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can parrots Swim in water?

Can Parrots Drown in Water?

Last Updated on January 28, 2024 by Carrie Stephens

Wild parrots spend little time in bodies of water, which means they never evolved to breathe underwater and will drown if unable to keep their heads above the surface. They use rainwater to stay clean.

Parrots have limited swimming ability. Initially, they may float in the water due to their hollow, lightweight skeletons and ability to puff the feathers to improve buoyancy.

If a parrot needs to traverse a body of water, and flying over it isn’t an option, it can swim short distances. It’ll flap its wings as though flying, using whatever force it can generate to propel its body forward.

Parrots that spend time in deep water will eventually grow exhausted and drown.

Relationship Between Parrots And Water

A parrot’s relationship with water largely depends on its past experiences. While some parrot species, most notably the Electus, are fond of water, other bird species are far more apprehensive.

According to Applied Animal Behavior Science, a parrot exposed to water early in life is less likely to be frightened, especially if the experience is enjoyable and mostly positive.

Parrots have long memories. If they’ve had a bad experience with water, they could be deterred for life. They recall information in their long-term memory if it improves their chances of survival.

If you adopt a young parrot, see how it reacts to a water dish. If the parrot plays in the water, splashing and washing enthusiastically, this suggests it has no aversion to water.

can parrots float on water?

Parrots Can Float on Water

Most species can float in calm or still water if they’re a healthy weight and can puff up their feathers. Heavy, elderly, and less healthy parrots will likely struggle to stay afloat.

According to the Proceedings of the Royal Society, all birds have hollow, lightweight skeletons for flight. A parrot’s bones are light enough to avoid sinking in water, at least initially.

Parrots fluff their feathers, which traps air between the skin and feathers, increasing buoyancy. However, the feathers will eventually become waterlogged and heavy, sapping them of energy.

Parrots Can’t Swim in Water

Parrots aren’t aquatic birds, so their anatomy never evolved to be capable swimmers like seagulls and herons. Some parrots like to play in the water by splashing and wading, while others prefer to remain dry.

Parrots can move across a body of water for a short time, but only if it’s essential to survival. They don’t swim in deep water for recreation or exercise.

How Parrots Attempt To Swim

A parrot’s attempts to swim will be active but limited in effectiveness.

When placed in water too deep to wade, a parrot flaps its wings as if flying, propelling it through the water. Then, the parrot uses its feet to change direction.

Large parrots rely more on their wings. For example, macaws are the strongest swimmers in the parrot family due to their extensive wingspan. This means they can cover more ground with a single stroke.

Like the doggy paddle, small parrots rely more on kicking their legs to generate forward momentum.

Why Parrots Are Poor Swimmers

Parrots never evolved to spend prolonged time in the water. Consequently, they lack the anatomy to swim well, especially for extended periods.

Parrots spend little time in the water, showering to stay clean and cooling off when hot. When overheating, they may stand in shallow water because heat is released through their unfeathered feet.

Parrots have zygodactyl feet, which means they have 4 toes – 2 pointing forward and 2 backward. These small feet aren’t engineered for swimming like webbed toes.

how long does it take for a parrot to drown?

Parrots Can’t Breathe Underwater

Parrots breathe oxygen and dispel carbon dioxide faster than mammals and humans. This enables them to breathe efficiently at high altitudes with more limited oxygen.

The flip side is that parrots can’t breathe underwater because they can’t access oxygen from the water. After all, parrots don’t have gills like fish.

As parrots rely on their wings to propel themselves through the water’s surface, underwater movement is impossible. If a parrot ceases floating by accident or design, it doesn’t mean it’ll be immediately fatal.

Parrots can hold their breath while underwater for a short time. This isn’t a long-term solution because they must keep their head above water as much as possible. It’s a last-ditch survival attempt.

How Long Parrots Can Hold Their Breath Underwater

If a parrot starts to sink underwater, it’ll take a deep breath and store oxygen in its lungs and air sacs. How long a parrot can hold its breath underwater is species-specific.

Large parrots have more air capacity, meaning they can remain underwater for 1-2 minutes. Small birds, or those with respiratory conditions, can only do so for 30-60 seconds.

Wild parrots seldom consider fish part of their natural diet. Consequently, they haven’t evolved to spend prolonged periods underwater. A parrot doesn’t need to dunk itself underwater to find food sources.

How Long It Takes A Parrot To Drown

Parrots risk drowning if they find themselves underwater or in deep water.

Parrots eventually run out of oxygen in their lungs and air sacs. They’ll be unable to breathe and find their feathers too waterlogged (and heavy) to escape their predicament.

Parrots must wash themselves regularly. Wild parrots use rainfall, stretching their wings until saturated. This removes dirt, debris, and dander from the feathers.

Most adult parrots look forward to a wash and consider it a social activity. Pet birds also enjoy bathing. Just ensure the water isn’t deep so it can get a secure footing while washing and grooming.

Water and parrots aren’t natural bedfellows, so treat aquatic experiences cautiously. Parrots must wash or shower to remain clean, but they’ll likely drown if exposed to deep water.