Home » Do Parrots Make A Mess? [Dropped Food, Poop, Molted Feathers]
are parrots messy pets?

Do Parrots Make A Mess? [Dropped Food, Poop, Molted Feathers]

Parrots spend hours cleaning, bathing, grooming, and preening their feathers. Unfortunately, parrots drop food and items everywhere. So, most new owners are surprised by how much mess parrots make.

Parrots are messy because they use their beaks and feet for nearly everything, lacking precision when handling objects, food, or washing.

This means that they destroy items, scatter food, and splash water all over the place. Large breeds of parrots are even more prone to messy eating.

While small breeds usually create smaller messes, they aren’t tidy. So, you’ll need to clean your parrot’s cage at least once a week. During molting season, you’ll need to tidy up feathers and parrot dust daily. 

Are Parrots Messy Pets?

Parrots are messy birds, especially when you have pet parrots that are confined to their cage. You may find seeds, feathers, poop, and toys scattered anywhere that your parrot has been.

Naturally Untidy

In the wild, parrots are free to make any mess they want. Because they live high up in trees, all seeds, feathers, and poop will fall away from their habitat. There’s no need to clear out space or tidy up after themselves.

Aside from that, ecosystems can create a healthy cycle of life. Most parrot waste aids the area around it.

According to Ecology and Evolution, parrots don’t defecate seeds capable of growing into plants, but their biology still contributes to the environment. Feathers, poop, and leftover food can feed other creatures, fertilize the soil, or be used in the nests of other birds.

Wild parrots are accustomed to a wide territory that may stretch miles at a time. If one place becomes unhygienic, the parrot will move to a new spot. There is no evolutionary need for them to be tidy.

Lack Precision

Parrots don’t have hands and fingers, so it’s not easy for them to pick up food and put it in their beak.

Parrots rely on their beaks and feet to:

  • Handle their meals
  • Preen their feathers
  • Bathe themselves

Because of the sizable gap between their mouths and feet, things get dropped. According to Watchbird, parrots have an impressive amount of precision with their beaks.

However, this is used to pick up food, crack it, and eat it. There’s no need to waste dexterity on placing leftover seed shells in a neat pile.

Bathing is also a messy process. According to Applied Animal Behaviour Science, parrots bathe less when they’re exposed to sources like waterfalls, which can douse them more easily.

This practice isn’t possible in a cage with a water bowl. Instead, it demands that the parrot:

  • Physically dips itself in water
  • Thrash side to side and ruffle its feathers to coat itself in water
  • Shaking its body dry

This can cast a wide net around the parrot as it goes about its natural behavior. Parrots may be dexterous, but not in these ways. Their biology has encouraged them to develop their precision in ways that contribute to their survival.

Do Parrots Make A Mess?

Are Certain Parrot Breeds Messier?

Some types of parrots are messier than others. This mainly ties into:

  • Strength
  • Beak size
  • Waste production
  • Food consumption
  • Playfulness

So, bigger parrots like macaws are messier because they:

  • Have large beak , allowing the seeds to fall out more easily
  • Eat more food, so the mess is easier to notice
  • Are stronger and able to tear apart toys and cuttlebones easily
  • Produce more waste, so cages need to be cleaned more often
  • Molt larger feathers

Smaller parrots, like lovebirds and budgies, will keep their space tidier. They eat less, have small beaks that are more dexterous with seed, and can’t destroy toys easily.

Why Is My Parrot So Messy?

Aside from breed, personality determines if your parrot is more or less messy. Some birds will be more carefree, scattering seeds all around their cage. Others will keep water splashing to a minimum.

Some factors may cause your parrot to get messier:

  • Cage is unclean. A parrot that’s stressed by its unhygienic environment will make more mess.
  • Emotional distress. Parrots that are angry, depressed, or lonely may get destructive.
  • Sickness. Parrots with digestive issues may defecate more often. Those with illnesses making them lethargic will struggle to eat, spreading food everywhere. 
  • Scared. Parrots that are new to your home may eat very carefully or messily.

So, if your parrot is suddenly messier than before, check its environment and monitor its mood.

What Messes Do Parrots Make?

The fact that parrots are messy shouldn’t stop you from owning one. You need to know what to expect.

Common issues include:


Parrots shed feathers, especially when they’re molting. Molting is a process in which a parrot will shed its old, worn-out feathers to grow new ones. It happens 1-3 times per year and continues for 8-12 weeks.

During this time, parrots will shed their feathers and produce dust. They won’t be picky about where this debris lands. In the wild, it would be swept away by the wind or fall out of the trees.


Unless toilet trained, parrots will defecate anywhere. They may poop:

  • On your shoulder
  • On furniture
  • In their cage
  • While flying

Worse still, parrot feces aren’t solid and have no discernible shape. They’re watery and will splatter. They dry quickly and can stain if not cleaned up.


