Parakeets and Lorikeets and cousins in the Parrot Family. They are both native to Australia, and they are both talkative, colorful birds.
But they have significant physical differences and make different kinds of pets.
Parakeets, also known as budgerigars or budgies, have been bred to have feathers in a variety of colors.
They aren’t the longest-lived pets, usually five to seven years, and they are the smallest members of the Parrot Family, sometimes just 7 inches (17 to 18 cm) long at maturity. But they can have long tail feathers.
Lorikeets have vibrant, brilliant feathers in the colors of the rainbow. They are long-lived, and they grow a little over a foot (30 cm) long from beak to tail feathers.
Lorikeets are playful birds that are temperamentally like puppies. They aren’t shy, and they’ll let you know when they need attention.
But those are not the most outstanding differences between parakeets and lorikeets.
What Is the Main Difference Between Parakeets and Lorikeets?
The biggest difference between parakeets and lorikeets, at least in terms of keeping them as pets, is in their diets.
Parakeets eat seeds. They originated in dry, grassy scrublands in Australia. They fly between tufts of grass to find seeds, occasionally also eating insects and fruit.
There are also lorikeets in Australia, but in the tropical rainforests of the north, not on the grasslands farther south. They are abundant in parts of Papua New Guinea and Indonesia.
Lorikeets have distinctive, brush-like tongues that allow them to harvest pollen and nectar from flowers. They also have a hooked bill that allows them to climb vines and also to hold things. Lorikeets also eat fruit and plant parts.
Parakeets can’t survive on nectar and plant pollen. Lorikeets can’t survive on seeds.
Both of these kinds of parrots can be trained to talk and imitate noises and sounds. Parakeets are easier to maintain and much less expensive.
Now let’s look at the differences between parakeets and lorikeets in more detail.
More Distinctions Between Parakeets and Lorikeets
Apart from diet, let’s have a look at some other differences between a parakeet and a lorikeet
Parakeets often learn more words than larger parrots.
Males develop clearer speech (from a human perspective) than females, because females tend to have gruff voices. but both males and females usually have the ability to imitate human speech.
Small Australian Lorikeets are playful and make good companion pets, but they do not talk.
This makes them a good choice for homes where noise must be kept to a minimum.
The larger lorikeets have excellent talking ability, but they require extensive training to control it.
Untrained large lorikeets can become annoyingly loud. Hand-raised male lorikeets (fed by a human after they hatched) are the most trainable large birds of this species.
There is no guarantee that any individual parakeet or lorikeet absolutely will learn to imitate human speech.
Some birds never do. It’s best to buy a bird on the basis of personality and temperament, not on the basis of expecting it to talk.
Both parakeets and lorikeets need small amounts of vegetables and fruits daily.
You can experiment to find out which plant foods your birds prefer, but the general rule is that if you would eat it, and it’s raw, then it’s OK to offer it to your bird.
Don’t give either parakeets or lorikeets table scraps or meat or any kind.
Don’t make sudden changes to the diets of either parakeets or lorikeets. They may not recognize their food and, in some instances, even starve.
The most important component of a parakeet’s diet is a mixture of seeds. Smaller seeds are better.
Millet sprays and Nyjer seed can be a daily component of your parakeet’s fare.
Seeds play no role in your lorikeet’s diet. Lorikeets cannot digest them. They require pollen and nectar for most of their energy and protein.
Lorikeets will promptly tear up any flowers you plant for them, so it’s best to use commercial lorikeet food.
It is easy to tell the difference between male and female parakeets.
The males have brighter, more colorful feathers, and they are more vocal.
Female parakeets learn words more slowly than males, but they speak “parakeet,” especially warning signals, better than males.
It’s almost impossible to tell the differences between male and female lorikeets just by looking at them.
Breeders use DNA testing to identify male and female birds. Both male and female lorikeets can be trained to talk.
Parakeets are very social birds. In the wild, they live in flocks. They enjoy the company of other birds, except when they are nesting and raising their young.
Parakeets get along well with people and other pets.
Lorikeets are extroverted, fun-loving birds.
They relate well to people, but they will bond to just one human in the family and ignore the others if only one member of the family feeds them.
Lorikeets can become aggressive with other pets that they perceive as trying to take over their territory. Lorikeets play well, but they don’t always play well with others.
Suitability for Children
Parakeets are an excellent pet option for children. They can talk. They tolerate handling well. They are easy to care for and they can be a lot of fun.
As a general rule, young children and lorikeets don’t mix.
Lorikeets are excitable birds that can intimidate — and sometimes bite — children.
Because taking care of lorikeets is extremely time-consuming, it may interfere with children’s activities and result in resentment of the bird.
Children at the age of 10 and older, however, may appreciate the lorikeet’s acrobatics and playful sense of humor, if they understand how to keep from being bitten.
Parakeets love mistings with warm water to keep their feathers clean. Make sure the room is warm before getting them wet.
This is an excellent bonding opportunity for the younger human members of the family.
Parakeets may occasionally kick food out of their bowls, but it is not hard to clean up their droppings if you keep up with cage cleaning.
