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how to keep parrot dust down

How To Deal With Parrot Dust (And Why It Matters!)

Parrots with an oil-based coating on their feathers produce less dust, while those with powder-based coatings produce more dust.

To reduce parrot dust, encourage your parrot to bathe. You can help your parrot wash, wipe it down, or use a spray bottle to reduce dust levels and encourage the parrot to preen itself.

Parrot dust can lead to allergies, bird fancier’s lung (BFL), and other breathing difficulties.

Why Is My Parrot So Dusty?

All parrots naturally create a powdery substance known as parrot dust.

This comes from the feathers, which are coated in a protective film. This is a layer of fine keratin known as barbules, which protect the barb of the feathers.

As time goes on, this naturally sheds off. It’ll do this most when molting, but it can happen anytime. It’s renewed into a fresh layer that protects the feathers. When the first layer disintegrates, it’ll be a powder.

All birds create feather dust, especially those with powder downs. This is a collection of specialized feathers located underneath ordinary feathers.

They’re a fine layer that sits close to the skin. When combined with the tougher exterior feathers, this down works as insulation to keep the parrot warm.

Powder downs create a lot of feather dust as they renew themselves. In the wild, this dust would be carried away by the wind or get lost in the flora around the parrot. In the home, it can be an issue.

Can You Stop A Parrot From Being Dusty?

Parrot dust is produced through a natural process that continues throughout the parrot’s life cycle. As a result, there’s no way to stop it from happening. In fact, for the parrot itself, this is a good thing.

The dust protects the feathers while shedding old, worn-out keratin film that isn’t needed. The process is crucial to keeping the feathers healthy, vibrant, and light.

However, parrot dust is much like animal hair; it gets everywhere in the home. Since it’s white or grey in appearance, it’ll show clearly on dark surfaces, including:

  • Wooden flooring
  • Dark countertops
  • Black clothing

Parrot dust isn’t believed to change with the seasons. There’s no method of reducing how much dust your parrot produces, and there’s no medication or ointment you can apply to a parrot to reduce it.

However, you can contain the dust and clean it up. For example, the dust may scatter when your parrot flaps its wings. Of course, you can’t stop it from doing so, but you can keep your parrot in a single room to stop the dust from spreading throughout your home.

is parrot dust dangerous?

Is Parrot Dust Dangerous?

Parrot dust isn’t toxic or poisonous. However, it’s similar to dander because it’s a collection of fine particles that can be inhaled and may begin to accumulate over time.

If you have respiratory issues, this could worsen them or create new health issues.

Parrot Dust Allergy

According to Allergy, Asthma & Clinical Immunology, up to 40% of the population is sensitive to foreign environmental proteins. So, if exposed to parrot dust constantly, you may develop an allergy.

For the average person, it’s just an annoyance. Owners who are sensitive to airborne particles may deal with these symptoms regularly. The best solution is to reduce parrot dust in your home.

Triggering Asthma

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 25 million people in the U.S. have asthma. People with this condition are also sensitive to foreign particles.

Even short-term exposure to these particles can trigger asthma symptoms, such as:

  • Coughing
  • Wheezing
  • Shortness of breath

Prolonged exposure may trigger an asthma attack. Someone with asthma may be unable to stay in the same room as a dusty parrot.

Bird Fancier’s Lung

Bird fancier’s lung is a disease unique to bird owners. It’s a type of hypersensitivity pneumonitis, which is caused by exposure to proteins present in:

  • Bird droppings
  • Bird feathers
  • Parrot dust

This won’t be a problem for owners who keep their parrots’ cages well-maintained and cleaned. However, if it gets messy and out of control, your lungs will be exposed to these contaminants.

The symptoms of bird fancier’s lung include:

  • Inflammation of the alveoli or air sacs in the lungs
  • Shortness of breath
  • Chest discomfort
  • Chills
  • Fever

You can treat this condition with medication, providing temporary relief as you limit exposure.

Reducing Your Parrot’s Lifespan

If its cage isn’t properly cleaned and the dust isn’t removed, it’s not uncommon for parrots to fall ill.

After all, parrots usually live in wide-open spaces. Placing them in a small, confined area can expose them to a higher concentration of parrot dust than normal.

Excessive quantities of parrot dust can build up in the airways, leading to breathing problems and the onset of certain diseases.

