The view on birds changed dramatically from ancient times onwards – they were first kept as a symbol of wealth and as live decor by powerful historic figures. Slowly but surely, we’ve come to realize just how intelligent and affectionate these creatures can be.
Parrots have become more and more accessible, and more and more people wished to tame and train them. Subsequently, more and more companies started producing goods specifically made for parrots.
Throughout the years, parrots had become such common pets that you can buy just about any accessory for your feathery friend right at your local pet shop; From accommodation items such as cages, food bowls, water dishes, and nest boxes, to treats such as seeds, crackers, and cuttlebone, to interactive toys, leg bands, and even clothes.
Passionate bird keepers started spoiling their pets by treating them as their babies – speaking of which, did you know bird diapers existed, as well!?
Purpose of bird diapers
There’s only one reason because of which many first-time pet owners opt to get cats and dogs instead of parrots, and that is toilet habits.
Instinctively, most animals do not like their fecal matter to be around their living space, which is why dogs prefer to “do their business” outside, while cats like to bury their waste – so litter box training proves to be easy. Birds, on the other hand, do not have such practices, which can be frustrating and messy for the owners.
Instead of keeping your bird locked inside of their cage and fearing any accidents, you can take a little time and patience to study your bird’s toilet practices, as well as try and train them.
Parrot potty practice
Birds have a very fast metabolism, so they tend to eat quite often and, in turn, relieve themselves quite often, as well. To be straightforward – they poop and pee simultaneously, and do so every ten to fifteen minutes.
When in nature, the only sense birds have regarding their toilet habits is to not do their business inside of their nest. Otherwise, they do it whenever they feel like it – wherever they feel like it.
Potty training a parrot implies that you establish a connection between their toilet habits and a specific place in the house, as well as a sense of accomplishment in such a practice.
Potty training a parrot:
Examine the body language
Although birds can poop silently and without notice, they most often give off some sort of signal with their body a couple of moments prior – some may spread their wings ever so slightly, some may lean forward, some may raise their tail… Another thing that you should try learning more about is the frequency of droppings. Although ten to fifteen minutes is the average, some parrots might take only five, while others go around twenty minutes between droppings. Spend some time solely watching your bird learn its body language and natural practices.
Find suitable places
An important thing to mark here is that you can’t just have one place your bird can use for its waste – you will need to choose a couple. Common places that people choose are the bird’s cage, newspapers, sinks, garbage cans, and flower pots. Once you have decided where you want your bird to do their business, you can start by playing with your bird and connecting with it through activities it likes. Once you see that your bird is giving off body language that it needs to go, place it on the designated spot and pick it up again when it’s done. Repeating this process will help your bird establish a connection between their toilet practices and those specific spots where it is placed.
Reward, not punishment
Punishing your bird for slips in the process with things such as locking it in its cage will do more harm than good. They might start to feel like their need to do their business is the thing that’s driving you away, so they might attempt to hold it in for long. This could stress them out and cause health complications. Instead, ignore when your bird has a slip, but reward them with a small treat every time they do it right. This will help them establish a sense of accomplishment with their toilet practices.
Potty training a parrot may take weeks at a time, so patience is key. The length of the process will also depend on the type of parrot you have – smaller birds like budgies will go four to eight times an hour, while larger birds such as cockatoos will need to go once or twice an hour. Larger birds are, thus, easier to train, while it may take your smaller birds a bit more time.
For those who don’t want to deal with the mess, but also don’t want to wait too long before they let their bird out to explore, bird diapers could be the perfect solution.
Many people also use bird diapers for potty-trained birds for the purpose of traveling and transportation.
Bird diapers – style and function
Bird diapers, besides being very practical, are also one of the most adorable accessories you can get for your feathery friend. To avoid any leaking, bird diapers look like small overalls:
The bottom half is completely closed off, while the parrot’s legs fall on the sides. The back is attached to the front with two straps that go behind the wings and over the shoulder patch.
Most bird diapers are made from soft, stretchy and reusable material, so that there is not a lot of ecological waste involved while your bird’s comfort and movement are also not compromised.
You can also find disposable and bio-degradable bird diapers if this is your preference.
Bird diapers come in various different colors and sizes for different bird types.
They are very similar to flight suits, and some people even use these instead of bird diapers, while some flight suits are also designed to simultaneously be bird diapers.
The average price of bird diapers and flight suits on Etsy is around 20USD.
If you don’t have a pet shop nearby and want to try out bird diapers before purchasing them online, there are also many DIY tutorials on how to make bird diapers at home using cotton cloths and elastic. You can also make disposable ones with paper tissue. As long as you don’t make the straps too tight, it should function like a store-bought bird diaper.
Cons of bird diapers
Whether or not bird diapers will work is very individual from parrot to parrot. Some might have slips, while others will never have a single one. Some parrots will love it, others will hate it.
One of the problems regarding bird diapers is the fit. If the material is too harsh, too tight, or even too big, it may lose its function.
Sometimes, the fit will be perfect – but the subsequent mess of the diaper wear will require proper cleaning of your parrot after you take the diaper off. Doing this daily might irritate your parrot’s skin and compromise their hygiene.
Other than that, it might make your bird very uncomfortable. Most parrots aren’t used to any kind of clothing-type accessories unless they were familiarized with them at a young age. It doesn’t have to hurt them for them to not like it. It might trigger the feeling of being held by a predator, which they could find very intimidating.
Some diapers might even restrict a bird’s movement ever so slightly that it makes them stressed. If this is the case, they could start trying to bite the straps of their diaper off, or even pluck their feathers around the straps. If you notice such behavior, stop enforcing bird diapers right away.
Alternatives to bird diapers
If your bird still isn’t potty trained but bird diapers just aren’t working for them, then you can try one of the following;
You can purchase or even make a portable parrot playground with a closed-off bottom. Until your parrot is potty trained, you can use this playground to get them out of their cage and engage with them without worrying about any mess around the house.
A shoulder guard
Parrots like to snuggle up on your shoulder and bite around your hair and ear during bonding time. If you want to avoid needing to change clothes, you can always put a shoulder guard on, which will catch the unwanted waste. A towel works great, as well.
An arm perch
If your parrot likes to rest on your arm during playtime, an arm perch might work in the same fashion as a shoulder guard, just make sure that you don’t make any sudden movements with your hand.
Even if bird diapers are working for you, it’s best that you keep them on hand just for emergency situations and continue to potty train your parrot. Although long-term wear of bird diapers around the house doesn’t have to necessarily hurt your parrot, it’s best to opt for the most natural life in captivity as possible.