There may be times when you need to dry your parrot or administer medication. These situations are usually stressful for pet birds, so knowing how to towel wrap a parrot makes life easier.
To towel wrap a parrot, you need a gel pack, two towels, a Velcro strap, and a spray water bottle. You’ll need both hands free to place the towel over the parrot and tuck it under the neck and around the body. Move slowly, and never wrap the towels too tight as this may restrict your parrot’s ability to breathe.
Towel training a parrot takes a bit of practice to get right. Go at your parrot’s pace and stop immediately if your parrot becomes too stressed out.
Should I Wrap My Bird in a Towel?
Understanding how to safely wrap your parrot in a towel makes administering first aid much easier. It’s also an essential part of the grooming process. While parrots keep themselves clean by preening and bathing in a shallow bird bath, there are times when you need to step in. This could be when they’re unwell or are covered in a chemical or material they can’t remove, for example.
Start wrapping your parrot in a towel as early as you can to teach it that’s there’s nothing to be afraid of. If you don’t desensitize your parrot, it won’t react favorably when you approach it with a towel. A large open towel resembles a large bird of prey, which will alarm your parrot into thinking it’s being hunted.
By getting your parrot used to a towel, it will be more receptive to it when an emergency arises. It may even enjoy the process with gentle towel training from an early age. While wrapping your parrot in a towel is safe to do, you must be careful of three things:
- Poor handling
- Insufficient wrapping techniques
Handling your parrot too hard or aggressively is likely to cause an injury. Many owners don’t realize that a parrot’s air sacs are found throughout the body. Compressing the area above the hips too tightly can suffocate your parrot, so you must leave a small amount of room when swaddling.
Parrots are prone to stress. According to Conservation Physiology, high levels of stress can reduce reproduction and causes sickness. That’s why you must learn to towel wrap your bird properly.
Similarly, you may be tempted to leave towel wrapping to your vet, but because your parrot trusts you more than anyone else, it will feel more comfortable when being wrapped by you. Few birds enjoy the process of being wrapped, so it’s best that the process is as stress-free as possible to keep your parrot as happy as possible.
How To Hold A Parrot in a Towel
Holding a parrot in a towel isn’t as easy as you might think. If you don’t wrap it properly, it’s at risk of physical or mental harm, including stress or injuries from where it struggles to get free. There are specific techniques to follow to keep your parrot comfortable and safe.
Before you start, introduce your parrot to the towel by hanging it on the back of a chair or laying it on the floor. If your parrot becomes agitated at any point, move the towel further away and slowly ease it towards your parrot again.
This process will take a while at first, but once your parrot’s been wrapped a few times and understands what a towel is, it’ll become easier and quicker to do. Once ready, you’ll need the following items:
- Two towels that are three times the size of the parrot with expanded wings
- Spray mist bottle containing room temperature water
- Gel pad
- Velcro strap
Then, wrap your parrot using the following steps:
- Place your gel pad on a flat surface or worktop to produce additional padding. This will protect your parrot.
- Put your Velcro strap open on the area of the gel pad where you plan to place the mid-section of your parrot.
- Gently place the towel over your parrot’s head and body, being careful to leave the eyes and beak exposed.
- Tuck the towel under the neck with one hand, then wrap the sides around the parrot’s undersides with your other hand. Make sure it’s firm but not too tight.
- Keep the towel closed with one hand and slowly flip your parrot over so that it faces you.
- Wrap the towel around the parrot’s neck, leaving a small gap so that you don’t restrict its breathing.
- You may need a second towel to wrap it before fastening it with the Velcro strap if you have a large bird. A small bird should only need one. Be careful not to pull it too tight, though.
Once the Velcro’s in place and fastened, check that your parrot has room to breathe and that the towel won’t fall off. If you’re confident your parrot’s safe and secure, you can proceed to what you need to do, whether that’s grooming it or checking it for injuries. If you’ve wrapped your parrot too tightly, you’ll notice:
- Rapid breathing
- Signs of overheating
- Increased vocalizations
Another thing to note is that you may not need the mist bottle containing room temperature water. This is for overweight parrots that aren’t used to being swaddled. Spraying these birds with water helps cool them down beforehand and eases the wrapping process.
How to Towel an Aggressive Parrot
When toweling an aggressive parrot, you can follow the same steps, but you should aim to do them much quicker to minimize the amount of stress you cause your parrot. Alternatively, you may need to use two people – one to hold the bird steady and in place and the other to do the wrapping.
Don’t prolong the process by moving the towel slowly towards your parrot. Instead, take your parrot by surprise to prevent it from becoming aggressive. According to Lafeber Vet, birds that have been handled roughly in the past are more likely to get aggressive, so keep the towel out of sight until you’re ready to begin.
You must also be careful of your fingers, as your parrot will try to bite you to get free. This is bound to hurt, particularly if you have a large parrot with a powerful beak.
How To Restrain a Parrot
You can restrain a small parrot by supporting its back against your palm. Cradle the wings with your thumb and last two digits, and support the head with your second and third digits.
For larger birds, restrain the head with one hand and use the other hand to support its torso and wings. You’ll also need to rest the palm of your hand on its back, placing your thumb and forefinger around the neck without constricting it. Place the knuckle of your thumb in the space between your parrot’s mandible (jaw) for control. When restraining your parrot, take care not to use excessive force on the bare facial patches, as they’ll easily bruise.
In time, your parrot will get used to being wrapped in a towel, even if it doesn’t enjoy the process. Wherever possible, move slowly and be careful not to cause your parrot unnecessary stress.