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Article Archive

    Parrotlets

    Parrotlets
    • History
    • Diet
    • Grooming & Hygiene
    • Maintanence
    • Behavior and Interaction
    • Helpful Hints
    • Origin: Central and South America Ecuador to Peru
    • Habitat: Forest
    • Average Size: 5"
    • Lifespan: 15-20 years



    Housing

    Parrotlets are active and playful birds, and should be provided with a cage that is a minimum size of 14" x 13" x 18". The larger the cage, the more comfortable it will be for the bird.  A good cage should have horizontal bars on at least two sides, as parrotlets love to climb. Horizontal bars help to make climbing easier. Bar spacing should be no more than 1¼ - 2" apart to prevent injury.

    Parrotlets can be kept at room temperature. Be sure to place your bird and its cage off of the floor and away from drafty areas or hot places like open windows, air vents and doorways. 

    Your parrotlet's cage should have at least two or three perches of various sizes, shapes and textures so that its feet stay healthy and strong. Make sure the perches are thick enough for the bird to stand comfortably on them without losing its balance. While you should provide a variety of perches, do not overcrowd the cage.
    If your bird is housed in a quiet room, you may want to get a cover for your bird's cage to help it to sleep at night. If your bird lives in a more active room, it may be kept awake by even low volume sounds, and will not get the proper rest that it needs to stay healthy. In this case, you may want to get a smaller cage for your bird to sleep in and place it in a quieter room. Using a sleep cage will give your bird a safe, quiet place to get a good night's sleep.


    Diet

    The natural diet of parrotlets consists of blossoms, fruits, berries and seed heads. Because of the dietary needs of parrotlets, it is necessary to provide a variety of foods for your pet bird. Pellet foods and seed mixes can be fed as a daily base diet. We are currently feeding our birds Kaytee™ Rainbow Exact and Kaytee™ Forti-Diet. Pellets or seeds should not be fed exclusively, because it does not provide proper nutrition and will lead to health problems in the future.  
    It is very important to include a variety of fresh fruits and vegetables in your bird's diet. Some healthy fruits include apples, grapes, strawberries, blueberries, kiwi, cherries, bananas and melons. Vegetables such as carrots, broccoli, peas, zucchini, squash, sweet potatoes, collard greens and green beans make great parrotlet food. Other healthy treat foods include cooked rice, pasta and multigrain breads. When feeding fresh foods, be sure to remove anything uneaten after a few hours so that the food does not spoil, and to wash the dishes thoroughly before using them again. Alcohol, avocado and chocolate are toxic to birds in even small amounts. Never allow your bird to eat these items. Everything in moderation is the key to a well rounded diet, any food item when fed in excessive amounts could be harmful to your bird.


    Grooming and Hygiene

    Birds like to bathe, but different individuals prefer to bathe in different ways. Some like to bathe in a shallow dish, some like to be sprayed with a fine mist and still others like to get in the shower with their owner. Since many parrots come from regions of the world that get a great deal of rainfall, it's important to give birds a chance to get wet every day as long as they are in good health.

    Clipping your bird's flight feathers is not necessary but usually helps in taming your bird. It also helps to prevent escape and injury. Consult your avian vet to have the wings clipped by a qualified professional.


    Maintenance

    Clean the cage, perches and toys daily with warm soapy water. Use a non-toxic cleaner such as mild dish liquid and make sure that the soap is completely rinsed off when you are finished cleaning.
    Disinfect the cage and perches with bleach water regularly while keeping the bird in a separate room. Bleach fumes can kill your new pet. Allowing the cage to air dry in sunlight is a natural way to disinfect. Make sure the smell from the bleach is completely gone before you place your bird back inside the cage.
    Replace toys and accessories that become worn or damaged, as they can injure your pet.
    Rotate toys when your bird becomes disinterested in them but remember never to place an unfamiliar toy in the cage without first introducing it to the bird in a neutral location. Mirrors can be confusing for birds and are best introduced after the bird has bonded with their owner, as they will tend to bond to the bird in the mirror as opposed to their owner.


