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What You Need To Know About Parrotlets

Parrotlets are one of the smallest hookbills and in my opinion, one of the cutest birds around. From Northern South America, parrotlets are green in color in the wild, but you can find yellow and blue ones in a pet store. A healthy diet is crucial to raising and keeping a happy and fit parrotlet. While a well balanced seed diet is very important, fresh foods are equally critical. This combination ensures that your parrotlet is getting essential vitamins, minerals, and nutrients.  

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Parrotlets are one of the smallest hook bills and in my opinion, one of the cutest birds around. From Northern South America, parrotlets are green in color in the wild, but you can find yellow and blue ones in a pet store.

A healthy diet is crucial to raising and keeping a happy and fit parrotlet. While a well balanced seed diet is very important, fresh foods are equally critical. This combination ensures that your parrotlet is getting essential vitamins, minerals, and nutrients. 

Busy Parrotlet's have a huge appetite for their size. Many breeders feed parrotlets a mixture of parrotlet seed, egg food, and premium pellets such as Roudybush or Harrison ’s Bird Food. Volkman Avian Science Parrotlet Seed is popular parrotlet food. Parrotlets are thought to do best on a seed diet.

When Caring for Parrotlets, consider fresh, raw, plant-based foods or healthy human food.




Cooked pasta(regular and whole wheat), cooked rice (white, brown, and wild), and pita bread. 


Fruit:tomato, apple, crab apple, plum, dinosaur plum, nectarine, peach, pear, cantaloupe, watermelon, dragon fruit, blueberries, blackberries, raspberries, strawberries, gooseberries, kiwi (regular and gold), orange, tangerine, grapefruit.  Goldenfeast Tropical Fruit Bits is a dried fruit mix of 15 nutritious fruits.  


Vegetables: carrots, peas, pea pods, lettuce, baby bok choy, peppers (green, red, yellow, orange, white, and purple), potato, cucumber, celery, zucchini, cooked corn, cabbage, beans, cauliflower 


Other Foods: sprouted seeds, chickweed, dandelion leaves (make sure that these have not been treated with herbicides, pesticides, or chemicals)  Goldenfeast Gardenflora Blend provides vitamin rich greens to your parrotlet's diet.  

Dried Foods: dried fruits and vegetables, raisins, dried blueberries.

Treats: millet (a stick once a week) and the occasional honey stick. 

Supplements: Cuttlebone, mineral block, and grit are a must. Most people believe that since these birds shell their own seeds that they do not need grit to properly digest their food. This is false. Vitamin and mineral powder may be added to fresh foods in limited quantities if you are not giving fresh fruit and vegetables on a daily basis. 

Weigh your parrotlet weekly to make sure that its healthy and eating well.



Clean, fresh drinking water should be available at all times. Some parrotlet's tend to dirty the water quickly so you may need to change it several times a day.  

Water in a bathing dish may be provided daily. An alternative to this is a bird mister. With such tiny bodies, different parrotlets have different bathing preferences.  Bathing cleans dust and debris off of feathers and moisturizes the skin. Proper skin and feather care is essential when caring for parrotlets. 


The minimum recommended cage size for a pet parrotlet or parakeet is 19 inches wide x 19 inches long x 26 inches high. It should have horizontal bars spaced half an inch apart. Our pets are in cages this size and our breeders are in cages either 4' x 2' x 2' or 3' x 18" x 18". The breeder cages are made from 1/2 inch x 1 inch galvanized wire. All cages have wire bottoms or grates with paper several inches underneath.  

  • Parrotlets enjoy swings and boings. The swing can be either plain or beaded. 
  • Other favorite bird toys are Beads and Mirrors, small natural fiber toys, ladders, and small bird toy with a bell. 
  • Table top bird stands such as the New Birdie Basketball Bird Gym are my favorite parrotlet stand.  


  • Provide your parrotlet with a variety of small perches made from different materials and offering variable diameters. Our favorites are the Safety Pumice Perch in extra-small, the mini Sandy Perch and Natural Branch Perches in cockatiel size.  


Supervised play time outside of the cage is recommended for parrotlets. They are rambunctious and playful little birds who need room to exercise but we’ve found that dogs and cats are fascinated with them.  They are also so small that it is easy to step on them or sit on them.  

  • Because parrotlets are curious and territorial they tend instigate aggression toward larger birds, cats and dogs.  Parrotlet's must beclosely supervised any time they are out of the cage.

  • Do not take your parrotlet outside, even if it has its wings trimmed.  Parrotlets are so small that they can easily gain lift in any breeze.  Bird Diapers in the petite size are sized for parrotlet's  Bird Diapers can be purchased with an optional leash to safely take your parrotlet outside. 
    (Please double check that the optional leash is firmly attached before taking your parrotlet outside.) 

  • Until you are confident that your bird is mature enough and familiar enough with their surroundings, they need to be wing clipped (see bird maintenance section). This prevents them from gaining enough speed or height to hurt themselves, but still allows them limited flight to move about safely and to gain agility and confidence.  


  • Wing clipping is helpful if you plan to let your parrotlet out of its cage. There are many other methods of wing clipping, we find that this method is the most effective. They can not fly and hurt themselves, but they can still safely hop around in their cage and fly short distances at low altitudes. 

  • Toenail clipping or beak trimming is only needed if your bird is not very active and does not wear them down on their own. Tiny baby fingernail clippers allow you to trim just the tip, thereby avoiding cutting into the quick. If you have to give them a trim, cut just below the blood vessel so that to avoid painful bleeding.

    Areas that contain blood vessels appear more pink and less transparent than the areas without blood vessels. If you do not feel comfortable doing this yourself (or trimming the wings) there are a number of places which offer this service. You can also use a simple fingernail file to simply file the tip down.


  • Parrotlets are curious, full of energy and playful. Parrotlets need a wide range of toys and activities to keep from getting bored and use pent up energy.  Bird training skills, such asClicker Training For Birds, are important for maintaining pet quality social skills in parrotlets.  

  • Parrotlets have diverse of personalities, from shy and reserved to outgoing and bratty but as a rule they are active playful pets.  

  • Parrotlets can have a territorial little bite, but most can be trained not to bite their owner.

So, with these tips, you'll get a head start in caring for your parrotlet.


Parrotlets are small and feisty.  In other words, they don't realize their vulnerability.  It is not uncommon for other household pets to think of your parrotlet as a toy.  Caring for parrotlets will require you to essentially "parrot-proof" for safety both inside and outside of the cage.  

In conclusion, with proper care, you and your little friend can enjoy many wonderful years together.

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Eclectus Parrot Care


Parrotlet Care by Lafeber

Pacific Parrotlets


Diane Burroughs, LCSW is a licensed psychotherapist trained in ABA therapy techniques. She specializes in avian anxiety disorders and is certified in Nutrition For Mental Health. Diane has written a number of bird behavior books and she offers behavior consultations. She's developed a range of UnRuffledRx Science-backed Parrot Wellness Supplies.

Diane's products have been featured in the Journal of Avian Medicine and Surgery and at Exoticscon, a conference for exotic pet veterinarians. Her bird collars & supplements are stocked in avian vet clinics and bird stores throughout the US. With over 30 years in the field of behavior, Diane has created thousands of successful individualized behavior plans that help pets thrive.

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