Home » Do Parrots Get Constipated? [10 Warning Signs of Constipation]
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Do Parrots Get Constipated? [10 Warning Signs of Constipation]

(Last Updated On: December 2, 2022)

Parrots can get constipated, typically caused by the wrong diet, dehydration, or living in a dirty cage.

Signs your parrot is constipated include lethargy, straining to defecate, irritability, fluffed feathers, sticky droppings, a dry mucus membrane, and more.

Constipation can be confused with egg binding (when females strain to lay eggs). Both conditions are life-threatening, so you’ll need to contact your vet if you notice your parrot straining.  

How Many Times Do Parrots Poop a Day?

According to Wiley, birds have a very different digestive system from humans, which means they poop many more times per day than us.

It’s normal for a large parrot like a macaw to poop 10-20 times per day, whereas a small bird like a budgie can poop upwards of 40 times daily. If your parrot isn’t pooping, this is cause for concern.

Why Is My Parrot Not Pooping?

If your parrot isn’t going to the toilet, it could be constipated. While constipation isn’t that common in parrots, it’s certainly possible. What causes constipation in parrots?

The primary cause of constipation is a poor diet. A lack of fiber is the main offender here, so if you haven’t been feeding your parrot any fresh fruits or veggies, this might be causing the problem.

Dehydration is another thing that may be stopping your parrot from pooping.

Another potential cause of constipation is cloacoliths, which are often composed of hardened uric acid and can obstruct the rectal opening, making it painful and difficult for a parrot to excrete.

Vets don’t know exactly what causes this obstruction, but it’s probably due to the parrot absorbing too much water. According to ABVP, this excess water intake could be caused by traumatic neuropathy, brooding behavior, or other factors.

If your parrot isn’t getting enough exercise, this could also increase the likelihood of constipation.

Also, parrot constipation could be secondary to gastroenteritis due to a dirty cage or bacteria in food.

how to tell if a parrot is constipated

How to Tell If a Parrot Is Constipated

Since constipation is rare in parrots, owners aren’t typically told to look out for it. However, given the seriousness of this condition, you need to know what constipation looks like in parrots.

The clearest sign that something is wrong is if your parrot is pooping a lot less frequently than usual. That said, a reduction in pooping frequency isn’t always sinister.  

If the weather is colder, you’ve been playing less with your parrot, and your parrot has recently reached maturity, you can expect a bit less pooping than previously.

According to Lafeber, this is because parrots poop more when excited, so if they’ve been doing fewer activities (or they have recently “grown up”), they might be less excited and thus pooping less.

However, if your parrot is pooping significantly less per day, you should investigate further. Additionally, you should speak to your vet if you notice any signs of constipation.

1/ Straining to Defecate

If your parrot is straining to defecate, this is a clear sign of constipation. You’ll know your parrot is straining if it takes much longer to poop than normal (yet nothing or very little comes out).

Parrots sometimes wag their tails when straining and may whimper when trying to pass.

Your parrots might also try constantly to pass, to find some relief. So although a constipated parrot produces less overall poop, it’ll spend more time trying to defecate than a healthy parrot.

2/ Very Irritable

A constipated parrot won’t want to be petted, especially on their back feathers.

If your parrot is nipping and biting more than usual, this impatience could be due to constipation. A constipated bird won’t want to play and lark around because it will feel miserable and depressed.

3/ Lethargy

As mentioned, a constipated parrot won’t want to play because it will feel lethargic.

According to Omelet, you could spot a “lethargic” parrot by determining whether it experiences joy with activities it’s previously enjoyed (e.g., seeing its mate, playing, eating).

It’s normal for parrots to want to be quiet sometimes, and taking some time alone is not necessarily a sign of lethargy.

For example, some breeds, like Rosellas, are reserved and spend more time alone. But if your parrot seems unusually lethargic and reserved, this could be a sign of constipation (or another illness).

4/ Fluffed-up feathers

Fluffed-up feathers have various explanations. Typically, it’s a sign that the temperature is too hot or too cold. An overheated parrot may well be dehydrated, and dehydration is a cause of constipation.

Alternatively, parrots often feel cold when sick, so they fluff up their feathers to protect themselves. In any case, fluffed-up feathers have been seen as a symptom of constipation in parrots.    

