Budgie moulting is the timely replacement of old feathers on the body, tail, and wings with new ones and it is a very common phenomenon in most parrot species. Budgie moulting can be compared with ecdysis that is the process of skin shedding in humans, snakes, and lots of other mammals. The only difference is the frequency of replacement. In budgies, moulting is a yearly process while the skin shedding process happens 3 to 8 times in a year. People who never have owned a bird pet or budgie, get scared when they see the moulting process. Because usually during moulting the cage of budgies gets filled with old feathers. Not only that, but the budgies also develop needle or string-like tentacles all over the places on their bodies where they’ve lost feathers.
WHY MOULTING IN BUDGIES HAPPEN?
Mounting is a natural cycle that happens in budgies like all the other body cycles once every year. It is worrisome for pet owners when moulting happens in young budgies. But the truth is that moulting starts in budgies at the age of 3 months. And budgies get lazy during the moulting period and they might also look sick, but it is nothing to worry about. Sometimes, moulting also starts due to the hormonal factor like when a budgie is trying to impress a mating partner so that’s also common. Budgies do not lose all the feathers at once instead they lose it gradually that gives new feathers the time to grow. And it also keeps the budgies warm and cozy and in the early stage of moulting, budgies can easily fly too.
STALLING OF MOULTING PROCESS
Sometimes, the moulting process in budgies stalls mainly because they are not getting the proper nutrition or care that they need during the moulting period. If the moulting process is disturbed due to any factor then it leaves budgies with bald patches and bald spots. So, budgies’ owners need to take care of them and provide them all the comfort that they can. And if nothing helps then there is an immediate need to see a vet for the budgie. And the vet will diagnose the abnormality otherwise the budgie may develop a disease that’s called French moult. In that disease, the feathers of budgies get removed, and then they never grow back leaving the budgie all bare and bald. Then he will never be able to fly, and it will also cause other problems like viral attacks and so much more.
Sometimes small creatures that are called feather mites start residing in the feathers of budgies. And then they cause extreme discomfort and loss of feathers to the birds. These mites are commonly called aviary pests or aviary parasites. And the owners confuse the loss of feathers due to mites with moulting. So, it is very important to check your budgie properly and see for mites or even lice in their feathers. And for that regular bathing and cleanliness is very important for budgies.
HOW OFTEN MOULTING OCCURS IN BUDGIES?
Moulting in baby budgies and adult budgies occurs at variant frequencies. When budgies are three to four months old the first episode of moulting occurs that replaces all the feathers on their bodies. And as they grow old moulting occurs once every year. And moulting is extremely necessary because otherwise budgies will have the old feathers for their whole life and that’s not good for the health and even the hygiene of budgies.
Pin feathers are very sharp and pointy structures that grow all over the budgies’ bodies. These pin feathers are covered with a sheathing that is made up of Keratin. And they transform into new complete feathers over the course of 2 to 3 weeks maximum. They do not cause any physical pain to the budgies but the behavior of budgies during the moulting definitely changes. Pin feathers can be compared to the beard hair that grows back right after shaving and they are not necessarily hurtful, but they cause slight discomfort and are quite itchy.
A fun fact about pin feathers is that all of them have a blood vein inside them which subsides with time as the feather grows. But the presence of vein makes the feathers extremely sensitive to touch and that’s why when the owners try to hold their budgies during the moulting period they show resilience or act grumpy.
BUDGIES BEHAVIOUR DURING MOULTING
Moulting is a very uncomfortable period for budgies as their feathers are shedding. And the growth of new feathers requires tons of energy and nutrition, so budgies are not necessarily happy and cheerful at the time of moulting. In fact, during the moulting period, a budgie doesn’t even like to sing or play with his toys. And most of the time budgies hate to even interact with their owners. And there is nothing wrong with it because as soon as the moulting period ends budgies start acting normally. So, to ease the process and end it quickly owners should deal with their budgies politely and provide them with all the nutrition they need.
AGGRESSIVENESS AND IRRITATION IN BUDGIES
As moulting proceeds, the budgie starts getting calmer and comfortable. But in the beginning phase of moulting a budgie is extremely irritated and uncomfortable all the time.
Some budgies start to bite because of the itching caused by the pin feathers as they are unable to scratch the pin feathers because of their sensitive nature. So, they develop extreme anger issues and are jumping more than usual. All of this is a normal episode during the early stage. And when the owners try to pacify their budgies, they bite them or hurt them in one way or another.
So, the best thing a budgie owner can do is to leave their budgies on their own and wait for the episode to pass. Some budgies instead of showing extreme activity find a corner in their cage and sit there for long periods while some prefer sleeping for long hours. All that might disturb a budgie owner, but it is best to not disturb budgies when they are going through this phase.
