I was sitting on my porch the other day enjoying some warm sunshine and watching the birds flit around in the trees while I drank my morning coffee.
I started to think about the differences between wild and captive birds and their lifestyles.
As I watched the little birds in my yard pecking around in the sunshine I wondered, does a parrot need UV light?
Most captive parrots don’t spend a lot of time outside, should those parrots have a UV light by their cage?
Yes, parrots do need UV light. If you cannot push your parrot’s cage outside periodically for them to enjoy some sunshine you should get a UV lamp for them. UV light is essential for the parrot to properly synthesize vitamin D, the vitamin responsible for regulating calcium and phosphorus in the body.
In this article we’ll talk about UV light and the importance of vitamin D.
We’ll also talk about how to make sure your parrot is getting enough UV light, and we’ll recommend a couple of UV lamps that you could set up near your parrot’s cage.
Let’s get started!
What is UV light?
Ultraviolet light, or UV light, is a form of radiation found in sunlight.
There are different kinds of UV rays, some are beneficial and some are actually bad for you.
All UV rays can cause skin damage, think sunburns and premature aging, but they are also a good source of vitamin D.
What do UV rays do for my parrot?
As we just mentioned, UV rays are a good source of Vitamin D.
Vitamin D is not only an essential vitamin for humans, your parrot needs vitamin D too.
Vitamin D is essential for helping the body regulate calcium and phosphorus.
We all know calcium is essential for good bone health in humans and the same is true for your parrot.
Low vitamin D levels can cause bone fractures, soft or overgrown beak, and other physical abnormalities in your parrot.
UV rays are also good for your parrot’s eye health.
Unlike humans, who’s eyes block out UV rays, parrot’s eyes absorb them.
Because of the absorption of UV rays your parrot is able to see better than humans, and they can also see colors that we can’t see.
This enhanced vision helps them to find food out in the wild.
The absorption of UV rays through the eyes also helps them regulate their breathing, keeps up their circadian rhythm, and in wild birds it helps them determine when to migrate.
How does a parrot ingest vitamin D?
Preening isn’t just a way for your parrot to care for it’s skin and feathers, it also helps them ingest vitamin D from UV rays.
When your parrot preens they’re also spreading oil on their feathers.
When it’s exposed to UV rays this oil generates vitamin D.
The next time your parrot preens they will be ingesting the vitamin D that was generated by the oil.
How do I make sure my parrot is getting enough UV light?
You may think that putting your parrot’s cage by a window will ensure that they’re exposed to the UV light they need.
However, your windows are actually blocking a good amount of the UV rays that come from the sun so sitting by a window doesn’t benefit your parrot.
One way to ensure they’re able to soak up some sunshine is to get them outside.
Whether you push your parrot’s cage out into your yard or onto your porch, or you have a designated outdoor habitat for your parrot to spend time in getting them out into the sun is a surefire way to make sure they’re getting exposure to UV rays.
It’s recommended that you allow your parrot time outside a few times a week for at least 20 to 30 minutes at a time.
Make sure they have a water source and a shady area to avoid overheating.
Be sure to only put your parrot outside on warm days, and make sure that they are protected from possible predators.
If you live in a cold climate or don’t have a way to safely let your parrot spend some time out in the sun you should buy a UV lamp for them.
UV lamps are lamps that emit UV rays so you can have the benefits of sunshine when you aren’t able to get outside.
There are UV bulbs on the market specifically for birds and getting one of those will ensure that your parrot is getting everything they would typically be getting from sunlight.
Once you have a UV light you should make sure to turn it on for no less than four hours a day.
Be careful not to leave it on for longer than ten hours though, it could upset their sleep schedule.
What kind of UV lamp should I get for my parrot?
When searching for a UV lamp for your parrot you’ll want to make sure to get one that has both UVA and UVB light.
These are called full spectrum UV lamps and they are the closest you can get to producing sunlight in your home.
There are UV lamps on the market specifically for birds and you should make sure to get one of those, not an aquarium or plant light, to make sure they’re getting the right amount of UV exposure.
UV lamps can either clamp to your bird’s cage or sit on the floor beside it.
What are some of the best UV lamps for parrots?
There are a number of UV lamps on the market for parrots and you may be wondering which ones are the best for your parrot.
Here are some that are considered to be the best options for your parrot’s enclosure.
The Zoo Med Avian Sun compact fluorescent bird lamp is actually a bulb that can fit in most standard light fixtures, so if your parrot cage has a lamp fixture built into it you should be able to screw this bulb into that light fixture.
Alternatively, you could put it into a standing lamp and put that lamp close to your parrot’s cage.
Zoo Med makes a floor lamp that you could buy to use with this bulb, or you could buy a floor lamp to use it with.
Just make sure the floor lamp extends over the top of your bird cage because the bulb works the best if you have it directly overhead of your parrot rather than off to the side.
This bulb is long lasting, and provides the proper amount of UV light for your parrot.
It’s a great option if you don’t want to buy a whole lamp and just want a bulb to put in a light fixture you already have.
It’s also cost effective because it’s just a bulb, not a whole light fixture.
This stylish light attaches to the top of your parrot’s cage and diffuses the light throughout the cage to make sure that your parrot is getting the proper amount of UV light no matter where they are sitting.
Parrots love to chew on cords and this lamp has a cord extender built in to ensure that your parrot can’t reach it.
There are also loops on the lamp where you can hang toys for your parrot to play with.
People love how easy this light is to attach to the cage, and it’s also easy to clean the lamp and change the bulb because it is mounted on the exterior of the cage.
The M&M Cage Company bird-cage-light with chew guard is a full spectrum LED lamp that mounts onto the top of the inside of your parrot’s cage.
Because it is inside the cage it is a little more difficult to access it to clean it but it does have a built in chew guard and a cord guard to keep your parrot safe from injury.
It is also safe to spray cleaners on it directly.
Since it is an LED bulb it is very bright and long lasting, and it doesn’t get hot to the touch.
Keep in mind that this light fixture does not have an on/off switch so you may want to buy a timer to plug it into.
No matter which light you choose to buy for your parrot, make sure you get one that is made specifically for birds.
Lights made for reptiles or plants could radiate too much UV light and that can be damaging to your bird’s eyes.
Now that you know how important it is for your parrot to have access to UV light you can choose how you’d like to provide that access.
Whether you decide to let your parrot enjoy the sun in your backyard or buy a lamp to put in their cage, you’re helping your parrot generate the necessary amount of vitamin D they need to keep them healthy and happy!