Parrotlets

Parrotlets

Parrotlets are the perfect pet for your family if you are looking for a bird that is easy to care for, won’t destroy your home, and only needs the occasional play session to keep it happy. The Parrotlet is sweet, affectionate, and loves to play games, which makes it a wonderful companion pet to kids. Parrotlets are natural learners and are curious, which means they will enjoy new toys and games and will keep you entertained with their antics.

Parrotlets are the smallest parrots, and they’re also among the most affectionate. Known for their silly antics and their ability to learn, they are great birds for your family, especially if you’re looking for a pet that everyone can enjoy. As playful and people-oriented as they are, Parrotlets are also wonderful pets for kids – they’re small enough that they can be handled by little ones, but they’re big enough that they’re not overwhelming.

Parrotlets are the smallest birds of the Parrot family. They were originally found in Mexico as well as Central and South America. This is a very active and curious bird that has a bold personality. Parrotlets require relatively large cages and the addition of toys, swings, and kabobs (for chewing) will keep a Parrotlet busy for many hours. While some Parrotlets can be trained to talk, this is not generally known to be a noisy bird. Feeding is straight forward, with their diets consisting mainly of pellets supplemented with fresh vegetables, fruits, and seeds.

Information about Parrotlets

  • Average length: 4 to 5 inches
  • Average Weight: 1 ounce
  • Colors: Green, blue,
  • Grooming Needs: Low
  • Good tolerance to Heat and Cold: Yes
  • Good Pet: With early socialization and training, yes
  • Safe with Children: With training
  • Good with Other Parrotlets: Yes
  • Good with Other bird species: Moderate
  • Suitable to live in an Apartment: Yes, because they aren’t as noisy as other parrot species
  • Suitable for First-Time pet Owners: Yes
  • Training: They learn fast but you need to make them trust you first
  • Health Concerns: They tend to have Pacheco’s disease, Parrotlet Pox Disease, Beak and Feather Syndrome, and Papilloma Disease
  • Allergies: None
  • Average Life Span: 20 to 30 years

Physical Appearance of a Parrotlet

Parrotlets look like green Parakeets but are smaller in size. There are two common types of Parrotlets although there are other species which have not been domesticated as pets. 

The Pacific Parrotlet is the most common and is characterized by short bodies and equally short tails. The male Pacific species also has a blue coloration on the eye, rump, and some parts of the wings. As a distinction, female Parrotlets lack the blue coloration.

Green-rumped Parrotlet is the other common Parrotlet and is characterized by a green color on its rump. The males also have a blue coloration on the wings while the female Green-rumped Parrotlets don’t have a blue color on the wings. These specific species of Parrotlets are smaller than the Pacific Parrotlet. All Parrotlets have pink feet and beaks.

Temperament of Parrotlets

Compared to other birds, Parrotlets are a bit aggressive. Each Parrotlet is unique and often has a different personality. 

Parrotlets are less aggressive compared to other parrot species but can occasionally bite the caregivers and other pets in the house. You’ll note that the bird enjoys biting your nails whenever you try to do stuff inside its cage. If you release the Parrotlet outside the cage, it may nip on pets such as dogs and cats in the family.

Parrotlets are also very social and enjoy the company of other Parrotlets. It’s recommended to place two birds in one cage for socialization otherwise the Parrotlet could become lonely. One Parrotlet kept alone often requires a lot of attention from the caregiver because it needs to meet its social needs.

Parrotlets
Parrotlets

Training Parrotlets

It’s possible to train Parrotlets but you have to take time to create a strong bond with them first. The two of you have to learn to trust each other before you can start with the training process. Training sessions should not last longer than 10 minutes because the birds have short attention spans. It’s also important to reward the bird with a treat any time it shows the desired behavior.

Some of the best tricks that a Parrotlet can learn are speaking, waving, and following simple commands. When teaching the bird to speak, you have to repeat the words until your bird can say them back. For example, if you want the Parrotlet to say “hi” every time you get near its cage, try to say “hi” as soon as you approach the cage. The males tend to learn how to speak better and faster than females.

Create a routine so that you train your pet at the same time every day. That way, your Parrotlet expects to learn something at that time and will probably get a treat for it.