Lorikeets are very untidy eaters. They have large, wet droppings. But the most serious hygiene issues occur when they are given honey, jam, and jelly as treats.
Lorikeets that are given a sugary diet are susceptible to a condition called necrotizing enteritis.
When this occurs, cage-cleaning becomes a huge chore. But giving your lorikeet a healthy, no-sugar diet keeps hygiene issues manageable, if time-consuming.
Mating and Nesting
Parakeets mate for life. In captivity, they need a nesting box to confine their nest, and also to keep the mating pair separate from other birds.
As parents, parakeets can be aggressive in defending their nests and their hatchlings from other birds.
Lorikeets prefer to sleep in a nest even if they aren’t mating. In nature, they build nests in the hollows of trees.
The female lorikeet will sit on her eggs for 25 day, expecting the male to bring her food.
During nesting, both lorikeets (male and female) can become intensely territorial and aggressive.
It’s important to know that a female that has access to a nest will lay eggs even if she has not mated. She may both depend on you for food and fight you to protect her nest.
All estimated costs here are in US dollars.
Parakeets may cost as little as $10 at a pet shop, or as much as $625 at an aviary specializing in rare species.
An English budgie will cost around $70 just to buy the bird.
Rainbow Lorikeets usually cost between $400 and $700. The rarer Swainson’s Lorie starts at $1000.
Lorikeets require a specialized, liquid diet. Packages of lorikeet food cost between $25 and $50.
Because of their liquid diet, lorikeets require more cleanup. Cage lines and cleaning supplies will cost between $10 and $20 up to several times a week.
Time and Energy Required
Parakeets need at least an hour of attention every day from their humans, but three to four hours a day is better.
If you only have one parakeet, it will interact with you.
But if you have two or more parakeets, and you only visit them for one hour a day, they will develop a habit of interacting with each other rather than interacting with you.
Your parakeet will prefer to wander around the house with you, outside its cage. (Don’t attempt this if you have dogs or cats.)
They would like to spend the whole day with you, that is, if you have only one bird.
Cleaning cages is a once-a-week chore with parakeets. Their cages need to be thoroughly cleaned and disinfected to prevent bacterial and fungal diseases from getting started.
Then the disinfectant needs to be brushed or washed away so it does not cause breathing problems for your birds.
Training your parakeet to imitate human speech or musical sounds can take from three or four days to three or four weeks, at least half an hour a day.
The more experience your parakeet has with people, the easier it will be to train.
Lorikeets also need at least an hour a day of people’s time, but they thrive on several hours a day.
They don’t like to be left alone, so if you want more time to yourself, you should get them a cagemate.
Breeders will often give you a slight discount on the cost of buying a pair of birds, but this doubles food and maintenance costs.
Lorikeets need to be let out of their cages every day to burn off excess energy. Otherwise, they become very noisy.
Cage cleaning is a daily task with lorikeets. They also need to have their food and water topped off every day.
You will want to spend time training your lorikeet to wear a harness so it will be easier to manage outside its cage.
You will want to get everyone in your household involved in training your lorikeet, or it may bond with you to the exclusion of other family members.
And to a certain extent, your lorikeet will train you to tolerate its noises.
Well-kept lorikeets may live as long as 20 years. They are a long-term commitment.
Reviewing Basic Parakeet Facts
- Parakeets love to chirp, warble, whistle, and trill when they are happy. They make noise all day, and they can make sounds as loud as 110 decibels (as loud as a rock concert).
- Parakeets need at least an hour of attention every day. You will have more fun with your bird if you spend enough time for it to acquire a large vocabulary and bond with you. But parakeets won’t become destructive, usually, if they have toys or a companion bird in their cage. Neglect them, however, and they will bond with the other bird, not with you.
- Parakeets need some time outside their cages every day. They need to be protected from hazards like ceiling fans, household cleaners, commodes with their lids open, hot stoves, and cats.
- Parakeets need more than just bird seed in their diets. But their requirements aren’t highly specialized or expensive.
- Parakeets usually aren’t territorial, except when they are nesting.
Parakeets are great for first-time pet owners. They offer a lot of enjoyment for a minimal investment of time and money.
Reviewing Basic Lorikeet Facts
- Lorikeets are loud. Lorikeets are native to jungles. They live in flocks, and to keep in touch with each other they chatter, screech, and whistle. They aren’t ideal if you live in an apartment with thin walls.
- Lorikeets need several hours of attention every day. Lonely lorikeets are prone to destructive behavior. They may pull out their feathers and destroy items in their cages. Lorikeets like to hang out with their humans.
- Lorikeets don’t do well in confined spaces. Lorikeets will bounce off the walls of small cages. They are better suited to outdoor aviaries with artificial vegetation, because they will tear up live plants. Lots of toys helps lorikeets tolerate confinement.
- Lorikeets need a highly specialized diet. Lorikeet food spoils quickly. It’s easy to give them serious gastrointestinal infections by not changing out their food supply regularly.
- Lorikeets are territorial. Without training, your lorikeet will nip at you from time to time. They do not get along well with other kinds of birds.
If you have experience keeping birds, and you have lots of time to give to your bird, consider adding a lorikeet to your family. Life with a lorikeet will never be boring.
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