5/ Regurgitation

Regurgitation is a sign of advanced constipation. However, it’s also a mating behavior practiced by male parrots. Males regurgitate food for females when they’re busy incubating the nest.

How can you tell if the regurgitation is a sign of constipation? If your parrot is displaying natural mating behavior, it’ll regurgitate food in front of its mate or favorite person only.

You should be concerned about potential constipation or disease if it’s regurgitating in private.

6/ Refusing Food

Another sign of constipation in parrots is food refusal (anorexia).

According to VCA hospitals, parrots may refuse food for medical reasons. In any case, loss of appetite should be investigated, especially if you notice it alongside the other signs.

7/ A Dirty Vent

Unfortunately, if your parrot has a gastro problem like constipation, it’ll probably have a dirty vent.

You might notice poop stuck to the vent or dirty hind feathers. To prevent infections, you should wipe your parrot’s vent with a clean, damp cloth.

8/ Tiny, Sticky Droppings

A constipated parrot might not stop eliminating. Instead, there might be changes in its poop.

Very dry poop, for example, shows that your parrot is probably dehydrated. Very very small and sticky droppings can signal gastroenteritis.

Also, according to MSD Manual, if you notice your parrot’s droppings are sticky and green, it could have Psittacine herpesvirus.

9/ Vocalization

According to Bio One, parrot vocalization when straining signifies cloacolith. As mentioned, cloacoliths are obstructions that can prevent your parrot from passing poop properly.

These are often formed from uric acid. Once treated, most parrots go back to having normal bowel habits, but veterinary intervention is needed.

10/ Dry Mucus Membrane

The final sign that could indicate constipation is a dry mucus membrane. A dry mucus membrane is also a clear sign of parrot dehydration – and dehydration is often a cause of constipation.

Other signs of dehydration include sunken eyes, tenting skin, panting, and spending lots of time on the cage floor. You should prevent parrot dehydration as there’s always the risk of it causing severe constipation (among other things).

can a parrot die from constipation?

Health Issues Mistaken for Constipation

Another concern in parrots that looks like constipation is egg binding (dystocia).  

Egg binding is when a female parrot can’t release a clutch of eggs. According to Texvetpet, egg binding can be caused by calcium deficiency, old age, too large eggs, and more.

The signs of egg binding include:

  • Straining and nothing comes out, which could be mistaken for straining to poop.
  • Distended belly.
  • Sleeping more than normal.

These signs are similar to constipation, so it’s easy to see how the two conditions could be muddled.

If your parrot is male, it won’t suffer from egg binding as it’s a female-only condition. Egg binding is just as serious as constipation and requires urgent attention.

It’s particularly serious in older (or very young) parrots and could result in death if not treated by a vet.

Can A Parrot Die from Constipation?

Parrots pee and poo through the same vent, so if they can’t poop, they probably can’t pee very well. Your parrot needs to eliminate to stay healthy, so getting bunged up can cause premature death.

Not to mention, if your parrot is suffering from egg binding rather than constipation, this is an equally troubling condition.

If a parrot is severely egg-bound, she’ll need medical treatment like calcium supplements, pain medication, a warm space, and surgical intervention to help her lay.

Once you’ve noticed the signs of constipation or egg binding, you should make a vet’s appointment within 24 hours.

What To Do If Your Parrot Is Constipated?

If your parrot shows constipation, you must contact an Avian vet. That said, there are things you can do for your parrot in the meantime while waiting for your appointment.

  • Using a damp and soft cloth, gently wipe your parrot’s butt, which is especially important if you can see that poop has built up here, as it may develop into an infection. Not to mention, it’ll be uncomfortable for your parrot. It’s important to be gentle so you don’t tear your parrot’s skin.
  • Provide clean and fresh water and make it easy for your parrot to access this. Remember, your parrot is probably lethargic, so try to make it as easy to drink as possible.
  • Try to offer your parrot some fiber-rich fresh food – like berries or melon, cut into small pieces. Your vet may suggest other foods or liquids you can give your parrot while awaiting an appointment.

Moving forward, you can prevent constipation by providing a good-quality diet for your parrot. Avoid feeding only seeds, as this can cause different health problems.

Instead, 15-20% of a parrot’s diet should consist of fruits, veggies, and leaves. The benefit of fresh fruits and veggies is that they increase your parrot’s water intake, reducing the likelihood of dehydration.