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Taking Home a New Parrotlet
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Hi there,

We own a 3 and 1/2 month old blue pacific parrotlet. He was parent reared and we purchased him from a well known breeder. He is beginning to get slightly nippy when we try handling him. Is there any way of dealing with this? We have not had his wings clipped as we would sooner tame him without doing this. Any suggestions would be grateful. Many thanks.

I think you simply have to keep handling him, while clearly laying down boundaries as to what is and what isn't acceptable behaviour with a firm "no" when he misbehaves. A book on taming small parrots might be a valuable purchase, but the main thing is to be consistant, and to avoid accidental reward (ie. don't accidently train him that biting you = gets to go back in to his cage when he wants).

Reply by: Iain
Sophia Dunn
I would like to keep a parrotlet and as a family we have lots of time for it. I've heard though that parrotlets are one-person birds, and may bond to one family member and be very unfriendly toward the others. Is there a species that might be more inclined to love us all? Many thanks, Sophia

I think you should be alright, as long as you try and involve everyone right from the start.
They can be quite friendly to one person, but not any more so than most species.

Reply by: Iain
do parrotlets talk if so which is the best male or female
kind regards ellen

There is no difference in speaking capacity, although some might argue that the males are more people-pleasing (and thus more likely to elarn in order to show off).

Reply by: Iain
John in Scotland
I breed show canaries in an outside wooden birdroom/shed. It gets pretty cold in the shed during the winter. I'm thinking of buying a pair of Parrotlets and I would need to keep them in the shed as my wife is terrified of birds. They will get plenty of attention as I'm in the shed a lot but I'm worried about the cold. What temperatures are ideal for Parrotlets?

I haven't kept any outside, but I believe you would have to keep them at at least 16 C.

Reply by: Iain
hi there. Can you tell me what type off parrotlet the mauve coloured one is on your home page. i have seen other colours before but not like that one. what could i expect to pay for this colour. im waiting for my cage to arrive in a couple of weeks so im looking to find breeders. many thanks

Heehee, I am sorry, you apper to have fallen foul of an April fools joke. There is no such mutation, that image was recoloured from a picture of a yellow parrotlet.

Reply by: Iain
Is it ok to keep a Parrotlet on its own, I am not intending to breed but don't want it to be lonely on its own as I will be out at work through the day.

Yes, as long as it gets quality time with out when you are not at work, and assuming you don't work unusually long hours.

Reply by: Iain
Is it okay to own a parrotlet when I am a student? I am out the house from 7am and get home at roughly 4:30ish. Is this too long to leave my parrotlet alone?

As long as he has sufficient interesting things in his cage for during the day, and gets quality time with you in the evenings, when presumably you are around; then yes, that should be OK.

Reply by: Iain
I live in Hong Kong and I'm thinking about buying a parrotlet. Thing is I'm only living here for the next three years, then returning to Australia (which does not allow any birds into the country). If I do decide to get a parrotlet whats the best way to take care of leaving it behind? Should I opt for donating it to an animal shelter? Please help me!

Short answer, don't!
Sorry, but a parrotlet is a long term commitment - 15-30 years or more. If you can only look after it for 3 years, then you shouldn't take on such a responsibility, it is simply not fair on the bird, or on animal shelters, who already have to deal with.

Reply by: Iain
How many parrotlets do you need in a group to breed? Also how are you to set them up?

Parrotlet's don't do well kept as a flock.
They should be kept as pairs for breeding, and as such, you only need 2 birds.

Reply by: Iain
I have a blue male paired with a female albino what type of babies would I get they are 12 months old would I get any albino babies

Assuming that the male is a "pure" blue, then no, you will get all blue babies. If the male happens to be split for lutino then on average 50% of a clutch would be albino, and 50% blue.

Reply by: Iain
merv shields
Is the problem of close ringing chicks a major problem - as i have been told the parents could kill or injure the chicks if they are not ringed themselves - or is there any other way apart from split rings?