Compatibility of Parrotlets with Children

Parrotlets are tiny, funny, and friendly which may attract kids. The birds also enjoy human contact and handling. As earlier noted, Parrotlets may become agitated and may result in biting which may scare a child. The small sizes of Parrotlets also make them fragile to handle and a child may squeeze too tight and end up hurting the bird. If a young child is to own a Parrotlet, they should handle it with the supervision of an adult.

Children also tend to outgrow their interest in pets. Bearing in mind that a Parrotlet can live for up to 20 years, this is a lifetime commitment. Very few kids would make such a commitment to take care of a pet.

Best Habitat for Parrotlets

A cage makes the best habitat for a Parrotlet over an aviary because Parrotlets do not do well with mixed bird species common in aviaries. A minimum size cage for a single Parrotlet should measure 18 inches long, 24 inches wide, and a height of 24 inches. The bar spacing within the cage should be less than ½ an inch to prevent accidents. Parrotlets can easily get stuck in between bars due to their small sizes.

A good habitat should also have perches of different sizes. Having same size perches may hurt the feet of your bird because of standing on the same position for long. The best perches should have a thickness of ½ inches and 1 inch. Having pedi-perches is also a great idea because it helps your bird trim nails preventing them from overgrowing.

Toys are a great addition to your Parrotlet cage, especially if kept alone. Toys help keep your bird busy and help it to overcome boredom. The toys and the perches should be placed in such a way that there is enough space left for the bird to fly and move about. All toys meant for Parrotlets should be safe to prevent injuries or even death. The metal toys should be made of stainless steel and not other harmful metals such as lead.

The cage should also have a newspaper substrate to ease the process of cleaning. It’s recommended to place the newspaper in several layers so that you remove the dirty layer every day to leave a clean cage. A newspaper substrate is ideal because it’s not only cheap but it also doesn’t encourage the growth of mold.

Parrotlets

Habitat Maintenance

Replace the top layer of the newspaper substrate every day to avoid the growth of mold and fungi. The water and food bowls should be cleaned daily to keep your birds healthy. Perform a deep clean of the cage using warm soapy water once a month. Clean the toys and perches while doing the monthly cleaning. Once cleaning is completed, use an avian disinfectant to disinfect the cage. Let it dry completely before placing your birds back.

Replace torn toys or damaged perches to prevent your Parrotlets from injuring itself or swallowing small pieces. It’s also recommended to change the toys in the cage every few days to prevent boredom. The toys should not have any lead or zinc chemicals because if eaten they can be toxic for your bird.

The Attention a Parrotlet Needs

A Parrotlet requires between 10 to 12 hours of sleep each day. Make sure to cover the cage with a dark cover or switch off the lights near the cage. If kept alone, spend several hours with your bird daily or give it many toys to reduce loneliness. Also release the Parrotlet to fly about in the house as long as you supervise to avoid accidents.

The feeding bowls of your bird should be cleaned every day using warm soapy water and then rinsed with clean water. Once a week the cage should be deep cleaned and be disinfected. This will prevent mold growth and accumulation and other fungi.

Parrotlets

Health Issues

It can be difficult to know when your Parrotlet is sick because the birds tend to maintain their normal behavior even in sickness. It’s important to identify any signs of illness early enough so that they can be quickly treated. Here are some of the general signs of a sick Parrotlet.

  • Ruffled feathers
  • Watery feces
  • Flaky skin
  • Weight loss
  • Loss of feathers
  • Overgrown beak and nails
  • Changes in talking habits

It’s also important to note that most Parrotlet diseases are airborne making them hard to control. It’s advisable to visit a veterinarian as soon as you notice any signs of illness to prevent sudden deaths. Here are the most common illnesses that affect Parrotlets.

Pacheco’s Virus

Pacheco’s virus is caused by the herpes virus. The disease kills more Parrotlets each year than all other bird illnesses combined. What makes the illness even worse is the fact that it’s contagious and birds rarely show any signs of sickness until the last minute. The incubation period of the disease is between 5 to 14 days after which your bird may die.

