Why is my parrot itching so much

6 Reasons Your Parrot Is Itching So Much + Home Remedies

Itching in parrots is often more concerning than most people realize. Regardless of the underlying cause, this condition often leads to the development of feather-damaging behaviors.

When a parrot is itchy, it will preen itself repeatedly, sometimes chewing on its feathers. If the itching is not treated for long, it can turn into a destructive behavior where the parrot starts plucking its own feathers. This is why it is so important to address the situation promptly. 

In some cases, the itching may be due to simple reasons like dry skin or the molting season and can be easily managed with home remedies. However, for more serious causes such as a mites infestation or fungal infections, an appointment with the vet should be scheduled right away. 

Why Is My Parrot Itching So Much?

To understand why your parrot might be itching it is important to first distinguish between normal preening behaviors and actual scratching on the skin. 

Parrots will often preen their feathers several times a day to keep them clean and insulated. 

They have preening glands located under their tail feathers that secrete natural oil. They use their beaks to collect this oil and meticulously apply it to each feather, aligning them perfectly.

However, when a parrot is itching, it may behave differently. Instead of gentle preening, the parrot may vigorously rub its beak on a specific area, trying to relieve the discomfort. 

Itchy skin on a parrot can be a symptom of many different conditions. The following are the common reasons for itching in parrots:

Parrot scratching its feathers with its foot

Low Humidity

Most parrots originate in tropical regions with heavy rainfall and high humidity. A wet climate benefits their skin by keeping the feathers moisturized.

Parrots are not accustomed to living in dry environments, but they can adapt to some extent if they are raised there. The ideal humidity for a parrot is between 40-60%.

If you live in a region with low humidity, it’s more likely that your parrot’s skin and feathers will be dry.

You may also be able to see this by the increase in dander from their feathers. it is also common for parrots’ feathers to become dry during the winter months. 

In a low-humid environment, even minor irritations of the skin can provoke your parrot to scratch. You can manage this situation by frequently spraying your parrot with water and giving it regular baths. 

An aloe vera solution mixed with water can also be a great way to keep their feathers moisturized. However, be careful not to overdo it, especially during the winter, as they do not handle cold temperatures well.

Poor Hygiene

Neglecting regular bathing for a length of time can cause the build-up of dust and debris on the parrot’s skin and feathers despite their grooming habits. Ideally, a parrot should take a bath at least 2-3 times a week. 

When a parrot doesn’t bathe regularly, dust and debris accumulate on its skin causing dryness and itching.

Moreover, a lack of hygiene in the surroundings can also result in excess dander production or the accumulation of oil, which can worsen the itching sensation.

Golden and blue macaw scratching its feathers


When a parrot is molting, the fallen feathers are slowly replaced by the growth of new feathers. As the new feathers emerge, they initially appear as small, pointed shafts called pin feathers. 

While these new feathers are in the growth stage, they can cause constant itching in parrots. They can also cause discomfort to the parrot upon being touched. 

It generally takes around 4-5 weeks for parrots to complete their feather-shedding period. So till the time the parrot has regrown all of its feathers, it may seem like it is scratching too often. 

Depending upon the size of the parrot a molt may last anywhere from 2-6 months. This kind of itching is usually nothing to worry about as molting is a natural process all parrots undergo. 

External Parasites

Parrots can be infested with various types of external parasites. Each of these tiny creatures can bite into the parrot’s skin and cause severe itching. 

But in order to treat this condition, you first need to determine which ectoparasite has plagued your bird. There are 3 types of external parasites that commonly infest parrots:


Bird mites are microscopic organisms that usually infest the parrot’s feathers. They cannot be detected through a manual inspection and requires diagnosis by a vet. Generally, a mites infestation can be treated with topical antiparasitic sprays but in some cases, the vet may prescribe oral medicine too.


These ectoparasites are different from mites in that they can be clearly seen crawling on your parrot’s skin. Parrot lice are slow movers and can be visible if you look closely between the feathers. They are wingless creatures usually reddish brown in color. 

In order to get rid of parrot lice, you can use antiparasitic sprays such as those containing permethrin. But make sure to get a proper diagnosis from an avian vet to confirm if it is a lice infestation that is causing the itching.


It is rare for household pets like parrots to get fleas. It is more common in poultry as those birds live outdoors and generally have a less pristine living environment. However, as rare as it may be parrots can get fleas either by contact with another pet or due to poor husbandry. 

Bird fleas can be treated with topical antiparasitic medications. However, a huge part of removing fleas from your parrots involves maintaining good hygiene in their surroundings. 

Avian Skin Infections

Parrots can get various different infections that can cause skin inflammation. Most commonly, bacterial, fungal, and yeast infections are responsible for skin irritation in parrots

Ringworm (dermatophytosis) is a relatively uncommon fungal infection that affects pet birds, but it can be serious. When a bird is infected by ringworm, you may notice symptoms like itching, redness of the skin, and bald patches.

