About parrotlet species:
There are seven species of
Parrotlets; all are tiny, mainly green parrots.
Contrary to what is often stated,
they are *not* the smallest parrots in the world; that honor belongs to
the miniscule pygmy parrots, the smaller of which are barely over three
inches! However, parrotlets are the smallest parrots that have ever been
kept in captivity.
They originate in South America,
and range from just under 5" to about 6 1/2". The only two easily
available species are the popular Pacific, aka Celestial, Parrotlet, and
the even smaller but slightly harder to find Greenrumped
Parrotlet parrot Color Mutations:
There's quite a
few color mutations of the Pacific that have been developed, however these are, as yet, still quite expensive. They
include the Blue, Lutino, Fallow, Pastel, Yellow, and Albino.
How long does a
Parrotlet parrots are quite long-lived for such tiny animals; up to 20
Parrotlets for sale:
Parrotlet parrot price: The two more common species usually run around $100 to $150 for just-weaned hand-fed
birds from a breeder.
Birds from pet
shops may cost up to $300; older, untame breeding birds may be as little as $75. The rarer species, obviously, will
Buying a Parrotlet parrot: Parrotlets are becoming much more popular, and being quite easy to breed this means
that they can be found pretty easily, particularly the Pacific. When looking for a pet, look for a
just-weaned baby; this means one about 6 weeks old.
This is the ideal
age for the new baby to come home and bond with it's new family. When choosing a baby, choose one from a breeder
that takes obvious good care of their birds, and seems to care about them. Choose a baby that was handled a lot and
that is obviously friendly, and wants to be handled.
Parrotlets are easy to breed. Sexes of the parrotlets and
their color mutations, except for the albino, can easily be differentiated.
Males of the green (also called the wild type in genetic
jargons) and the blue and yellow mutations have purplish-blue rump feathers.
The lutino males’ rumps are white.
Parrotlets are precocious birds. At
age of three to four months, a male will start going through the motion
of regurgitating food and feeding the female. Copulation
Often in a group of young birds, a
male will try to copulate with another male but this does not suggest the
birds are homosexual.
I have found such
males, when placed singularly in a breeding cage with a female, will bond with the female and raise babies and
behave as a model parent. Female birds are capable of laying eggs at 6 months of age. It is, however, prudent to hold
them back to at least 10 to 12 months old before breeding them to avoid complications such as egg binding and
other health hazards due to the bird’s undeveloped biological systems.
such tiny parrots, they require tiny foodstuffs. The smallest sized pellets
and seeds are best. They do, however, have fairly strong beaks (for their size, anyway!), and will happily munch on
larger pieces of fruits and vegetables; many parrotlets enjoy having these pieces hung on a "kabob" type hanger.
Parrotlets are very playful birds, and like to turn eating into a game! Provide them with a wide variety of foods,
and a wide variety of shapes/colors/textures, etc., to keep their interest up.
parrotlets do not require an enormous cage; hardly anything that will take up the living room! However, because
they're so small, you might as well buy a cage that's much larger than required! This gives them that much more
room to run around, climb, and just generally be active; it gives you more room to hang toys! I would say the
minimum size cage for a single parrotlet would be about 16" square; however, the bigger the better, and your
parrotlet will very much appreciate any exra space!
A cage of
dimensions 12" high x 12"deep x20" long serves as a good size breeding cage. Hang a parakeet nest box (6"wide x
8"high x 8"deep) in the front of the cage. Place a 2-inch layer of pine wood shavings inside the nest
ready-to-breed pair is accustomed to the nest box (usually one to two days), the male will enter it first and soon
join by the female. They will throw out a portion of the wood shavings while they build a depression usually
towards the back of the nest box. The birds will mate more frequently, usually half dozen times a day. After about
two weeks, the female will be seen spending more time inside the nest box. A few days before laying, the abdominal
region of the female will start to swell until it becomes a grotesque small balloon.
female spends a lot of time in the nest box, when she emerges to stretch her wings, she deposits a big glob of her
waste normally at a corner of the cage or sometime even outside the cage. Placing newspapers around the cage at this time
will prevent soiling your furniture or carpet if you are breeding your birds in the house. Incubation takes about
21 days. Six to seven eggs form a normal clutch.
The chicks grow
fast and the older ones will climb out of the nest box even before they are fully feathered, usually about three
weeks after hatching. The entire brood will wean in about six weeks, by which time the hen will be ready to go back
to nest again.
parrotlets breed so prolifically, many breeders tend to continuously breed their birds the entire year. Such
frequent breeding should be discouraged. I have observed pairs, after producing three broods, start forming such
bad habits as plucking the chick’s feathers or killing the newly hatched chicks in subsequent broods. I suggest
allowing a breeding pair to raise three broods as the maximum in a year.
Keep an eye on
the father bird when the babies start emerging from the nest box. I have seen male parents attacked the babies
immediate on seeing them outside the nest box, often with fatal results. On such occasions, an intervening hand is
needed. Remove the male parent to a separate cage and let the mother bird finish the parental
Parrotlet breed - grooming:
Keep the toenails to a reasonable length, and
clip the wings. With those wings, you really don't want a parrotlet flying around the house; they're so tiny,
they're liable to land somewhere where somebody doesn't see them, and end up getting stepped on or sat upon.
Parrotlets usually love baths; provide an open dish of water, with about 3/4" of water in it, or else spray them
gently with a spray bottle.
Level: Parrotlets are quiet birds - they're much too small to make much noise! But seriously, their
squeaks are pretty high-pitched, but they're so low in volume they're quite inoffensive.
Ability: Parrotlets aren't great talkers compared to all parrots, but when compared with the other
small parrots, they're pretty good. Some are better than others; some never speak a word, some become quite good,
most will say a few words but nothing too impressive. And, they're voices are, obviously, "small" and somewhat hard
Parrotlet Toys & Other supplies:
big players, and will enjoy any and all toys you provide. Obviously, smaller toys with small parts (small plastic
beads, etc.), are great for parrotlets. But, also provide some larger ones that the parrotlets can clamber around
on. One toy that's been a hit with my lovebirds is a plasic "Slinky" toys cut into sections to make a about 4
seperate sections, then you can hang them from the top of the cage.
The smaller birds
that enjoy climbing love it! Other equipment includes perches; throw out those plastic or dowel perches that
probably came with the cage (well, you can keep one or two), and either go to the pet store and buy some manzanita
and rope perches, or go outside and find some natural branches.
Use a variety of
perches; it's much better for the bird's feet, as well as for the bird's interest!
Parotlett behavior and personality:
Parrotlets may be
tiny, but they don't act it. They're often described as "big" birds in tiny bodies; in fact, many say they have
lots of the "attitude" of their much bigger cousins, the Amazons. This can lead to problems; some parrots, notably
Pacifics and particularly females, are prone to dominance problems, and, yes, nipping. Males tend to be more
laid-back. In any case, it's their personalities as a whole that lead to this; spunky, endearing, and full of
pizazz. Also very curious and active!
as Parrotlet owners: First, if you're looking for a small bird, parrotlets obviously fit the bill. They're small,
and require only small cages (that are never going to cost $500 +), and they're not going to ring up enormous food
bills. They're price tag is slightly higher than the other smaller birds, however those who keep them know they're
worth it! If you're looking for a smaller bird, and like birds who definately know their own minds and have lots of
spunk, parrotlets may well be the bird for you!