Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Loss of Parrotlet Companion

Dear Sandee:

I found your e-mail online and I was wondering if you could help me with a Parrotlet question. I purchased two Pacific parrotlets, both males, for my wife while she was in vet school 3 years ago. They were with each other all the time, and were allowed to fly outside of their cage together. Bello was very friendly and would seek to play with us and Pete was jealous and always tried to get Bello to sit with him instead. This was fine, as we wanted them to be together. Unfortunately, Bello died a few weeks ago. We were going to just keep Pete by himself, since we heard that parrotlets do not always take well to new birds added when they are older. However, Pete seems a lot less active and looks somewhat depressed to us. We still allow him out every day, but he will only fly around for a few minutes and then goes back in his cage to sit on his pearch. He will come sit close to us, but will never allow us to pet him or pick him up. He does not look sick, gets plenty of good food and water and has a lot to do in his cage but we are very concerned that he is too lonely. I am interested in getting him another parrotlet as a friend, but am afraid about what might happen. Can you tell me what you think we should do?


Thank you for your email. I have to say that Pete is acting very much like a normal parrotlet. Most of them are less vocal, less active and less interactive after the loss of another bird to which it was bonded. Whether or not this is ‘grief’ or simply a prey animal reacting by being less conspicuous in the event a predator got their flock member, no one knows. But it is normal and it is something that has to be waited out until the parrotlet gets over it. Introducing another bird at this time would probably be very stressful to Pete and the new bird would at best be ignored and at worse, attacked. You would have to keep the new bird in a separate cage and, when out, they would have to be constantly monitored to make sure they do not fight or injure one another.

If you want to get another bird in the future, I would wait at least a month or two and I would get it as a companion for you and your wife, not a friend to Pete. Indeed, you may find that Pete starts to gravitate to you and your wife more now that Bello is gone. That is very common in parrotlets that were previously not able to be handled by their owners. In the meantime, try and be more patient and tolerant with Pete. If he has favorite foods or toys that he particularly enjoys, be more indulgent. Most parrotlets get through this phase in a few weeks with little or no permanent issues. Hopefully, Pete will return to his normal self very soon.

Thanks again and I hope you find this information helpful.


Hope this helps!