Most bird species produce dust. Parrots with an oil-based coating on their feathers will produce less dust, while those with power-based coatings will produce more dust. The key to dealing with bird dust is ongoing maintenance.
To reduce parrot dust, encourage your parrot to bathe regularly. You can help your parrot wash, wipe it down with a towel, or use a spray bottle. This reduces the dust and encourages the parrot to preen itself more often. If you have allergies, asthma, or a very dusty parrot, get a HEPA air filter. Clean and dust your home regularly.
Left unchecked, parrot dust can lead to allergies, bird fancier’s lung, and other breathing issues. For example, people with asthma may have an asthma attack. The good news is that parrot dust can be reduced significantly.
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 will do so excessively during the molting season but can happen at any time. It’s renewed into a fresh layer that protects the feathers. When the first layer disintegrates, it will be a powder.
All birds create feather dust. For some types, they even have what is known as powder downs. This is a collection of specialized feathers that are 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 substantial amount of feather dust as they renew themselves. In the wild, this dust would be carried away by the wind or naturally 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 is no way to stop it from happening. In fact, for the parrot itself, this is a good thing.
The dust keeps its feathers protected while shedding away 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 in that it gets everywhere in a home. Since it’s white or grey in appearance, it will show clearly on dark surfaces. This may include:
- Wooden flooring
- Dark countertops
- Black clothing
Parrot dust isn’t believed to change with the seasons. In fact, there’s no method of reducing how much dust your parrot produces. There’s no medication or ointment you can apply to your parrot to reduce it.
However, you can contain the dust and clean it up. For example, the dust may scatter each time 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 everywhere in your home.
Is Parrot Dust Dangerous?
Parrot dust isn’t toxic or poisonous. However, it’s similar to dander. It’s a collection of fine particles that can be inhaled and may begin to accumulate over time. If you have any respiratory issues, this could make them worse. Over time, it may even create new health issues.
Parrot Dust Allergy
According to Allergy, Asthma & Clinical Immunology, up to 40% of the population is sensitive to foreign proteins in the environment. This means that if you’re 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 approach is to reduce how much parrot dust is in your home.
According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, approximately 25 million people in the United States 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:
- 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 that isn’t properly cared for.
Bird Fancier’s Lung
Bird fancier’s lung is a disease unique to bird owners. It is 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 parrot cages well-maintained and cleaned. However, if it gets messy and out of control, your lungs will be so exposed to these contagents. Symptoms of bird fancier’s lung include:
- Inflammation of the alveoli or air sacs in the lungs
- Shortness of breath
- Chest discomfort
You can treat this condition with medication. That will provide temporary relief as you work to limit your exposure.
Reducing Your Parrot’s Lifespan
Aside from impacting your health, parrot dust can harm the parrot itself. 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 a parrot’s airways, leading to breathing problems and the onset of certain diseases.
How To Keep Parrot Dust Down
You need to limit how much parrot dust accumulates in the air of your home. You’ll need to perform a regular cleaning routine to remove the dust. Here’s how:
Wipe Down All Surfaces
The dustiest area will always be your parrot’s cage. After all, the parrot sleeps, eats, poops, and plays here. If you leave your parrot in its cage while you’re at work, the majority 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 the 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 for your parrot, you may need to do this twice per week.
Owners can reduce the concentration of airborne dust with an air purifier. You’ll need a high-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filter. This can remove 99.97% of airborne particles that are 0.3 micrometers or 0.0003 millimeters in size.
- Small purifiers: These are best for rooms 300 square feet or smaller in size.
- Medium purifiers: These work for spaces that are between 300 and 600 square feet in size.
- Large purifiers: These can filter the air in rooms that are 700 to 1900 square feet in size.
Many purifiers list the device’s ACH on the packaging. This abbreviation stands for “air changes per hour.” 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 African greys, cockatoos, etc., you should opt for a purifier with a 4x ACH rating or higher.
Since parrot dust is so light, it will drift away and rest on nearby surfaces. Parrot dust is large enough to be captured by an air purifier. So, place one or more air purifiers in the room that your parrot spends most of its time.
Some owners allow their parrots to perch near their shower when they are bathing. This allows the parrot to rinse off any excess dust and thoroughly clean themselves.
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 that each parrot species creates varies significantly. There are no scientific studies that conclusively state which types of parrots are very dusty and non-dusty. Even still, we know which factors apply:
- Size: The larger your parrot is, the greater the surface area of its down feathers. Large species, such as African greys and cockatoos, will produce a significant amount of dust.
- Region: The region a parrot is from can affect its level of dustiness. Each species develops feathers that assist them in their environment, so they will produce more or less dust.
- Feather Type: Macaws live in wet climates and have oil-based feathers that produce little dust. Thesy have little need for the thermal insulation that powder down feathers provide.
Are Amazon Parrots Dusty?
Amazon parrots live in warm, humid regions. 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, their feathers are likely to be oil-based. These parrots are medium-sized and grow to be up to 12 inches in height. As a result, they’re unlikely to produce lots of dust.
Are Senegal Parrots Dusty?
Senegal parrots are native to Western Africa. They don’t have dust-based feathers and grow to be only around 9 inches in height. For these reasons, Senegal parrots are believed to 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 can grow to 10-12 inches in size.
This makes Pionus parrots dustier than parrots with oil-based feathers. However, they’re not as dusty as other powder-based species, such as African greys and cockatoos.
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 often recommended for those 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. However, because they’re small, they’ll create less dust than African greys, for example.
The best way to reduce parrot dust is with a thorough cleaning and parrot bathing schedule. If you combine these with an air purifier with a HEPA filter, you can minimize the amount of bird dust in your home.