There isn't another way, other than split rings, as that would defeat the purpose of closed rings (that they can only be put on infants, and so an older bird cannot be ringed with a more recent ring so as to appear younger than it really is).
If both parents aren't ringed, it is possible that the parents might hurt the babies (usually in an effort to remove the mysterious object around the baby's leg). However, this is risk, not a given.
While you should show caution, the benifits of rings out-weigh the risks, and you really only need to worry in the case of pairs that have a history of such behaviour.

Reply by: Iain
I had Billy my pacific blue as a xmas gift. Since then I've tried everything to get him to eat fruit or veg but he just flat refuses. Any suggestions on how I can persuade him. I had a blue fronted amazon before he died last year, he would eat anything I put out for him.

They can be fickle!
I found I had to cut the pieces up until they were very small before the birds would try them (although once they got a taste for them, this became less necessary). If the bird is tame, it can also help to hand feed it the fruit/veg for a time.
Probably the most important thing is to try lots of different types of fruit/veg to find what your Parrotlet likes. I found they tend to prefer vegetables over fruit, but your mileage may vary.

Reply by: Iain
i have 2 parrolets. one is a boy and the other is a girl that i purchased last week. i currently have them in separate cages side by side, but would like to put her in the cage with him. what is the best way to get them to live together?

You have to take it slowly. First put them in seperate cages next to one another, so that they get used to each other's presence. You can then start giving them time outside the cage together so that they can interact under your supervision.
Having done this for a week or two, you may then be able to put them in the same cage.
Sometimes a bird can get very territorial over its cage, in which case you may have better luck if you swap which cage each bird is in first (so that the new bird is in the original cage, and the old bird is in the new bird's cage), and repeat the above process.
You may want to have them share only for a few hours a day at first, ideally when you are present to monitor the situation. They will probably fight at first, only intervene if it gets extreme - a little bit of fighting allows tehm to establish the pecking order.
Given that the birds are of opposite gender, with a bit of patience, you should eventuially be able to put them in the same cage permanently.

Reply by: Iain
Hi, i am interested in getting a small bird that is affectionate and good company as i will be living on my own. After some research i think the parrotlet is the one. I am a student so i will be out during the day, will this bird be fine on its own? I have previously owned a budgie and loved the companionship i had from him so i know i like the chatter of a bird. However i am aware they can be costly unlike a budgie, could you inform me of the cost of purchasing a parrotlet and any additional cost, also is there any reccommended breeders near aberdeen. If the parrotlet is expensive, what other birds are reccommended, this normally wouldnt bother me but with been a student i am on a budget but would love the company of a bird. It will be some time till i do look at purchasing a bird but would like to be prepared. Thank you in advance for your help.


Assuming that you have time to spend with the bird in the evenings, a parrotlet should do fine left alone during the days, provided you give it some toys and swings in its cage to keep it occupied.
Parrotlets generally start from around 10 for a parent-reared bird; a tame, hand reared one will be more like 50-60. Rarer colour mutations will be more again.
The most expensive part will probably be getting and furnishing an appropriately sized cage (I'd refer you to the Care & Housing page on the left). You should also make sure you can afford the cost of food - a good cockatiel mix and fresh fruit and vegetables. If you already buy a reasonable amount of fruit and vegetables for your own consumption, this shouldn't be a major issue.
Other bird options might be a budgie, a lovebird (or perhaps better yet, a pair) or maybe a kakariki. I am no expert on these, but there should be plenty of information available on the internet.
A list of known breeders is available in the Breeders Directory link on the left of this page).

Reply by: Iain
I just got a blue parrotlet from a guy on the street. I know, not the best move, but he was so cuite and for $50.00 I thought it was worth the risk. Anyway, I got him home and have had him for 3 days. He doesn't move (unless I try to open the cage). I haven't seen him eat or drink. I'm getting a little concerned. Any thoughts?

He may very well be terrified around you. If his past histroy is dubious, he may have had a traumatic time, and thus be very guarded around people. With patience and care, he may start to calm down around you.
He is probably eating and drinking when he is alone. To be safe, put low edged food and water dishes on the floor of the cage, so they are easily reached.
If you are in any doubt about his health, consult your local vet, an avian specialist by preferece.

