Parrots can be messy birds, so they get covered in food particles, juices from fruit, dirt, excretions, and feather dust. Aside from cleansing the skin and keeping feathers looking vibrant, bath time is the ideal source of enrichment for parrots. All birds enjoy splashing in the water and preening.
Parrots that get particularly dirty can be bathed up to twice per week using a spray bottle (misting) or in the sink or shower. Avoid over-bathing your parrot, such as every day. If your parrot needs a quick clean due to getting something on its feathers, use a damp cloth to wipe it down when required.
In between bath times, parrots will preen their feathers and pick out any particles themselves. This will keep their colorful plumage clean and their smell neutral. Bathing is healthy for parrots, and it’ll improve their mood. Unkempt parrots may pluck their feathers, bite at their skin, and be more irritable.
Do Parrots Clean Themselves?
Since parrots wash their feathers, it may seem redundant to bathe them as well. After all, they’ll preen by tugging at their feathers and running them through their beak.
Parrots will ruffle their feathers and nuzzle against their skin to pick away any debris. This is a natural behavior that will maintain your parrot’s cleanliness and hygiene.
In the wild, parrots find rivers, streams, lakes, and ponds to bathe in. They’ll dowse themselves in the water, splash around, and ruffle their feathers to get the water underneath their plumage. This will:
- Clean out dirt and debris that parrots can’t remove
- Wash off dander that builds up from feather dust
- Remove fluids, secretions, and excess oils
- Clean off food and dirt from their heads that they can’t reach with their beaks
- Wash away bacteria, fungal spores, and airborne particles
You should give your parrot access to water so it can complete this natural routine.
When To Bathe A Parrot
To maintain your parrot’s cleanliness and hygiene, establish a weekly bathing routine. This will keep your parrot’s skin and feathers clean and remove dander (feather dust).
- For the parrot that keeps itself clean and tidy, a bath once every 2 weeks will suffice.
- For parrots that eat messy food or don’t rigorously preen, bathe them once a week
- If your parrot smells due to spending time in the bottom of its cage, bathe it twice per week
Parrots shouldn’t be bathed daily. They develop a natural coating of oil or powder over their feathers. Termed ‘parrot dust,’ this protects their bodies and feathers from damage.
Of course, parrots are messy animals. Your parrot may get dirty while playing in its cage or while eating juicy food. If you’ve just bathed your parrot, you can give it another one. Just limit these repeat washes whenever possible.
How To Bathe A Parrot
You shouldn’t use a hose or submerge it in your bathtub. Likewise, you can’t scrub a parrot down or rub it with your hands. Here are the options:
Parrots are well-equipped to take care of their own cleaning needs and will instinctively know what to do. So, you just need to provide the bath, which could be a:
- Kitchen or bathroom sink
The mere sight of water will encourage many to rush forward, splashing, playing, and flapping in it.
2/ Sink Bath
Fill the sink with cool or lukewarm water. The level can reach the parrot’s chest, but no higher. Set the parrot in the water and let it test out the bath. It should begin splashing or moving around in the sink.
If it needs encouragement, gently brush the water up against it. Sprinkle water down its back and moisten its feathers with your hand. Always pet in the direction of the feathers to avoid damaging them in any way.
Your parrot should eventually dip itself in the water and begin splashing. It may ruffle its feathers and spread its wings. It should take no more than 5-10 minutes for the parrot to properly clean itself.
Using a spray bottle, mist your parrot to simulate rain. This will place water on the feathers, which the parrot can use to preen more effectively. It will ruffle its feathers and flap its wings before using its beak to tug at the feathers.
If your parrot isn’t used to this, it may be startled by the initial mist. Speak calmly and encouragingly to your parrot. After the first couple of mists, your parrot will likely start to enjoy this bathing routine.
4/ Moist Cloth Wash
If your parrot dislikes standing water or gets startled by your faucet, you can use a wet cloth to clean your parrot.
This is a good option when your parrot only requires spot cleaning, such as its head or feet. Gently wipe down between its toes, around its beak, and anywhere else that needs attention.
Can You Use Soap On Parrots?
If your parrot is very dirty and needs sanitizing, you can use Dawn dish soap. According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, this is chosen by many rescue organizations, such as the Tri-State Bird Rescue and Research organization.
If you do use soap, apply it sparingly and don’t let your parrot ingest any. Even in small amounts, it could disrupt the digestive system. Be sure to rinse your parrot as any leftover soap can lead to skin irritation.
How To Dry Your Parrot After A Bath
Once your parrot finishes bathing, it shouldn’t remain wet, especially during the winter months. This increases the likelihood of getting a chill and becoming sick.
The good news is that parrots can dry themselves. Even better, this will lead to preening behavior. Parrots will shake and ruffle their feathers, aligning them and ensuring that they’re all correctly positioned.
If your parrot needs to dry off more quickly because your home’s cold, take a soft towel and lightly pat down the feathers. Don’t ruffle its feathers or drag the towel against the grain. This will damage them.
Put your parrot in a warm room that’s free from fans. No matter how cold your parrot seems, never use a hairdryer. The excessive heat can be harmful, and the loud noise will frighten it and cause it to act in fear.
Most hairdryers have a non-stick (Teflon) coating on the inside. This coating gives off invisible, odorless fumes that are harmless to people. However, these fumes are toxic to all birds, including parrots.
Parrot Shivering After Bath
After a bath, you may observe your parrot shaking or shivering. While this may be a sign of chill, it usually means the parrot is drying itself off naturally. This is normal behavior.
The parrot is contracting the muscles around its keel, which is the breastbone of flight birds. This generates heat so that the parrot can dry effectively. Vigorous shaking of feathers may also be part of its preening ritual.
If the shaking continues, the parrot fluffs up all its feathers, and it withdraws itself into a tight bundle, then it’s feeling cold. Increase the room temperature. As long as it’s not left cold for long periods, it’ll be fine.
You should bathe your parrot twice a month or up to twice a week if it’s particularly dirty. Try to limit this to once a week, or use a spray bottle mist if your parrot needs more regular cleaning.