Can Parakeets and Cockatiels Live Together: What to Know Before You Try
Parakeets, or budgerigars as they are often called, are the most popular pet bird species in the world.
Cockatiels are the second most popular pet bird species in the world.
So it just makes sense you might wonder if parakeets and cockatiels can live together. For that matter, you may also be wondering if these two species share a cage peacefully?
Read on to learn everything you need to know on this important topic.
Can Parakeets and Cockatiels Live Together
Parakeets and cockatiels can live in the same household as long as there is appropriate supervision. However, parakeets and cockatiels generally cannot live in the same cage together safely.
There are always exceptions, of course, but as a general rule, it is safer to house a cockatiel and a parakeet separately. Read on to learn more about why this is recommended.
Learn About Which Bird Species Get Along Best With Parakeets
In this helpful YouTube video, you can learn more about which other parrot species, such as cockatiels and lovebirds, might make the best companions for a parakeet.
As the video points out, in some cases it matters even more how you introduce two different-species birds to one another and how you house them.
Why Parakeets and Cockatiels Shouldn’t Live in the Same Cage
As Bird Tricks points out, there are several key reasons why parakeets and cockatiels should not be housed together in the same cage.
Parakeets and cockatiels are different size parrots
The first key reason to keep cockatiels and parakeets separated is the difference in size.
And while the parakeet is the smaller of the two species, they also tend to be the more aggressive of the two species.
There are many documented instances of wild parakeets attacking other larger birds who try to invade their nesting sites.
Cockatiels, on the other hand, tend to have a milder temperament and can more easily become the victims of bullying by other birds.
However, cockatiels also outweigh parakeets and can potentially cause harm to a tiny parakeet simply with their larger size.
Parakeets and cockatiels both like having dedicated nesting spaces
Even if you have no plans to breed either your cockatiel or your parakeet (and certainly the two species should never be allowed to interbreed), both species can become territorial of their personal areas.
While you will find many wonderful stories online featuring parakeets and cockatiels that are great friends, generally you will see the birds hanging out together outside of the cage environment.
When it is time to go back into the cage, where the food, the water, the preferred perches, and toys are located, it can be a very different story.
This is especially true if the birds are housed together in one of the many inappropriate cages that are marketed as suitable for either species today.
Parakeets and cockatiels need different types of cages
Perhaps the most persuasive argument against keeping a parakeet and a cockatiel in the same cage is that the two species have different needs when it comes to cage size, cage bar width, and cage dimensions.
As the Center for Animal Rehabilitation explains, parakeets require a cage bar spacing of one-half inch or narrower for safety.
Cockatiels can handle spacing of anywhere from one-half inch to five-eights of an inch safely.
Cockatiels also have a greater wingspan than parakeets and need a larger cage with more room to move about, play, and feel comfortable inside their space.
When Space Is An Issue Is It Okay to House Parakeets and Cockatiels Together
As this Parrot Club forum discussion illustrates, sometimes circumstances are such that you may end up with a parakeet when you already have a cockatiel or vice versa, such as if a relative passes and leaves a bird behind.
It is a lovely gesture to take the now-homeless bird into your home and family. This is especially true if you are already limited on space.
But is it ever okay to try to have one cage for both a parakeet and a cockatiel to live in if you are in this situation?
The simplest answer here is that you will just have to try it and see.
The cage you decide to use should be as large as you would need for two cockatiels housed together but have cage bar spacing of one-half inch or narrower.
To minimize the risk of territorial behavior around resources such as food, water, and mineral blocks, you will want to have two of each – two water bottles, two food dishes, and two of each type of supplement block (calcium, mineral, et al).
The cage should have enough room for each bird to have their own perches in relatively equal positions apart from each other.
In other words, here you are setting up the cage for two adult roommates, not two chicks raised from eggs together.
You want each bird to feel like they have their own space to retreat, especially if they squabble.
And if they do end up in a turf war, you want to have a second cage standing ready just in case where you can move one bird into a separate living area right away.
How Smart Are Cockatiels and Parakeets
Both parakeets and cockatiels are smart, sensitive avians.
The reason we know this is because, as New Scientist points out, parrot brains have evolved along similar pathways to human brains.
So imagine how you might feel if you have always lived by yourself and suddenly forces outside yourself intervened and decided to give you a roommate. You had never met the roommate and you didn’t want a roommate.
How would you feel?
You might get aggressive or territorial. You might feel resentful or depressed. Or you might end up really liking the new roommate and enjoy having someone around all the time.
In other words, just like people, parrots typically prefer to pick their own friends. They want to be able to have control over their living environment and their life mates. And they can become aggressive or depressed if these are denied to them.
How to Introduce a Parakeet and a Cockatiel
But if you have read all of this and you still want to try housing your parakeet and your cockatiel in the same cage, then how might you go about doing it?
As the popular Talk Budgies Forum advises, the first step is to take each bird to your avian veterinarian for a wellness check.
Following that, you will need to keep the two birds safely separated for a month of quarantine just to be sure all is well.
Then you can place their cages near each other so they can get to know one another and you can observe how well (or not) they seem to get along.
The next step is to allow both birds to meet in an out-of-cage setting in your home. You want to see if they are curious about one another or eager to interact or just seem to want to keep their distance.
Finally, if everything seems to be going well, you can do a short trial period in a cage that is suitably equipped for both birds to have their own resources and private areas.
Never leave a cockatiel and a parakeet alone together unsupervised until you are absolutely sure the two birds will not cause each other harm.