Parrotlets are one of the smallest types of parrots, known for being highly intelligent and for being excellent pets. They can talk, like most parrots, and they very quickly become part of the family, as they love interacting with their owners, and they can be very active and playful.
If it’s your first time owning parrotlets, you might have noticed that they sometimes hang upside down. At first, this can be super worrying. What if the parrotlet falls? Is it okay? Is this normal behavior?
The truth is, it is completely normal behavior for parrotlets to hang upside down now and then, and it can actually indicate a healthy and active lifestyle.
The only time you should ever worry about your parrotlet hanging upside down is if it seems excessive and it is paired with other abnormal behavioral issues or health-related issues.
Otherwise, take the hanging upside down as a good sign of your parrotlets being happy and healthy!
But…why exactly do parrotlets hang upside down? Do other birds do this too?
Here are some of the main reasons why parrotlets hang upside down:
It is a common behavior among birds:
It isn’t just parrotlets that sometimes hang upside down, it’s most birds! It’s a pretty common behavior amongst most bird species, further confirming that it is completely normal and natural, and therefore nothing to be worried about.
A lot of birds will hang upside down as a sign of being happy and content, and it’s a way for birds to play with each other in a more active way.
Some parrots sleep upside down:
Some parrot species even go as far as sleeping upside down. This might seem odd or dangerous, but they have really strong feet, and their claws are able to lock in place so that they can sleep without letting go.
These parrot species are often referred to as the hanging parrots, which is self-explanatory.
Parrotlets are not within this group, and instead, they sleep like the vast majority of parrots, with one leg up, head tucked into their feathers, and perfectly upright in their position, no hanging upside down.
So it would be weird to see your parrotlet sleeping upside down throughout the night. But short naps while hanging are normal.
Hanging upside down for a short nap:
As we’ve mentioned, some parrot species sleep while hanging upside down. Parrotlets don’t do this, but they can still have short naps during which they do sleep while hanging upside down.
This is because they aren’t fully asleep, more likely just resting for a little while. They have very strong feet that lock into place, so there is no danger of them falling down.
And although it might seem strange, napping while upside down is completely normal behavior! If anything, it shows that your parrotlet is perfectly comfortable and secure in its environment.
As a sign of playfulness:
Parrotlets, just like most types of parrots, love interacting and playing. Not only with each other, but with their owners too. They are very active birds that need a lot of socializing and attention in order to thrive and be happy.
When a parrotlet is hanging upside down, this can be a very strong indicator of playfulness and willingness to interact and play. It’s essentially the parrotlet being goofy and comical, and showing that it is in a suitably playful mood.
If you have several parrotlets in the same cage, you might notice that they all start to hang upside down at the same time, or one after the other, as if they are turning it into a game.
As a sign of being comfortable and secure in their environment:
When a bird hangs upside down, it is in a far more vulnerable position compared to if it is upright and alert.
In the wild, parrotlets will only ever hang upside down when they are in a group and in a calm and safe environment so that they can allow themselves that time of playfulness without being at risk of becoming prey to a predator.
In captivity, parrotlets can allow themselves to hang upside down a lot more often, especially when they become fully familiar and comfortable with their environment.
If your parrotlet hangs upside down quite often, this can be a strong sign that it feels secure and happy in its home, and that it completely trusts the owners and other parrotlets if there are any, meaning it can become vulnerable in a playful position and posture.
Out of boredom:
Parrotlets, like most types of parrots, need a lot of interaction and attention in order to be happy, as they are used to living in groups, and are very social animals.
They are also highly intelligent, so they need to be mentally stimulated, whether it’s through games, interactions, or challenging objects and situations. This is also why parrotlets can really enjoy being trained and taught different tricks.
If your parrotlet isn’t getting enough entertainment, it will be looking to get distracted by absolutely anything. This can include picking up odd behavioral patterns, or hanging upside down more than usual, as if it is giving itself something to do.
To explore their cage in new ways:
If your parrotlet gets put into a new cage, or something within the cage is modified, you might notice that it begins to hang upside down a bit more often.
This could be a way for your parrotlet to express curiosity and enjoyment, as it gets to explore the cage and figure out the layout from all angles, including upside down.
Because they are happy and content:
As a general rule, a parrotlet (or any other bird) that is hanging upside down, is a happy parrotlet. Hanging upside down means that they feel comfortable enough to be in a vulnerable position, and it means that they are active and eager to move about.
This in turn means that the parrotlet is healthy and happy, in a good mood, and willing to interact and play with both other birds and with the human owners.
So basically, if your parrotlet is hanging upside down, then your parrotlet is happy and vibing with life.
So, overall, hanging upside down is a good sign, and regardless of the reason, there is nothing for you to worry about.
But what if there is something wrong? When is hanging upside down too much hanging upside down and a sign of something being wrong?
Well, by itself, hanging upside down is never a bad sign. If your bird is hanging upside down, then it means that it has the strength to do so, along with the body coordination and mobility levels. It also means that your bird feels safe enough to go into a vulnerable and playful position.
If your parrotlet was scared or unhappy, it would keep to itself and make itself smaller or unnoticeable, and hanging upside down is the opposite of that.
The only time you should ever worry about your parrotlet hanging upside down is if there are other accompanying changes in its behavior, or if it is presenting any troubling patterns of behavior.
And if in doubt, you can always simply go to the vet for a check-up, as it is better to be safe than sorry!