Water and Your Parrot
Georgette Kurker Stamoulis
Don't you make sure that you drink fresh water? Maybe even bottled water? What about your feathered friend, what's he getting for water? Read on and see just how important what you are giving for water is.......
Water — clean, fresh and in ample supplies — is essential to nearly every process of your pet bird’s body. Since your bird’s body is made up of approximately 75% water, it's extremely important.
“A bird can live a longer without food than it can without water.”
Water bowl in bird cage
Provide your pet bird with fresh, clean water every day.
Each day, an adult bird needs to drink enough water to make up 5 percent of its body weight to replace the water lost from waste removal, respiration and evaporation.
Water performs a number of important functions. The processes that go on in your bird’s body need water to work properly. So, if a bird doesn’t drink enough water, then the water that’s inside of cells leaches out because the body needs to use it, and then the cells dry up like raisins and die.
Water is also needed to flush out the parrot's body, remove excess minerals and other wastes, to transport nutrients throughout the body and to help regulate body temperature. Without enough water, the blood volume will drop and the kidneys, liver and heart will not function as efficiently as they should.
Clean Water Is Important
But for pet birds in particular, often the bigger issue is not so much being provided with enough water as it is making sure they have clean water. An owner may get busy and forget to change the bird’s water dish for a day or two. Meanwhile the bird may have defecated in the water, taken a bath in it, shredded newspaper from the bottom of the cage and put that in the water, rinsed its beak in the bowl after eating, dunked pellets or other food in the water to soften them.
Any of the above-mentioned debris in a pet bird’s water dish can create an ideal breeding ground for bacteria. “Bacteria love to grow in filthy water.
Bacteria grows fast! For instance, if you changed your bird’s water at 7am and your bird takes a drink or bath by 9am, which means there will be bacteria in the water. By 11 am that bacteria has doubled and it will double again and so on. That means there is plenty of bacteria in your bird’s water to make them become ill.
Probably the most common water-borne bacteria is Pseudomonas. Other types of bacteria, such as E.coli, Klebsiella, Giardia and Salmonella, can also grow in water. Any of these can cause diarrhea or other digestive tract disturbances, as well as more serious infections.
Oftentimes, it’s pretty obvious that your bird’s water dish is dirty: You can see the crud floating on top of the water. But even without any obvious debris, the water may very well be contaminated. The way you can tell is if you rub your finger on the inside of the water dish and it feels slimy, that means bacteria is growing in there. Or, if you see discolored areas in a plastic dish, that’s probably bacteria as well.
When providing water to your birds, you have two main options: bowls and crocks or water bottles. Each of those sources of water — bottles, crocks, bowls, etc., can and do work fine. Each also has some degree of inherent risks. Inattention can lead to bacterial growth. Even if you use a bottle it needs to be washed with soap and water every day.
Kinds of Water
In most situations, ordinary tap water is fine. If you feel comfortable drinking from your tap then it's probably okay for your bird. However, if you don't drink from your tap, then why should your bird?
In most areas, the water goes through a treatment facility where bacteria, excess minerals, etc., are filtered out. That water will probably be safe for both you and your birds. On the other hand, if you live way out in the country and are drinking well water, sometimes that’s a problem.
Well water often has an excessive amount of minerals from the ground, and the water may be pretty hard as a result. Hard water can be potentially harmful, because there can be a lot of iron and other hard minerals in it that can, over a long period of time, affect kidney function. The lead in hard water is a big concern.
If you believe that your water is unacceptable, you might want to buy de-ionized water, filtered water or bottled water for your bird.
One other issue relating to your bird’s water has to do with adding vitamin supplements to the water. Vitamin supplements in the water may provide necessary nutrients in the water container for bacterial growth to occur.
Changing the Water
Whether your birds drink from a bowl or a bottle, water should be changed daily. Dish, bottle or whatever should be washed with soap and water daily. Maybe even more than once depending on your bird.
Your bird is relying on you to care for him and keep him healthy. Remember if you wouldn't drink it or eat out of it, why should they?