A Parrotlet is a bird that belongs to the large family group of parrots. Literally meaning the little parrot, the Parrotlet is very much a true parrot with all the virtues and some of the vices parrots are known for. It measures less than 6 inches in length and make ideal pet birds due to its energy and pleasant disposition.
Parrotlets as Pets
There are several species of Parrotlets found in the United States as well as in other parts of the world. The most well-known and popular species is the Pacific Parrotlet, wherein both males and females are a basic blue green in color. Recently, several color mutations have been developed where all but one are recessive and only one is known to be sex linked. Pacifics are known to be feisty and bold, a true representation of the Parrotlet’s moniker – “A large parrot personality in a small parrot body”
Green Rump Parrotlets are slightly smaller than Pacifics and are usually colored bright apple green. They are generally more shy and reserved. They are easily intimidated or frightened by new things and take some time to adjust to new situations. Given a little patience and time, they can become wonderful members of the family.
Spectacle Parrotlets are the most recent entry in the pet market. This species is similar to the Green Rump in weight and length. Their color is very dark green, most especially the males. They have very outgoing personalities and are very inquisitive and curious. Spectacle Parrotlets seem to be emerging as one of the talkers of the parrot group with both the males and females often learning to imitate human speech.
Blue Wing Parrotlets are the most widespread among the rare species. They have slightly larger eyes than other Parrotlets and tend to be a nervous and flighty bird. They are also very difficult to breed, usually taking six months or more to produce eggs.
Mexican Parrotlets are on the large size in its group. They sport a bright green color with males having gorgeous bright, turquoise wings, backs and rumps. They are the only Parrotlet species that can be bred in a colony. This species is considered the one most in need to be bred in captivity due to the continuous threat of habitat destruction and smuggling.
Yellow-faced Parrotlets are the largest in the Parrotlet group. They have similar markings with the Pacifics but both males and females have blue on the wings, backs, rumps and eye streaks. There are only a few of this species in the United States but they are regularly bred in Europe. There is one Parrotlet species that has never been imported in the United States which is the Sclater’s Parrotlet.
The minimum cage of a Parrotlet should be 18” x 18” x 18” with maximum bar spacing of 1/2” – 5/8”. Parrotlets do best in a cage that is longer rather than tall to accommodate various perches and toys. The cage should be placed where they can easily be removed for cleaning. Natural, non-toxic wood branches are better than dowels and a dish without a hood is recommended. A cage that has a grate at the bottom will prevent the bird’s beak from prying droppings, stale food and other debris.
Parrotlets require a lot of food, considering their size. Feed seeds and pellets should be complemented by fresh fruits, vegetables and greens, wholegrain breads, cooked legumes, root vegetables, grains, sprouted seed and high protein food such as hard-boiled eggs with the shell. Fresh water, mineral block and cuttlebone should be provided at all times.
When kept as single birds, Parrotlets make the best pets. They show no tendency towards sharing and would be jealous and combative when placed with another Parrotlet. They bond with the person who spends the most time with them between the ages of six and twelve weeks although it is still possible to make excellent pets out of older Parrotlets.