Face it, our feathered friends, Parrots, Parakeets, cockatiels, lovebirds are no different from us really – they get dirty, and they need to keep clean to feel comfortable and healthy. All parrot species have the tendency to build up a lot of dust and dander on their feathers, which results in dust being spread through your home. Sometimes Parrots can also, how can I put this tactfully …….. start to smell.
Natural Bathing Instincts for Parrots
Parrots in the wild have three main methods of keeping clean – powder down, preening and water. All these are part of every parrot’s grooming behaviour but their use varies from species to species
Powder Down: Powder down is common to all parrots. Powder comes from specialized down feather and as the bird preens and exercises, excess powder falls off taking the dirt with it – and helping to keep the bird clean.
Preening: Preening is an essential part of all healthy grooming and bathing behaviours. Spreading water and scraping the feathers to make sure every feather is just in the right place and ready for use.
Water: Macaws, Amazons and other species originally from wetter environments are used to getting rained on every day or two and won’t bat an eyelid at the thought of a shower. Others from drier environments may be more excitable.
Keeping Your Pet Parrot Clean
Pet parrots don’t have the benefit of a natural environment that forces them to be clean, so you need to help! With patience and planning, you can make a shower an enjoyable experience for your bird. The secret is to take it slowly and make sure that your bird does not develop a fear of water.
Healthy adult parrots will enjoy a shower every few days, and showers offer a chance for some fun and quality time with your bird – not just a way to keep your parrot clean.
Water is all that is needed to give your Parrot a clean, just fresh clean water – the powder down, oil, dander and preening will take care of removing the dirt. Soap and shampoo is not recommended for adult parrots because it can remove natural oils that are important for good parrot hygiene.
Should I Shower or Spray?
Shower perches for parrots are great and attach to any shower wall using suction cups. Many shower perches also include an arm that can be folded away against the wall when not in use.
Most shower perches can also be fixed on windows and attaching your shower perch to a window in a room that your bird is already comfortable in, is a great way to ease your bird into showering. After a few short sessions on the perch, most parrots will come to like this new perch, particularly if it comes with a great view!
The next step is to get your bird used to being on the perch in the shower. If your parrot has never been in the bathroom before, you may need to start slower, perhaps by first just walking your bird into the room for a few days, with no showering.
Initially the perch should be placed where the bird will not be in the direct path of the water. He will get his shower from the water splashing off of you.
Different Parrot species may react in different ways to being showered so be very patient with your bird, or try spraying as a first step.
You can spray or mist your bird easily while they are still in their cage. Some birds may prefer spraying or misting once a week – it really depends on your bird, but keep up the routine.
Try not to use cold water as this may come as a real shock to your bird, just as it would be for you. Don’t use hot water either, just add a little warm water to the spray bottle to take the edge off any chill.
Small pump-up water sprayers are preferable to spray bottles. Spray bottles can work well with most birds, but shaking the bottle and the uneven spray may frighten or annoy some birds, particularly if a previous owner has used a spray bottle to discipline a noisy bird.
Try spraying upwards over the top of the bird and allowing the mist to fall like a rain shower. Use the spray bottle from low down, point the nozzle directly into the air, and a fine spray of water droplets will fall gently down onto your parrot. Simulating rain in this way can be much better than spraying directly onto your bird. However you chose to spray, never spray your bird directly in the face.
Shower or spray water temperature should be lukewarm to cool
Never point a shower or sprayer at their nostrils
Make sure your shower perch is securely attached to the wall of the shower
Never use soap or shampoo
Never force your bird to bathe – Forcing a parrot to bathe may cause behavioural issues
Introduce bathing to your bird gradually and slowly. Your bird may not like it at first and it could take a few months for them to start enjoying it just persevere!!
Don’t use a hairdryer on your bird. It will dry out feathers and skin, defeating the purpose of showering or spraying.
Never use a spray bottle to discourage bad behaviour. It could mean your bird might associate water with unpleasantness and fear
Last but not least. Supervise your bird at all times – accidents can happen in a matter in the blink of an eye!!