How To Keep Parrot Dust Down

You must limit how much parrot dust accumulates in your home’s air. You’ll need to perform a regular cleaning routine to remove the dust by doing the following:

Wipe Down All Surfaces

The dustiest area will always be your parrot’s cage. This means that if you leave your parrot in its cage while at work, most of its ‘dusting’ will be isolated to this spot.

A parrot’s cage should be cleaned at least once a week. However, if you notice your parrot is creating a lot of dust or you’re reacting to airborne particles, do this more often.

You’ll need to change out the tray liner regularly. Since parrot dust is white or grey, you may not see the dust as easily, but it’s there.

Use a damp cloth to wipe down any surfaces. This could be done every two weeks if your parrot isn’t very dusty and you don’t have allergies.

During molting season, you may need to do this twice weekly.

Air Purification

Owners can reduce the concentration of airborne dust with an air purifier.

You’ll need a high-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filter, which can remove 99.97% of airborne particles that are 0.3 micrometers or 0.0003 millimeters.

Small purifiers:These are best for rooms 300 square feet or smaller in size.
Medium purifiers:These work well in spaces between 300 and 600 square feet in size.
Large purifiers:These can filter the air in rooms of 700 to 1900 square feet in size.

Many purifiers list the device’s Air Changes Per Hour (ACH) on the packaging. That covers how many times the purifier filters the air in the room in a single hour.

To remove a significant quantity of parrot dust, owners of macaws, African greys, cockatoos, and other larger parrots should opt for a purifier with a 4x ACH rating or higher.

Since parrot dust is light, it’ll drift away and rest on nearby surfaces. Parrot dust is large enough to be captured by an air purifier, so put one in the room where your parrot spends most of its time.

Showering

Some owners allow their parrots to perch near their showers while bathing, which allows the parrot to rinse off any excess dust and clean itself.

Alternatively, let it shower in your sink. Just turn on the faucet, set your parrot in the sink, and lightly splash it with water. Some owners will spritz their parrots with a spray bottle.

Most Dusty Parrots Vs. Least Dusty Parrots

The amount of dust each parrot species produce varies based on these factors:

  • Size: The larger the parrot, the greater the surface area of its down feathers. Large species, such as African greys and cockatoos, produce significant dust.
  • Region: The origin of a parrot can affect its dustiness. Each species develops feathers that assist them in their environment, so they’ll produce more or less dust.  
  • Feather Type:  Macaws live in wet climates and have oil-based feathers that produce little dust. They have little need for the thermal insulation that powder-down feathers provide.

Are Amazon Parrots Dusty?

Amazon parrots live in warm, humid regions. Also, their feathers are oil-based and less likely to produce dust. Owners with asthma or dust allergies will fair well with an Amazon parrot.

Are Quaker Parrots Dusty?

Quaker parrots are indigenous to South America, so they have oil-based feathers. These parrots are medium-sized and grow up to 12 inches in height. As a result, they produce little dust.

how to reduce parrot dust

Are Senegal Parrots Dusty?

Senegal parrots are native to Western Africa; they don’t have powder-based feathers and grow to 9 inches in height. For these reasons, Senegal parrots produce little dust.

Are Pionus Parrots Dusty?

Pionus parrots are native to Central and South America. They don’t have the preen gland that produces oil secretions, so their feathers are powder-based. Pionus parrots grow to just 10-12 inches in size.

Pionus parrots are dustier than parrots with oil-based feathers. However, they’re not as dusty as other powder-based species, such as African greys and cockatoos, because they’re smaller.

Are Eclectus Parrots Dusty?

Eclectus parrots are native to the Solomon Islands and New Guinea. These areas have warm climates, so they have oil-based feathers. Eclectus parrots produce little dust and are good for people with allergies.

Are African Greys Dusty Parrots?

African greys have powder-based feathers, despite originating from Africa. This fact, coupled with their medium to large size, means they’re one of the dustiest parrot species.

Are Alexandrine Dusty Parrots?

These colorful parrots are native to India and Sri Lanka. Since they have power-based feathers, they produce more dust than other types of parrots.

The best way to reduce parrot dust is with cleaning and a bathing schedule. Combining these with an air purifier with a HEPA filter will minimize any bird dust in the home.