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What Is the Difference between a Parrot & a Parakeet?

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Despite their similar names, parrots and parakeets are not the same thing—not entirely, anyway. Parakeets, also commonly known as budgies, are actually a type of parrot. While they have certain notable similarities, like their four-toed feet and their typical diets, parakeets and other species of parrot can be vastly different.

The Parrot Family

While parakeets are a type of parrot, more than 350 other types exist as well. This order of birds includes various species that, like the parakeet, are frequently chosen as pets. The African gray parrot, Amazon parrot, cockatoo, cockatiel and macaw, for example, are all types of parrot that humans choose as pets. The parakeet is one of the smallest species, making it generally more common in pet stores.

Explaining Parakeets

Parakeets are a species of parrot native to Australia, where they are also known as budgerigars, or budgies. Because they are small, playful, smart and highly receptive to training, these birds are mainstays of pet shops and relatively easy to care for. While not all parrots can imitate human speech, parakeets can, and may learn as many as 100 different words or even more. These birds generally cherish companionship, and develop strong bonds with their owners.

Other Pet Parrots

Because so many parrot species exist, they can vary considerably from the common parakeet. For example, the African gray parrot is a larger, less colorful bird, with a strong and prominent beak—the parakeet's beak is proportionally smaller, and his feathers colorful. The cockatiel is more similar to the budgie, as he is colorful and personable with a smaller beak, but sports frills on his head that the parakeet does not. With hundreds of different species to consider, the differences between parakeets and other parrots are many.

A Miniature Bird

As a particularly small species of parrot, the parakeet is a relatively low-maintenance bird. Parakeets enjoy each other's company, and several can happily share a cage. While they should ideally be let out once daily for bonding and interaction, these birds are generally happy living in an enclosed space with toys and perches to keep them occupied. Other, larger species of parrot may need more elaborate habitats of tree branches and floor-to-ceiling cages, but the parakeet's small size sets him apart as uniquely suited to apartment life.