Parrotlets may be one of the smallest parrot species in the world, but that doesn’t mean they don’t have all the personalities of their larger cousins.
One of the main things a lot of us wonder before getting our own parrots is whether a certain species is a big talker.
What about parrotlets—do they talk?
Parrotlets can talk, but there is no guarantee that any one individual will. They don’t really possess the same capacity for speech as other species simply due to their size. They usually won’t do much more than chirp and screech but talking parrotlets is certainly not impossible. Just not very likely.
So, if you’re looking for a talking species, parrotlets probably aren’t the right choice for you.
They may learn, but that would make them a pretty considerable outlier among parrotlets in general.
But that doesn’t mean they don’t make great pets in many different ways.
Let’s find out more.
Do parrotlets talk?
They certainly can.
Parrotlets, like all parrots, do possess the ability to talk, and have all the internal apparatus they need to be able to do so.
Mimicking noises is a big part of not just parrot society but the lives of many countless species of birds throughout the world.
Parrotlets have the same vocal chords which allow them to mimic speech.
So, they certainly do in some cases, and any parrotlet may well end up picking up at least a couple of words.
They make noise, there can be no doubt of that, but they just don’t talk too much.
So, if you’ve been considering getting a parrot and you have your heart set on one that can talk, I wouldn’t advise getting a parrotlet.
However, in that case, I would also advise you to temper your expectations.
The thing about parrots is that, due to their considerable intelligence, there can be a lot of variation between individuals in the species.
They can have very different personalities and inclinations, and this can lead to differences in how they speak.
Even with parrotlets, you may end up with an outlier who talks a lot—similarly, you may find a usually talkative species not particularly interested in mimicking speech.
In all likelihood, your parrotlet will not talk very much, if at all.
With some training you may be able to convince it to talk a bit more, but again there’s really no guarantee of this.
Why is this the case, then?
Why don’t parrotlets talk?
The reasons are fairly complex, and they start with how these birds live in the wild.
Mimicking noises serves a variety of purposes in wild parrots, the simplest and probably the most important just being communication.
Parrots tend to spend some time in large colonies, even if they don’t live in them all the time.
Parrotlets need to be able to communicate on a fairly wide spectrum, then, to be able to be fully in touch with the rest of their flock.
This includes, to a degree, mimicking noises they hear elsewhere.
The other important function this serves is in impressing mates.
For the most part, though, parrotlets in particular do not communicate with one another through mimicking.
They have their own system of songs, chirps, and other more musical noises by which they can communicate with one another.
They just don’t tend to mimic noises.
So, when you get a tamed parrotlet in your home, though they’ve been acclimatized to human contact, they still possess the same natural instinct towards chirping and singing rather than mimicking speech.
They use their singing and their chirping to communicate, just as they would in the wild.
That singing and chirping may still be a product of mimicking, though.
As I said, mimicking does serve one main purpose of impressing potential mates, since it shows off a fairly elaborate ability that they have.
That said, they’re more likely to imitate the songs of other birds, or general background noises of their environments.
So, again, it’s really a simple matter of what their natural instincts are.
They aren’t natural talkers, so they won’t pick up speech or words without help.
With that in mind, can parrotlets be trained to talk?
Can I train my parrotlet to talk?
I would start by saying there is no guarantee you can train your parrotlet to talk.
Don’t go into parrotlet ownership under the assumption or the hope that you’ll be able to get the parrotlet to talk—there is no guarantee whatsoever that you will.
In fact, it’s far more likely that it won’t talk at all, no matter how much you train it.
However, a bit of light training certainly can’t do any harm, so it is always worth a go.
You’ll need to start from a very early age—as early as possible, really.
Start training it the moment you get it home.
The main and most reliable way to train a parrot to talk is through some form of positive reinforcement.
You can use treats and a clicker, and then talk at the parrot and try to get it to mimic the noises you make.
Be very careful, though, as parrotlets are very small, and you’ll easily frighten them or make them with sudden or continuous loud noises.
Be gentle and don’t push it if they don’t seem interested in the training.
Speak clearly at them with whatever you want them to mimic, and if they are trying to mimic it, then give them a treat and make sure they hear the clicker.
Again, though, there’s no guarantee that this will work, and in fact in most parrotlets it probably will not.
Avoid disappointment if you want a talking parrot.
Are parrotlets loud?
As parrots go, no, parrotlets are certainly one of the quieter species.
They won’t make a huge amount of noise, but they will make pretty much non-stop noise throughout the day.
They will chirp and sing and even screech, and this can be very grating for some people.
If you’ve never owned a parrot before, then even parrotlet will likely seem loud to you.
They make noise all day, so it is constant even if it’s not that loud.
If a quiet pet is what you want, then there really isn’t a suitable parrot for you!
Again, though, as parrots go generally, parrotlets are certainly one of the quieter varieties, so they may work for you if you want a parrot but just want a quieter variety.
When do parrotlets start talking?
So, the other important question people often have is at what age parrotlets can be expected to start talking.
Again, I would remind you that in most cases, they will never start talking—certainly not of their own accord.
It really doesn’t have anything to do with their age.
That said, if you are going to try to train them to talk, then you’ll want to start as early as you can.
From the earliest age, gently begin trying to get them used to the idea of talking, and offering treats and rewards whenever they do talk or try to talk.
But there’s no guarantee they will ever start talking—it really has nothing to do with their age.
That said, if they’re showing no signs of talking by the time they’re a year old, then you can probably conclude they won’t ever really talk.
Do parrotlets make good pets?
Yes, parrotlets make great pets!
If you can get beyond the issue of them not talking, then they are some of the best parrot species as pets.
They are loving and full of personality, will form deep bonds with you, and due to their size, many consider them the cutest of all parrot species.
Their size also makes them remarkably easy to handle, comparatively speaking.
But parrots in general are very high maintenance pets, so it’s important to be aware of that going in.
There’s going to be a fair amount of work involved in raising them properly, but they are great pets when properly tamed and raised, from a reputable breeder.
Parrotlets are excellent pets, then, and it’s no wonder they’ve become as popular as they are.
By size alone they’re some of the cutest species out there.
That said, if you’re looking for a talking parrot, they probably aren’t your best bet.
There are other, far more talkative species that you won’t have to spend as much time trying to train, that will just pick it up naturally.
But don’t let their lack of inclination to talk put you off them—they’re great pets!