Quarantining a parrot involves keeping the bird in isolation for a defined period when you first bring it into your home. As exotic pets, parrots can harbor contagious diseases that go undetected.
Never allow a parrot to mix with other birds during this quarantine period. Ideally, it needs to live in a different room from other birds.
A quarantine period should last at least 30 days, although 45 days is safer. Some experts recommend quarantining a new bird for as long as 60 days.
If a quarantining parrot falls ill, extend the period of isolation by another 45 days.
Visit the parrot regularly during quarantine to manage its stress and monitor its health, but take safety precautions. Wear gloves and a face mask, and change your clothes after visiting the quarantine zone.
Once the parrot concludes its quarantine, it can become a proper family member. You can introduce the new parrot to other birds and house it anywhere in the home that’s suitable.
Why Do Parrots Need to be Quarantined?
Birds can carry a variety of bacterial, viral, and fungal infections, and you can never be certain that a new parrot isn’t infected with a virus or disease.
A quarantine period ensures that a new parrot won’t infect other birds. Many avian diseases are highly contagious and will spread like wildfire.
If you bought a parrot from a reputable breeder, you might be given a clean health certificate certified by a veterinarian. This isn’t a reason to skip quarantine, but a vet will usually perform these checks:
- The parrot is a healthy weight for its age.
- The parrot’s feathers have no mites, fleas, or other parasites.
- No intestinal parasites, like worms, have infested the parrot.
A vet will also check the parrot’s overall health, verifying it has a strong heartbeat.
Blood tests for more advanced diseases can also be undertaken, but these checks aren’t foolproof and can produce false negative results. This is why quarantine is essential.
The quarantine is also for the protection of the new parrot. Moving to a new home is stressful, and the experience can leave a parrot with a compromised immune system.
Do All New Parrots Need to be Quarantined?
Exotic pets should always be quarantined, especially if you have other birds or pets.
It remains advisable to quarantine a parrot that’ll only live with humans, as they can carry various zoonotic diseases that can still infect humans.
How Long Should You Quarantine a New Parrot?
“Quarantine” is a translation of the Roman word “quarantena,” which means “40 days.”
Until the Middle Ages, 40 days of isolation was believed to be sufficient for somebody to purge themselves of an infectious disease like leprosy.
In modern science, opinions vary on how long an avian quarantine should last.
Some experts claim that 30 days is sufficient, while others believe that a new bird should be quarantined for at least 45-60 days. If you have other birds in your home, quarantine the new parrot for 2 months.
What To Look for When You Quarantine a Parrot
As discussed, quarantining a parrot ensures the bird isn’t carrying illnesses or viruses before allowing free access to your home. You’ll need to observe the parrot and conduct basic daily health checks.
The stress of moving to a new home may make the parrot behave erratically at first, especially if you leave it alone for a long time. Parrots are social birds and grow agitated if denied company for too long.
While checking in with the parrot, note any of these signs of ill health:
- Loose droppings that contain excessive urine (this is known as polyuria.)
- Reluctance to eat or hydrate.
- Excessive drinking of water (this is known as polydipsia.)
- Fluffing the feathers as though cold, even though the temperature is appropriate. Parrots like an ambient temperature of 65–80OF.
- General lethargy, including sitting at the bottom of the cage rather than perching.
Aggression, including pecking and biting, could also be a warning sign of sickness.
This could also be a consequence of attempting to handle a frightened parrot before it has settled into its new home, especially if the bird isn’t yet tame.
Return to your vet at the end of quarantine if the parrot gives no reason to do so before. Final tests will be run, and you can introduce the parrot to other birds.
If the parrot shows any signs of sickness, extend the quarantine by another 45 days.
Can You Quarantine a New Parrot in the Same Room as Other Birds?
The purpose of quarantine is to keep your parrot away from other birds.
Keep the quarantined parrot in a different room. Ideally, this will be on a different floor of the home. The room must have a closable door in case the parrot escapes its cage.
Nothing should be shared during this period of quarantine, including air supply.
If you have central air conditioning in your home, disable this during quarantine to ensure that airborne viruses can’t be passed between birds.
Safety Protocols During Parrot Quarantine
Quarantining a parrot will only be effective if you take safety protocols seriously.
You’ll need to visit the bird several times a day to help it adapt to its new living situation and monitor its health. While you do so, adhere to these conventions:
Wear Protective Clothing
To protect yourself and the parrot, always wear protective clothing while interacting with the bird during the quarantine period. Consider applying the following before any handling:
- Rubber gloves.
- A face mask.
- Covers over the feet.
- A protective smock or apron.
Have a change of clothes handy and wear the same outfit whenever you enter the quarantine zone with the parrot, changing out of these clothes again when you leave the room.
Consider showering after an interaction, but this would necessitate several showers. Instead, settle for washing your hands, arms, neck, and face after handling, even if you wear gloves and a mask.
The cage of a quarantined parrot should be spot-cleaned several times per day.
The feces and urine of birds can be a host for bacterial or fungal infection, so don’t allow waste to fester at the bottom of a cage.
As some infections are airborne, regularly disinfect the area around the cage, including doors and handles. Don’t use a spray disinfectant. According to Veterinary Clinics of North America: Exotic Animal Practice, sprays can harm the delicate respiratory tract of parrots.
Always clean the cages of resident birds before approaching a quarantining parrot, putting on protective clothing away from other pets.
If you have other birds in the home, you may consider familiarizing them with the new parrot’s scent before introducing them.
This isn’t safe to do. Never exchange food bowls, water bottles, or toys without sanitizing them.
The risks of bacteria or fungi clinging to external objects in a cage outweigh the rewards of creating a sense of familiarity. Be patient, and only introduce your pets once the quarantine period has ended.
Once the new parrot has a clean bill of health, you can introduce it to other birds in your home. If you don’t have other birds, you can locate the cage wherever you please once the quarantine has concluded.