We all know what it feels like to wake up grumpy in the morning after not getting enough sleep. That feeling of not wanting to get up and having it impact on our mood throughout the day. It’s not difficult to imagine that parrots are very similar to us, in that a decent amount of sleep is essential to their wellbeing, and a lack of it negatively impacts their behaviour.
Parrots have often been compared to human toddlers in relation to their intelligence level and behaviour. This analogy is pretty accurate in many ways. Many parrots are highly intelligent and often very naughty and cheeky. It’s no surprise that like toddlers, they also require lots of sleep to function well and not act up.
Almost all parrot species generally need 12 hours of uninterrupted opportunity to sleep. This allows them to properly set up to roost, rest and recharge after a hard days playing, learning, eating and being naughty.
Parrots won’t always sleep during the whole 12 hours; however, having that undisturbed opportunity is absolutely essential in helping to prevent many behavioural problems pet parrot owners face.
That’s not to say that you can’t make any noise and your parrots have to be in absolute silence and darkness. They often get used to some background and environmental noises. But, trying to create as conducive an environment to sleep as possible is always helpful to ensuring our parrots are the happiest and well rested they can be.
This can sometimes mean having to adjust our routines and habits to help accommodate them. This could be as simple as wearing headphones when playing games later at night or simply doing it in another room. It could also mean being a little quieter when moving around.
Some people cover their parrots to create the darkness required. However covering can sometimes cause more issues rather than solving them. If you do cover your parrot we usually recommend partial covering only. But I’ll talk about cage covering in a separate blog post.
A lack of sleep can contribute to more erratic and aggressive behaviour in parrots. Just like the toddler example mentioned earlier; a parrot that doesn’t get enough sleep is often cranky and more likely to act up. During our consultations and even with our own flock, we often notice a strong correlation between days our parrots misbehave or are cranky and days where their sleep routine and cycle is interrupted by noisy neighbours, outside row or other factors that impact sleep.
A lack of sleep is also closely related to an increase in hormonal behaviour. A parrot’s mating response is closely tied to light/dark cycles and the seasons. Many species of parrot tend to mate during the warmer summer months when the days are longer and nights are shorter.
This makes evolutionary sense as it increases the likelihood that their chicks will survive to maturity and not suffer from any of the problems in colder seasons.
However, in the home environment we often overlook this as a cause for hormonal or nesting behaviour and assume it’s down to other environmental factors. If your parrot is hormonal, one of the first questions to ask is: Are they getting enough sleep?
If not, then ensuring the minimum 12 hours is being met could help with the problem. If they are getting the 12 hours, then you can even increase the amount of sleep to 14 hours for a week to help trick your parrot’s body into thinking that it’s the winter season and a bad time to breed.
Even if your parrot isn’t having any difficulties with hormones or behaviour, it is still so important to give them enough sleep to feel comfortable, energetic and happy in their daily lives. While we can function on about 8 hours a day our parrots need so much more and it’s up to us to provide it!
Hopefully this article proved education and useful! If you’re having problems with any of the issues mentioned in this article or need advice, drop us an email today!