A friend of mine called me in a bit of a panic the other day because he said there was some blood at the bottom of his parakeet’s cage.
He was naturally very worried for the bird’s health, but the first thing he asked me was whether it could have been menstrual blood, if his parakeet was having a period for the first time.
While my own parakeets had never had periods, I wasn’t completely sure if they did or not, so I decided to look into it.
So, do parakeets have periods?
No, parakeets do not have periods. Periods are actually quite unique to a few species of mammal, including ourselves. Periods are the shedding of the endometrial tissue and blood from the uterus, which parakeet’s do not have since they lay eggs. So, parakeet’s do not bleed menstrual blood.
Thus, if you see blood in your parakeet’s cage this way, it indicates there is a problem.
Look for any injury or any obvious sign of the blood.
If you’re at all unsure, take your parakeet to a vet as soon as you can. they will be able to tell you what’s wrong—even if it’s nothing, it’s better to be safe than sorry.
But let’s look why parakeets don’t have periods—first establishing what a period is.
What are periods?
Periods are a part of the menstrual cycle, and are exclusive to a few species of mammal.
Of course, we are one of the species that has periods that involve menstrual bleeding, so it is natural for us to assume that many animals do, too.
However, as I said, there are only a few examples in the overall animal kingdom of animals who have these kinds of periods.
Apes, old-world monekys, some bats, elephant shrews and spiny mice.
Many animals have menstrual cycles, but these, and us, are the only ones that bleed out the menstrual lining rather than reabsorbing it.
It is just a cycle of expelling the lining of the uterus, and why exactly it occurs as it does is not completely clear.
One theory suggests that it is a means of getting rid of embryos that have expired, and increasing fertility.
So, this is really exclusive to creatures that gestate their young within their bodies.
A bird’s reproductive system is completely different from our own, as you can probably guess.
So, do parakeets have periods, then?
Do parakeets experience periods?
Just to repeat and be absolutely clear, parakeets do not have periods.
Whereas creatures that do have periods are shedding tissue from inside the uterus, birds have no uterus.
Instead, they have what is called an oviduct, and a shell chamber, for laying and growing eggs inside their bodies.
Parakeet’s eggs do not get attached to them inside their bodies, so they don’t bring any blood or tissue with them.
Parakeets do have a form of a cycle, in this way, since they may often lay unfertilized eggs.
But this is not quite the same as a period we might experience.
In essence, without a uterus to shed lining from, an animal cannot have a period.
Indeed, as I said, periods are quite specific to us and a few other species of mammal.
We branched off from birds many, many millions, if not over a billion, years ago on the evolutionary timeline.
So, they don’t share this trait.
Why exactly is this, though?
Why don’t parakeets have periods?
The simple answer is just that they just don’t reproduce in the same way.
The uterus is a very complex organ, designed to incubate and grow a human being over nine months.
There’s a lot of extra features needed in such an organ.
Birds just need a chamber to grow and release eggs.
I’m not saying egg-laying is less efficient than live birth, but it certainly takes much less of a toll on the mother.
With no need for a uterus to incubate the fetus, there’s no need to periodically replace menstrual lining.
But what about puberty?
Do parakeets go through puberty?
They do, yes, although again, not as we would understand it.
At a certain point, they will reach sexual maturity, and this will begin to affect their behavior and can even be a big problem for males.
Puberty is different in parakeets in that it comes relatively early in their lives, usually when they’re only around a year old.
You’ll need to be well prepared for this potentially volatile period in their behavior.
So, no, parakeets do not have periods, and if you see blood anywhere your parakeet has been, there’s a problem you need to address.
Menstrual bleeding, as I said, is limited to a very small number of animals, all of them mammals.
Since birds lay eggs and incubate them outside their bodies, they have no need to shed and replace a uterus lining.
No birds, indeed no non-mammals, have periods in the same way we do.