There are many birds that we see in the wild floating on the water, or even diving deep down into it – penguins, geese, and ducks to name just a few.
But what about parrots?
If you were to put your parrot into the water, would it be able to swim?
We often see parrots bathing themselves, so it’s evident that they do enjoy the water – but can they withstand deeper portions?
The answer to this question is no. Parrots cannot swim. Unlike other birds that can swim, the parrots body is not designed to do so. If you tried putting your parrot into a pool, it might be able to keep its head above water by flocking around, but it would eventually drown from exhaustion.
But why can’t a parrot swim?
And if they can’t swim, is it okay to give them a bath?
What about a shower?
How do you bathe your parrot?
These are all questions that we will answer today as we continue on with our discussion about “can parrots swim?”
So let’s not waste another minute:
Why Can’t Parrots Swim?
We’ve already established that parrots cannot swim.
They do not swim in the wild, nor can they be trained to swim in a controlled environment.
But why is this so?
To better understand why parrots can’t swim, we must formulate a better understanding of why other birds can swim:
While it is not true for all swimming birds, most of them have webbed feet.
This is true for ducks, geese, and swans.
They use these webbed feet to help them swim through the water.
More specifically, as the bird pulls its feet backward to swim, its toes and webs will spread out.
These webs allow for the bird to push more water than they would be able to push with just their toes.
This is what propels the bird through water.
Parrots, however, do not have webbed feet.
As such, they can only push with their toes, which doesn’t give them enough power to propel through the water.
In return, they sink rather than swim.
Think about it: would you be able to swim if the only propelling feature you had was your toes?
Can Parrots float?
While parrots cannot swim well, most healthy adults can float.
In fact, parrots can float better than most humans.
Because every part of the parrot is less dense than we are.
In addition, parrots have air sacks that run the length of their body (kind of like our lungs) that help them to be more buoyant.
Having said that, this doesn’t mean you should put your parrot in the pool and expect them to float.
Most parrots will start to panic if their feet aren’t on solid ground, which can inevitably lead to drowning.
Can you give your Parrot a bath?
Yes you can, and should give your parrot a bath – and most parrots love bath time.
Having said that, there are some rules that you need to follow:
Baths should always be shallow enough that your parrot can touch the bottom.
If your bird’s feet are not on solid ground, they may start to panic.
Keep their bath water levels low so that they, and you, can both enjoy the experience.
Never completely saturate your parrot’s feathers.
In the wild, parrots never allow their feathers to become completely soaked through.
Not only can soaking lead to impairment in flying abilities, but it can also lead to a loss of body heat.
Only bathe with plain water.
Avoid using any special “bird shampoos”.
Birds already produce special oils that they can use to clean their feathers, so specialized shampoos are not necessary.
In fact, shampoos can strip your parrot of their natural oils, which can result in unhealthy feathers.
Never bathe your parrot at night.
Parrots should only be bathed during the warmest part of the day.
When your bird is wet, they can become easily chilled which can lead to a variety of health concerns.
Always be sure that your parrot has the chance to bathe and dry off before cooler temperatures start to set in.
Bathe your parrot in lukewarm, or room temperature water.
Temperatures that are too cold can lead to heat loss, while temperatures that are too hot can shock your parrots system, or cause burns.
Can you give your parrot a shower?
Yes! In the wild, parrots are often showered with heavy rainfalls, and a shower can simulate that experience.
Most parrots love the shower, and it can provide great entertainment for both of you.
Like when having a bath, there isn’t much that you need to do in the shower aside from supervising.
Parrots have self-cleaning oils in their skin, and they will preen themselves.
You don’t need to wash, shampoo, or scrub them while in the shower.
If you do not want to put your parrot in the shower, you can also take them outside during light rainfalls, or use a misting spray bottle to gently spray them down.
If you do wish to bathe your parrot in the shower, consider purchasing a shower perch.
These perches attach to shower walls with suction cups, and most have an arm that swings out for the parrot to sit on during shower time.
Should I blow dry my parrot?
No. Adult birds will not need to be dried at all.
As long as their feathers are healthy, they will not absorb a lot of water.
Any excess water that needs to be dried off will usually be done so by the bird itself.
If given enough room, the bird will simply flap its wings and dry itself.
While towel drying your parrot is safe, it’s not necessary.
Blow drying your parrot, on the other hand, can actually be dangerous.
Not only can the heat from the blow dryer cause burns, but some blow dryers contain non-stick coatings on the heating coils – these can be fatal to your parrot.
How often do you need to bathe your parrot?
As a general rule of thumb, your parrot should have a bath or shower every week.
With that being said, bathing needs will vary from bird to bird depending on several different factors:
Whether or not your bird bathes on its own
When a parrot feels the need to bathe, they will often find their own means to do so.
In an environment where rainfall or other water sources are not available, they will often use their drinking water to do so.
If you notice your parrot taking frequent dips in its drinking dish, it may mean that they need more frequent baths.
Where your bird is originally from
Some parrots, or parrots that originate in tropical areas, require more humidity to thrive than others.
Parrots that are from the tropics are used to extra humid conditions and regular rain showers.
As such, they typically require more frequent baths or showers for health and happiness.
Whether or not your parrot is molting
Like many birds, parrots molt.
This means that new feathers push their way through the skin, dislodging old feathers as they do so.
Sometimes these new feathers need to be softened in order to break through.
During times of molt, your parrot may need to be bathed more frequently.
Regular bathing during this time can help to release new feathers, and soothe itchy skin.
Can you bathe a baby parrot?
Yes. Baby parrots require frequent bathing, but should always be given baths – not showers.
All parrots produce something called powder down.
Powder down is extremely important because everything sticks to it – including dirt.
Once the dirt is stuck, the parrot can preen and exercise, and the excess powder falls off, along with the dirt.
Some parrots produce more powder down than others, but all parrots use it to keep themselves clean.
Baby parrots, however, do not produce their own powder down.
Rather, they get covered in it from their parents.
In captivity, however, baby parrots don’t have this same advantage.
Therefore, their supply of powder down is extremely limited, and their ability to keep their own feathers clean is diminished.
At the same time, baby parrots have a tendency to get dirtier than adult parrots.
They are often exposed to dirt from feeding formulas, feces, food, and even oil from our hands.
Since they do not have powder down to help them remove this dirt, we need to give them more frequent baths than adults, and we need to allow them to soak, not just be sprayed with water.
In conclusion, no parrots cannot swim, but they do love to bathe.
Weekly bathing is recommended for all parrots, and can not only be a time for your parrot to preen, but also a time for you and your parrot to bond.