To answer this question, we need to ask ourselves another question first: Do budgies need to BATHE? The answer to this question is ‘Yes, budgies do need to bathe’. Budgies, like other parrot species, take pride in their looks and find it important to keep their plumage looking clean and healthy. In this article, we will discuss several ways to help your budgie bathe regularly.

Attaching a bath to their cage

If you are new to owning budgies, this is likely the type of bath you’d come across first. Almost every pet store sells little baths to attach to your birds’ cage. Although these are a great way to give your budgie the chance to bathe on their own, some budgies might not understand the bath at first. One of my budgies even feared the bath when he was first introduced to it. 

To help your budgie figure out how the bath works, you might have to teach them in small steps. The first step would be to just attach the bath to the cage and put some millet or seeds in. This way, your budgie(s) will be encouraged to explore the bath instead of fear it. It might take them a few minutes, hours or even days to muster up the courage to interact with the bath, depending on the individual bird’s personality. Once they are comfortable going in and out of the bath on their own, you can start by putting a thin layer of lukewarm water in it. It’s best to still keep some millet in on the far side of the bath to encourage your budgie(s) to go in again. Once they are comfortable with this step, you can add a little more water. Put just enough water in so their feet can be submerged to eliminate the risk of drowning. Most pet store baths won’t allow you to put more water in anyways, but better safe than sorry.

When your budgie feels comfortable being in the water, they will soon give in to their natural instincts to bathe themselves. They will splash with their wings or run in and out of the bath several times. They will also fluff up their feathers and shake their bodies to get rid of the excess water.

Offering wet lettuce or grass to bathe in

Not all budgies will like the pet store baths that are attached to their cage. Some will prefer the feeling of wet greens like grass or lettuce to clean themselves. This is similar to what budgies do in the wild: After the rain, they will descend to the wet grass and use the raindrops attached to the grass to clean themselves with. Since not everyone has grass inside their house (and taking your budgie outside is not safe), you might want to opt for wet lettuce on a plate instead. To teach your budgie to bathe like this, you will have to follow the same steps as described in the previous paragraph. First, you introduce them to the plate itself, and then you add small pieces of wet lettuce. Once your budgie feels safe, they will likely start to rub their bodies against the lettuce or run back and forth through it to get the water on their feathers. 
You can, of course, also grow grass in a small, open container to offer a way of bathing that is closer to how they would do it in the wild.

Using a spray bottle to simulate rain

Similarly to humans, some budgies might prefer to take a shower over taking a bath. This is probably the easiest method to get your budgie used to. All you need is a simple spray bottle with a ‘mist’ setting (most spray bottles have this setting) and some lukewarm water. Simply fill your spray bottle with the water and set the nuzzle to ‘mist’. Then spray tiny clouds of mist next to your budgie so they can see what’s happening, before actually bathing them. This might take some time if your budgie has a fearful personality like one of mine does. Once your budgie is used to the sound of the spray bottle and the presence of the mist, you can try misting ABOVE your budgie. Never mist them directly in the face, as it can cause their nose to get blocked with water, resulting in them not being able to breathe well. The mist will descend on your little bird and they will have a chance to clean themselves. Signs of pleasure include: Fluffing up their feathers to allow the mist to go in between them, preening, wing flapping and running back and forth through the area that you’re misting.

Taking your budgie with you in the human shower

Personally, I don’t like this method all that much and neither do my budgies. But there are budgies out there that respond really well to this method of bathing. Please keep in mind that the human shower is a scary and intimidating place for little birds. Especially when the water gets turned on and the sound echo’s through the bathroom. Only try this method if your budgie is properly desensitized to sounds.

To introduce your budgie to the human shower, you would take the same steps as when introducing them to a bath attached to their cage. First, you introduce them to the shower itself before adding the water to it. To give your budgie a safe place to sit, you will need to use a special shower perch. This is a perch made of PVC pipe that has suction cups attached to it, so you can easily stick it to the wall of your shower. Be sure to NEVER have the whole perch under running water. This can cause your budgie to drown since they cant run out of the stream to catch air. The big drops of the shower can block their nostrils making it almost impossible for them to breathe. Sings of this include: Gasping for air, putting their face upwards and sitting completely still. Your budgie is not supposed to be completely soaked when bathing anyway, so just having your budgie bathe in the mist and stray droplets are enough.

In summary

There are several ways to bathe your budgie properly. You might have to teach them how to in the beginning, but once they are used to it, they will love it! As always, safety and your budgies emotional wellbeing are most important when it comes to bird care. So please don’t rush things and be mindful of your budgies body language to see if they are having a good time.

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