Within the last phase of the disease, a bird may release watery feces. The illness is difficult to treat. The bird dies because the virus affects internal organs such as the liver, damaging it beyond repair. Treatment for Pacheco Parrotlet disease is also very expensive and difficult making it hard even for your bird.

Beak and Feather Syndrome

Most Parrotlets with this illness grow new feathers abnormally. The beak also changes from shiny black to a dusty dull look. A sick bird may also become paralyzed especially in the last stages of the illness. The beak may also break especially in young Parrotlets. The real virus that causes the disease is unknown. Young birds are the ones mainly affected by the disease and often die after a short period. Older birds rarely die but become carriers infecting other birds in the future.

Beak and Feather Syndrome doesn’t have a cure and most people control the spread by isolating sick birds. Other people kill sick birds as a way of trying to prevent the spread of this deadly virus even though it’s inhuman. In some rare cases, some sick birds develop immunity against the illness and lead a healthy life thereafter.

Papilloma

The disease is caused by a virus known as Papilloma. The illness manifests as a wart on the throat, mouth, or the vent of the bird. Papilloma disease isn’t dangerous but can cause death if the wart grows to an extent of obstructing the throat and the airways. Laser surgery to remove the warts is the best treatment for this disease.

Parrotlet Pox

Parrotlet Pox is caused by a virus and is very contagious affecting all Parrotlet species. The disease is also spread by biting insects from one bird to another making it spread even faster. A Parrotlet with the Pox virus exhibits some of these signs.

  • Watery mucus membranes
  • Upper and lower respiratory infections
  • Lack of appetite
  • General body weakness

The best treatment for the Pox virus is administration of Vitamin A supplements every day until the Parrotlet shows signs of improvement. Also show a lot of love and affection to your bird to make it feel better because the disease is agonizing. Using an eye wash solution to treat the sticky gunk from the mucous membranes is also recommended.

Bathing and Cleaning

Parrotlets originate from areas with lots of rainfall and enjoy getting wet. Provide the Parrotlet with a bowl of warm water every day so that they can bathe themself.

Some Parrotlets enjoy mist spraying with water over shallow bathing in a bowl. You can also try the mist method to determine what works best for your Parrotlet. 

Parrotlets
bird seed

Feeding Parrotlets

The right diet determines the health and life span of your Parrotlet. Parrotlets are like humans when it comes to taste. They enjoy tasty food and will even smack their beaks when fed sweet food.

Experts recommend a low fat diet with lots of protein. Commercial seeds and pellets make the best meals for your Parrotlet but should be supplemented with other foods to meet all their nutritional needs. As much as seeds and grains are good foods, they’re junk food for your Parrotlets thanks to the high fat content. It’s recommended that seeds, grains, and pellets only compose about 25 percent of the diet and that the other 75 percent come from lower fat foods.

Parrotlets require about 20 percent of protein in their diet. Most pellets made specifically for Parrotlets contain protein. Insect larvae or mealworms are also a great source of protein. You can also prepare a protein meal for your Parrotlet using beans right at home.

15 – 20 percent of the bird’s diet should come from fruits and vegetables. Parrotlets enjoy fresh vegetables and fruits such as spinach, cabbage, carrots, oranges, bananas, and tomatoes. The vegetables should be finely chopped so that your bird doesn’t choke on them. They can eat the vegetables raw or cooked depending on what your bird prefers.

Vitamin A is an essential nutrient for Parrotlets because it helps them develop healthy skin, shiny feathers, and prevents some illnesses. The vitamin is present in most of the above mentioned vegetables and fruits. According to experts, dark leafy vegetables and fruits contain a lot of Vitamin A. these include broccoli, lettuce, zucchini, and leeks.

Since Parrotlets enjoy feeding all through the day, place food in their bowls so that they can access it anytime. Make sure that their water bowl is clean and has fresh water every day so that the Parrotlet can drink when it wants.

Related Questions:

Is wing clipping necessary for Parrotlets?

There’s a lot of controversy on whether to clip the wings of a Parrotlet or not. Experts recommend not clipping the wings for the general health of your bird. Some people clip the wings to prevent the Parrotlet from escaping. The choice of clipping the wings is entirely yours but you should consult with a vet before making the decision.

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