Reply by: Iain
johanna quinones
My 1yr old parrotlet has had unusually large droppings for the past 2days. Could this mean she's sick?

That is a possibility, however it could mean a great many things. It could be caused by a change ot diet, or even a change to eating habits. Broody hens often "save up" their droppings, and release them as fewer very large droppings (this behaviour gets them ready for nesting, where they wont want to soil the nest material).
If in doubt, consult an avian vet.

Reply by: Iain
What is the best thing to use at the bottom of the cage? I was told not to use newspaper as it's poisonous to parrotlets, is this true? thank you xxxx

Newspaper is generally OK. THere are some concerns over the ink, and also teh possibility of causing impaction in a bird if it ingests the paper, but the risk is rather low.
Wood shavings and chippings are other possibilities, but these all have the same concern over impaction (probably worse in fact) if the bird chooses to chew on it. There are also issues concerning the chemicals used to treat the wood, so newspaper is still probably the safer option.
There are sanded cage liners available commercially, but these are little better than newspaper (minus the ink, but plus the adhesive that binds the sand on).
Personally, I use newspaper with a grate. The great keeps the birds several centimeters from the cage floor, preventing tehm from reaching the liner and also stopping them accessing any food that may have dropped down among the droppings.
A cautionary note: DO NOT use cat litter. Most cat litter is designed to absorb moisture to prevent odour, and the ingestion of even a small amout will kill most birds. There are a small number of bird-safe ones, but unless you really know what you are doings, its easier to just avoid them all.

Reply by: Iain
Hi, can parrotlets live with any other bird other than their own breed?

No, parrotlets are very territorial, and do not get on well with other species of birds. Co-habitation is likely to lead to fighting.

Reply by: Iain
Have any parrotlet breeders out there had problems with fledging parrotlets, with the youngest getting picked on by the parents?

I know I have. Anyone else?
Both parents have a tendency to stop seeing the young as their babies, and start seeing them as interlopes after anything from about 5 to 7 weeks.

Reply by: Iain
Lady Kakata
I have a female cockatiel whos quiet, gentle and loves a headrub. Would it be okay for her to co-live with a parrotlet hen? She's used to living with a rather bullying lutino 'tiel hen at the moment

I wouldn't recommend it.
Parrotlets are very territorial, and a there is likely to be aggression. You will either find that your cockaiel ends up being bullied by the tiny little P'let, or the P'let pushes it's luck to far and ends up being attacked by the cockatiel. Either way, it could easily end it tears, and maybe even blood.
I don't recommend invloving Parrotlets in cross-species co-habitation, they have enough trouble with their own kind!

Reply by: Iain
Why are Lixit bird bottles not recommended for parrotlets? My parrotlet keeps contaminating his water by dunking his food in it.

Drinker bottles in general are not recommended for a few reasons.
Firstly, it is not a natural way for birds to drink, and consequently there are birds who simply will not drink from such a device. Rather than take the risk that your bird dehydrates itself to death, it is far safer simply to provide the certainty of a water bowl instead.
There is also a hygiene issue with the tube/ball-bearing assembly as it is impossible to access the internal part of this for proper cleaning.
Finally, many Parrotlets enjoy bathing in their water as part of their own preening activities, and as such a water bowl should be provided anyway. This will of course require the water to be refreshed, as will any soiling from food items; but since water should be changed frequently anyway (I would suggest at least once in the morning and once in the early evening) this shouldn't be of concern.
Food dunking may be caused by a desire to soften certain foods before consumption, or may be one of the ways the bird cleans its beak, either way you don't want to deprive the Parrotlet of this facility.
In summary, drink bottles can be used, but great care must be taken with cleanliness; and you will still have to provide an open water dish for bathing a fewt imes a week.

Reply by: Iain
Are Parrotlets the smallest parrot species in the world?

Actually, contrary to poular belief, they are NOT!
That honour goes to the Pygmy Parrot of New Guinea (micropsittini - see for example http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Micropsittini).
Parrotlets are, however, the smallest species of Parrot in aviculture, as Pygmy Parrots have not been bred in captivity.

Reply by: Iain

Page created 2 April 2008
Iain D. Kendall