SPLISH! SPLASH! Look Who's Taking A Bath!

by Monica Gonzalez

 

Date last edited:  06/20/12


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Abby taking a bath in her water dishParrots have the extraordinary gift for flight. Maintaining healthy plumage is essential to their lifestyle. Bathing provides moisture for their feathers and skin, aids in removing dander, loose feathers and debris from new feather growth. It is instinctive for a parrot to want to bathe and should be part of the daily grooming activities. It should be encouraged, but never forced.  

Since birds have individual preferences  ~ some like to bathe,  shower or both.  Birds should always be supervised when bathing is taking place.   Note: The regularity of bathing should be increased during your bird's molting. This helps those itchy pin feathers come through and softens the keratin for easy removal.

Be observant if you pet bird is enjoying the bath and/or misting session. Clear indications of a happy bird bathing are happy twittering noises, incessant flapping of wings and pouncing in the water. One of our birds' has been known to grab the water with his talon out of sheer excitement.

After a healthy bath, you may notice your bird's chest muscles shivering.  Shivering is not due to being cold, but rather the result of muscles contracting and expanding which causes a great deal of body heat.  This is how the feathers quickly get dry enough for the bird to preen them back into perfection, as well as getting them ready for flight. A wet parrot becomes vulnerable; so the need to dry quickly is a key to survival.  Note: Showering or bathing your bird will not cause it to become sick with a cold.  A bird becomes ill when its immunity has become compromised due to stress, poor diet and unclean living conditions. Please do not bathe your bird when their immune system is recovering from illness.

Tips

  • Bathing or shower water temperature: Luke warm to cool

  • Never more than an inch or two of water when bathing.

  • Never point a shower or sprayer to their nares (nostrils).

  • Never have a wet/damp bird in the way of a draft.

  • Never use soap or shampoo to the bathing water. Please keep in mind any products you put on your bird's feathers, will be ingested during their preening sessions.

  • Bath/Shower in the morning to early afternoon. This allows for adequate drying time before the ambient temperature drops. Never have your bird go to bed at night with damp feathers.

  • Never force your bird to bathe. This is supposed to be a fun- loving time for you and your bird. Forcing a parrot to bathe may cause behavioural issues with regard to bathing/water phobias.

  • Do not use a blow dryer on your bird. This will dry out his feathers and skin and it defeats the entire bathing process. If your bird is accustomed to a towel, you might want to lightly dry off some of the excess water.

  • Consistency is key!! Introducing bathing to your bird gradually and consistently. Your bird may not like it at first, and it may take a few months for he or she to start enjoying it.

  • Start a new daily routine. Taking your feathered companion in the shower by allowing them to perch on the shower rod. Your pet parrot will watch with anticipation and learn that showering is safe and enjoyable. The humidity from showering is also very beneficial to parrots. Our eldest African Grey took 9 months to start enjoying showers. After much patience and love, he thoroughly enjoys bathing and showering. Note: Showers are not recommended for small birds. Misters or shallow bowls of water would be preferable.

  • Monkey See ~ Monkey Do! If one of the members of your flock enjoys bathing, allow the rest of your feathered family to observe and perhaps they will join in the fun!

    Last but not least. Supervision is TOP priority. Never leave your bird alone when bathing or showering. Accidents can easily happen in a matter of seconds.

Bird lovers across the world have come up with inventive ideas for persuading their bird to bathe.

Ideas

  • Luxury Bath. African Grey Approved!Low Profile Bath Low Profile Baths. Allow your bird to go to town with a low profile bath. The low height of baths is beneficial for perching and eliminates the bowl from tipping. Helpful Tip: On a hot summer day, throw in some ice cubes into the water or colorful plastic toys can be added to pique their interest.

  • Shower perch. Be sure it is secure to the wall of the shower.

  • Kitchen Sink and/or Bath tub. This can be a great way for your bird to bath or shower. Be sure to not overfill, control the strength of the water coming out of the nozzle and point it away from the nares of your bird. Be very cautious the sink and/or tub are clean and disinfected prior to exposing your bird to it. Birds are very susceptible to fumes and germs. Be sure to allow enough time for the fumes to dissipate before bringing your bird into the room. Always rinse thoroughly.

  • Spray Bottle. Some birds enjoy a daily "sun shower" from the water bottle. Never spritz your bird in the face. Take the spray bottle and from low on the ground, point the nozzle directly into the air, so the water droplets will fall gracefully down onto your bird. This effect will appear as though a small sun shower is occurring indoors and your bird will not know where it is coming from. Warning: Please never use a spray bottle to discourage bad behavior from your bird. This can cause a water phobia.

  • T-Stand. Have a plain T-Stand in the bathroom next to the shower. Your bird can watch you taking a shower. He/she will see that you are enjoying it.

  • On a personal level: I gently patterned our eldest bird by bringing him into the bathroom every morning. Once at ease with being in the bathroom, I then had him step up and I explained to him that it was a shower and how wonderful and fun it would be for him. Most importantly mentioning it would not harm him. Once he was not fearful of being in the shower, I would then bring him closer to the water. After several weeks of this, I encouraged him to go under the water, bringing him closer to the water. Keeping his nares (nostrils) clear of the path of water. I would take my hand and run under the water. Taking the water dripping from my hand and sprinkling it lightly onto his back. After several weeks of doing this, he eventually would start flapping and making fun-loving noises. To this day, he enjoys showering with me. I have a very difficult time in getting him out of the shower. We are thinking of changing his name to "Water Boy".

  • Ceramic crock. Fill it with an inch or two of plain water or a Natural Aloe Juice solution. Work with what your particular bird likes. If he is partial to food (grapes, currants, cranberries, etc) or toys (uncolored wooded toy pieces (wooden rings, spools, etc), acrylic toy pieces; I would then take those items and add them to the bath water. Parrots by instinct are very curious. They will eventually start to play with the items in the water, then taking to the next level which would be taking a dip in the water itself. Be prepared to have towels handy to clean up the water and of course a camera. For filming those precious moments!

 

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