Parrotlets and parakeets are among the smallest birds within the parrot family species. They are easy to maintain, sassy, entertaining, and incredibly loving pets to keep. This article will discuss all their different attributes to help you pick out the perfect bird for you and your family.
Choosing Between Parrotlets and Parakeets
Parrotlets are sometimes referred to as pocket birds as they resemble the legendary Amazon parrot. On the other hand, parakeets, also known as budgies (short for budgerigars), gained their nickname from the Australian slang word “budgery,” which means “good.”
Parrotlets: Personality and Physical Characteristics
Parrotlets are around 4-5 inches shorter than parakeets but are ironically feistier than their larger counterpart. Healthy adult pocket parrots weigh about 20-30g, while parakeets weigh between 25 and 35g. Although you can train pocket parrots to talk, their speech tends to sound robotic rather than human-like. Moreover, they aren’t fluently versed as budgies are.
Pocket parrots generally have stout builds and short tails owing to their small size. Their beaks are larger and lighter in color than those of parakeets. The strength found in a bird’s beak is what determines how powerful their bite will be. For this reason, it isn’t safe to leave parrotlets unattended around children as their firm bite can quickly lead you to the emergency room.
Parrotlets and parakeets both have distinct colors differentiating their genders. Adult females commonly have beige to brown ceres, while the males typically range from blue to purple. The cere is the skin around the nose of a parakeet. It appears as a bump right above their beak and has two holes used for breathing. For the pocket parrot, the ceres are deep pink for females and bright blue for males.
Parakeets: Personality and Physical Characteristics
Parakeets typically have striped markings on their feathers and have a naturally slender build and long tapering tails. Budgies are also known to be less aggressive when compared to the smaller pocket parrots.
However, budgies are friendly to children who respect them. That said, these two birds are better off with families with older kids who can handle them delicately.
If talking abilities are a must-have bird characteristic for you, then a budgie is the ideal fit. These birds can quickly master hundreds of words and effortlessly whistle when well trained. Male budgies, in particular, often learn more words than their female counterparts. Records show that there was once a Parakeet who had over 1,800 words in their vocabulary. Quite impressive, right?
Caring for Your Parrotlet
Naturally, smaller birds are easier to clean after than bigger ones due to the amount of waste they produce. Nonetheless, these tiny birds still require socialization and daily handling to keep them tame.
Parrotlets are very destructive creatures when left to their own devices for long. They may even act out by biting you, chewing on your treasured household items, or worse still, by self-mutilation.
Having a roomy cage of at least 40x20x20 inches for a pair of parrotlets or parakeets is adequate. However, a 18x18x18 inches cage is ideal for a single bird. The enclosure’s bars should be no more than half an inch apart. It’s best to avoid putting parrotlets alongside other birds or parrots as their ferocious traits often prompt them to attack.
Cleaning your bird’s cage is mandatory, mainly because it directly affects your pet’s health. This periodic cleaning goes hand in hand with the disinfection of toys too. Scout for a pole suitable for your parrotlet or parakeet as there isn’t a one-size-fits-all. Every bird requires a different type of perch that uniquely fits their grip.
Caring for Your Parakeet
Parakeets require a warm bath two to three times a week, while once a week is adequate for parrotlets. Should you wish, you can also incorporate mist sprays to their grooming schedules. It’s advisable to let your vet handle your bird’s nail trimming and clipping their flight feathers. By this, you’ll reduce the chances of injuries or escape altogether.
When it comes to cage dimensions, whatever size you pick for your parrotlet is also appropriate for parakeets. It’s also advisable to let your bird fly outside the cage at least once a week. That will help them mimic the freedom they would otherwise have in the wild. If your schedule is typically busy, it’s advisable to keep your parakeets in pairs. They’ll be able to play and bond with each other.
However, remember not to leave them alone for too long as they can get quite destructive.
Behavioral Training: Parrotlets
Parrotlets are less likely to talk as compared to the other parrot species. Unless you purchase a pocket parrot that someone already trained to speak or whistle, chances are they might never talk. If you’re lucky, with a little patience, you can get your parrotlet to speak. However, there’s no guarantee of this if the birds are in pairs.
Studies show that the smaller your pet parrotlet, the feistier they are. That said, if patience is not one of your stronger suits, you should either seek professional help or make peace with your bird.
When it comes to playtime, foraging toys are ideal for parakeets and parrotlets to provide them with mental stimulation. Shreddable toys also come highly recommended for parrotlets because they double as a way of exercising their beaks to prevent them from overgrowing.
Behavioral Training: Parakeets
Parakeets almost always end up talking, and they do so with far less effort or training by their owners. Whistling comes naturally to them, and their soft voices make their tunes very soothing. Parakeets are much friendlier and loyal to their owners than parrotlets.
It is common to hear about parakeets vomiting on their owners or in their presence. Contrary to what you might think, this is a sign of love. Mother parakeets regurgitate their food to feed their young ones. Such cases are almost unheard of when it comes to parrotlets.
As for toys, it’s best to avoid hazardous toys with movable and removable parts, such as wires and strings. You should carefully identify toys that contain dangerous metals such as zinc or lead as they may poison your pet.
Food & Nutrition
Most diets for birds, particularly parrots, consist of primarily the same types of food: seeds, nuts, fruits, and vegetables. Sprouts are much better than pellets as they provide your birds with nutrients and enzymes. Pellets consist mainly of processed cereals. Add sprouts in similar quantities as the fresh vegetables. Give your pet birds a natural and almost identical alternative to what they would naturally find in the wild.
Any veggie that you would typically include in your salad bowl is fit for your pet. Although your bird can eat raw vegetables, some might not be into it.
In such cases, try boiling or steaming the veggies first. Canned vegetables are not an ideal option for either bird. They’re less nutritious than fresh ones, and the added preservatives are also harmful to your pet.
Anything from passion fruits, watermelon, grapes, strawberries, blueberries, oranges, papaya to bananas are suitable for your tiny parrots.
However, avocado is one of the few fruits to avoid as it contains persin, a toxic chemical to birds. It’s best to treat your pets with some snacks occasionally. Millet spray (notorious for fattening birds), flavored seed sticks, mineral block, and grass seeds are some of the numerous snacks to pick from.
Health Status & Life Expectancy
Most infections in birds spread across almost all species. Parrot fever, also known as Psittacosis, is a rare disease caused by bacteria in most parrots and other birds. This illness can easily pass onto humans. Some of the common symptoms to watch out for in your pet bird include discharge from the eyes and nose, diarrhea, discolored urine and feces, weight loss, and insomnia.
Some diseases, such as overgrown beaks, are harder to recognize. Seasoned bird owners can easily spot these ailments, as they’re very familiar with their pets’ physical attributes. This abnormality causes the beak to grow excessively due to improper diet, physical trauma, or liver disease.
Parrotlets generally outlive parakeets. The former can live to see their 20th birthday, while the latter averages ten years. If you’re looking for a lifelong companion, then parrotlets fit the description better.
Nonetheless, it is vital to note that your parakeet can live to see their 15th birthday. You can achieve this milestone with proper care and religiously keeping your vet’s appointments.
Research shows that birds are the fourth most popular pets after dogs, cats, and fish. Like with all other pets, veterinary care is crucial for your bird’s longevity. Fresh water is also essential for your bird’s survival and should be changed daily.
The delicate soft sounds that birds make are delightful to have in the house. It becomes incredibly pleasant after they’ve mastered their talking skills. Their vibrant feathers, combined with their sassy personalities, make them even more enjoyable to have around. Although choosing between parrotlet vs. parakeet is not easy, there’s certainly no wrong choice to make!