Home » Do Parrots Like Being Alone? [Loners vs. Social Birds]
do parrots get lonely?

Do Parrots Like Being Alone? [Loners vs. Social Birds]

(Last Updated On: November 7, 2022)

Parrots are social animals that live in large flocks, but most people only have one parrot. That can leave you concerned about your parrot growing lonely due to the lack of companionship.

Parrots are flock animals that dislike living alone. They’ll grow stressed more easily when lonely, resorting to destructive behaviors like feather plucking.

So, it’s advisable to keep a pair of same-species parrots. If you can’t get a second parrot, you’ll need to spend 2-3 hours a day together.

Do Parrots Get Lonely?

Due to their high intelligence, parrots need the companionship of other parrots.

According to the National Academy of Sciences, parrots have a similar number of neurons in their forebrain as primates. The more complex the brain, the more stimulation it needs.

This is why prisons use isolation as a punishment for inmates who misbehave.

Social isolation has negative mental, emotional, and physical effects on humans. Not surprisingly, it has the same effect on clever birds like parrots.

New owners should get a companion bird for their parrots. These highly social animals become attention-starved if left alone for too long.

Even an affectionate owner may not give parrots the companionship, time, and enrichment they need. Another parrot will have unlimited time to give and benefit similarly.

Why Do Parrots Get Lonely?

Parrots are a food source for many predators, so they evolved to live in flocks for safety. There are many benefits to living in large groups:

  • There’s safety in numbers, as predators find it harder to single out one parrot.
  • While in a flock, parrots can benefit from the early warning system of other parrots.
  • Flocks let others know where to find food, water, and shelter.
  • Parrots can solve puzzles or overcome obstacles together.
  • Breeding and protecting eggs is less difficult in numbers.

Parrots have been around for thousands of years, so this way of thinking is ingrained. It’s not something you can train out of parrots, as the need for a flock carries across when domesticated.

is it better to have one parrot or two?

Solitude Represents Danger

Parrots can’t be warned or defend themselves against predators as easily individually. So, when a pet parrot finds itself alone, it raises red flags in its brain. To parrots, solitude equates to risk.

Solitude makes parrots feel on edge. After all, it may indicate that all other parrots have fled a dangerous situation, yet it’s still there, which causes the stress that harms lonely parrots.

Parrots Crave Interaction

Other flock animals get lonely. However, the outcome is usually less dramatic because parrots are smart. With intelligence comes self-awareness, and with self-awareness comes worries.

Parrots will be acutely aware of when they’re alone. Other animals might focus on the fact that there’s no immediate danger. However, parrots worry about what could happen next.

Can Parrots Die of Loneliness?

Loneliness in parrots may result in a shortened life span. However, loneliness will not immediately kill a parrot. Instead, you’ll likely notice the following adverse effects:

How Loneliness Shortens A Parrot’s Life

According to the University of Veterinary Medicine, social isolation reduces the longevity of parrots due to chronic stress, which is evident in the length of a parrot’s telomeres.

Telomeres are specialized DNA complexes serving as protective caps on the ends of linear chromosomes that protect against erosion. The longer the telomeres, the better they can protect the chromosomes.

The body produces free radicals during cellular metabolism, which causes oxidative stress. This deteriorates the cells in an organism’s body, including telomeres. Telomerase, the enzyme responsible for telomere length, is vulnerable to oxidative stress.

The study observed 45 captive parrots between 0.75 and 45 years old over two years. Of the birds, 26 were single, and 19 were paired.

There was a significant difference in telomere length between the single and paired parrots.

Parrots Age Faster

Telomeres naturally shorten as organisms age and the body wears down.

However, researchers noted that the telomere length of a 9-year-old single parrot was the same as a paired parrot that was 23 years its senior. Also, 4 of the 45 parrots died non-traumatically, all single pets.

So, isolation ages parrots due to cellular material destruction and telomere length reduction.