Improper care and nutrition can contribute to these problems, but it is not necessarily your fault.

These microorganisms can find their way to your parrot’s body through different means including bad food and water.

Young birds are particularly vulnerable to such infections so it is important to maintain hygiene. 

These infections manifest in various forms and can worsen over time if not treated. If your suspect that your parrot is sick, take it to an avian vet. The veterinarian will identify the specific bacteria and prescribe suitable antibiotics and medications.  


Giardiasis is a protozoan parasite that infects the intestinal tract of birds. It is usually contracted by drinking or bathing in contaminated water.

Once inside the bird’s body, this intestinal parasite can cause a number of problems including severe itching and dryness of the skin. 

Feather plucking is an eventual danger of all types of itching in parrots. Whenever a parrot experiences itchiness, there’s always a chance that it may start pulling out its own feathers in an attempt to alleviate the itchiness.

The parasite can also make it difficult for the bird’s body to properly digest fats and absorb nutrients from its food.

Some of the parasite’s eggs are passed out in the bird’s droppings, which can then infect other birds.

Symptoms of Giardiasis in Birds include:

  • Loss of appetite
  • Weight loss 
  • Over preening
  • Feather destructive behavior
  • Depression
  • Lethargy

Currently, there aren’t many reliable methods available to detect giardiasis in birds. Unfortunately, this condition is often found when the bird passes away. Seeking veterinary help quickly is essential in managing giardiasis in birds.


Parrots can have an allergic reaction to a number of items in the household. These allergies flare up when the bird is exposed to molds, rotten foods, certain cleaning agents, and dust from fabrics. 

Parrots may sometimes also have an allergy to a particular food. In general, parrots can eat most human foods without any problem barring only a few. But there can be some foods that might not suit your individual parrot. 

Itching due to food allergies can range from mild to severe, depending on how serious the reaction is.

The symptoms usually subside within a day or two and do not require treatment. However, you do need to be careful not to give that particular food to your bird again.  

2 Easy Home Remedies For Parrot Itching

If you leave an itching parrot untreated, it may lead to behavioral problems and feather damage even when is it not caused by an underlying health condition. So it is important to treat itching before it becomes unmanageable. 

Home remedies for parrot itching can work for issues such as dry skin, pin feathers, and general skin irritation. However, in case the itching is being caused by an external parasite like mites, natural treatments may only alleviate the symptoms temporarily.  

If you suspect your parrot might be itching due to a medical condition, always seek veterinarian guidance. Based on a complete examination, your vet may prescribe medication for your bird.

Apple Cider Vinegar 

Apple cider vinegar can be a natural remedy for infections and itching problems due to its antimicrobial properties.

It can relieve itching by getting rid of irritants and lowering inflammation on your parrot’s skin. It can also be a great way to clean your parrot’s feathers and enhance their vibrant look.

But that’s not it. Besides being an effective deterrent to external parasites, apple cider vinegar can also keep parrots from over-preening their feathers. 

The unpleasant taste of apple cider vinegar can prevent parrots from putting their beaks on the feathers. It can be an effective solution to dealing with over-preening. 

But note that apple cider vinegar can worsen dry skin in some cases. So if your parrot is itching because of dry skin or low humidity, apple cider vinegar may not be right for your parrot.

Also, make sure to dilute it properly before applying it to your parrot’s feathers.

Mix one teaspoon of apple cider vinegar in a bowl of water. You can pour it into a spray bottle or allow your parrot to bathe in the bowl itself.

But it is mostly better to spray the mixture as it can be easy to reach your parrot’s itchy areas and also to bathe them fully.

Aloe Vera Spray

Aloe vera can act as a natural conditioner for your parrot’s feathers. It can give your parrot a rejuvenating bath and restore its lustrous shine.

Aloe vera is a safe and effective solution for parrots that suffer from dry skin. An aloe bath keeps your parrot moisturized much longer than a regular bath. So, if you live in a humid region, you can use aloe vera for every bath.

I generally do not recommend that you spray your parrot with ACV every day, but an aloe bath can be beneficial for your parrot in many ways.

I spray my parrot with aloe solution every 2 or 3 days. But you can do it less or more frequently depending on your situation.

You also do not have to worry about your parrot preening its feathers right after an aloe bath because it is an edible plant. 

Dorson Joseph
Dorson Joseph

I'm Dorson, a bird enthusiast who's had a lifelong fascination for the avian world. I am a parent to my beloved Senegal parrot and budgie, which has deepened my love for avian creatures and taught me a lot over the years. I co-run a bird store and care center with my friends, where we work with experienced professionals to care for our flock. Now, I find great joy in sharing my knowledge with others, hoping to assist fellow bird keepers and enthusiasts in understanding birds and helping them live happy lives.

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