Do parrots need light at night? This has a lot to do with imitating what naturally happens with light in the wild. You will also find out in this article how manipulating light can help the health and behavior of your parrot. Further, we will also discuss the times when you should do light manipulation techniques.
Just like human beings, parrots do not need much light at night. They need a period where there is total darkness to aid their proper sleeping or resting cycles. At the same time, light during the night can make your parrot stay awake as it is alert to the happenings around its cage.
Accordingly, your parrot should have a light cycle and a dark cycle, and you can do this by manipulating light, which we are going to discuss later on. In line with this, there are also several factors that affect light manipulation.
So read on to see how the use of proper lighting can affect your parrot’s health and behavior.
Why Light is Not Needed During the Night
As we have mentioned earlier, the use of light during your parrot’s dark cycle is not recommended because it disrupts their sleep cycle. When there is light, motion, and sounds present, your parrot will stay alert because that is its instinct.
In this way, your parrot can still rest, but it cannot fall into a deep sleep as it is completely aware of its surroundings.
Actually, parrots need more sleep than humans. On average, they need 10 hours of deep sleep every night. If they do not achieve this, here are some problems that might happen:
You will know that your parrot did not get a good night’s sleep if it is stressed. The stress of a parrot is manifested through screaming, biting, and when they start to pick on their feathers.
This can also be a reason for sudden aggression in parrots. If your parrot became suddenly aggressive, you should read our article on that here!
Sleep deprivation can also lead to a weaker immunity response. Therefore, your parrot can easily get sick. Your parrot may also start to become lethargic, and this may lead to them not eating properly or even refusing to drink.
Signal to Breed
There are many parrots that deem this overexposure to light as a sign to breed. If you are housing parrots of different sex in the same cage, you might notice that the female parrot will excessively lay eggs. Most of which are going to be infertile eggs.
So the solution to this is pretty simple. When it is time for your parrot’s dark cycle, it is time to turn off the lights of the area where they are held. In this way, they can instinctively follow their natural sleep pattern.
Importance of Light Cycle and Dark Cycle
In general, parrots need 12 hours of daylight and 12 hours of darkness. Let us first talk about the importance of the light cycle.
The light cycle is the time when parrots get their daily dose of Vitamin D. This vitamin is important because it helps to regulate the phosphorus and calcium levels in a parrot’s body.
For them to get Vitamin D, exposing them to natural light is best, but if that is impossible, then a full spectrum light is needed.
If your parrot cannot go outside or there are no windows in the area where it is being held, you can use artificial lights. You just have to make sure that it has the right wavelengths of ultra-violet B or UVBs.
In order to provide light to your parrot properly, you should place a full spectrum light that has UVB at approximately 18 inches above your parrot’s cage. Then, you should set a timer for 12 hours to remind yourself to turn the light off when it is time for the parrot’s dark cycle.
Let us now move on to the dark cycle and its importance. The dark cycle signals your parrot that it is time to rest and sleep. Just like humans, it is the time when the parrot’s body repair damaged tissues. At the same time, getting proper sleep has a lot to do with proper cell renewal.
Factors that Affect the Dark Cycle
There are different factors that affect the dark cycle, which can change the way you manipulate light in your parrot’s cage. Just remember that the rule of thumb is that there should be 12 hours of the light cycle and 12 hours of the dark cycle. Here are some exceptions:
Temperate Region of the Parrot
There is variation in the light and dark cycles of the parrot depending on where they came from. The baseline is whether their point of origin is nearer or farther from the equator.
A good example is Meyer’s parrots, which are native to Southeast Africa. They need variation in their light and dark cycles compared to the 12:12 ratio. The same goes with the Deryban parakeet which hails from Tibet. Both species need more light cycle than the dark cycle.
On the other hand, the oranged-winged parrot which comes from the Amazon rainforest, which is near equatorial regions, need a balanced light and dark cycle.
According to Don Harris, an avian veteran, the further the parrot is to their home range as well as the equator, the more seasonal changes in the light and dark cycle are going to be of significance.
For example, if you have a parrot that came from temperate regions, it might need 10 hours of light and 14 hours of darkness during winter.
On the opposite side of the spectrum, if your parrot came from the tropics, it does not need a lot of light variation even if it is summer or winter.
If you have parrot pairs that you want to breed or if you want to at least stimulate their reproductive activity, manipulating the light can be helpful.
You can increase their light cycle from 12 to 16 hours. Just keep in mind that their dark cycle should not be hindered by any light so that they can actually rest, and for the female to produce healthy eggs.
Tips for Your Parrot to Get a Better Dark Cycle
There are just instances where you cannot just turn off the light where your parrot is located. This usually happens when they are located in a busy part of the house, like the living room. At the same time, your lifestyle and other activities may prove to be a hindrance to a proper dark cycle of your parrot.
Here are some things you can do to make sure that your parrot can have a better sleep given the circumstances:
- Get a separate sleep cage for your parrot. If you are always active during the night and the cage of your parrot is exposed to that, just get another cage and place it in a dark and quiet area in your house.
- If the cage is in a common area, but it is still dark, and there is not a lot of foot traffic or movement, you can simply cover the cage of the parrot with a cloth. (We show you why you definitely want to get a cage cover here!)
- If you leave early for work or school, and it is still within the dark cycle of your parrot, set a timer for the light. At the same time, you can also set a timer for the radio so your parrot can awaken at the right time for its light cycle.
Can parrots sleep with noise? Yes, they can, but they are not in a deep sleeping state. They can doze off for a while, but they are still completely aware of the noise around their cage.
How do you know if a parrot is having good sleep? You can hear it grating its beak together. Also, if one foot is folded towards its stomach region, it is sleeping comfortably. At times, it can even sleep on its back, just like humans.
We explain this in more detail in this article: Why do budgies stand on one foot?