Parrots’ waste shouldn’t have a distinctive smell, especially from a distance. Foods like seeds, pellets, fruits, and vegetables don’t cause smelly waste in pet birds.
If a parrot’s poop smells like sulfur, it may have eaten meat with sulfurous amino acids or protein-rich foods like legumes or cruciferous vegetables.
If feces smells sour, a parrot may have a bacterial infection. Certain bacteria attack the parrot’s gut, most notably E.coli, Citrobacter freundii, Streptococcus pyogenes, or Staphylococcus aureus.
Bird poop that smells like vomit is likely a consequence of internal parasites. Get the parrot assessed by a vet for giardiasis, especially if the droppings are soft and resemble diarrhea.
A sweet, yeast-like smell to parrot poop (similar to beer) is from excessive candida in the body. Surplus candida causes candidiasis, a yeast infection in the parrot’s gut shed through feces.
The smell of blood or copper in a parrot’s feces signifies internal bleeding, especially if the droppings also have the color and consistency of blackened tar (dried blood).
Why Does My Parrots’ Poop Smell Weird?
The main reasons parrots’ feces have a distinct and unpleasant odor are as follows:
Sudden dietary changes can lead to strong-smelling bird poop, especially if you feed parrots meat. The smell isn’t a concern as long as the droppings remain consistent and solid.
As per the Journal of Nutrition, the amino acids methionine, cysteine, homocysteine, and taurine contain high amounts of sulfur. This creates an aroma more commonly associated with mammal waste.
Some vegetables, notably dark, leafy greens, can have the same effect due to their protein content.
Introducing diluted apple cider vinegar (ACV) to a parrot’s diet may reduce the smell of sulfur in waste.
ACV diluted in drinking water (never offer pure ACV as this can burn a bird’s stomach lining) balances the acids in a parrot’s gut, reducing the sulfurous aroma in droppings.
Bacterial infections are common causes of smelly droppings in parrots. If a bird’s gut contains harmful bacteria, its feces will carry a pungent, sour stench that’s near-impossible to ignore.
Bacteria can arise from various sources, notably consuming tainted food and water, living in unsanitary conditions, or sharing a cage with an infected bird. Bacteria are often shed through waste.
Vet-prescribed antibiotics are usually required to clear up a bacterial infection.
The bacteria associated with foul-smelling droppings in parrots are as follows:
Escherichia coli (E.coli) is a bacteria in the gut of humans and mammals. A bird’s digestive tract doesn’t naturally contain E.coli and isn’t equipped to cope, so it causes colibacillosis.
ISRN Veterinary Science warns that E.coli infections are quite common in captive parrots, usually passed on from a human owner. Avoid letting parrots near your mouth area.
Citrobacter freundii is a bacteria that attacks the internal organs of parrots. There are few warning signs before it causes lung, liver, or kidney failure.
According to Annals of Microbiology, spoiled food (especially meat) is the most common host for Citrobacter freundii but can also be found in contaminated water, soil, and plant life.
Antibiotics are available to treat Citrobacter freundii, including aminoglycosides, chloramphenicol, quinolones, and carbapenems. This bacteria is often resistant to other medications.
Streptococcus pyogenes is a bacteria that can attach to the gut of parrots.
The symptoms are more commonly associated with respiratory concerns but can be shed through the stool, leading to loose and smelly droppings in parrots.
This bacteria isn’t found in birds and can be very serious. For example, untreated Streptococcus pyogenes can cause lung scarification in birds.
Streptococcus pyogenes can be treated with Amoxicillin or penicillin.
The presence of Staphylococcus aureus is usually referred to as a “staph infection.” This infection will impact the bird’s physical health and appearance, frequently leading to foul-smelling diarrhea.
With over 36 species and 212 subspecies of staphylococcus, staph infections can be common in parrots.
The most common cause is unclean living conditions, but it can also follow an injury. Cuts and wounds on a bird’s body can also invite staphylococcus.
Candida albicans is a naturally occurring yeast found in a parrot’s body.
A healthy parrot will maintain an appropriate level of candida, but the yeast can multiply and cause infection. This may arise in the parrot’s oral cavity, leading to ‘sour crop.’
In other cases, candida multiplies to excessive levels in the digestive tract. If this occurs, the parrot will shed candida in its droppings. This will create a sickly-sweet smell reminiscent of a hop-like beer.
There are many explanations for candida in a parrot’s gut, which include the following:
- Stress due to inappropriate living conditions.
- Consuming contaminated food or water.
- Excessive carbohydrates in the parrot’s diet.
- Side effects of medications, especially antibiotics.
Excess candida in the parrot’s body is referred to as candidiasis. A vet will request a sample of the parrot’s stool and examine it under a microscope.
Antifungal medications will be prescribed for candidiasis, usually fluconazole, flucytosine, itraconazole, or ketoconazole. You may need to adjust the parrot’s diet and review its lifestyle and sanitation standards.
A bird with the Giardia duodenalis parasite will develop an infection called giardiasis. This microscopic parasite lives within a parrot’s intestines, eventually shedding in the feces.
Along with a distinctive and unappealing scent of vomit in the bird’s droppings, Giardiasis will likely cause diarrhea. It may also show other behaviors and stereotypies associated with parasites.
The most common cause of Giardiasis in parrots is poor sanitation. If multiple birds live in a cage that isn’t large enough to accommodate all occupants, Giardiasis will quickly spread.
As per Epidemiology and Infection, substandard water supplies can also lead to Giardiasis outbreaks.
It’s estimated that up to 2 million cases are recorded each year in the U.S. alone. Minimize this risk by offering the parrot bottled or filtered water.
If a parrot has giardiasis, a vet will prescribe a soluble antiprotozoal medication as treatment.
This should be added to a clean water supply for up to 7 days, and the bird’s cage must undergo a deep clean to remove any traces of the Giardia parasite.
The smell of blood in a parrot’s droppings warns that a bird is bleeding internally.
Take a closer look at the waste and check for signs of blood. This is usually a black, tar-like consistency, though it could also be dark red or brown.
Some of the reasons for internal bleeding in parrots include the following:
- Damage to the cloaca, including prolapse, due to chronic egg laying.
- Consumption or inhalation of toxins.
- Malnutrition, most notably a lack of calcium, Vitamin D3, or Vitamin K1.
- After-effects of physical impact trauma.
- Undiagnosed medical issues.
Regularly assessing a parrot’s feces is a highly effective way to evaluate a pet’s health.