Parrotlets are brightly colored, sociable parrots that are native to South and Central America as well as throughout Mexico. While there are several species of parrotlets, the most popular in the pet trade is the Pacific Parrotlet. This breed specifically inhabits Peru in the northwest and the coastal regions throughout Ecuador.
The parrotlet is the smallest of all captive-bred parrot species – often measuring less than five inches from crest to tail in adulthood and weighing 30 grams or less. In fact, this parrot’s name, parrot-let actually means “little parrot”.
However, this tiny parrot is related to the much larger Amazon parrot and enthusiasts say it has the personality to match. As with many parrot species, the parrotlets price often fluctuates based on plumage coloration – with more brightly or unusually-colored birds fetching higher prices from breeders and pet owners.
Average Cost of Parrotlets
When shopping for one, the best method is to work with a private breeder rather than purchasing through a pet store. This reduces the demand for illegal parrot trapping that impacts already depleted wild populations.
It also lessens demand for birds bred through bird mills and ensures that the price you pay is for a healthy, hand-reared, and pre-socialized pet parrot.
T&D Aviary advertises hand-reared, pre-socialized parrotlets ranging from $150 to $400 depending on plumage colors.
Friendly Bird Aviary advertises its prices for hand-tamed babies ranging from $250 to $600 depending on demand and rarity of mutation (plumage color). Xtreem Parrotlets, an aviary that specializes in rare mutations, advertises prices ranging from $250 to $500.
How are Parrotlets Valued?
Several factors contribute to how parrotlet is valued in the pet marketplace. Different factors may be more important depending on the buyer.
For example, a breeder seeking to expand its aviary mutations may prize coloration over tameness. An aspiring pet owner may place tameness and sociability over plumage color.
Both factors, as well as gender, species, and demand versus supply can influence the price of a pet parrotlet or a breeding pair.
Some aviaries specialize in certain rare mutations while others focus their efforts on producing friendly, hand-tamed pet parrotlets ready and eager to bond with a human owner. The former typically caters to the hobbyist or serious breeders or “collectors” while the latter will draw buyers from the pet marketplace.
For pet owners, the younger the parrotlet, the better for taming and socialization purposes.
A breeder may not mind a less socialized bird as their primary purpose is to set up breeding pairs to produce new mutations. But for a pet owner, tameness and sociability are typically paramount.
Adoption as an Option
There are many reasons to adopt instead of shop when you are looking for a new parrotlet pet.
Parrotlets that are relinquished to rescue organizations are completely dependent on that organization for their food and care until a new owner can be located and a match made. These tiny birds can live 20 to 30 years which increases the pressure to find a new forever home as quickly as possible.
In total, there are seven known wild species of this parrot. The Pacific parrotlet and the green-rumped parrotlet are both common in the pet trade.
Both species are bred in captivity with some regularity, although the former is by far more common.
However, some individuals want to acquire the rarer species for breeding, show or pet purposes and this demand continues to fuel the illegal trapping and parrot trafficking trade. While parrotlets are not yet considered endangered in the wild, the only way to preserve their status is to carefully avoid creating fresh demand for wild-caught birds.
When you adopt one through a legitimate rescue organization, you give a relinquished bird a second chance to find a forever home. You also ensure you have not unwittingly purchased a rare species from a parrot trafficker.
While adoption fees may not be significantly lower than the cost to purchase, rescue organizations often include other valuable freebies, including supplies and food, assistance with training and socialization, veterinary preventative care, and even a take-back offer if your new pet does not work out for some reason.
The adoption fee to from Florida Parrot Rescue is $100. The Rhode Island Parrot Rescue has a posted adoption fee for $75.
Overall Living Expenses
Parrotlets, like all parrot species, are very intelligent. They easily learn a variety of commands, perform tricks, master vocabulary words, and learn to sing simple songs.
In a wild setting, these sociable birds are always found in a flock – to be on your own is to be vulnerable to predation. In captivity, your pet parrotlet will crave your company constantly while awake and will also require plenty of enriching activities and toys to remain happy and healthy.
Wing clipping is only recommended if it is an absolute imperative for safety reasons. Otherwise, a fully flighted parrotlet pet will be healthier and happier as well as more physically fit.
Here, the ideal scenario is to purchase a cage of sufficient size so your bird can fly freely as desired. When picking out its cage, be sure the bar spacing is one-fourth to one-half inch wide. A regular cage can cost up to $70, while a flight cage can cost up to $115.
If you move a lot and love bringing along your pet bird, a travel cage can cost up to $100.
Toys, especially safe chewable toys are very important to enrich the parrotlets’ environment. In the wild, they chew all day, both while foraging for food and for keeping their beaks sharp and appropriately filed down. With this, a Calcium cuttle bone which can cost up to $6 and a Mineral block which can cost up to $7 can come in handy.
Read on to learn about the essential parrotlet supplies.
Feeding – In the wild, they will eat any fresh greens, vegetables, fruits, nuts, seeds, flowers, herbs, sprouting grains, and even cactus pads and flowers when available.
In a captive environment, avian veterinarians now steer patients away from seed-based diets and towards the whole and complete nutrition provided by pelleted parrot foods.
Pelleted foods can be colorful or plain, but each pellet contains the exact same nutrition as every other pellet – ensuring your bird won’t preferentially pick out favorite bits and ignore the rest. The RoudyBush Daily Maintenance, Mini Pelletswhich is made in Australia costs around $35 per 10-lb. pack.
