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

Nicole Cosgrove

March 29, 2021

Both parrotlets and parakeets are part of the same species, so they look alike and have similar temperaments. However, there are serious differences between these two types of pets that are worth exploring, including their size and lifespan. Whether you are looking to buy one of these birds as a pet for your household or you just want to satisfy your curiosity, you will find everything that you need to know about the differences between parrotlets and parakeets below.divider-birds

Visual Differences

parrotlet vs parakeet visual
Image Credits: Pixabay

One of the biggest differences between these birds is their size, with the parakeet being a bit larger than the parrotlet. They have much longer tail feathers than parrotlets do. Also, parrotlets are almost always green in color, with males showing blue spots on their backs. However, parakeets come in a variety of solid colors and can be multicolored. Read on to learn about other ways that the parrotlet and the parakeet differ.

At a Glance

Parrotlet
  • Average length (adult): 4-5 inches
  • Average weight (adult): .8-1.2 ounces
  • Lifespan: 15-20 years
  • Exercise: 1+ hours a day
  • Grooming needs: Light
  • Family-friendly: Yes
  • Other pet-friendly: Not usually
  • Trainability: Intelligent, loyal, attention-seeking
Parakeet
  • Average length (adult): 7-18 inches
  • Average weight (adult): 1-4.5 ounces
  • Lifespan: 5-10 years
  • Exercise: 1+ hours a day
  • Grooming needs: Light
  • Family-friendly: Yes
  • Other pet-friendly: Not usually
  • Trainability: Intelligent, stubborn, loyal, interactive

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Parrotlet Bird Breed Overview

parrots-pixabay
Credit: analogicus, Pixabay

Parrotlets have small, delicate feathers that are typically green in color. Males have bright blue spots by their eyes and on their backs. They have curved beaks that are slightly longer than those of parakeets. These birds are naturally territorial and are thought to be more aggressive than parakeets. Parrotlets are also more likely to nip people who get too close. They should be handled daily from a young age to ensure their friendliness toward people.

They love to play with toys, and they need a big cage to live in that will satisfy their curious and active personality. If these birdies do not have other bird mates to live with, they will rely on the interaction of humans to stay happy and healthy. Sometimes referred to as pocket parakeets, parrotlets love to sit in people’s pockets and stick their heads out for attention.

Training

Parrotlets are smart and can be trained to do a variety of tricks, but training should start while they are still babies when possible. They are motivated by treats and do best when participating in short, succinct sessions. One of the first things that people do is teach their parrotlets to talk.

Other things that parrotlets can be trained to do include:
  • Stand on a perch
  • Wave
  • Shake hands
  • Retrieve small objects

Training should be an ongoing activity for parrotlets throughout their life, as they enjoy the brain stimulation and exercise.

Health & Care

Parrotlets are generally healthy birds and are not prone to any serious health problems like cancer. However, it is common for parrot species to develop respiratory infections. They should visit a veterinarian regularly, just like any other household pet. They need the opportunity to get out of their cage and stretch their wings every day. Their diet consists of seeds, grasses, and fruits. They can eat a commercial or homemade diet that is approved by a veterinarian.

parrotlet-pixabay
Credit: klickblick, Pixabay

Many parrotlet and parrot owners choose to clip their bird’s wings so they do not have free flight. This makes them easier to care for and helps ensure that they cannot fly away and get lost in the neighborhood. However, the idea of clipping a bird’s wings is controversial and some consider it to be cruel.

Whether a bird’s wings are clipped or not, they cannot flee and fly away if they are properly enclosed in a habitat or allowed to fly around the house with no windows or doors open. These birds can use a nail clipping every couple of weeks to minimize the risk of scratching humans. They also need access to a water dish where they can clean themselves off regularly. But otherwise, they do not require any other type of grooming for health.

Suitability

Parrotlets are versatile and outgoing, making them the perfect pet option for busy households and those that include children. However, they can be nippy, so only those who are not afraid of a little pinch occasionally should consider caring for one of these cute birds.divider-bird

Parakeet Bird Breed Overview

budgerigars-pixabay
Credit: pixel2013, Pixabay

Parakeets are larger than parrotlets and may grow to anywhere from 7 to 18 inches in length. They come in a variety of colors, including blue, gray, red, green, and multicolored. Most love to whistle and many enjoy talking. They prefer to be looked at rather than handled, especially by strangers, which makes them a relatively hands-off pet. They are highly social, though, and they expect to get attention from their human companions regularly throughout the day.

These parakeets can get along well with other parakeets living in the same habitat and will gladly accept newcomers aboard. They may screech in excitement when their owners come home after a day of work or adventure. Parakeets are easily startled and would prefer a calm rather than rowdy space to spend most of their time in. Kids should always be supervised when handling parakeets to ensure gentleness and calm actions.

Personality / Character

Some parakeets are calmer than others and some are more talkative than others. Young parakeets tend to be unsure of themselves and like to get reassurance by sitting with their handlers. However, they typically become more independent and demanding as they get older. Parakeets can be messy eaters, which makes cleaning their habitats multiple times a week essential.

Parakeets are intelligent and can teach themselves to talk by listening to television and the conversations of their human companions. They are considered quite picky and may or may not enjoy the fruits, veggies, seeds, and commercial food put in front of them. Mealtime can turn into trial and error before a satisfactory meal plan is achieved.

budgie-pixabay
Credit: Uschi_Du, Pixabay

Exercise

All parakeets need to get daily exercise if they are expected to thrive. Exercise helps them keep at a healthy weight and fight off disease as they become elderly. It also helps keep their minds busy so they do not become bored during their day.

There are several ways to exercise a parakeet, including:
  • Fill Their Habitat Up. Include interactive toys in their habitat, such as a ladder to climb on, a mirror to dance in front of, and hanging balls and nets to play with.
  • Play Games. Parakeets can learn how to play hide-and-seek with objects that they are familiar with, and they love to chase objects like string and scarves around.
  • Go on a Little Walk. Carry your parakeet around as you do chores, and allow them to walk around nearby at each different location so they can get exercise while they explore new surroundings.

Anything that gets a parakeet active is a suitable activity for exercise. Even singing and perching can be considered a light form of exercise.

Suitability

Parakeets are suitable for apartment and house living, but they prefer a calmer atmosphere to spend their time in, so households with young exuberant kids may not be the best fit. Their habitat should be kept in a warm, quiet space indoors, and they should never live outside unless in a tropical area where they are used to living in nature.

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Which Bird Is Right for You?

There are many similarities between parrotlets and parakeets, yet there are also major differences to keep in mind when deciding which would be the best pet choice for your family, household, and lifestyle. Both types of pets are fun to watch and interact with, and they can both impress with their vocal skills and highly intelligent nature. Which of the two are you most impressed by and why? We would love to read your feedback in our comments section.


Featured image credit: Pixabay

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.