Parrotlet Vs. Cockatiel? – Differences, Similarities & Which Is A Better Pet Bird

Parrotlet and cockatiels have many similarities. For example, both birds thrive on seeds, fresh fruits, pellets, and vegetables. But are there any parrotlet vs. cockatiel differences?

Indeed, the differences between a parrotlet and cockatiel are many. Besides being different in appearance, they also differ in weight, lifespan, and origin. They also vary in size, color mutation, pricing, and cage requirements. Moreover, their personalities are also totally different.

So, which is a better option, parrotlet or cockatiel? Keep reading to discover the distinct traits of each bird.

Parrotlet Vs. Cockatiel Comparison Chart

Before we dive into the main differences between parrotlet and cockatiel, let’s check out their features at a glance.

Features and TraitsParrotletCockatiel
OriginMexico, South, and Central AmericaAustralia
Size4.5 to 5.5 inches long and 9.5 inches wingspan12 to 14 inches long and 10 to 12 inches wingspan
Weight0.85 to 1.20 ounces2.5 to 4.5 ounces
ColorVarying shades of greenGray body, orange patched cheeks, and yellow face
Lifespan15 to 20 yearsUp to 25 years and more
Cost$120 to $400$80 to $250
PersonalityAffectionate, aggressive, and territorialAffectionate, loud, docile, and peaceful
AppearanceBare head shape and short tail feathersRaised crest feathers and long tail feathers
Cage size18 inches x 18 inches (square)24 inches x 18 inches x 24 inches (rectangular)

Parrotlet Vs. Cockatiel: What Are The Key Differences?

Finding it difficult to choose between a parrotlet and a cockatiel because of their different personalities? Read on to find out the features that set these two birds apart.

1. Origin and family

A parrotlet is naturally found in the shrublands and lowland forests of Mexico, Central America, and South America. This bird belongs to the Psittacidae family.

Meanwhile, a cockatiel is native to Australia, and its primary habitat is this country’s arid and semi-arid regions. Unlike the parrotlet, this bird belongs to the cockatoo or Cacatuidae family.

2. Size

An adult parrotlet can grow between 4.5 and 5.5-inches in length from the head to the tail tip. As such, it will easily fit into a pocket, hence the name “pocket parrots.” Thus, it also has a short wingspan measuring only 9.5 inches.

On the other hand, a fully-grown cockatiel is superior in size to a parrotlet, measuring 12 to 14 inches long. Its wingspan ranges between 10 and 12 inches.

3. Weight

The Pacific parrotlet, the most popular species, weighs only 0.92 ounces, while the green-rumped parrotlet weighs 0.85 ounces. However, the Mexican parrotlet is quite heavy at 1.20 ounces.

Meanwhile, the average weight of a cockatiel is between 2.5 and 4.5 ounces. Therefore, the parrotlet is a smaller bird than the cockatiel.

4. Color

Parrotlets come in many color mutations, including yellow, darker green, albino, blue, white, lutino, cinnamon, and pastel. In all parrotlet species, the typical color is varying shades of green.

Unlike a parrotlet, a standard cockatiel has a gray body with distinct orange round patches on the cheeks. The face and crest are yellow, while the wings are white on the tips. Similarly, this bird is also available in several color mutations, including silver, pearl, and whiteface.

5. Cage requirements

Because of its small size, the minimum cage size for a single parrotlet is 18-inches by 18-inches. The bar spacing should be at most 1/2 or 5/8 inches.

For a cockatiel, a minimum cage size of 24-inches long by 18-inches wide by 24 -inches high. But of course, the bigger, the better. The bar spacing should be the same as for parrotlets.

6. Appearance

The cockatiel boasts a head crest that is naturally raised or spiky. However, a cockatiel may lower the crest based on its mood. Unlike the cockatiel, the parrotlet has a bare head shape like other parrot species. In addition, the parrotlet has shorter tail feathers while those of a cockatiel is long.

7. Lifespan

Accordingly, the average lifespan of a captive parrotlet is 15 to 20 years, depending on their health, diet, and environment. On the other hand, a captive cockatiel can live for up to 25 years or more.

8. Pricing

Depending on the color mutation of the parrotlet and its rarity, the price of this bird ranges from $120 to $400. A cockatiel is slightly cheaper, costing approximately between $80 and $250.

9. Personalities

Generally, parrotlets are willful, affectionate, and spunky. These birds are also known to be more aggressive and territorial than their cockatiel counterparts. Moreover, parrotlets are nippy when not tamed.

On the other hand, cockatiels are affectionate, docile, and like to be held. They are gentler than parrotlets. This makes them excellent pet birds for beginners.

What Are The Similarities of Parrotlets And Cockatiels?

Although there are many parrotlets vs. cockatiel differences, these two birds have several similar attributes. For instance, both birds belong to the parrot family. Besides, both birds are affectionate, which is why they make excellent pet birds. Other similarities between these two birds include the following:

  • Can talk and mimic different sounds
  • Need similar care, including toys, perches, and a big cage
  • Thrive on the same diet, like seeds, leafy greens, and pellets
  • Make regular noises via a series of whistles and chirps
  • Can be tamed and potty trained
  • Prone to similar diseases like psittacosis and polyomavirus

Are Parrotlets Louder Than Cockatiels?

No. Parrotlets are actually some of the quietest parrots. Their average noise levels are about 65 decibels. However, the noise levels of most cockatiels can reach up to 80 decibels when making contact calls.

Therefore, cockatiels are louder than parrotlets. You may find these birds even louder when they are overstimulated. So the good news is, although cockatiels can get pretty loud, they are manageable.

Can Parrotlets And Cockatiels Live Together?

No. Parrotlets are not the best companions for cockatiels. This is because cockatiels are docile and peaceful birds. As such, they can only get along better with pet birds of similar nature.

Unfortunately, parrotlets are very territorial and aggressive birds. Therefore, they can attack cockatiels despite their small size. However, you can still keep parrotlets and cockatiels in the same house but in separate cages.

Which One Should You Choose: Parrotlet vs. Cockatiel?

Most pet bird owners swear by a hand-raised that it’s cockatiel. First, this bird is more affordable than the parrotlet, easy to tame and teach to talk at a young age. In addition, a cockatiel has a big personality for such a medium-sized bird.

Compared to the parrotlet, it is cuddly, loves to be petted, is easy to feed, and boasts a longer lifespan. This makes it one of the best starter pet birds. The downside is that this bird is a little messier and louder than the parrotlet.


Now, let’s respond to commonly asked questions about the parrotlet vs. cockatiel differences and similarities.

Do parrotlets speak better than cockatiels?

Yes. Parrotlets, and predominantly male birds, talk better than cockatiels. They have an extensive vocabulary, like most large parrots.

Which is more popular, parrotlet or cockatiel?

The cockatiel is a more prevalent pet bird. This is perhaps because the bird is fun, loving, gentle, and easy to handle. More so, it can live for 25 years or more.

Key Takeaways

Parrotlets and cockatiels are some of the most popular pet birds. While they have several similarities, their differences in personalities and appearances are pretty remarkable.

Therefore, you can keep both birds together but in different cages. Overall, the cockatiel is a better choice than the parrotlet in so many ways.

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