Even when feeding a pelleted food, however, you should still provide nutritious, delicious, enriching greens, fruits, occasional seeds, and edible flowers on regular rotation as treats. The Brown’s Tropical Carnival Natural Mini Spray Millet Bird Treats costs $5 per 113g pack.
Your bird should always have access to clean, fresh drinking water. However, since parrotlets, like most parrots, will readily take a dip in their water dish (pooping in it as they do), many veterinarians now recommend providing a small animal water bottle for sanitary fresh drinking water (up to $17) and a separate water dish for bathing (up to $9). Food bowl costs up to $12.
Hygiene – If your pet’s beak and claws begin to grow long, you may need to have them tended to by your avian veterinarian.
If desired, you can ask your veterinarian to teach you how to do these routine maintenance tasks at home to save some money.
- Veterinary visit for beak trim/claw clipping: Up to $30
- Beak trim at a salon: $6 to $15
- Beak trimmer: Up to $23
- Claw clippers: Up to $6
Equipment – This breed, like all parrots and most birds, love to chew. They do this both for enjoyment and also to build nests, forage for food, and keep their beaks and claws healthy and smooth.
But not all materials are safe for birds to chew on. You will want to bird-proof your home before welcoming them at home.
This should include covering electrical sockets, hiding electrical cords, ensuring toilet lids stay closed, placing screens on windows and doors, removing any Teflon pans, and disabling the self-cleaning feature on your oven (the latter two are fatal to birds).
If your home is older and has lead-based paint, be aware that this is deadly to birds.
These toys will all offer daily fun and enrichment to your playful, active, intelligent parrotlet.
- Mrli Pet Parrot Cage Toy Bells : Up to $10
- AnnaEye Pet Bird Mirror Wood Parrot Toy : Up to $10
- Bird Kabob Shreddable Parrot Toy Mini (3 Pack): Up to $17
- LPLED Bird Chewing Toys, Natural Rattan Ball Cage Toy : Up to $10
Other cage accessories you need to consider for your pet bird include perches ($20), cage cover ($21), cage skirt ($11) and cage bottom liners ($41).
Health – It is important to locate an avian veterinary specialist and schedule your parrotlet’s initial “well bird” exam right away. This will ensure your new bird is healthy and give your veterinarian a baseline should your bird need future emergency care.
- Annual checkups: Up to $54
- Emergency walk-in exam: Up to $160
- DNA sexing: Up to $19
- Blood test: Up to $30
- Fecal gram stain: Up to $85
- X-ray: Up to $125
- Inpatient hospitalization (medical kenneling): Up to $25 per night
- Exotic avian pet insurance: Up to $20 per month
Parrotlets, like all prey animals wild and domestic, typically do their utmost to hide when they feel unwell. This is a survival tactic that can work in the wild but can be fatal in captivity since you may not recognize the signs until it is too late.
Common signs of parrotlet illness include changes in droppings, disinterest in eating/drinking, stained or damaged feathers, listlessness, sleeping a lot, sitting all fluffed up in the middle of the day, weight loss, sores or crusts anywhere, vomiting, diarrhea, constipation, loud breathing, bleeding, swelling, respiratory discharge.
Parrotlets can be susceptible to a wide range of bacterial, fungal and viral health issues, some of which are zoonotic (transferrable to people).
Other Useful Information
Parrotlets are often sold in pairs. If you want to keep a small parrot for a pet but you anticipate having trouble finding time to be your bird’s primary companion, it can be smart to purchase two – preferably a same-gender pair unless you have aspirations to breed parrotlets.
However, be aware that your new pet parrotlets will not be as tame as they will bond with one another rather than with you.
For owners who wish to foster a close bond with a parrot companion, a single parrotlet pet is a much better choice. These parrots are known to be very sociable and tactile; enjoying frequent physical contact with their owner.
They can be quite entertaining as they climb in and out of shirt pockets, ride around on shoulders, hang from fingers, and cuddle in palms.
Pacific parrotlets, also known as celestial parrotlets, are the most commonly bred species in the pet trade. Coloration and sociability are two of the main determinants of the price.
Pacific parrotlets adult plumage varies depending on gender – with males and females expressing different plumage colors in adulthood. However, the primary base color of both genders in the wild will generally be green.
Male wild adult Pacific parrotlets typically display bright green body and tail plumage with a strip of vivid blue behind each eye and on the wings and back. Females may display a lighter green and blue coloration in a similar pattern or be missing the blue entirely and instead show a pale green.
Other plumage colors may include yellow and white. Beaks and legs are pink.
A less-common parrotlets species that is also bred in captivity is the green-rumped parrotlet. This species is somewhat less outgoing and even smaller than the Pacific parrotlet.
In the wild, these lovely little birds typically grow up to display bright green body and tail plumage with accents of darker blue/purple, turquoise blue, and gray on males and shades of green on females.
In captivity, pet parrotlets are bred to display many captivating mutations (plumage colors). When you shop for these birds, any plumage color that is different from what was just described may result from rare mutation or cross-breeding with another parrotlet species.
For instance, parrotlets with bright turquoise blue, paler sea blue, yellow, albino, and many other gorgeous color combinations also exist. Expect to pay more for these.