Parrots are intelligent creatures, but they also have downsides as a pet. You may be prepared for the amount of attention and care parrots need. You may even be ready to train them not to scream, or to help them through molts. However, new parrot owners aren’t always ready for the kinds of mess that parrots make.
Parrots are very messy and, depending on the species, very destructive. They use their beaks and feet for nearly everything. They aren’t delicate when handling objects, food, or taking a bath. This means that they may destroy items, scatter food everywhere, and splash water. Large breeds of parrots are even more prone to messy eating.
While small breeds create smaller messes, they still aren’t tidy. As such, 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 dandruff every day.
Are Parrots Messy Pets?
Parrots are messy birds. It’s even more obvious when you have pet parrots, which are confined to their cage. You may find seeds, feathers, poop, and toys scattered anywhere a parrot has been.
Parrots Aren’t Naturally Tidy
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 is no need to clear out space or tidy up after themselves.
Apart from that, ecosystems are able to create a healthy cycle of life. Most parrot waste actually helps the space around it. Parrots do not defecate seeds that are capable of growing into plants, but their biology still contributes to the environment, according to Ecology and Evolution. Feathers, poop, and leftover food can feed other creatures, fertilize the soil, or be used in the nests of other birds.
Wild parrots are used to a wide territory that may stretch miles at a time. If one spot becomes unhygienic for a parrot, it will simply leave for a new spot. There is no evolutionary need to be tidy and clean. Table manners are, after all, a man-made concept.
Parrots Aren’t Very Precise
Parrots do not have hands, let alone fingers. Because of this, it’s not easy for them to delicately pick up food, put it in their mouth, and avoid dripping. Parrots rely on their beaks and feet in order 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 do 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 gently placing leftover seed shells in a pile.
Bathing is also a messy process. In the wild, parrots bathe less when they’re exposed to sources like waterfalls, which can douse them more easily, according to Applied Animal Behaviour Science. This practice isn’t possible in a cage with a water bowl. Instead, it demands that the bird:
- Physically dip itself in water, instead of bringing the water to it
- Thrash side to side and ruffle its feathers to coat itself in water, instead of rubbing it in
- Shaking its body dry, instead of tidily brushing it off
This can cast a wide net around the parrot as it goes about natural behavior. Parrots may be dexterous, but not in these little ways. Their biology has encouraged them to develop their precision in ways that contribute to their livelihood and survival. Keeping their owner’s homes clean and tidy isn’t a part of that.
Are Certain Parrot Breeds Messier?
Some types of parrot are messier than others. This mainly ties into:
- How much strength the parrot has
- How large the beak is
- How much waste it produces
- How much it eats
- How playful it is
For example, bigger parrots like macaws and African greys are known to be messier. That’s because:
- Their large beak allows for little seeds to fall out more easily.
- They eat much more food, so the mess is easier to notice
- They’re stronger and, thus, able to tear apart toys and cuttlebones easily
- They produce more waste, so cages need to be cleaned more often
- With more feathers comes more debris as they molt
In contrast, smaller parrots like lovebirds or budgies will keep their space tidier. They eat less, have small beaks that are more dexterous with seed, and can’t easily destroy toys.
Because of this, if you’re worried about keeping a messy parrot, it’s wise to choose a smaller breed. It will still be messy, but less so in comparison.
Why Is My Parrot So Messy?
Aside from breed, personality will determine if your parrot is more or less messy. Some birds will be more carefree, happy to scatter seed all around their cage. Others will be more docile and demure, trying to keep water splashing to a minimum. There’s no way to predict this in advance. However, there are factors that may cause your bird to get messier:
- Cage Is Unclean. A parrot that’s stressed by an unhygienic environment will make an even larger mess as it panics.
- Emotional Distress. Parrots that are angry, depressed, or lonely will get destructive. This will ensure that mealtimes are messier, and toys are easily destroyed.
- Sickness. Parrots with digestive issues may defecate more often. Those with illnesses making them lethargic will struggle to eat, spreading food everywhere as they do.
- Scared. Parrots that are new to your home may eat very carefully or very messily. It’s either scared enough to approach everything with caution, or so stressed that it’s haphazard.
So, if your parrot is suddenly far messier than before, check its environment and mood. Once you correct those issues, it should return to a more normal level of messy.
What Messes Do Parrots Make?
The fact that parrots are messy shouldn’t stop you from owning one. They can be loving, very intelligent, beautiful creatures. You simply need to expect and prepare for the clean-up that these pets require.
To help, let’s explore a few common messes that parrots make. This will help you be prepared.
Parrots shed a lot of feathers, especially when they are molting. Molting is a process in which a parrot will shed its old, worn-out feathers to grow new ones. It happens 1 to 2 times a year and goes on for about 2 months.
