Thursday, April 21, 2011

Teaching Baby Parrotlets

9 days ago we bought a pair of (sister) 5 week old hand fed Pacific Parrotlets from a breeder. We have them in one 18x24x16 cage. They are now both weaned and they appear very bonded to each other. We are now beginning finger training. One of the birds is taking to it pretty well while the other will have no part of it. Should we separate the two now and have them in individual cages? Would this make training easier? They are 6 weeks old now. Thank you!


Dear Barry:

Thank you for your email. I think you need to slow down a little bit with these babies. After all, they are truly just a little bit older than ‘infants’. Most people do not sell unweaned birds and your birds need time to adjust and recoup from the stress of a) being sold before they are weaned b) being in a new household and c) new food, new cage, new people, new toys, new everything. The amount of stress these youngsters are going through is tremendous and they are truly just baby babies. Trying to teach these guys anything at this stage, especially something like stepping up is something you have do very slowly and over time. To put this in perspective, its like trying to teach a toddler to ride a bike. While you can certainly handle the birds and start working on doing ladders and step ups, I wouldn’t start formerly trying to train these guys until they are least 8 weeks old and even then its going to take a lot of time, patience and work on your part. I don’t even sell my birds until they are at least 7 weeks of age so you can see these birds are just too young for what you expect.

To get back to your question, the cage you describe is not big enough for two parrotlets. I don’t recommend anything smaller than 18” x 18” x18” for a single bird. Certainly this cage is too small for two and eventually you are going to start having issues with territorialism and aggression. “Share’ is generally not a word in most parrotlet’s vocabulary and as they mature, one will probably become dominant and controlling over the other. The dominant bird will often not allow the other to perch, eat, play or sleep so you will need to watch these birds as they mature to make sure there isn’t going to be problems. Parrotlets can be very combative and aggressive and it is how Nature designed them to survive in very harsh conditions. In the wild, they nest up to 300 yards away from other parrotlets and they will defend their nest (or in this case, cage) almost to the death from other animals including predators that eat them. If they were my birds, I would simply buy another cage of the appropriate size and put the other bird in that. They can still chirp and chatter to one another and interact together on neutral territory under supervision but I wouldn’t spend a lot of money on a bigger cage with the hopes they can live together happily ever after.

I hope this helps and best of luck with your new parrotlets!

Sincerely yours,

Sandee L. Molenda, C.A.S.
Secretary, International Parrotlet Society

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