Parrots are messy eaters. Because of their hooked beaks, they’re not guaranteed to pick up food on the first try.

  • For items like seeds, the shell casing will fall out of their mouths once cracked
  • For juicy foods like strawberries and pineapple, the liquid will pour out with every bite
  • Parrots don’t have lips, so food may fall out as they swallow it
  • Since parrots’ feet are thin and long, they drop food

Even if their dexterous beaks can quickly pick up the remains, this can still create a mess. To make things worse, parrots display certain body language as they eat. They may:

  • Flap their wings out of happiness or frustration
  • Tap at food with their beak multiple times
  • Knock food around with their claws
  • Pick up food and bang it on objects

All of this is normal behavior, designed to enable them to examine food or break it apart. However, it can also scatter food everywhere.


Bird cages are where your parrot spends most of its time, so it will get dirty. The cage will be exposed to all the messes. This may include:

Parrots can get sick from occupying an unclean cage, so cleaning is crucial.


Parrots love to destroy things. That’s even more true for large breeds, such as macaws.

In the wild, this behavior is a way to:

  • Scavenge for bugs in trees
  • Sharpen their beaks on hard surfaces
  • Break apart hard food
  • Enrich and entertain themselves

However, in the comfort of your home, it can be untidy. Parrots will entertain themselves by ripping up cardboard and stuffed animals. However, you may find the cage (and the area surrounding it) full of clutter.

How to Clean Parrot Messes

We get used to the smell of a home with a bird in it. Sometimes, certain messes get past us because we’ve grown accustomed to the scent of it. That’s why it’s important to establish a cleaning routine.

How To Clean Up Parrot Food

It’s easy for seeds to get scattered in and around the cage. Once there, a single flap of the parrot’s wings can send the food under a couch or behind a drawer. It can turn moldy if not picked up on time. So, you should:

  • Clean right after your parrot is done eating
  • Pick up any leftover foods that could have been dropped
  • Check around the area for any you may have missed
  • Vacuum or sweep up small debris

For wet foods, like fruit, there are extra steps to keep in mind:

  • Use a wet cloth or napkin to clean up juice before it dries
  • Clean your parrot’s beak and face, since it can’t do this itself
  • Don’t let the bird wash off the juice in its water bowl, as this will make the water dirty
  • Place a plastic mat around the usual feeding area so that the clean-up is easier

If your parrot has a cuttlebone and the leftover dust is driving you crazy, consider grinding up the cuttlebone and mixing it with its regular food.

You should only do this if your parrot has another way to trim its beak. Parrots use cuttlebones, not just for calcium but for beak maintenance.

How To Clean Up Parrot Poop

Feces contain bacteria that can make you and your parrot sick. Since most people keep their parrots in a cage, that’s where they do their business.

So, do the following:

  • Place newspaper on the bottom of the cage
  • Replace it once a week or sooner if it becomes coated
  • If the parrot is outside the cage, learn when it uses the bathroom and place it back in the cage
how often should I clean my parrot's cage?

How to Clean Up Parrot Feathers

Parrots shed feathers and dander all the time, especially when molting. You’ll need to clean up the feathers and dust:

  • Every 3 days when the parrot isn’t molting
  • Daily or twice a day when the parrot is molting

Leaving the feathers around your home may harm you and others. Bird-keeper’s lung (hypersensitivity pneumonitis) is a lung disease.

It’s caused by hypersensitivity to the protein in parrot:

  • Feathers
  • Feces
  • Dander

In the worst cases, it can cause pulmonary hypertension. This leads to breathing problems and heart failure.

How To Clean Up Parrot Clutter

Letting your parrot have something to destroy is important for its mental health.

This enrichment will help it:

However, you still need to handle the mess. The best way is to:

  • Stay with the parrot during playtime
  • Clean up the mess once your parrot is done
  • Only allow your parrot to play in one area of the house
  • If the parrot moves to a different area, carry it back to the original spot

How Often Should I Clean My Parrot’s Cage?

Your parrot’s cage must be cleaned once a week. In addition to that, you should:

  • Clean the cage with a mixture of white vinegar and water
  • Ensure the cage is dry
  • Let it dry out in the hot sun to kill any mold and fungi

The risks of not cleaning the parrot’s cage weekly are high because you will miss:

  • Certain details about the condition of the cage, such as rust, damaged bars, and broken perches
  • Signs of fungal growth, leading to skin conditions, such as ringworm
  • Signs of mold. When mold dries, it can release spores that your parrot breathes in, leading to aspergillosis

Parrots make a mess due to the way their feet and claws are designed. While this may be advantageous in the wild, it can be a problem for pet owners. So, you’ll need to get used to cleaning up after your parrot.