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why are my parrot's feet hot?

What Does It Mean When Your Parrot’s Feet Are Hot?

(Last Updated On: October 16, 2022)

Parrots have higher body temperatures than humans, so their feet feel warm to us.

Also, parrots use body parts that aren’t covered in feathers to regulate their body heat on hot days and following exercise. Excess warmth is released through the skin since parrots can’t sweat.

The more you hold your parrot, the more accustomed you will become to its natural temperature. This can tell you when the parrot needs shade, cool water, and rest.

Hot feet can also warn you if the temperature is too hot. You should consult a veterinarian if your parrot’s feet remain overheated for more than 24 hours.

Why Are My Parrot’s Feet Hot?

Parrots have warm feet, which is normal and not a cause for concern. Here’s why:

Higher Body Temperature

If you touched the bare skin underneath a parrot’s feathers, you would notice its skin’s hot. That’s the case because parrots have more body heat than humans.  

The average adult human has a body temperature of 97 degrees Fahrenheit, while the average parrot has a body temperature of around 107 degrees Fahrenheit.

This is the case for small, medium, and large parrots because they have a much faster metabolism. Due to the surface volume, the environment doesn’t take long to cool a small object.

According to the Journal of Experimental Biology, for parrots to keep themselves efficiently warm, their metabolism runs faster, and their body temperature runs higher.

This is true for many smaller animals, like rabbits, mice, and cats. In contrast, larger animals cool down slowly and can have a slower metabolism.

parrot's feet are warm

Body Temperature Regulation

It’s natural for parrots’ feet to be warmer than the rest of their body because they use their feet to release the warmth they don’t need.

A parrot’s feathers serve as insulators that keep heat in. This helps them retain their body’s warmth, which keeps their thermoregulation system from working too hard.

However, there needs to be a way for heat to leave the body, or parrots are at risk of overheating.

Humans sweat to remove extra body heat, and dogs pant or drool. Parrots don’t produce saliva, and they don’t have sweat glands. Instead, they cool down by rapidly vibrating their:

  • Upper throat
  • Floor of the mouth

This is known as gular flutter, which many non-passerine birds do to cool off.

However, the energy it would take to constantly vibrate their upper throat is tiring. Parrots use their feet to remove excess heat to limit how much energy they use.

A parrot’s feet are uninsulated, so the feet can cool down faster than the rest of the body. Parrots take advantage of this by increasing the blood circulation in their feet when they’re hot.

Warm Climate

Parrots come from warm and humid climates. According to the Journal of Thermal Biology, parrots have an efficient thermal regulation system.

However, your pet parrot might have more trouble regulating its body temperature than its wild counterparts. This will depend on the following:

  • Where you live
  • The average temperature of your home
  • Seasonality

In their natural environment, parrots can cool themselves off with freshwater streams and rivers. Your parrot may not have open access to water that it can stand or bathe in.

During the summer, your parrot might have more difficulty cooling off when temperatures run high.

Vigorous Exercise

After an intense workout, a parrot’s heartbeat will beat faster, and its metabolism will get a boost. This increase in energy production means the parrot’s body temperature will rise.

As a result, its feet will be much warmer than usual after playtime or flying around. Your parrot is simply cooling down in the same way that you would sweat after exercise.

Heat Transfer

Parrots use their feet to exchange temperatures with their environment. If a parrot perches on something cold, it’ll lose body heat. The speed at which this happens depends on how cold the object is compared to the parrot’s temperature.

Similarly, if a parrot perches on something warm, its feet will heat up. This is often the case when holding your parrot, as your body heat is transferred to its feet.

Kidney Problems

Take note if your parrot’s feet are hotter than normal for 24 hours straight. The kidneys remove waste and toxins from a parrot’s body, and overly warm feet can indicate kidney problems.

If a parrot’s kidneys aren’t working properly, this destabilizes its bodily functions and degenerates the organs. Unable to detoxify the body, the parrot develops a fever, which makes its feet grow hot.

Weight Gain And Obesity

An obese parrot’s body temperature will be higher because the extra fat isolates the parrot’s inner organs. Its body has to work harder to get its body functioning properly around the excess mass.

Due to the fat, a parrot that breathes in cold air can’t cool itself as efficiently. All the heat is expelled almost exclusively through the feet.

The warmth of a fat parrot’s feet doesn’t spell immediate danger, but it’s still sensible to take steps to reduce the parrot’s weight to avoid future complications.

Stressful Situations

When a parrot is stressed, its heart rate and body temperature rise. As soon as the parrot calms down, its blood circulation will return to normal, and the heat in its feet will be expelled.

Parrot Feet Heat Myths

There are myths about warm parrot feet that can lead owners to take the wrong measures when they notice their parrot’s body temperature rising, including the following:

Poor Diet

Some people believe that a malnourished parrot will have hot feet, which stems from the idea that poorly fed parrots can’t regulate their temperatures properly.

An underfed parrot will have colder feet than usual because its body must conserve energy. Malnourished parrots will remain still or have their feet tucked into their bodies to prevent heat loss.

Fear

If a parrot thinks its life is in danger, its feet won’t warm up because the body sends blood flow from the feet to the wings, allowing its muscles to loosen up. That way, it can fly away from danger.

What Does It Mean When Your Parrot's Feet Are Hot?

What to Do When Your Parrot’s Feet Are Warm

Here’s how to cool your parrot’s feet:

Water

Place a shallow bowl or plate with water in your parrot’s cage, as this will give it a chance to remove heat quickly. It can drink, splash around, and stand in the water.

Stay Indoors

If your parrot lives in an aviary, bring it inside during the summer.

At the very least, provide shade over the cage. Planting trees next to the aviary and letting them grow over it is recommended. A blanket or wooden roof can also be beneficial.

Diet

Avoid overfeeding your parrot. Many kidney problems begin with an improper diet. Avoid seed-only diets because they contain high amounts of fat. A formulated diet is recommended.

Temperature

Change the temperature in your home by turning on the AC or opening some windows (cage door closed). Switching to no-heat light bulbs can also reduce the temperature in your home.

Time

Monitor the parrot for the next few hours. If its feet are too hot, its temperature should return to normal in a few hours. Contact an avian vet if the feet remain overly hot for more than 24 hours.

If the temperature normalizes within 24 hours, it’ll be okay. Warm parrots’ feet are normal because they allow them to remain cool when the temperature rises.