    Behavior and Interaction

    Parrotlets form strong pair-bonds in the wild. For this reason, parrotlets need a lot of social interaction with their owner or with a mate in order to stay happy and healthy. If you would like your bird to bond with you, it is best to keep only one bird. Do not keep more than one parrotlet in a cage unless they are a mated breeding pair. Parrotlets are territorial, and will become aggressive toward other parrotlets as they mature, often injuring each other. If you would like to keep more than one parrotlet, keep them in separate cages, and give them each their own toys. If you intend to keep a mated pair of parrotlets, remember that they are likely to become aggressive toward you at times, especially during the breeding season.
    Parrotlets are good talking birds, and often learn to talk without much effort. There are a variety of training tools that you can use to help teach your bird to talk, such as videos, CDs and cassettes. Your best training tool is your own voice.  You can train your pet to talk just by speaking to it frequently.


    Helpful Hints

    When taking your new bird home please remember that the surroundings in your home will be new to it and it may take some time for the bird to feel settled in the new environment. Speak softly and move very slowly whenever you are near the bird's cage. Do not try to handle the bird for at least the first few days as the bird needs time to adjust to the new home.
    With a well balanced diet you should not need to give your bird vitamin supplements. Before giving any supplements in the bird's water, make sure you clean and wash the water dish daily to remove any residue from the supplements.
    We recommend taking your bird to the vet for regular checkups and purchasing a book about your new pet.
    We recommend using warm water and a mild soap solution for daily cleaning of your bird's cage. Once a week remove the bird from the cage and use a diluted bleach solution to disinfect the cage. Rinse the cage thoroughly then place the cage in the sun to air dry if possible. Be certain the cage and bowls are completely free of any bleach smell prior to placing your bird back in the enclosure as bleach is toxic to birds.
    Keep the bird in a draft free area. A room temperature of 72° is normally good for most birds although we suggest researching your specific bird to determine the optimum temperature.
    Always wash your hands before and after handling each animal.
    You should have toys in the cage to prevent boredom. Bored birds are known to have behavior problems. Birds need to be active to maintain good health and to prevent them from becoming overweight. Foraging toys are excellent because they stimulate the natural avian instinct to search for food.
    Toys should be changed regularly to keep your pet interested and if the toy becomes worn to prevent injury.
    When you change toys for your bird or even move your bird to a new location in the house, please be aware of how sensitive most birds are to changes. Never place a new toy directly inside the cage without first allowing the bird to see and get used to the new toy in a neutral area outside the cage.
    Birds can be scared to death. Frightening a bird can cause the bird enough stress to harm and possibly kill it. Move slowly and talk quietly to your bird until it is comfortable with you and its new home.
    Vary your bird's perches by type and sizes to keep its feet healthy and conditioned.
    We recommend using a cuttle bone or mineral block for your bird only if your avian vet recommends more calcium for your particular bird.
    If you notice signs of illness it is very important to get the vet promptly as most birds will hide illness until it is in an advanced stage. We recommend taking your bird to the vet BEFORE the bird ever becomes ill. Visiting your vet before the bird is ill will allow the vet to see your bird when it is healthy and help the vet create a routine preventive health care program for your new pet.

    Signs of a Healthy Animal:
    • Active, alert, and sociable
    • Eats and drinks throughout the day
    • Dry nostrils and bright, dry eyes
    • Beak, legs, and feet appear normal
    • Clean, dry vent
    • Smooth, well-groomed feathers
     
    Red Flags:
    • Beak swelling or accumulations
    • Fluffed, plucked, or soiled feathers especially around the vent
    • Constant sitting on floor of cage
    • Wheezing or coughing
    • Runny or discolored stools
    • Favoring one foot when not asleep—it is normal for birds to sleep on one foot
    • Eye or nasal discharge
    • Red or swollen eyes
    • Loss of appetite 

    If feeding fruits the stool may become runny for a while. Many birds cannot tolerate too much acid that is in many citrus fruits, therefore we recommend limiting the amount of citrus you feed to your bird.
    When changing the food your bird is given, do so gradually.  A sudden change may upset your bird's digestive system, or the bird may refuse to eat the new food. We currently feed Kaytee™ seed and pellets along with many fresh fruits and vegetables to our birds.

    Any food that is fed in excess can become toxic therefore you want to feed a well rounded diet. Avocado, chocolate and alcohol should never be fed to your bird as all are toxic in even small amounts.
    When changing the food your bird is given, do so gradually.  A sudden change may upset your bird's digestive system, or the bird may refuse to eat the new food. We currently feed Kaytee™ seed and pellets along with many fresh fruits and vegetables to our birds.