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are parrots messy pets?

Do Parrots Make A Mess? (Dirty or Clean Birds?)

Last Updated on: 29th May 2023, 09:17 am

Parrots spend hours washing and preening their feathers. Unfortunately, they drop food and poop everywhere, so many new owners are shocked by how much mess parrots make.

Parrots are messy birds because they use their beaks and feet for everything, lacking precision when handling objects, food, and cleaning themselves.

Consequently, parrots destroy items, scatter food, and splash water everywhere. Large species of parrots are even more prone to messy eating as their actions are less precise.

While small species create less mess, they aren’t tidy. So, you’ll need to clean a parrot’s cage at least once a week. During the molting season, you must tidy up stray feathers and parrot dust daily. 

Are Parrots Messy Pets?

Parrots are messy animals, especially when restricted to a small cage. You may find seeds, feathers, poop, and toys scattered everywhere the parrot has been.

Naturally Untidy

As wild parrots live high up in trees, seeds, feathers, and poop fall away from their nests. Parrots are accustomed to having a large territory that may extend for miles.

Also, parrots’ waste and dropped food benefit other animals and the ecosystem.

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 food can feed other creatures, fertilize the soil, and be used in bird nests.

Lack Precision

Parrots don’t have hands and fingers, so it’s difficult for them to pick up food and put it in their beak. Parrots rely on their beaks and feet to:

  • Transfer food from foot to beak.
  • Crack open un-shelled nuts.
  • Drink water.
  • Preen their feathers.
  • Bathe themselves.

Due to the sizable gap between their mouths and feet, things inevitably get dropped. According to Watchbird, parrots display impressive precision with their beaks.

However, this process involves picking up, cracking, and eating food. There’s no need to waste time and energy putting leftover shells in a neat pile.

Bathing is also a messy process. According to Applied Animal Behaviour Science, parrots bathe less when 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.
  • Thrashes from side to side and ruffles its feathers to coat itself in water.
  • Shakes its body dry off.

Parrots may be agile and nimble, but they have limitations.

Do Parrots Make A Mess?

Are Certain Parrot Breeds Messier Than Others?

Some parrot species are messier for the following reasons:

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

So, bigger parrots like macaws are messier because they:

  • Have a large beak, allowing more seeds to fall out.
  • Eat more food, causing waste to accumulate sooner.
  • Have more strength and can tear apart toys and cuttlebones easily.
  • Produce more waste, so cages must be cleaned more often.
  • Produce more dust and molt larger feathers.

Smaller parrots, like lovebirds, cockatiels, and budgies, are slightly tidier.

Why Is My Parrot So Messy?

Aside from species, personality determines if a parrot is messy. Some birds are more carefree, scattering seeds around their cage. Some factors may cause a parrot to be messier:

  • The 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 grow destructive.
  • Sickness. Parrots with digestive issues may defecate more often.
  • Scared. Parrots new to the home may eat more messily.

So, if a parrot is suddenly messier, check its mood and state of mind.

What Messes Do Parrots Make?

Common sources of parrot mess include the following:


Parrots shed feathers, especially when molting. Molting is a process where a parrot sheds its old, worn-out feathers to grow new ones. It happens 1-3 times yearly and continues for about 8 weeks.

During this time, parrots shed their feathers and produce dust. They aren’t picky about where it lands because this would usually be swept away by the wind or fall from the trees.


Unless toilet trained, parrots defecate everywhere.

Worse still, parrot feces aren’t solid and have no discernible shape. Parrots’ waste is watery and will splatter. Then, it’ll dry quickly and stain if not cleaned up.


Parrots are messy eaters due to their hooked beaks, so they may not pick up food easily.

  • The shell casing will fall out of their mouths once cracked.
  • For juicy foods, like strawberries and pineapple, liquids will be released.
  • Parrots don’t have lips, so food may fall out when they swallow.
  • Since parrots’ feet are thin and long, they regularly drop food.

These limitations can scatter food and water everywhere.


Bird cages are where a parrot spends most of its time, so it’ll get dirty. This may include:

  • Lost feathers.
  • Regurgitated food.
  • Dander.
  • Thrown toys.
  • Chipped pieces of cuttlebone.
  • Splashed water.

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


Parrots like to destroy things, especially large species. In the wild, this behavior is a way to:

  • Find bugs and things to eat in trees.
  • Sharpen or wear down their beaks on abrasive surfaces.
  • Break apart hard or shelled food.
  • Entertain themselves.

Parrots will keep themselves occupied by ripping up cardboard and stuffed animals.

How To Clean Parrot Messes

We grow accustomed to the smell of a home with a pet bird. Sometimes, certain messes get past us because we’ve grown accustomed to the odor, so we must establish a cleaning routine.

How To Clean Up Parrot Food

Seeds get scattered in and around the cage. Once there, a single flap of the wings sends them under a couch or behind a drawer. They can turn moldy if not removed. So, you should:

  • Pick up any leftover and dropped foods.
  • Remove spilled water or excess moisture.
  • Clean the parrot’s beak and face.
  • Change the cage lining.
  • Wash toys, perches, bells, ladders, etc.
  • Vacuum or sweep up debris.

If a parrot has a cuttlebone and the leftover dust is getting everywhere, consider grinding it up and mixing it with food. Only do this if the parrot has an alternative way to wear down its beak.

how often should I clean my parrot's cage?

How To Clean Up Parrot Poop

Feces contain harmful bacteria that can make you and the parrot sick. Since most people keep their parrots in a cage, that’s where they go to the toilet. So, do the following:

  • Place newspaper (or a liner) on the bottom of the cage.
  • Replace it weekly or sooner if it becomes overly dirty.

How Often Should I Clean My Parrot’s Cage?

A parrot’s cage must be deep-cleaned weekly. In addition, you should:

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

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

  • Certain details about the cage’s condition, like rust, damaged bars, and broken perches.
  • Signs of fungal growth that cause skin conditions like ringworm.
  • When mold dries, it releases spores that a parrot breathes in, leading to aspergillosis.

Parrots make a mess due to how their feet and claws are designed. While this may be advantageous in the wild, it can be a problem in the home. So, you’ll have to clean up regularly after a parrot.