Eleven Easy Tips for Getting Your Parrot to Enjoy Bath-Time.

Bathing and showering are incredibly important to a bird, promoting good feather health, acting as a source of enrichment, and helping an avian respiratory system be at its best. In answer to the question of ‘how often should my parrot bathe,’ baths should be offered once a week in the winter, and as many times a week as it will take one in the summer! Note that for maximum health benefits, this should be letting your bird get soaked to the skin and then air-dry.

Birds eat when they feel comfortable. Usually, they use their left feet to grip and manoeuvre items.

Birds eat when they feel comfortable. Usually, they use their left feet to grip and manoeuvre items.

Plucking parrots are said to pluck or barber less when their diet is changed to fresh greens and fruit, and baths are regularly offered!

Tips for convincing your parrot that water is fun:

  1. Group Activity: Make showering a group activity – and show through doing how much you enjoy getting clean. You can install some shower perches in your human shower and get everyone in the flock involved – the mist off your back is something many birds appreciate. As with many things, if a parrot sees one person or bird enjoying it, he will be more likely to give it a try.
  2. Perch or Tub? When using the ‘people shower’ your bird may or may not enjoy you being there – and he may prefer to sit at the bottom of the tub rather than on that perch you so lovingly installed. So long as you supervise and don’t directly spray your pet with the shower head, this is more than okay. Just don’t let the tub fill up!
  3. Spray-Showers: Some birds find the bathroom intimidating, so you can use warm-ish water in a spray bottle right on his cage. Gently mist this above or to the side of your bird, never into his face. And make sure the water won’t scald or freeze him!
  4. Greenery is Good: Try setting some fresh, yummy greenery into your bird’s usual bathing space. Kale, lettuce, fresh mint leaves, even broccoli work well. Our canary loves this, and it is rumoured to be a great favourite of small birds.
  5. Pie Plate Fun: Fill a pie-plate or shallow bowl or dish with an inch or two of water. Then show him how to splash around in it. Some birds prefer this to a shower.
  6. The Infamous Drive-By-Bath: Many parrots will bathe in their water dishes directly after you replace them. Not ideal, but if you’re desperate…! I’ve also heard multiple reports of parrots who like to do this when the vacuum cleaner is running in the other room.
  7. Nature Knows Best: Can you get your bird outside to bathe in the natural rain? Consider harness training your parrot and this can become an option. Remember, though, that clipped birds can fly, so only do this if your bird is highly flight-trained, or secure in its harness. Another option is an aviary. Leave your bird out in its aviary for some enjoyable bath-time. Finally, you can try taking your bird out in its carrier during some gentle misting.
  8. The Sink isn’t Just for Dishes: Parrots often love to plunge into the stream from your tap or faucet. Just make sure the sink’s clean and not coated with chemicals or food residue, and this can be an excellent way to coax a reluctant parrot to bathe.
  9. Make it a Game! Bath-time should be an enjoyable time, and you can show your bird how. Enjoy it, in other words, and your parrot will too. Splash in the sink. Squirt yourself with a spray bottle. Make up a game to be played in the shower.
  10. Warm or Cool? Birds being individuals, it makes sense that some love it warm, but others prefer cool. Change it up and see what your parrot responds to best.
  11. Persistence: Keep at it! It can take a very long time for a bird to enjoy bath-time. Some are naturally afraid of the water and need to be taught that it’s good, and others will simply never enjoy it as much as others.

::Bonus:: Try bathing at different times during the day – just not late at night, though, or your bird will go to bed wet (which isn’t ideal). Offer a bath early in the morning or late in the afternoon – even at night can be okay, so long as you make sure everyone has time to dry! Sometimes birds just don’t want to bathe at certain times of the day.

Beautiful blue parrotlet.

Beautiful cobalt celestial parrotlet preening.

The don’ts of bath-time:

  1. Never fill a bath too deep: A full bathtub or deep bowl presents a serious danger to any bird. Parrots and finches cannot swim, so it’s safest to keep water at about knee-level of your bird. Remember, it takes only a few seconds for a pet bird to drown.
  2. Don’t immerse your bird directly. Besides being dangerous, this is a quick way to make your parrot associate baths with force and other negative things.
  3. Don’t force a bath if it isn’t wanted – that’s the single best way to ruin bathing for your pet. Let your parrot say no, and he’ll be more likely to accept it next time. Sometimes they’re just not in the mood.
  4. Don’t use too-hot or too-cold water. Either one can do your bird harm, one (hot!) more physically than the other.
  5. Never use spray-bottles or water-guns as ‘punishment’ for a bird, as this will also ruin any chance of it enjoying a shower (besides just plain not working). Here’s how to more efficiently make your point with a parrot.
  6. Never blow-dry a pet parrot or use shampoo/soap. Both of these undo the wonderful benefits of bath time.
  7. Don’t leave a bird unattended during bath-time. Accidents happen, and with an animal that takes a few seconds to drown, it’s better safe than sorry.
IMG_1877

Example of the sink-bath: A happy bathing parrot will fluff their feathers and allow themselves to get wet; they are capable of waterproofing themselves if they don’t wish to bathe.

Want to make your own shower perch? Try these instructions here, from A Bird’s Best Life Blog.

