When your parrot’s warm, relaxed, and comfortably nestled into you, it’s easy to fall asleep with your pet in your arms. While you may not think this will cause problems, is it okay to sleep with parrots, or does this put them at risk?
Never asleep with your parrot. Even though it can help improve your bond, you could suffocate or injure your bird, resulting in broken bones or punctured organs. Parrots require 10-12 hours of sleep each night, and taking a nap with your bird can throw its sleeping pattern out of sync. There’s also the chance that you can develop allergies, such as asthma or bird fancier’s lung, due to close, prolonged exposure to feather dust and droppings.
If you feel yourself drifting off while handling your bird, put it back in its cage to prevent the risk of accidents, injuries, or behavioral problems. It’s not worth taking the chance.
Can Parrots Sleep with You?
While your parrot may enjoy sleeping with you, allowing it is a huge risk. As discussed, if you fall asleep at the same time, you could hurt your bird or teach it bad habits. The only positive in allowing your parrot to sleep with you is that it can help build your bond. That said, parrots should also remain in their cages when they go to sleep. Here’s why:
The most significant and dangerous problem with allowing your parrot to sleep with you is that you could roll over onto it during the night and crush it. Because humans are much bigger and heavier than even the largest parrot species, parrots can suffocate under the weight of their owners’ bodies.
At the very least, they’ll experience injuries, such as broken bones or damaged organs. If the injuries are extensive enough, you may have to euthanize your bird to prevent pain and suffering.
Bear in mind that suffocation is far more common than crushing. Birds have strong, pliable bones that don’t easily break. However, their respiratory systems are far more fragile than ours. They draw in air by significantly expanding their chests, making enough room for the air sacs to expand.
If they don’t have enough room to do this because they’re pinned under a heavy body, they can’t breathe in the amount of air they need to stay alive.
When we sleep, there’s no way for us to control how often we move around. Even if you only plan to have a quick 20-minute risk, you’re unwittingly putting your parrot’s life in danger. Similarly, if your parrot’s nestled tightly into you, it may not be able to escape.
Parrots with powder-based feathers generate dust, which is a natural layer of fine keratin called barbules that protects birds from:
- Wear and tear
- Outside damage
It naturally sheds off, particularly during the molting seasons. However, according to Allergy, Asthma and Clinical Immunology, it’s estimated that 40% of the population are sensitive to foreign proteins, which parrot dust is.
Owners with parrot dust sensitivity are at risk of developing allergies if they fall asleep with their parrots too often. Over time, this could get worse, presenting a serious health risk. Signs of a parrot dust allergy include:
- Watery eyes
Some of these allergies can be severe and include:
25 million people in the U.S. have asthma, according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention. Sufferers are sensitive to parrot dust particles, and even short-term exposure’s a trigger. It’s rarely deadly, but owners that sleep with their parrots frequently develop worse symptoms.
Bird Fancier’s Lung
Bird fancier’s lung is a disease only bird owners experience. It’s caused by exposure to the proteins in droppings, feathers, and parrot dust. Sleeping with your parrot increases your exposure to disease-causing triggers. If your lungs become too exposed, you could develop a full-blown disease. Symptoms include:
- Shortness of breath
- Chest discomfort
- Chills or fever
- Inflammation of the air sacs or alveoli
Sleeping with your parrot doesn’t result in a good sleep for either of you. If you toss and turn, you’ll cause your bird to wake several times within the night. The same goes for your parrot. Parrots that are noisy or like to move about while they sleep will disturb your rest, resulting in an uncomfortable, broken sleep.
Some parrots also enjoy cooing and chattering as they settle down to sleep. Parakeets are most likely to make these sounds. Parrots wake at the crack of dawn, giving you an unwanted wake-up call.
In the worst cases, sleeping together can affect each other’s mood, making you both irritable. Stressed, tired birds can become aggressive, lashing out with their wings or beaks. Parrots require around 10-12 hours of sleep a night. Without it, they can become mentally and physically unwell.
That’s why you should always leave your bird to rest soundly in its cage where it can’t be disturbed.
Teaches Bad Habits
If you frequently fall asleep with your parrot, you risk teaching it bad habits. Depending on how much your bird enjoys resting with you, it may refuse to go to sleep in its cage. It may also develop an unnatural sleeping pattern, making it susceptible to tiredness and behavioral problems.
Most parrots enjoy routine. Throwing this out of sync with unregulated sleeping patterns stresses and confuses birds that are used to a particular structure.
If your parrot wakes up while you’re asleep and can wriggle out of your grasp, it could escape into an unsafe room. The following things are potential hazards for parrots:
- Other pets
- Glass windows and doors
- Electrical appliances
- Cords and wires
- Teflon cooking utensils
Worse yet, if it gains access to the outside, it could fly away, never to return. While this is the worst-case scenario, it could happen, especially if you’re asleep and unable to stop your bird from escaping.
Falling asleep isn’t always planned, especially if you’re overly tired. If you feel as if you may drift off while you’re playing with your parrot, don’t risk it and put it back in its cage where it’ll be safe.
How Do Parrots Sleep at Night?
Parrots sleep while standing on one leg. They pull one foot into their feathers, where it’s comfortable and warm. Doing this also reduces muscle fatigue, making birds feel rested as soon as they wake up. Parrots feel more comfortable sleeping this way, as it allows them to flee from predators quickly.
If your parrot isn’t able to do this, it may feel threatened and become stressed. It’s not natural for parrots to sleep snuggled up to their owners, as it prevents them from carrying out their instincts.
Where Should Parrots Sleep?
If you really want to be close to your bird while you sleep, consider positioning its cage in your bedroom. However, there are some downsides to doing this. Bedrooms lack as much space as living rooms, so there may not be enough room. Similarly, we don’t tend to spend as much time in our bedrooms, so your parrot could become isolated or neglected.
Allergies and bird fancier’s lung are just as much a problem for owners with bird cages in their rooms as sleeping with their parrots. Also, the quality of your sleep depends on how much your parrot vocalizes throughout the night. If you get up earlier than your bird, your alarm will wake your parrot, disturbing its sleep, causing it to become angry and agitated.
While it’s natural you’d want to spend as much time as possible with your bird, don’t compromise either of your sleep schedules to do so. Spend time with your parrot by playing and socializing with it throughout the day, but don’t fall asleep with your bird in case you cause it harm. The most suitable locations for parrots to live include:
- Living room.
- Outdoors in an aviary with other birds (as long as there’s protection from the elements and predators).
- Dining room that’s frequently used.
Sleeping with a parrot is a considerable risk to take. Not only is it an unnatural sleeping position for birds, but the chances of it becoming trapped after you’ve moved or turned over are too high. While parrots need plenty of out-of-cage and one-on-one socialization time, you should always be fully alert and awake when you handle your parrot.