Your Pet Bird Also Needs Its Beauty Sleep
Owning a pet bird can be very rewarding. It is also a big responsibility. A pet bird is totally reliant on its owner for its health and well-being, and while many bird owners appreciate the importance of correct diet for their feathered companion, not all owners understand the important role that sleep plays in their bird’s health.
Although sleep requirements may vary slightly for different species, most pet birds need between 10 and 12 hours of sleep each night, preferably in a quiet, dark environment. A bird that is sleep-deprived is likely to be cranky and unsociable, and will eventually develop a compromised immune system, leaving it susceptible to a host of health problems. Ideally, birds should be allowed to sleep from sunset through to sunrise as they would in their natural environment. Realistically though, many birds are members of modern households that just don’t run on the old adage of “early to bed, early to rise…”, so what can you as a bird owner do in the best interests of your beloved pet?
You certainly don’t want to cut short any playtime that you would normally enjoy with your bird. If the only time you have available to spend together is after sunset, then by all means take all the time you need to do this – both for your benefit and the benefit of your bird. But once playtime is over, it is best to remove your bird from the room where the family is gathered, most likely chatting and watching television. Many bird owners have found that their pets do very well in a “sleep cage” – a smaller cage which is only used for the bird to sleep in and can be placed in a room away from household activity. This cage can be covered in order to provide an even darker environment. If your bird has been up late in the evening, preferably allow it some extra quiet time in the morning in order to catch up on its “beauty” sleep.
What if your work schedule means that you only get to see your bird later in the evening when he may already have gone to sleep? Experts say that it is perfectly acceptable to wake your bird up to spend time together – but this needs to be done gently, or you may be on the receiving end of an irritated bird’s beak. Simply switch on the light in the bird’s room, which will encourage it to wake up naturally, and then spend some quality time together. The key thing in this situation is to allow the bird the full amount of sleeping time, even if it has been broken into segments.
In nature, birds generally remain awake during daylight hours because they are constantly on the lookout for predators. Your pet bird will exhibit the same behavior when it is in a well lit area. Although it may at times seem that your bird dozes off during the day, this is not quality sleep and it will likely react immediately to any noise or disturbance. Of course, you know that there is no danger from predators in your home, but your bird’s instincts tell it to be alert – and this can be exhausting when artificial light extends the bird’s “daytime” past nature’s twelve hour period. Moreover, some species of birds are stimulated to go into breeding mode when exposed to long periods of daylight. Cockatiels and lovebirds are among the species that are susceptible to chronic egg-laying, which is generally as a direct result of too much daylight.
Many bird-owners have found that simply providing a suitable sleep environment and allowing their pet between ten and twelve hours of sleep has made a world of difference to their health and temperament.