Parrotlets are the smallest of the new world parrots. Despite their size, they exhibit many of the same behaviors as the larger Amazon parrots. This combination of personality and size make them a popular choice for the parrot lover who is not quite ready for a large parrot.
Overview Of Parrotlets
There are many species of parrotlets and the most popular are all members of the genus Forpus. According to beautyofbirds.com, the most commonly kept species are the Pacific or Celestial Parrotlet, Mexican Parrotlet, Spectacled Parrotlet, and the Yellow-faced Parrotlet.
These small companion parrots are native to northern South America and Central America. Parrots.org describes the Pacific Parrotlet as foraging in vegetation and on the ground in dry wooded areas including banana and mango plantations. Their diet in the wild consists of seeds, fruits, and vegetables.
Parrotlets are 4 1/2 to 5 inches (28.5 cm) and weigh just over an ounce (33 grams), with a short tail and stocky body. Though selective breeding has introduced many color variations, the Pacific Parrotlet has a yellow/green face and olive green body mixed with some gray/blue. Males and females are easily identified as the male parrotlets have cobalt-blue coloring on its rump, above its eyes, and on its wings. Females do not have any blue on their wings.
What Do Parrotlets Look Like And Sound Like?
These confident little parrots have chunky bodies, yellowish beaks, and short, tapered tails. They love to play and need plenty of toys to keep them occupied. They can be content playing alone in their cage for long stretches if adequate entertainment is provided. Parrotlets are smart and inquisitive and can get into trouble in your home if not supervised. Here is a video that demonstrates this type of activity.
Parrotlets are not particularly loud birds, and in the wild make a rapid, high-pitched call. In flocks, they are constantly chattering. They can be taught to talk, and their high-pitched voices can be very entertaining. Here is a video of a parrotlet chattering and talking.
What Kind Of Personality Should I Expect From My Parrotlet?
Your parrotlet will have a big personality in its small body. They are known to be quite fearless and will attack larger animals in the house, especially other birds, with no regard for their size. This can be problematic if you have multiple pets and needs to be considered carefully. Parrotlets are also very defensive of their cages and will attack a newly introduced bird that attempts to gain entry.
This aggressiveness limits the suitability of parrotlets if you want to keep multiple birds of different species. Once bonded to another bird they will attack all other birds, and on occasion may even turn on their mate.
Parrotlets are high-energy birds that love to play and climb. They will entertain themselves for hours if provided with a diverse selection of toys and perches. They are prone to nipping when young, and even after they are tamed and cured of this habit, will resort to it if not handled daily.
You risk your bird becoming a single-person bird if it is not regularly handled by multiple family members. Their propensity for biting makes them less desirable than some other species if you have children in your home.
Parrotlets can be trained to do some fairly complex tricks, but nothing like the larger Amazon parrots. According to petparrots101.com, you should start training your bird as soon as you get it. Due to their short attention span, the training session should be short and conducted in a quiet room when you and your bird are relaxed. Experiment to find which treat works best for your bird and then use it as positive reinforcement during training. Here’s a short video that shows some of the tricks you can teach a parrotlet.
How Do I Care For A Parrotlet?
Though they can tolerate a wider range, it is best to keep your parrotlet at temperatures between 65 and 80 degrees Fahrenheit. Diet should be based on small pellets and small hook-bill seed mixtures. Fresh fruit and vegetables should be included regularly, and your parrotlet will benefit from vitamin and calcium supplements.
The cage should be a minimum of 24x24x24 inches with a 1/2 inch bar spacing. Bigger is better as it will give the bird more room to exercise and allow you more space to provide toys to keep your pet mentally and physically stimulated. Nails can be kept trim with rough perches placed high in the cage.
These birds love to bathe and should regularly be offered the opportunity. Check out this video below of a parrotlet bathing. They do molt, usually starting at 6 months of age. They can be temperamental and nippy when molting.
It is legal, but parrotlets are not easy to breed, as explained at xtreemparrotlets.com. They demand some special housing when attempting to breed, and their territorial nature can be a hindrance. Parrotlets usually lay 4-6 small, white eggs, and can have as many as 3-4 clutches per year.
Exercise, both mental and physical, is vital to the well-being of these small parrots. Plenty of toys and a roomy cage are a must, and you should handle your bird daily both for bonding and exercising.
Are Parrotlets Healthy?
Parrotlets have a lifespan in captivity of up to 20 years. If cared for properly, they are usually very healthy birds. They are prone to fatty-liver disease, particularly the color mutations of the Pacific Parrotlet. Boredom and inattention can lead to feather plucking. Parrotlet pox is an avian pox virus infection that is the most common viral disease afflicting these parrots.
How Much Do Parrotlets Cost?
Parrotlets can be found for anywhere from $200 to over $650 with the average price coming in at about $275. Prices can be higher for some of the more striking color mutations of these parrots.
You will need to purchase a properly sized cage for your bird. They are not terribly destructive to their toys, but toys should be rotated to avoid boredom. Regular vet visits are recommended, and you need to be prepared to supplement their diet with plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables.
Should You Get A Parrotlet?
This small bird will let you experience owning a parrot without the complications that can come with a larger parrot. They do pose some problems in multi-pet homes or those with small children. If these are not issues for you, then a parrotlet will provide you many years of avian companionship. Under the right circumstances, they are adorable and entertaining pet parrots.