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9 thoughts on “Eleven Easy Tips for Getting Your Parrot to Enjoy Bath-Time.

  1. good tips here. Each bird has their own personality/likes/dislikes. There are a few things that are on the DO NOT DO list that my bird actually enjoys. She prefers hot baths…I take steamy hot showers and she wants in LOL she is directly beneath the shower head like I am, she’s crazy =D
    Another thing…if I happen to shower late then I use my blowdryer and guesss what? She wants it too hahahaha I know it’s weird but I dry her head and back and let the rest dry on her but she goes to sleep when I dry her it’s cute. My schedule isn’t persistent and it is random and changes so we don’t do the same things every day on the exact hour. Sometimes I switch it at night or day and she doesn’t mind this. Mainly because I keep her with me ALL the time literally. She is NEVER in her cage unless I go to school at night so 3-4 hrs give or take is when she is locked up. I guess each is diff…I had another parrot back in 07 who bonded to me quick but he only liked bathing in his water bowl. He was in a bad situation and didn’t trust humans really but the change in him when I purchased him was priceless! He has made me fall in love with parrots <–conures that is ;O)

    • Thanks! I guess what I wanted to convey with the hot water thing is that really, REALLY hot water can burn your bird. This way I can’t be sued or something awful for not saying it, haha. Some really do love extreme water temps, although most of mine prefer quite cold. Makes for interesting showers!

      As to blow-drying, I actually wrote an article for tomorrow about why it isn’t so good for our birds – I learned recently that most of the point of parrots showering is to engage in the preen session afterwards. Kind of like we need to be careful about heat damage to hair, it can be easy to accidentally damage feathers (even on a low setting).

      I adore conures (okay, I love them all!). But I would really like to adopt a pineapple mutation green cheek, or blue crown. They’re awfully cute, and cheeky. I know the feeling – our first bird got me totally hooked on owning parrots. 😀

      Thanks for stopping by!

      • i have a cinnamon right now =D
        I am searching for a pineapple turquoise as we speak. I love them so much too! As for a blue crown, I was thinkn about it but maybe later as IDK how my birdy will even adapt to her new friend soon lol Maybe I will post some pics in the near future.

        • Ooh, pineapple turquoise, wow. GCC are stunning in all their mutations. I just said in another comment, you should start a WordPress blog!

  2. Excellent tips. Bath time was one thing I didn’t have any problems with when I adopted Charlie, my lovebird. She flies to the sink and looks in and chirps when she wants a bath. I get a shallow pan for her to jump in, let the faucet drip and she’s happily splashing away. She’s pretty consistent about wanting a bath every three days. Room temperature water seems to work best. And I never leave her alone with water, that’s a very important tip to remember. She flies and she is so fast … I’ve already had a few scares so now I’m extra cautious.

    • I’m so jealous! Our parrotlet (before his ‘water bird’ phase) HATED bath-time, although he now can’t be pried away from water. Mishka would only ever do it on her own terms, while our Senegal will reluctantly bathe whenever you take him, but he only ever properly enjoys it in his water bowl, haha. Pip the canary must have greens and a spray bath, or it’s a no-go.

      I love the sink method for bathing – that was how our first canary, Charlie, used to bathe. He waited until we’d finish the dishes, then splash all over then. I never minded having to re-do the dishes, somehow!

      I know the feeling about those scares. I’ve had a few myself, and I’m hugely paranoid about any water in the house. it’s good for us to take those extra cares with birds around. Charlie sounds like a lucky birdie!

      • How funny! My Senegal is a water bowl lover also! I’ve tried everything else and he just prefers to handle it himself in his bowl. I’m thankful he will at least do that. My Grey won’t allow me to do anything, no spray bottle, shower perch, sink, not even wet lettuce (She can be a bit like wet lettuce herself, she’s a total brat…lol.. Okay, I’m just sad and bitter, I’ve always only ever wanted an African Grey. I hand fed her from a chick, raised her, loved her madly, not thinking that birds leave their parents! She ended up bonding with my husband right after she was fully weaned, and she just doesn’t care for me. AT ALL!) Anyways, she won’t even bathe in her water dish really. If she does, I’ve never seen her.

        I was hoping to find a new bath tub/shower type product that a parrot owner made or something like that. The best products are born out of that type of necessity. The only thing I’ve seen that’s close is the shower set up made by Disco the Parakeet’s owners.

        Good list though, my other birds enjoy several things on this list.

  3. Pingback: Is Blow-Drying Safe for Parrots? | Students and Birds

  4. I am disabled and have a shower chair in my tub…I put Miss Bee ( Double Yellow Naped Amazon) on my shower chair & turn the hand held on the rain setting at “baby bath temp..she seems to be alright with it all that way, I do put a hand towel down so that she doesn’t slip off. I adopted her a few years ago from a Bird Sanctuary as her original “Mommy” had passed on & her husband just wasn’t making her happy..she was at the Sanctuary for two years when I came along…they make the Bird choose you!!! I had seen her on their website & truly hoped that I got to see her & that she would like me…Well I went home with her, so I guess enough said!!
    I was wondering if there was a in cage bath tub for her, none of the regular bowls that I’ve tried have worked…Although she will occasionally take a bath in her water bowl!! But, only her backside fits in!! Any ideas??

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