Birds feel so unlike us that we don’t know instinctively know small things like when they should bathe.
How often should parrots bathe? Depending on the temperature, your parrot should have the opportunity to bathe daily. The frequency of bathing will change, reflecting the time of the year. In warmer months your bird needs more frequent bathing, while in the colder months it should be limited to a need to basis.
As a new owner, it is essential how you introduce your parrot to the concept of bathing so that it will be an enjoyable experience for all involved. Read further to learn how/why to bathe your parrot, do’s and don’ts of bathing, and other options once your parent has adjusted to water.
How to acclimate your parrot to water
The temperature of the water is incredibly important when bathing birds. It’s best to stick with room temperature to lukewarm water so that the water will not cause them to over chill, while water that is too hot might burn their delicate skin.
When bathing birds, it is best to let them use just plain ole water. While there are bird shampoos ava using such will strip away at the natural oils in their feathers, causing them to be unhealthy.
Due to their size, it might be easier to train your parrot at your kitchen sink. Put your sink on a lower setting so that the water will flow gently and not scare your bird off. Place them near the sink to see how they react to it.
Each parrot is an individual so that each one will respond differently to the water
Some will take to it naturally, and no further work is needed, others will be hesitant, and some understanding and coaxing will need to done on your side. Pay attention to their reaction to the situation.
If they get nervous to the point where they try to take flight, just let them. If you force the issue it will cause them to view this activity as a negative experience, our goal here is to get them to enjoy bathing so that they will initiate bathing on their own.
If your bird does fly away from the sink stick right there next to the sink and play with the water, on the off chance, your parrot respectively declines an invitation to come back to the sink try again at a later date when they are more comfortable and not reacting with fear.
Once you have your bird come back to the sink, lightly mist them with water to see how they react. It is best to do this with your hands or a spray bottle so that your bird is not pelted with water from the spray hose attachment on the sink.
Allow your parrot room to get under the water if they wish after they adjust to the water, show your bird how to play in the stream. Try more significant amounts of water. Make sure not to get too intense with them.
You can also use toys to entice them to play in the water. Never completely submerge your bird in the water. It will be harder for them to dry afterward, this loss of body heat could prove fatal to our delicate friends.
If your bird does not take to any particular kind of bathing that you concoct for them, then provide them with a bowl that they can bath themselves when they see fit and make sure to clean it every day.
How to make sure your bird is taking a bath and why
Parrots are a tropical bird and therefore are accustom to daily rain and bathing opportunities. Birds in drier climates might resist bathing so frequently. However, our little tropical dinosaurs will need regular bathing.
That added to the artificial environments that we all have in the form of heat and air deplete the sheen of their feathers if not regularly bathed.
It is essential to pay attention to your bird to understand their needs. Some birds will want to bath more regularly, while others all that you can do is provide them a place to wash. After you become accustomed to your parrot’s individuality, then you will know when they want a bath.
A few other indicators that your parrot needs a bath are:
- They are bathing in their water bowl.
- Molting (We show you how often parrots molt and how you can help your parrot during that phase here!)
- Bedding in cage sticking to their feathers (If you are not happy with your bedding, or if you are not sure which bedding you should use, read our parrot bedding guide here!)
- The natural luster of feathers is fading
- Spring and Summer months
Sometimes your bird will just let you know they need a bath by just trying to take one at every opportunity. Whether that be in their water bowl or the dreaded toilet dive.
It is instinctual to them when they need to bathe, and they are violently hinting that you need to step up your game to provide them with more decent accommodations.
To help speed up the awkward molting phase, provide your parrot with plenty of bathing options. Water will help dissolve the sheath of keratin that encases their newly formed feathers. Bathing will also keep their beautiful feathers bright and vibrate.
During the hotter months, your bird needs to be provided continued bathing options, whereas in the colder months they will light bathing to prevent them from overchilling.
Each bird has its preferences and will choose when they want to bathe. It shouldn’t be forced. Some will have a time of day that they prefer to bathe, while others will only want to wash every other day.
Regardless when you are adjusting to your new parrot, you need to give them the daily option, then observe how often they take advantage of the water.
Daily bathing options for your bird to take a bath depend on what you want.
There are attachments that you can buy that will hook onto the side of the cage that will prevent them from getting everything wet, if you have never seen a bird take a bath prepare yourself for one of the cutest sights that you will ever see.
You can also get a small Tupperware or whatnot to put in the cage itself. They will get whatever is around the bowl wholly soaked through, so prepare for that.
Other bathing options and things to keep in mind
Once your bird has acclimated to the water, your bathing options are endless. They can continue to have their special baths at the sink. You can also get creative with their choices. Such as using a water bottle to mist them from above gives them the feeling of rainfall.
This method is best used when they don’t need a regular bath, such as play or during the winter months.
Showering with your parrot
Some people even install perches inside their showers and either allow the birds to bathe in the shower or bath with them.
It might sound odd at first, but parrots are social creatures who love to bath amongst friends. If you want to have a silly but fun bonding moment with your bird, try it out.
Most perches that can be purchased are of the suction cup variety so think about the size of your bird first. (We have created an entire guide that shows you how to shower with your parrot! Read the guide here!)
And you probably should like lukewarm showers – those of us who blast the heat to the point the water heater gives up will have to chill out while company is in the shower.
If you don’t want to have that inter-species bonding moment, then you can turn the shower on and leave them to their thoughts.
While it isn’t advised to use soap on parrots, there are times they seem to get something on their feathers that need a bit of chemical.
If you have tried regular bathing and the whatever it is still won’t come out, it is ok to use a bit of mild detergent such as glycerin soap to try to remove the offending stain.
When bathing your parrot, make sure to do so at the beginning or hottest part of the day so that they have time to dry before nighttime properly. Since they can easily get chilled, they need time to dry.
Never use a blow dryer on your bird. Helping them dry off a bit sooner with a towel is perfectly acceptable, but a blow dryer will be too hot for their skin, resulting in burns or even possibly fatal.
Whichever way that you choose make sure that it is to your bird’s preference and that there is a joy for both parrot and owner.
Can I use shampoo on my parrot? For regular daily or weekly bathing, no soap is needed. Water itself will remove any debris or dirt from their skin and feathers. If there is something on them that a regular bathing session failed to remove it is ok to use a small amount of mild detergent.
How often should you clean a parrot cage? Cleaning of a bird’s cage depends on the size of both the bird and pen, along with how often they are in their cage. Your bird’s cage needs to be cleaned at least monthly, sometimes even weekly depending on the bird and frequency of use. Water does have to replenished daily, however.
How do I know if my bird has mites? It can be hard to determine if they have bugs from looking through their feathers so pay attention to the skin on both their face and legs. Eyes and beak will have crusty areas surrounding them, and their legs will have dry, scaly white deposits.