HOW TO TAKE CARE OF A BUDGIE DURING MOULTING PERIOD?
Seeing the budgies in discomfort and problem might sadden the budgies owner. There is nothing worst than being unable to help your pet friends or erase the pain they are going through. Moulting takes a big toll on the poor small birds and sucks all the energy they have so they require extreme care, protection, and nutrition.
The feather loss in budgies compromises their flight process and also makes them less warm and looks like some homeless bird so it is quite difficult and truly a period of uneasiness. But there are certain things that the pet owners can do to ease the moulting process in their budgies and get a pass with it quickly without any problem.
TAKING CARE OF BUDGIE’S SLEEP
Some budgies tend to sleep too much when they are moulting. After all, they get weak because all of their energy is utilized in the growth of their new feathers. And some pet owners try introducing new games and toys to reduce the sleep duration or to make their budgies active again but that does not help. So, it is better to make the environment calm and less noisy to reduce any possible disturbance that can interrupt the sleep cycle of the pets.
FEEDING NUTRITIOUS FOOD
The provision of highly nutritious food to a budgie is extremely essential when it comes to moulting. Some foods need to be cut out of the budgies system and there are some foods that an owner should add to their diet.
Cutting chocolates, caffeine, and tea
Budgies love sweets and they go mad for chocolates and candies but moulting is not the time to give them food like that. Or any time, you should never feed your Budgie birds with human food, chocolate, coffeine or tea. And if a budgie is consuming caffeine or tea indirectly then it should be immediately cut off from their regular meal plans.
Blending vitamins with proteins, carbs, and fats
To make the process of moulting go smooth there is a need to give budgies a mixture of a diet with all the necessary carbohydrates, proteins, and fats blended with the healthy vitamins and minerals.
Adding healthy fruits to the diet
Budgies are like kids, so they do not adapt quickly to new and healthy diet plans. So, the owners must trick them into eating healthy foods. Adding sweet fruits can help with that issue as budgies love eating fruits. So, the owner can make their budgies eat fruits like strawberries, dates, cranberries, cherries, melons, and peaches.
REGULAR BATHING WITH WARM WATER
One thing that helps a lot with moulting in budgies is regular bathing with warm water. Warm water not only soothes the skin of budgies, but it also softens it and helps with the itchiness. Most of the budgies love bathing during their feathers shedding phase. Budgies’ owners need to keep the cages of their pets away from all the AC spots, so they do not develop diseases like pneumonia.
SOFT AND COZY SHELTER
As budgies develop quite erect and needle-like structures on their bodies so it is important to provide them with soft shelters. And the feather loss can make the budgies feel cold and they might get fever or flu, so it is necessary to make their environment cozy and warm. For that, placing a small blanket in their cage and covering the cage with a cloth from the outside can help a lot. The covering can retain the heat inside the cage that will provide the required warmth to the budgies.
COMFORTING AND MASSAGING
When budgies are moulting, they do not let anyone come close to their cages as they are already experiencing discomfort and uneasiness. But there are some exceptions too as some budgies find some comfort when they are moulting. So, it is best to pamper an aviary pet just by gently massaging and by comforting them with hands.
That not only makes the moulting process easy but also makes the bond between a budgie and an owner strong. The massaging and comforting technique cannot be used with all of the budgies. So, it is only safe for the owner to the first test if his budgie is allowing him to touch his body.
If a budgie is extremely aggressive while moulting then the owner should try toweling. And that includes covering the hands with a washcloth or a soft towel and then open the cage of a budgie to change the water or place some food. Toweling also helps with bathing the aggressive budgies. The pet owners can avoid biting and other repulsive reactions and save both their hands and the budgies from getting hurt.
DO NOT LET THEM FLY
When the moulting period starts in budgies most of the budgies get hyperactive and aggressive. And they tend to fly more than usual. Flying is a healthy sign and it is all right at the start of moulting because the budgies do not lose all the feathers in one day.
But as the process goes further, budgies start losing more and more feathers, and with the growth of pin feathers, the itchiness on their bodies increases and they helplessly want to fly.
If the owners let their budgies fly at that time, their bird buddies might fall or hurt themselves because of almost no presence of feathers on their bodies. So, it is best to keep budgies in one place because that will stop the flying.
PROPER VETERINARY EXAMINATION
Most of the time moulting is not moulting in actual instead it is some sort of viral infection or a skin disease. So pet owners need to take care of their budgies and take regular appointments from the veterinary doctor especially when they see excessive feather loss at an unusual time of the year. So that the vet can spot the problem on time and make their budgie friend free from all the pain.