Baths aren’t essential for parrots. If your macaw hates getting completely wet, he’ll probably be fine without any baths at all -- there are alternatives. On the other hand, if he enjoys splashing about, a bath encourages healthy skin and feathers, not to mention adding interest to his life. Giving a parrot a bath is nothing like giving a cat or a dog a bath. Essentially, all you do is supply the water and he’ll take care of the rest.
Find a large bowl that’s somewhat bigger than your macaw. A dish-washing bowl or a baby bath would be ideal.
Place the empty bowl where you plan to let the macaw bathe. Bear in mind that he’ll splash, so a tiled or linoleum-covered kitchen or bathroom is better than a room with carpet or expensive wood flooring. Let the bird explore the bowl a few times to become accustomed to it.
Add two or three inches of tepid water to the bowl. Basically, you’re creating a puddle. Later on, if he thoroughly enjoys bathing, you could experiment with more water.
Let the macaw into the room with the bowl and allow him to bathe as suits him. Some individuals will jump straight in, especially if they became accustomed to baths when young, while other might be more wary. Putting your own hand in the bowl and calling him over may tempt him in.
Keep him in a warm room once he’s finished until his feathers are completely dry. You don’t need to towel him off, but you do need to ensure he doesn't become chilled.
- If your macaw shows no interest in getting into a bowl of water, try turning the shower to lukewarm and leaving it on. This is like the rain a wild bird would encounter. Check the temperature before you let him investigate. Shower cubicles and tubs tend to be pretty slippery, so position one or more non-slip bathmats below the shower. A perch or wooden box for him to sit on also would be appreciated.
- For a macaw that likes neither baths nor showers, use a plant mister, again with tepid water, for optimum feather health. Mist him lightly once or twice a week or as per the advice of your vet.
- Macaws originate in the tropics and cold water could be a shock. Hot water, on the other hand, can scald. Always provide tepid water for his bath.
- Shampoo of any sort is not necessary and will strip the natural oils from his feathers. It also can cause skin irritation, so stick to plain water.
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Judith Willson has been writing since 2009, specializing in environmental and scientific topics. She has written content for school websites and worked for a Glasgow newspaper. Willson has a Master of Arts in English from the University of Aberdeen, Scotland.