Parrots can be messy birds, so they sometimes 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 weekly in the sink or shower in lukewarm water. Alternatively, they can be misted with a spray bottle.
If your parrot needs a quick clean due to getting something on its feathers, such as some sticky food, use a damp cloth to wipe the area down.
Bathing is healthy and natural for parrots, so it’ll improve their mood.
Do Parrots Clean Themselves?
Since parrots wash their feathers, it may seem redundant to bathe them. After all, they’ll preen by tugging at their feathers and running them through their beak.
Parrots ruffle their feathers and nuzzle against their skin to pick away debris, as this natural behavior will maintain your parrot’s cleanliness and hygiene.
In the wild, parrots bathe in rivers, streams, lakes, and ponds. 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 any feather dust that builds up.
- Remove fluids, secretions, and excess oils.
- Clean off food and liquid from their heads that can’t be reached with their beaks.
- Wash away bacteria, fungal spores, and airborne particles.
You should give your parrot access to water so it can carry out this routine.
When To Bathe A Parrot
Establish a weekly bathing routine to maintain your parrot’s cleanliness and hygiene. This will keep your parrot’s skin and feathers clean and remove dander (feather dust). Use the following approach:
- For the parrot that keeps itself clean and tidy: A bath once every two weeks will suffice.
- Parrots that eat messy food or don’t rigorously preen: Once-weekly bathing.
- Parrot smells after spending time at the bottom of the cage: twice-weekly bathing.
Parrots shouldn’t be bathed daily because they need to 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, so they might get dirty while playing in their cage or eating juicy food. If you’ve just bathed your parrot, it can have another. However, limit repeat washes.
How To Bathe A Parrot
You shouldn’t use a hose or submerge it in the bathtub. Likewise, you can’t scrub a parrot down or rub it with your hands. Here are the different options:
Parrots are well-equipped to care for their own cleaning needs and instinctively know what to do. So, you need to provide a bath, which could be the:
- Kitchen or bathroom sink
Water encourages parrots to splash, play, and flap their wings.
2/ Sink or 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 it’ll begin splashing or moving around in the sink.
If it needs encouragement, brush the water up against it. Sprinkle water down its back and moisten its feathers with your hand, following the direction of the feathers to avoid damaging them.
Your parrot should eventually dip itself in the water and begin splashing. It should take no more than 5-10 minutes for the parrot to clean itself.
Using a spray bottle, mist your parrot to simulate rain, as this will encourage them to preen. It’ll ruffle its feathers and flap its wings before using its beak to tug at the individual 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 enjoy this bathing routine.
4/ Moist Cloth Wash
If a parrot dislikes standing water or is startled by the faucet, you can use a wet cloth to clean the parrot.
This is an option when your parrot only requires spot cleaning, such as its head or feet. Wipe down between its toes, around its beak, and anywhere that needs attention.
Can You Use Soap On Parrots?
If your parrot is dirty and needs sanitizing, you can use Dawn dish soap.
According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, Dawn dish soap is chosen by many rescue organizations, such as the Tri-State Bird Rescue and Research organization.
If you use soap, apply it sparingly, and don’t let your parrot ingest any. Rinse your parrot, as any leftover soap can lead to skin irritation and digestive discomfort.
How To Dry Your Parrot After A Bath
Once your parrot finishes bathing, it shouldn’t remain wet, especially when it’s cold during the winter.
Parrots can dry themselves, as this will lead to preening behavior. Parrots will shake and ruffle their feathers, aligning them and ensuring 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, as this will damage them.
Put your parrot in a warm room. No matter how cold your parrot seems, don’t use a hairdryer, as excessive heat can be harmful. Also, the loud noise could be frightening.
Most hairdryers have a non-stick (Teflon) coating on the inside that gives off invisible, odorless fumes that are harmless to people but toxic to 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.
The parrot contracts the muscles around its keel (breastbone), which generates heat so the parrot can dry effectively. Vigorous shaking of the feathers may also be part of its preening ritual.
If the shaking continues and the parrot fluffs up all its feathers and withdraws, it’s likely feeling cold. So, increase the room temperature. Assuming it’s not left cold for too long, it’ll be okay.
You should bathe your parrot twice a month or up to twice a week if the bird’s particularly dirty. You can use a spray bottle mist if your parrot needs more regular cleaning.