Parrotlets are tiny members of the parrot family that live in the wild in the forests of Central and South America. In fact, they’re the smallest species of parrot at up to five inches from tip to tail, earning them the common name of pocket parrot. If you’ve never seen one, these adorable birds are miniature versions of their closest relative — the Amazon Parrot. Like conures, they’re little birds with big personalities and can be a bit sassy, but they love to play with their humans and are certainly entertaining, active, and loving pets. Let’s discuss how much parrotlets cost and what other costs are associated with owning them.
How Much Does a Parrotlet Cost?
Since parrotlets are small and comparatively easier to care for than larger parrots, it’s unlikely you’d find one for free in the newspaper or online marketplaces. However, that doesn’t mean it’s impossible. After all, I mentioned that these little guys have big personalities and need a lot of attention. Some people simply don’t have the time and want a better life for their parrotlet, in which case you could pick one up for free or very low cost. Use caution when going this route, and ensure the bird is physically and mentally healthy.
The next step, and perhaps related, is adoption. This can happen through rescue groups that house parrotlets and other birds people have surrendered. If it’s a reputable adoption agency, they will have vetted the bird for you to make sure your potential pet is healthy. Your parrotlet might still have some issues to work out, but the agency will likely let you know that ahead of time. Prices of parrotlets and other birds can also vary based on age, hence the wide range. Going this route will cost between $50 to $300.
Pet Stores & Breeders
Of course, you could always turn to your local pet store or big-chain retailers like Petco or PetSmart. Although neither of the national pet stores list parrotlets on their websites doesn’t mean you can’t find your next avian friend. Parakeets, which are relatively the same size, cost $40 at PetSmart, but conures run as high as $700 on the low end. I estimate parrotlets could run somewhere in between.
Going to a breeder will pretty much guarantee the quality, age, and color of your parrotlet, so you have more options. You’ll also know whether or not your future bird is hand-raised or not, which goes a long way in how they interact with you and your family. However, you’ll pay for the privilege a breeder provides. Breeders have their birds available either online or locally, so check to see if you have one in your area that offers parrotlets. You might be able to tour the facility and meet the breeder — which I recommend. Buying your new avian friend this way will cost between $100 to $600.
If you choose the online route, here are some options for both breeders and adoption.
How Much Does a Parrotlet Setup Cost?
Before bringing your new pet home, you have to set up your aviary. That will include your parrotlet’s cage, toys, perches, food and water bowls, a separate play area, first aid supplies, and treats. The cost of buying one of these little birds doesn’t stop at the parrot itself but extends to the setup and maintenance expenses for your new feathered family member. Let’s look at how much each item will cost so you’re prepared.
How much is a parrotlet cage?
Since parrotlets are active birds, you want to make sure they have plenty of room to flap their wings, jump from perch to perch, play, sleep, eat, and drink. This active little parrot needs a cage at least two feet wide, two feet deep, and two feet high. You want the spacing between the bars to be half an inch, so they can’t easily slip out. Although small, the species is still a parrot with a relatively strong beak, so you want a durable cage that will last. I would avoid painted varieties in case your bird chews on the bars.
Remember, parrotlets are highly intelligent and could escape their cage, so you might want to get a higher-end cage with locks or get one with the space on the door to add your own lock. This size cage will cost between $60 to $200, possibly more, depending on the features want. Some have a playground on top, which will cost more, but your parrotlet might appreciate a space to hang out near their home. However, you also want to buy a separate hangout spot for your bird, so having one on top of the cage is optional. Parrotlets in the wild travel in very large groups, so they’re social. Keeping that in mind, you want to place the cage in a well-trafficked area so they get plenty of attention.
Other parrotlet accessories and how much they cost
Next, you want to fill up your parrotlet’s cage with everything they need to stay happy and healthy. Parrotlets need multiple perches and toys in addition to their food and water dishes. You might want to add a birdbath, but in my experience, they’ll opt to use their water dish, so be sure to clean it often and offer fresh drinking water. Also, stock up on supplies like food, pellets, treats, cage liners, and first aid items. As mentioned, you may want to pick up a separate play area as well. Parrotlets won’t want to spend all their time in a cage, and having a play area in your proximity will bring them great joy. Here are some average prices for items you will need.
- 4 pounds of bird seed: $10 to $25
- 2.5-pound bag of bird pellets: $13 to $16
- Fresh fruits and vegetables: varies by season and location
- Food and water bowls: $8 to $16
- Cage liners: $15 to $30
- Cage cleaner: $10 to $35
- Toys: $9 to $25 each
- Perches: $10 to $20 each
- First aid: $15 to $28 for BleedStop
- Treats: $4 to $10
- Play area outside cage: $22 to $70+
Your parrotlet’s accessories will cost you about $170 to $400+.
Monthly Expenses of a Parrotlet
When welcoming a parrotlet into your home, the initial cost of purchasing and preparing their living area is just the beginning. You need to budget for ongoing expenses for providing proper care. Let’s break down the monthly costs. Remember that parrotlets have an average lifespan of around 20 years, making this a long-term commitment. Here’s a breakdown of the monthly expenses you can expect to incur by adding this new feathered companion to your home.
- Food: $20 to $40
- Toy replacement/rotation: $10 to $25
- Cage maintenance: $5 to $12
- Vet bills: $30 to $100 set aside to accumulate for visits
- Grooming: $10 to $30 (more if you have your vet assist)
The above bills don’t include things like emergency vet visits or vacations. If you’ve ever owned a pet, you know that vet costs can run very high, and emergencies can start at $100 per visit and easily multiply to $500 or more, depending on the problem. Set money aside for this possibility, so that’s one less thing you have to worry about when dealing with an urgent matter with your parrotlet.
The last thing you want to think about is whether you can afford to have your little bird treated in an emergency. That said, ensure there is an avian vet close by before thinking about adding a parrotlet to your home. Not all vet offices take exotic animals, and simply don’t have the expertise or equipment to help your feathered friend. Have a doctor locked in to take that concern off the table.
As far as vacations, having your parrotlet properly cared for while you’re away will just be another expense when traveling, so factor it in. Depending on how long you’ll be gone, hiring a qualified person to take care of your bird or boarding them could cost a couple of hundred dollars.
All things considered, the monthly cost to properly care for your parrotlet will range from $75 to $250 or more, not including emergencies or vacations, which can vary widely.
Budget for Your Parrotlet
Financially planning for your next pet can seem tedious and maybe overwhelming, but it’s a necessary step in welcoming a parrotlet into your family. After all, you don’t want to go into this venture with your eyes closed, so looking at the total cost is the only way to properly prepare your budget. Remember, not all of these costs will appear every month, hence the range. Perhaps your parrotlet’s toys will last a while, or maybe they won’t need a new perch for some time, so that will lower your monthly cost. However, I encourage you to put that money aside monthly anyway. That way, you’ll have it when you need it.
Kim is an avid bird watcher and owner in South Carolina. She loves identifying, studying, and feeding her feathered friends in their natural habitats. She also has first-hand experience as the owner of several species of exotic birds.