During this time, parrots will shed feathers, fluff, and dander. They will not be picky about where this debris lands. In the wild, it would be swept up by the wind or fall out of the trees. In your home, it should be vacuumed up daily. Otherwise, the feathers could start collecting:
This will make the parrot’s cage unhygienic in short order. It will also create an unpleasant smell that your home won’t benefit from.
Unless potty trained, parrots will defecate just about anywhere. They may poop:
- On your shoulder
- On furniture
- In their cage
- While they’re flying from place to place
Worse yet, parrot feces are not solid and have no discernible shape. They’re watery and often in the form of a splatter. They dry quickly and can stain if not cleaned properly. This makes it a lot more difficult to pick up than the firm drops made by other kinds of pets.
Parrots are messy eaters. Because of their 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 do not have lips, so food may even fall out as they swallow it.
- Birds use their feet to grab, stabilize, and rip at food. Since parrot feet are thin and long, this can let plenty of food fall during the process.
Even if their dexterous beaks are able to 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 help the bird examine food or break it apart. However, it can also scatter food everywhere. If you’re going to feed your parrot, make sure it’s in a contained space. Your kitchen table, the bird’s cage, or even your lap may get messy.
Bird cages are where your parrot will spend most of its time. This means it will get dirty very often. It is here that parrots:
- Drink water
- Play (if the cage is big enough)
As such, the cage will be exposed to all the messes above – and more. This may include:
- Lost feathers
- Regurgitated food
- Thrown toys
- Chipped pieces of cuttlebone
Parrots can get sick from occupying an unclean cage. That makes hygiene a crucial part of owning a parrot, especially messy ones.
Parrots love to destroy things. That’s even truer for large breeds, such as African greys and macaws. In the wild, this behavior is a great 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 an animal 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 that keeps up with your parrot. Certain messes should be handled differently, so that:
- You don’t damage the cage
- You don’t upset the parrot
- You’re sure to remove any bacteria or mites left behind
You’ll sense the difference in the air once you properly clean up your parrot’s messes. Here’s where to start:
How To Clean Up Parrot Food
The biggest mess for a parrot is always related to food. It’s easy for seeds to get scattered in the cage or around it. 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. As such,
- 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 clean-up is easier
If your parrot has a cuttlebone and the leftover dust is driving you crazy, consider:
- Grinding it up
- Mixing the cuttlebone into the parrot’s food
This allows the bird to still get its daily source of calcium. 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. Don’t take that away from your bird unless you have another alternative.
How To Clean Up Parrot Poop
Your next issue will be your parrot’s messy bathroom habits. Feces contain bacteria that can make you and your parrot sick if ignored. Since most people keep their parrots in a cage, that’s where they do their business.
- 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 typically uses the bathroom and places it back in the cage for these times
- Clean up any wayward poop with a napkin
If you don’t keep your parrot in a cage all the time, consider potty training. It only takes a few days to train your bird.
How to Clean Up Parrot Feathers
Parrots shed feathers and dander all the time. This is especially true during their molts. You will need to clean up the feathers and dust:
- Every 3 days when the parrot is not molting
- Daily or twice a day when the parrot is molting
Leaving the feathers around your home may harm you and the other people in your household. Bird-keeper’s lung (also known as hypersensitivity pneumonitis) is a lung disease. It’s caused by hypersensitivity to the protein in parrot:
In the worst cases, it can cause pulmonary hypertension. This leads to breathing problems and heart failure. Cleaning up dust and feathers is crucial.
With that said, try not to disturb your parrot too much while it’s molting. It will feel vulnerable and want to be left alone. Avoid moving it around when cleaning and keep the noise levels at a minimum.
How to Clean Up Parrot Clutter
Letting your parrot have something to destroy is very important for its health. This enrichment will help it:
- Relieve stress
- Keep its beak sharp
However, you still need to handle the mess. The best way is to:
- Stay with the parrot during playtime if you can
- Clean up the mess once your parrot is done
- Only allow your bird to play in one area of the house. This helps it understand where it’s okay and not okay to make a mess.
- If the parrot moves to a different area, carry it back to the original spot. Otherwise, it may begin destroying your other items.
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. Any bleach and harsh cleaning products will harm your parrot.
- Make sure the cage is completely dry.
- Ideally, it should dry out in the hot sun, as this will help eliminate any mold and germs.
The risks of not cleaning the parrot’s cage weekly are high. That’s because:
- You will miss certain details about the condition of the cage. This includes rust, broken bars, and broken perches
- You will miss signs of fungal growth
Parrot cages are perfect for mold growth. These birds spill their drinking water often, and let food drop and spoil at the bottom of the cage. When mold dries, it can release spores that your parrot breathes in. This can cause a respiratory issue called aspergillosis. That can be deadly.
Parrots will make a mess, but it’s your job to stay on top of this. As long as you do so, your home will also remain in much better condition.