The trade of live parrots is a threat to wild populations but is understudied. Madagascar is home to three parrot species listed on CITES Appendix II: Coracopsis nigra, Coracopsis vasa and Agapornis canus. Prior to this study there were no data on the ownership of parrots in Madagascar. We therefore aimed to investigate the extent of the domestic pet trade in this group. Our objectives were to quantify the prevalence, spatial extent, and timing of ownership. We collected data in July and August 2016 in nine urban towns across Madagascar, using semi-structured household surveys (n = 440). We found that the ownership of pet parrots is widespread in time and space; 37% (95% CI 26–48%) of interviewees had seen, and 8% (95% CI 3–13%) had owned, a Coracopsis sp. Fewer interviewees (4.5% of all interviewees) had seen A. canus in captivity, and only one individual reported having previously owned an A. canus. We estimate that 1,290 Coracopsis spp. individuals were held in captivity in the towns surveyed, in the 1.5 years prior to our interviews. It is likely that much of this ownership is illegal, although we did not examine this explicitly. Additional research is needed to determine whether current extraction rates are sustainable. This study adds to a growing body of evidence that the domestic regulation of the trade of wild species is not being addressed adequately in Madagascar.