Friday, May 13, 2011

Managing Parrot Mess

Once a zookeeper, always a zookeeper. I admit I was trained well. When I started my career in zoos back in 1990 I worked for the best kind of boss a newbie could have….a stickler for cleanliness and exceptional animal care. The standards were high but they were enforced with a gentle hand. I never resented having to keep animal enclosures meticulous. I remember at one zoo where I worked we had to rake a dirt floor to remove animal waste and debris. One of my coworkers commented you are raking the dirt to make a pile of dirt to throw away. He was right …even the dirt had to be clean! I admit that was a bit of overkill, but to this day I take pride in putting my animals first.

This means every morning the first thing I do is prepare parrot diets and clean enclosures. I aim to have a training session and one on one time with my birds every morning. Enrichment is changed out daily. And access to sunshine and fresh air for my parrots is also on my daily check off list. Taking care of the animals comes before checking email, taking a shower or diving into the day’s workload. Sometimes this means it might be 11 AM before emails get answered.

I suppose it could easily become a chore, but in reality I thoroughly enjoy that part of the day. I probably even take a little longer than I should just to allow more time to enjoy the companion parrots in my life.

One of the really great benefits to being a zookeeper is you very quickly learn ways to effectively and efficiently clean parrot enclosures. I have often thought parrot rescues should take a tip from zoos and set up there housing just as a zoo would instead of using cages designed for people’s homes. You can thoroughly clean 30 large parrot enclosures in a jiffy with the right set up. We don’t quite have that luxury in our homes. But there are some things you can do to make the job easier.

Here are a few cleaning tips:

• Spray water on caked on food or droppings and let it sit for 10 minutes. You will find it wipes up easily after a few minutes of soaking.

• Keep a set of cleaning utensils (sponges, paper towels, garbage bags, clean paper) in every bird area. It saves you a lot of walking.

• Invest in an electric carpet sweeper. These are great for picking up big chunks and keeping daily clean up quick and under control.

• Use washable throw rugs under parrot perches. Have plenty of extra on hand to trade out when dirty. I have found inexpensive ones at IKEA.

• Buy rolls or bundles of newsprint at packaging stores. I get mine at Eco-Box. Place layers in the cage. Remove layers as they get soiled.

Have you got a great cleaning tip? Leave it in the comments below. Lots of parrot lovers will thank you.

Barbara Heidenreich
Copyright Good Bird Inc 2011


Montecito Lofts said...

For extra tough softbill splatter (not that we ever let that sit), it's an extra "oomph" to the water spray method - soak a handtowel in hot water and place over the mess and let sit for a few minutes. This is great for especially caked on fruits like papaya. When the towel is removed, it wipes right up.

Kelly said...

We use a large plastic mat from an office supply store to protect our carpeting from bird mess. We store a roll of TP, a spray bottle of water, and a small dustpan with brush directly under the cage. A tiny wastebasket is also nearby -- tiny to encourage us to empty it frequently!

Anonymous said...

I have hooked a sheet of plastic that I bought from a DIY store and put it on the back of the cage with pot and pan hooks I got from ikea. This protects the wall from fruit flicked about and then all I do is unhook the sheet and wipe down. I also have got cut offs of vinyl from the carpet store for £20 and this covers the huge space under his cage and under all his usual perching areas. This protects the carpet from droppings and is easily wiped down and can hoover it too. Every month I give his whole cage a power wash to keep it spotless.

Anonymous said...

I am seriously not associated with this product, but "poop-off" works wonders. It is hard to find though.

Anonymous said...

Re "Poop-Off" enzyme cleaner:
"Doodle" is cheaper & has very little scent. It comes as a concentrate & you mix with water. Get it from
As far as I can tell enzyme cleaners just work faster than water. I use it on the bottom grill & tray on days when I'm not putting them into the tub for washing.

Anonymous said...

I appreciate many of the 'mess' suggestions, thanks. Here's what I do. Place 4-5 drops of Tea Tree in spray bottle (16 oz.). Oil has anti-bacterial properties and does not harm my Amazon or interfer in his food consumption and it makes me feel better in controlling the mess.

Barbara Heidenreich said...

Hmmmmm, I have heard that tea tree oil is harmful to parrots. You may want to double check with your vet on that to confirm : )