Many first-time bird keepers shopping for a new pet bird end up comparing their top choices. Parakeet Vs. parrotlet; which is best? Both parakeets and parrotlets are part of the same order of species called the psittacines, otherwise simply known as parrots.
Parrotlets are a group of the smallest new world parrots, whist parakeet formally refers to a large group of species from around the world but is most often used to refer to a species called Budgerigar or “budgie”.
While both these birds are small and common pets that share many similarities they also have defining characteristics that makes them unique. In this article, we will compare the two species physically and by their personalities and provide a guide for choosing the best fit for you!
Comparison Of Parakeets And Parrotlets
Parakeets are larger than parrotlets, but just slightly. The average weight is only approximately 5g more but parakeets appear to be leaner and “thinner” while parrotlets have a short, stubby physical appearance.
Parakeets are also significantly longer than parrotlets and this is largely due to their long tail feathers. Parrotlets have short stubby tails.
Each species individual tail is reflective of their evolutionary advantage in their natural habitats.
Despite being significantly small, parrotlets naturally have longer lifespans on average than parakeets. In captivity, the lifespan can be similar due to the increased lifespan for pet parakeets compared to their wild counterparts.
|Weight (grams)||25 – 35||20 – 30|
|Length (inches)||7 – 18||4 – 5|
|Natural Lifespan (years)||5 – 10||15 – 20|
The pocket-size parrotlet packs a serious punch. Parrotlets have a larger beak than parakeets and can deliver an eye-watering bite. Both birds have sharp and strong beaks adapted for feeding, so don’t underestimate the bite of a parakeet!
Most parrotlets are green, blue, or yellow. While parakeets tend to also be these base colors they have a massive range of variations of color due to a long history of breeding within the pet industry causing mutations of colors.
Parakeets are native to Australia while parrotlets are native to South and Central America. The physical differences between the two species are due to evolutionary shaping from their native habitats.
Personalities of Parakeets and Parrotlets
Parrotlets and parakeets share a lot of similarities when it comes to their suitability as family pets, but there are also some distinct differences. These differences can help you decide which species is most suited for your home.
- Highly intelligent
- Fun and interactive
- Great vocal skills
- Wide range of emotions
- Need training and socialization
- Tenacity to be picky eaters
- Parrotlets are more expensive
- Parakeets prefer quieter environments, while parrotlets are adaptable with their outgoing traits
- Parrotlets are high energy
- Voice difference – Parakeets are surprisingly clear, while parrotlets sound like a little robot
- Parakeets like to be handled less
- Parrotlets can be more aggressive
- Parakeets are happy in flocks or pairs while parrotlets prefer to be alone
What Bird Is Right For Me?
Both parakeets and parrotlets are pets that require a great deal of care. Both require a large space, a healthy and balanced diet, lots of stimulation, and time to spend with you.
If you’re tossing up between a parakeet and parrotlet there are a few things to consider to chose the bird that is best for you, your family, and your home.
Anyone who has kids knows that a house with children is a lot busier and louder than a house without. If your home is always a hustle and bustle you may benefit to chose a parrotlet over a parakeet.
Parakeets are more skittish and prefer a quiet space. Parrotlets are outgoing and confident and not only tolerate noise but thrive in a busy and exciting environment.
Young kids and birds don’t tend to mix well as parrots do not like to be grabbed or touched without their permission.
If you have children in your household this absolutely influences what kind of pets will be able to mesh into your household. Both of these birds are best suited for older children who can show them respect and give them plenty of space.
Time & Energy
All species of parrot require a significant amount of attention and when left alone need adequate toys and entertainment to keep them occupied.
If a pet parrot is lacking in stimulation they can have some serious behavioral issues including aggression, self-mutilation and destructive behaviors.
If you tend to be a reasonably busy person and your parrot will be along for significant periods of time it’s best to keep your birds in pairs or flocks so that they gain vital social stimulation from each other.
In this case, a parakeet would be more suited to your lifestyle as they happily live in pairs or groups. Parrotlets don’t tend to do as well confined in spaces with other birds and can become aggressive towards other birds that share their space. So if a solo parrotlet is left alone for long periods and often then it is likely is become unhappy and act out.
When it comes it initially purchasing a pet parrot, parakeets are generally inexpensive and easy to find as they are a more common bird. Parrotlets tend to be more expensive, particularly for more rare variations.
Aside from the initial price, make sure you have sufficient money to provide for your pet parrot. Both birds need a lot of items to set them up in a comfortable and stimulating environment as well as ongoing food and vet costs.
If you struggle to get money to purchase a parakeet or parrotlet in the first instance then you may not currently be in the position to care for them long term.
Choosing between a parakeet and a parrotlet may depend on what other pets you already have in the household.
If you have other birds, a parakeet may be more suited as they are more sociable amongst other birds while parrotlets can be aggressive and bossy. Parrotlets may happily live in a pair of the same species if introduced properly.
If you have other large animals such as cats and dogs then a parrotlet may be more suited for you. Parakeets tend to be quite fearful of other animals and if brought into a house with other pets they should be kept separate and slowly introduced in a safe manner.
Caring For A Parakeet Vs Caring For A Parrotlet
The care needed for a parakeet and a parrotlet is much the same. Both of these birds need knowledgeable owners who are either experienced or have done deep research on the species.
If you adopt either bird you will need to give them:
- Enough space
- Time and attention
- A balanced diet
- Lots of stimulation
- Social interaction
The species you get will change the care you provide slightly which we will go over below.
Parakeets are a more shy and nervous bird than a parrotlet and should not be exposed to other pets, particularly large animals as it can cause them great stress.
Their cage should be positioned so that it is away from loud noises and high activity to help them feel safe, but still nearby so they do not feel isolated.
Parakeets do best when housed in pairs or groups. This is most suitable for their social activity but will mean more time is required to hand tame them as they will not be seeking social stimulation from humans and will need higher motivators such as tasty treats.
Due to their social and confident personalities, it is best you house their cage in high traffic areas to keep them involved and interacting with the ongoings of the household.
Parrotlets are best kept alone and sometimes in pairs. Often in pairs, one bird can dominate the other and bully each other. Parrotlets should also never be kept with other species as their fiesty personalities will cause them to become aggressive.
You need to account for their longer lifespans. With the ability to live up to 20 years, ensure you are in the right stage of life to make such a long commitment.
Parrotlets can become highly bonded to one person so ensuring proper socialization is vital to reducing hostility towards other humans.
Both parakeets and parrotlets can make loving and rewarding pets in the home. To chose the best fit for you you should consider each bird's personality and how it fits in your household dynamic.
The type of parrot you get will need differing attention, but there is no wrong choice as both birds will make awesome additions to your family with the right care!
Bird mom, blog writer and children's books author. My first ever pet bird was a parakeet, and now I am a proud “bird lady” and even enjoy writing about them!