When it comes to parrots, they all have their own personalities. Some are friendly, others not so much.
The reality is, even the most friendly of parrots can turn when placed in stressful situations.
Just because a parrot doesn’t bite normally, doesn’t mean it won’t bite if fearful.
In situations like the veterinarians or groomers, parrots can experience fear which can cause them to act out and bite.
In return, it’s important that, as the owner, you take the proper precautions to keep others safe.
One way to do this is by toweling your parrot.
No, I don’t mean drying them off with a towel after a shower.
I mean wrapping them up in a towel to restrain them.
But how do you properly towel a parrot?
Properly toweling a parrot involves the use of the right tools, which will vary depending on the size of parrot you have. The size of parrot will also determine whether you need one or two people for the job. Once you have all of the proper tools, then you can start wrapping, but we will get into more details about this below!
Before we dive into the steps involved in towelling a parrot, let’s first discuss a few other questions:
Is it humane to towel a parrot?
Why is it important to towel a parrot?
When should you towel a parrot?
Are there any precautions you should take while towelling a parrot?
And much more. So let’s not waste another minute!
Is it humane to towel a parrot?
There is really no “right” answer to this question.
The answer is both yes and no, and many parrot owners fall deeply on one side of the scale or the other.
So let’s take a look at both sides of the argument so that you can make your own decision, and then I’ll give you my opinion.
“It’s inhumane to towel a parrot” – let’s start with this side of the argument.
If you were to look up pictures of toweling online, it probably wouldn’t come as a surprise that some people find it inhumane.
Towelling is a type of restraint that prevents the parrot from being able to move naturally.
Some people feel as though there are other more humane methods to use in replacement of towelling.
But there’s another side to this argument too – “it’s okay to restrain your parrot”.
As mentioned above, regardless of how friendly or tame your parrot is, there are some situations that could cause them to become aggressive.
It’s not uncommon for parrots to become aggressive when they are afraid, and unknown situations like visits to the veterinarian may make them feel this way.
If not restrained, the result could be an injury to the vet.
Where do I fall on the spectrum?
Somewhere in the middle.
While I don’t think towelling a parrot is always the most humane option, I do feel that it is sometimes a necessary option.
Take a parrot that is injured for example.
They will be in pain, fearful, and likely to bite.
In such a situation, towelling can help to prevent them from lashing out on the veterinarian while they are being treated.
Do I think towelling should be performed on a regular basis? No.
But in certain situations, I do think it is necessary for both the safety of your parrot and the safety of others.
Why is it important to towel a parrot?
Sometimes handling a parrot can be difficult.
Though a lot of parrots enjoy sitting on your shoulder or even cuddling, most don’t like to be manhandled or restrained.
Unfortunately, sometimes restraint is necessary, and in times like these it’s important that your parrot be comfortable with towelling.
What situations might towelling be necessary?
There are lots of situations that can arise.
Perhaps you need to get your parrot out of its cage quickly in the case of an emergency, perhaps you need to clip the parrot’s wings or grind the beak – maybe your parrot has injured itself and needs veterinary attention.
Whatever the case, the only way to restrain your parrot without it freaking out and injuring itself more is with the process of towelling.
The importance of desensitizing your bird
When it comes to towelling, you need to go at it very delicately.
Your parrot isn’t going to react well if you suddenly just swaddle it in a towel.
Doing so will only cause fear and stress for your parrot, which in turn will damage the trust that they have with you.
For this reason, desensitizing your parrot is the first step of towel training them.
Why do you need to desensitize your parrot?
Think about things from their perspective.
When in the wild, parrots are constantly on guard for predators.
Large birds of prey are commonly considered predators of parrots. And what does a large, open towel resemble?
You got it! The wingspan of a bird of prey.
For this reason, it would be no surprise that an open towel coming towards your parrot might frighten them.
Furthermore, parrots in the wild are often attacked from above or behind – which is the same angle that we take to towel in.
And it’s for these reasons that desensitizing is so essential.
So how do you desensitize a parrot to towelling?
It’s all about starting slow.
Introduce the towel to your parrot in a harmless way.
You can do this in multiple ways – by hanging it on a chair, placing it on the floor, and so on and so forth.
Depending on the parrot and how well they take to the towel, you may have to do this for several weeks.
If the towel doesn’t bother them, you can slowly move it closer and closer to their cage.
If you parrot seems bothered by the towel at any point, move it further away from them until they become comfortable.
Then, slowly ease it’s way closer to the cage again.
Once the parrot is used to the sight of the towel, then you can start walking around with it in your hands.
Once they are comfortable with that, start playing with the towel in front of them.
When they are okay with that, allow them to start investigating the towel on their own.
By following these steps you are slowly showing your parrot that the towel is not something that they need to be afraid of.
Remember, however, that each parrot will adapt at their own pace.
Some parrots may have no problem with the towel from the beginning while others can take months to desensitize.
In order to towel your parrot without traumatizing them, take it at their pace.
How to Towel Your Parrot
Once you have desensitized your parrot to the towel, then you can work on towelling them properly.
Here’s what you will need:
A gel pad
Room temperature water in a spray mist bottle
2 towels (towels should be 3 times the size of your parrot when it’s wings are expanded)
Velcro strap (small or large depending on size of parrot)
Here’s how to do it:
Step 1: Add extra padding by placing the gel pad on your tabletop or counter
Step 2: Place an open velcro strap where you plan to put your bird’s mid-section on the pad
Step 3: Drape the towel over your parrots head and body, leaving only their eyes and beak out
Step 4: Tuck the towel under the neck and under the parrots body
Step 5: Keeping the towel closed, flip your parrot over to face you
Step 6: Wrap the towel around your parrots neck (just be sure it’s not too tight to strangle them)
Step 7: Finish wrapping your bird and place them on the gel pad
Step 8: Wrap with another towel and then use velcro strap to secure
Note: Depending on the size, strength, and resistance of your parrot, this may require more than one person.
Who should towel your parrot?
While a veterinarian or other professional can be the one to towel your parrot, it’s always recommended that you are the one to do it.
You are the one that your parrot trusts the most.
Therefore, you are also the one who will bring about the least fear and stress when towelling.
When should I towel my parrot?
You should start desensitizing your parrot to towelling as young as possible.
The younger they are when they learn that towelling is not going to harm them, the easier it will be to towel them as they get older.
In conclusion, you should start desensitizing your parrot to the idea of towelling as soon as possible in case there is ever an emergency wherein they need to be towelled.
With that being said, towelling should never be used as a punishment, and positive reinforcement should be used anytime desensitization or training is taking place.