Stress, a feeling that manifests through physical tension and discomfort, weakens defenses at a cellular level. The result will eventually be biological disequilibrium, so lonely parrots age faster.

How Much Attention Do Parrots Need?

In the wild, parrots live in flocks of up to several thousand birds and gather food in groups of up to 30.

They form monogamous pairs and are rarely alone. For this reason, parrots are more than many people can handle. They need constant attention and throw tantrums when neglected.

Experts recommend that parrots are given 2-3 hours of attention daily.

How Long Can You Leave a Parrot Alone?

Parrots can’t be left alone for more than 6-8 hours.

Once you’ve bonded with a parrot, it considers you family. Wild parrots are accustomed to being with their flock and want to be around bonded humans.

Can You Leave A Parrot Alone While On Vacation?

If you’re going on a long vacation, find a pet sitter that can keep the parrot company. However, this only works if the parrot is bonded with the sitter.

Even if the sitter is from the same household, the parrot might not have a strong bond with them. It’ll still feel lonely if the owners are away.

Hand-reared parrots that mal-imprint on humans are more demanding than parrot-reared wild birds.

Can Parrots Befriend Other Pets?

Some people believe that cats and dogs make good companions for parrots. However, it takes just seconds for a misunderstanding between the two species to have dire consequences.

Parrots are prey animals that become alert when they perceive any danger in their nature, and animals of other species can trigger those instincts in parrots.

Parrots shouldn’t be left with cats or dogs while you’re away, even temporarily.

Is It Better to Have One Parrot or Two?

Since parrots need constant social interaction, keeping them in pairs is recommended. Of course, there are several variables to consider, including the species.

Large birds like macaws, African greys, and cockatoos require more attention. These species thrive with a companion and are smarter than smaller birds, requiring more stimulation.

Parrots can become grumpy with age, so get a second bird while it’s still young.

Aggressive Behavior

There’s a chance that the two parrots won’t like each other; if this happens, they may attack each other. For this reason, it’s recommended that you introduce them slowly.

Parrots are stubborn birds. If two parrots don’t like each other, little can be done to make them grow closer. The new parrot must be rehomed and replaced with a more suitable avian companion.

how much attention do parrots need?

Growing To Dislike You

In contrast, parrots can grow to like each other too much. When parrots share a deep bond, there’s always the chance that their bond replaces the one that exists with you.

That’s another reason to introduce parrots to each other slowly.. It gives them time to bond with you before bonding with each other. Bonded parrots may:

  • Scream if you separate them, even just a few feet apart.
  • Bite you when they get jealous.
  • Go from being affectionate to indifferent.

A parrot’s personality can change significantly once bonded with another parrot.

Additional Mess

The more parrots, the bigger the mess. Of course, this will result in more cleaning, which may reduce the time you have to bond and play with your parrot.

It might misbehave if you don’t maintain a parrot’s cage properly. This could mean you resolve one problem (loneliness) and create a different one (bad behavior).

Compatible Species

When deciding on a companion parrot, you may wonder if two different species can coexist.

Most parrots won’t tolerate other species well. However, some parrots will be happy to socialize with other birds. Parrots more friendly to others include:

  • Conures
  • Cockatiels
  • Budgies
  • Hanging parrots

These species are happy to share a cage with similar-sized birds. In contrast, bigger parrots are notoriously unfriendly to other species, such as:

  • Macaws
  • Lories
  • African greys
  • Amazons
  • Caiques

It’s not recommended that you pair large and small parrots.

Can Two Parrots Live in the Same Cage?

Two parrots can occupy the same cage, but conflicts are more likely to arise with this setup. This is even the case with parrots that are bonded and friendly toward each other.

For example, parrots are destructive and can be territorial with their possessions. One parrot may destroy its toy and steal its cage mate’s intact toy, leading to fights.

Parrots can get tired of their cage mate and want some alone time. If the cage isn’t big enough, the parrot won’t get the space it needs. Instead, it’ll feel trapped and stressed.