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how to hold a parrot in a towel

How To Towel Wrap A Parrot (Toweling + Restraint)

Last Updated on February 19, 2024 by Carrie Stephens

There will be times when a parrot must be restrained. If you need to limit a parrot’s ability to move to prevent it from getting hurt, wrapping it in a towel is the safest option.

One person can towel-wrap a parrot by manually restraining its head and feet. Then, drape and swaddle the parrot in one fluid motion to restrict its wing movement.

Don’t apply pressure to the head while the parrot is wrapped in a towel. This can cause bruising or restrict airflow. Parrots don’t have a diaphragm, so their chest movement mustn’t be restricted.

Why Parrots Must Be Restrained

A parrot denied its freedom will panic, but towel-wrapping keeps them safe. While restraining a parrot shouldn’t be an everyday activity, reasons we may need to restrict a parrot’s movement include:

  • Inserting an identification microchip.
  • Attaching a ring to the leg.
  • Trimming the claws.
  • Transportation to a vet or for travel.
  • Clipping the wings.
  • Examination for illness or injury.
  • First aid after an impact injury.
  • Administering prescription medication.
  • Removal from a dangerous situation.
  • Calming an agitated parrot.

Restraint shouldn’t be used as punishment or corrective behavior.

How To Restrain A Parrot

Use a towel three times the size of the parrot’s expanded wingspan.

This table summarizes the safest restraint method:

Small parrots:Budgie, cockatiel, parrotlet, lovebirdDishcloth
Medium parrots:Conure, lorikeet, cockatooHand towel
Large parrots:Amazon, macaw, African grayLarge towel or beach towel

Restraining a parrot will trigger a fight-or-flight response. The journal Animals explains how wildlife rehabilitation centers frequently train parrots scheduled to be returned to the wild to resist restraint.

Wrapping a parrot in a towel or cloth won’t be enjoyable, but this protective measure prevents scratches and bites. It also conceals your hands if a parrot has a phobia of handling.

Don’t use treasure cotton towels because the claws will become trapped and unpick the thread.

Area Preparation

Once the restraint starts, you must conclude the process as quickly as possible. You won’t have time to react to emergencies. The steps to prepping a room for restraining a parrot are:

  1. Ensure the room is quiet and devoid of distractions.
  2. Close doors, windows, and other escape routes.
  3. If the room is subject to external noise, play some classical music.
  4. Remove bright colors, especially red and orange, as these hues agitate parrots.
  5. Dim the lights, as bright, artificial light will hurt the eyes.
  6. Ensure the area has a suitable temperature (65°F – 80°F) and humidity level (60 – 80%.)
  7. Disinfect a flat surface to complete the task.


You’ll need a washcloth or towel to restrain a parrot. Ensure you also have the following items to hand because you won’t be able to pause and search for things during restraint:

  • Spray mist bottle.
  • Velcro straps.
  • A cushion or gel pad.
  • First aid kit.

You can wear gloves, but this isn’t recommended. While bare hands increase the risk of bites, you’ll find it easier to gauge how much pressure you apply to the parrot’s body.


If a parrot is upset about the prospect of handling or carrying excess weight, take the spray mist bottle and apply it liberally. This will reduce the parrot’s temperature and calm them down.

Allow the parrot to get its bearings in the room before attempting to restrain it. Speak in a low, calming tone, reassuring it that everything is okay.

Let the parrot see and investigate the towel by laying it on the surface.

towel training parrot


Wrapping the parrot in a towel is the most challenging part of restraint. There are two approaches, depending on the parrot’s mentality and physical activity:

How To Towel A Parrot

Wrapping a parrot in a towel will be easier if it’s calm and receptive to handling. The steps include:

  1. Hold onto the parrot’s feet and drape the towel over its body from behind. Cover most of the head and the entirety of the body.
  2. In one fluid motion, restrain the wings using the towel to prevent flapping and tuck the towel up over the body, cover the feet and wings, and tuck it under the neck.
  3. Restrain the head. Small heads should be secured around the cheeks, while large heads should be held below the lower beak. Don’t touch the eyes or beak.
  4. Move the parrot to the cushion or gel pad to enhance comfort. Then, turn it around to face you.
  5. Apply the Velcro straps to hold the towel in place and fasten them – not tight enough to restrict breathing, but not so loose that the parrot can wriggle free.

A parrot’s head may bruise if you apply too much force, and incorrect handling of the head can cause choking. Never apply pressure to the chest, releasing it immediately if the parrot gasps for air.

Task Completion

Once the parrot is restrained, complete the task quickly and safely. While a parrot will be keen to be released from restraint, it’s preferable to conduct this task correctly and infrequently.

Reassure the parrot throughout the process, praising it for accepting the restraint. If the parrot bites, do what you can to avoid injury.

Only release the parrot if it shows considerable distress, like labored breathing and gasping for air.