The vast majority of parrots love to bathe. It makes sense since many species of parrots originate in tropical climates and in their natural environment are exposed to rainstorms and have ample opportunity to get wet. In the rainy season they may, in fact, get wetter than they would like.
As pet bird owners, we have assumed responsibility for providing our pet parrots with an environment that promotes their mental, emotional, and physical well-being. Along with proper housing, exercise, and diet, providing them a chance to bathe regularly goes a long way toward achieving this goal. Your bird will be happier and healthier if they get to bathe frequently.
Due to the large degree of variation in the size and disposition of parrots, there are many ways that you can employ to let your bird bathe. It may take some experimentation to find a technique that works for both you and your bird, but it is well worth the effort.
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How Parrots Bathe in the Wild
Wild parrots engage in three main methods to keep clean, according to theparrotuniversity.com. They are:
- Powder down – The production of powder down is common to all parrots, with some species such as African Greys and Cockatoos producing copious amounts. This powder is slightly water repellent and sticks to everything, including dirt. As the bird moves about, the dust falls off, removing the dirt with it.
- Preening – Preening is used to spread oil and water through the bird’s feathers as well as to keep them in place. It is an essential part of the bird’s bathing routine.
- Rain – In their native environments, rain is one of the main sources of water for parrots to use for cleansing. They seem to love the sound and feel of rain, and in reaction often excitedly take to grooming and cleaning their feathers. Frequent rain seems to temper this excitement.
Obviously, you have no way to impact your bird’s production of powder down nor its preening habits, but you do control the flow of water in a captive parrot’s life. You are responsible for making it rain, or at least producing a reasonable alternative. It is an important task that will assist in keeping your bird comfortable and in good health.
Benefits of Parrot Bathing?
Parrots living captivity have to cope with some conditions that do not present themselves in their natural habitat. Some of these circumstances can negatively affect your bird and are valid reasons for bathing your parrot.
The confined space of your bird’s cage can become dustier and dirtier than would its nest or roosting place in the wild. Bathing will help your bird keep its feathers and body clean while giving it a chance to engage in some fun exercise. Bathing should be seen as a fun activity, and in many cases, your bird will look forward to it and get excited when it knows bath or shower time has arrived.
Dry skin can always be problematic for parrots, but winter months can be especially hard on captive birds. Humidity is low and, according to birdtricks.com, dries out your parrot’s skin as well as your own. While we can apply lotion to treat dry skin, your parrot may resort to excessive preening or even feather plucking. It is perfectly all right to let your bird bathe when it is cold outside, and you should actually increase the frequency of baths to help counteract dry skin problems.
How To Bathe Your Parrot
The method you use to bathe your parrot will be influenced by their size. Small birds are often given bathing opportunities in their cage but with larger birds, you do not always have this option, and out of cage techniques are required. You should never use hot water when bathing your bird. Water that is room temperature or slightly warm to the touch is acceptable. According to petcha.com, distilled water should be avoided as it lacks dissolved minerals and ions.
- Cage mounted baths – There are a number of different types of cage mounted baths that are suitable for bathing small parrots. Some attach to the cage bars and others are meant to be placed in an open cage door at bath time.
- Wet branches or bunches of moist greens – Some birds bathe by rubbing themselves on the wet branches or greens.
- Heavy bath bowl – Use a low-profile dish such a glass pie pan. You want it to be heavy so it cannot be tipped over if your bird perches on it. Filled with one or two inches of water, based on your bird’s size, this makes for a great bath.
Whatever method you use, be sure to replace the wet bedding or cage liners to prevent the moisture from breeding bacteria.
- Shower perches – Many owners of larger pet birds enjoy sharing a shower with them. There are many parrot shower perches available for this use, like the macaw is using one in the video below.
- Sink – Having your bird bathe under gently running water in a sink is another option. Here’s a video of a Sun Conure enjoying a sink bath.
- Bathtub – You may try using a hand-held shower spray with a large bird placed on the floor of a bathtub.
- Spray bottles – Misting your bird with a spray bottle may satisfy its need to bathe. This can be used for both large and small birds.
In all cases, never spray water directly into your bird’s face.
What If My Bird Does Not Want To Bathe?
You should never attempt to force your bird to bathe. The methods employed for bathing a captive parrot are often very different than what they would encounter in their native setting. Your parrot is best acclimated to bathing while it is young, and if you have obtained a bird that is older, it may have been bathed in a different manner or even not at all.
Offer baths frequently and try different dishes or methods until you find one that works. If your parrot shows no interest in bathing, then make sure to spray it down regularly to keep its skin moist. It is important that you find some way to bathe your bird to maintain its good looks and health.