Birds are naturals when it comes to grooming. All birds, including budgies, spend a good portion of their day on grooming activities. It should be a common sight to see your budgie scratching an itch, but they could be scratching too much.
A budgie may be itchy due to:
- Normal preening
- Aligning feathers
- Dry skin
- Removing pests
Budgies do regularly groom themselves, so regular scratching and preening should be expected. However, excessive itching may be a sign of something else.
Grooming is a healthy behavior that will show up in your bird’s daily routine. But, it may seem that your budgie is scratching a bit too much, and you may need to do something to help. In this article, we will go through a bunch of the most common reasons why your budgie might be scratching a little too much and what you can do about it.
Why is My Parakeet Scratching Himself? Normal Preening
It may seem that your bird is always fussing with their feathers, constantly running their beak through their plumage and against their skin.
This is normal. In order for their feathers to keep them warm and allow them to fly as efficiently as possible, birds need to constantly straighten and fluff their feathers through a grooming process called preening.
With their beak, they will constantly seek out any dust, dirt, or foreign objects and remove them. A budgie can spend several hours a day preening, and if it is during a molt, it could be several days of preening.
Molting Is Very Common
Molting is a very common reason why a bird might seem to be scratching too much. This is the first thing to rule out when troubleshooting your budgie’s itchiness. Molting is the yearly, gradual process by which a bird replaces all of its old worn-out feathers with new ones.
Though it is a normal, annual process, it can still be uncomfortable and a bit stressful for your budgie. This can lead to your budgie being low on energy and maybe a bit grumpy.
It should take about 2 to 3 weeks for the molt to finish. After your bird has rested, he or she should be good as new in its shiny new feathers. As long as the bird is not left with any bald spots, they should be fine. Bald spots during the molt can mean that something is stressing your budgie.
Why is my bird scratching so much? It Could Be Dry Skin
Ok. We’ve ruled out normal preening behavior and the yearly molt. But the budgie is still scratching too much. Most likely, our culprit is dry skin. Here are some things you should look out for if your budgie seems to be fixated on scratching. Inspect your budgie and look for things like.
- Bald Spots – If they are scratching too much, they might be removing feathers. If their skin is too dry, they may scratch enough to damage their feathers and their skin.
- Red Skin or Scratch Marks – In trying to soothe their itchiness, they can scratch themselves raw as they try to fix the problem.
- Exposed Skin Around The Feet – Whereas they can damage their feathers with their beak, they may also rub their legs together enough so that they lose feathers there.
- Flaking – Your budgie might have flaking skin, like bigger dandruff around its head and face.
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Treating Dry Skin
Luckily, if the itching is caused by dry skin, it is a pretty easy problem to fix. Nearly all species of parrots come from warmer, humid climates, and their sensitive skin can have a hard time adjusting to different environments. Here are some reasons your budgie might be scratching because of dry skin, and what you can do to help.
- Baths: They are usually good at cleaning themselves, but if we have lower humidity, allergens, or just some hard to reach dust, you might need to help them out. You can use a basin of warm water or a spray bottle to moisten their feathers and break up the soil.
- Food Allergies: It may be that their food is the culprit. Some bird foods might not have the right nutrition for a budgie or even have lower quality ingredients. Make sure you have the right kind of food or perhaps choose a higher quality of feed and treats.
- Low Humidity: If you live somewhere with relatively low humidity, you may need to increase the humidity in your home. Bird-safe plants, fountains, and humidifiers can all help with increasing the ambient humidity in their living space. It may be as simple as that!
- Anti-Itch Sprays and Powders: There are products made for poor itchy budgies. They help to soothe their dry skin with analgesics, herbs, and aloe vera.
- Bird Bath Station: You can purchase and add on to your budgie’s cage so that they can give themselves a bath whenever they want. Like this one from chewy.com. It is a cheap and easy way to encourage better grooming.
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How Do I Know if My Bird has Mites or Lice?
Mites and lice are a possibility though not a common one. Birds that live indoors are pretty unlikely to harbor any sort of parasite, though it has happened. There are a few parasites known to infect budgies. Most external parasites like mites, ticks, and lice, you should be able to identify easily by inspecting your bird.
Internal parasites can be a bit harder to diagnose as evidence of their presence, like feather loss, might only be visible once an infestation has taken hold.
How do you get rid of mites on budgies?
Here are some of the culprits that sometimes find themselves at home on parrots. Anytime you feel that your budgie has got a case of the creepy crawlies, it is important that you make a call to your veterinarian for your treatment options. It is important to remember that if you find a parasitic infestation on one of your birds, it would be safe to say that your other birds may be infected as well.
- Budgie Red Mites: Very small, nocturnal blood-suckers. They can be hard to spot with the naked eye, but there’s a trick to finding them; Place the double-sided tape in your budgies cage, where they hang out the most, and the tiny red mites should get caught.
- Budgie Scaly Face Mites: Burrowing mites that dig into the ceres and beak, but can also infest the legs and vent. Look out for persistent beak wiping and crusty growths on your budgie’s head and beak. It is important that these are treated quickly as they can cause severe damage if left untreated.
- Budgie Scaly Leg Mites: Related to the face mites, they infect the legs, leaving your budgie with a swollen, painful infection. A salve can help to eliminate these pests.
- Budgie Lice: It is possible that wild birds could transfer these pests though it is uncommon. They are very itchy and irritating, and it will be apparent that your bird is having a hard time. Chemical treatment is necessary, possibly with all of the birds in the home.
- Budgie Worms: These disgusting parasites can be found in an infected bird’s waste. Your vet will treat them with a few rounds of medicine to kill the worms and any remaining eggs.
- Budgie Air Sac Mites: These mites infect part of the bird’s respiratory system, called the air sac. If a bird has a colony of these mites, it will start to lose the ability to chirp. Its voice will become hoarse and strained and can lead to suffocation.
Keep Your Budgie Happy & Healthy
By paying attention to your budgie and its habits, you’ll be better able to take care of it and notice when things are off. If they’ve developed dry skin or an infection, it is well worth a trip to the vet to get it checked out.