, this guy loves to play. It’ll investigate anything new you put in the cage.

budgie on a rope
Image Credit: Barni1, Pixabay

Training

The Budgie can pick up a few simple tricks with the right motivation, i.e., treats. It may even learn a few words, although its scratchy voice might make it hard to understand them. This bird has decent problem-solving skills, so it may figure out how to open the cage door without a clip to secure it. The Budgie’s gentle disposition and eagerness to please will make training easy.

Health & Care

The Budgie is a relatively hardy pet, as long as you place the cage away from drafts. Offer fresh food and water daily. Your Budgie will also enjoy a millet sprig to gnaw on occasionally. You should also put a cuttlebone in for a calcium source and a way for your bird to polish its beak. You’ll likely find that your pet will treat it as a toy, too.

We’d suggest swapping out toys for your Budgie as you would for a Parrotlet. This bird needs mental stimulation, too, to prevent boredom and feather plucking. A mirror is an excellent choice for entertaining your Parakeet. Make sure cleaning any toys you add is part of your regular cage maintenance.

Suitable for:

First-time pet owners and older children will find that the Budgie is a delightful pet. While it isn’t a cuddly choice, this bird will reward you with its friendliness and playful nature. They are easy to care for, making it an excellent way to teach your kids responsibility.

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Which Bird is Right for You?

Owning a bird is a different experience than getting other pets that you can handle more. However, that doesn’t mean you can’t bond with either a Parrotlet or Budgie. We suggest getting a Parrotlet for older children or individuals who have been around birds before. This species is feisty and may prove to be more of a challenge than the Budgie if you’re afraid of getting bit.

On the other hand, you can’t go wrong with a Parakeet. These happy, friendly birds are a joy to own. While they don’t live as long as Parrotlets, they make the best use out of the time they share with you with their bubbly personalities and fun sense of humor.

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.