Last Updated on: 6th June 2023, 07:55 am
Parrots rarely gravitate toward the bottom of their cage, preferring to perch in elevated positions. This mimics wild behaviors and gives parrots a wider vantage point to survey their terrain.
The bottom of a parrot’s cage is usually the warmest part, so ensure the room temperature is sufficient, especially overnight when ambient temperatures drop significantly.
Check the parrot’s feet to ensure the claws aren’t too long and the footpads aren’t red and inflamed. These concerns make perching uncomfortable, so it’ll head to the bottom of its cage for respite.
Female captive parrots don’t need a mate to lay eggs, so ensure this isn’t unfolding. Also, check the parrot isn’t frightened by something in its environment, like a cat stalking it or a loud noise.
Why Do Parrots Go To The Bottom of The Cage?
It’s more common for parrots to opt for the highest perch possible. If a parrot prefers to sit or lay on the bottom of the cage, it’s likely for one of the following reasons:
Although the laws of physics dictate that heat rises, the base of a cage is the warmest area. So, a parrot may head to the bottom of a cage during a cold snap to maintain its body temperature.
This is likely if you have lined the bottom of the cage with paper or disposable towels. A parrot may consider wrapping itself in this lining for insulation.
Check the temperature of the room housing the parrot if you notice this behavior in the fall or winter. The temperature should be 65–80OF. If it drops below this level, warm up the room.
Inability or Unwillingness to Perch
If a parrot sits near-constantly on the bottom of the cage, check its feet for signs of soreness.
Some parrots don’t learn to perch as chicks, so they must be trained later in life. This won’t apply if the parrot formerly used a perch and has ceased doing so recently.
Perching should be the most comfortable way for a parrot to relax, imitating the act of resting on a tree branch in the wild. If it hurts the parrot’s feet, something is amiss.
Check the parrot’s claws. If these have grown too long, they may be curling over a perch and piercing the soft skin in the feet, causing pain and discomfort.
If the claws are an appropriate length, check for signs of plantar pododermatitis (bumblefoot).
According to Reviews in Veterinary Medicine, this is an inflammation of the footpads, often caused by bacterial infection, that makes it painful for a parrot to perch.
The parrot may need antibiotics with bandages on open sores to recover.
As parrots age, they may show signs of joint pain and arthritis.
Arthritis can be debilitating for birds. According to the American Journal of Veterinary Research, larger parrots suffer more due to their higher body weight.
If a parrot is growing arthritic, consider some lifestyle changes. Encourage the parrot to lose weight by adjusting its diet, focusing more on pellets (with extra omega-3 fatty acids) over seeds.
An arthritic parrot may lose interest in exercise but encourage them to move as much as possible. The more mobile the parrot, the healthier its joints.
Eventually, you may need vet-prescribed prescription painkillers like NSAIDs and Neurontin (an anti-seizure medication to soothe nerve pain).
Fear of Perch
Parrots are easily spooked, so they may refuse to perch because it fears this vantage point. This is likely if you’ve recently changed the perch because parrots are neophobic (fear the unfamiliar).
Check the layout of the parrot’s room, and consider if anything has recently changed. For example, some new realistic artwork of a wild animal in vivid colors.
Consider what’s inside the cage because some parrots are startled by the sudden appearance of new toys and decorations. New items should always be introduced gradually.
A parrot may be at the bottom of the cage because it’s hiding. Consider if you’ve given the parrot a reason to fear you, such as unwanted handling or shouting.
There may have been external factors that spooked the parrot, like loud noises from outside the home.
Perhaps the parrot is playing with you. Parrots love to play games with their owners, with hide and seek or peek-a-boo among the recreation activities parrots enjoy.
Preparing To Lay Eggs
If the parrot is female, is she preparing to lay eggs? While wild parrots won’t lay eggs without a mate, some captive parrots do due to their living environment.
Parrots are likeliest to lay eggs in the spring and summer when the days are longer and warmer.
Covering a cage and leaving a room in silence from around 5-7 PM onward makes this less likely, but don’t leave anything that could be used as a nesting box in its space.
Petting a parrot in certain areas, like down the back or under the wings, is more likely to produce eggs.
Changing the layout of the cage periodically will deter the bird from laying unfertilized eggs, as birds prefer to lay eggs in areas they trust.
Sickness or Injury
If you can’t find a compelling reason for a parrot to remain at the bottom of the cage, it’s likely injured or has an undiagnosed sickness.
Assess if the parrot could have a head injury. For example, it may remain at the bottom of the cage because it’s dazed. Think back to any instances where the parrot may have hit its head while exercising or question if it could have fallen from the top of the cage and landed poorly.
Look out for any of the following uncharacteristic behaviors:
- General aloofness and reluctance to engage.
- Drooping in one or both wings.
- Regurgitating food (not vomiting) or declining to eat.
- Struggling to fly.
- Sleeping during irregular hours.
It’s also possible that the parrot had a seizure when you weren’t around.
The act of a parrot’s seizure – convulsing and jerking – only lasts a few seconds. Then, the parrot will likely spend several hours at the bottom of a cage attempting to recover.