Budgerigars are very capable of cleaning themselves on a daily basis, and if you provide a bath for them, their personal hygiene will be impeccable. However, there are occasions when your budgerigar might need assistance – during an illness, perhaps, or if he has managed to dip himself in something sticky or greasy.
A fruit-heavy diet, or a bout of illness, may result in “pasting of the vent” – a dirty bottom, in layman’s terms! The feathers around this area of the budgie’s anatomy usually kept clean as part of the budgerigar’s toilet routine, and the dry nature of the healthy droppings helps to keep it that way. An ill budgerigar may have feathers stained by diarrhoea; and because all the liquid is being vented in this way, there may be other, hard droppings that cling to his vent and feathers. Poo will also cling in this way if the budgie is dehydrated.
If you have to intervene, you will need to grip the budgerigar. Use wet cotton wool balls to wash the area, wiping down the feathers from root to tip. Soap can cause irritation, so don’t add anything to the water.
Baby budgerigars are normally kept clean by their mothers. Sometimes, however, an outbreak of diarrhoea may require your intervention. Babies must be handled very carefully, as they are fragile. Use cotton wool balls soaked in warm water to wipe the budgie’s soiled parts, and dry immediately with a very soft cloth or more cotton wool. Don’t do this on a routine basis – only handle the babies in this way if absolutely necessary.
Adult budgerigars will keep their own feet and toenails and good condition; but babies sometimes need extra help. If the nest is caked with droppings, the feet can become very dirty, and the poo sets like plaster. This will need to be moistened with warm water and then picked off very gently with tweezers or your fingernails. Wipe the feet with warm, wet cotton wool balls afterwards, and dry them afterwards.
A budgie will clean itself, as long as you provide a bath or wet foliage. Sometimes, however, a free-flying budgie may encounter something that clogs up his feathers, and if the substance is fatty, sugary, or toxic in some other way, you don’t want him to ingest any of while bathing and preening.
Hold the budgerigar. You will be able to access his underside this way, but will need to perform the hold ‘upside down’ to get at his back. Remove what you can using a soft wet cloth. If grease or oil is involved, you will need to use a bird-friendly soap. This will only be available through vet, usually, so it’s a good idea to have some ready in the cupboard. Rinse the bird-soap off thoroughly, ensuring that none of it goes near the budgie’s eyes, cere or mouth.
Normal detergents, as found in hand-soaps, shampoos, etc, can cause irritation to a budgie’s skin, and should never be used. Clean the budgerigar as well as you can using warm water, provide a bath, and stock up on the bird-friendly soap as soon as possible.