Does Your Parrot Really Need 12 Hours of Beauty Sleep?

Does Your Parrot Really Need 12 Hours of Beauty Sleep?

Most parrots are tropical animals and in the tropics the day and night are roughly 12 hours each with dusk only lasting a few minutes, so a wild parrots’ sleep pattern is that they go to roost just before sunset and wake up at dawn. This means wild parrots naturally live a 24-hour cycle of 12 hours sleeping, and 12 hours awake (Schwarz). So if wild parrots thrive on 12 hours of sleep a night, who are we to change it! After all, I’m very keen to advocate that the most natural lifestyle possible is always the best lifestyle to offer our feathered companions.

Unfortunately, inadequate length or quality of sleep is not only unnatural for our parrots, it can also lead to a range of behavioural issues. We all know how terrible we feel after a bad night’s sleep and our parrots make it very clear they’re also unhappy about the situation. If your parrot is displaying issues such as excessive screaming, aggression, and even excessive fear or even feather destructive behaviours, sleep deprivation might play a role (Wilson). To assess if sleep is playing a role in any of these problem behaviours we recommend making an extra effort to ensure your parrot is getting 12 hours of uninterrupted sleep a night for 2 weeks and assessing any change of behaviour. If you notice little change then a lack of sleep is likely not the issue, if you would like to investigate these problem behaviours further we would be happy to book a consultation.

The main reason I manage my parrots’ sleep so closely is to limit hormonal behaviour. As spring naturally has slightly longer days in the wild, parrots body clocks recognise that this is the time to start making babies. Hormonal instincts aren’t always a bad thing, i’m glad my parrots can follow their natural body clock and feel natural instincts but the behaviour that can come along with these big feelings can sometimes be quite extreme, especially for my male cockatiel Faolan. As some of you may already know, Faolan used to live with Ola and Nash but he developed an unhealthy obsession with Corliss (their military macaw). Our avian vet confirmed this obsession and suspected it was fueled by hormones despite receiving a great diet, plenty of stimulation and adequate sleep. Faolan was obsessive to the point of not eating or drinking in Corliss’ presence and attacking anyone who went close to her. So after a lot of heartache, dedicated training and following the advice of our avian vet Faolan came to live with me. Life away from Corliss has allowed us to manage his obsession but we do notice after disturbed sleep he starts to slip back to his old ways. To avoid this he sleeps in a cage at night with my other cockatiels, they get covered with a blanket, the curtains drawn and a quiet room for at least 12 hours a night, if we notice the negative behaviours creeping in we increase the amount of sleep they’re getting to combat the issue.

An idea if you’re struggling to provide an environment without disruption for your parrot to sleep in is to offer them a sleep cage at night, rather than their main cage. This can be a travel sized cage/carrier in a quiet area of your home, that’s easily covered with a blanket to make it a dark space for them to sleep. Although I must warn you while allowing your parrot to get adequate sleep, this sleep cage may also cause some problems in itself so proceed with caution. Previously my cockatiels used a sleep cage as it allowed us to access our living room (where their main cage is) in the evenings without worry of disturbing them, but we noticed they began to view the sleep cage as a nest and would defend it if anyone entered the same room as the sleep cage. Now we have a rule of tv off and lights out in the living room at 8pm to allow our parrots to sleep in their main cage undisturbed and save our fingers and faces from attacks!

To summarise, the key points to take away from this article are:

  • Your parrot needs at least 12 hours of undisturbed sleep a night
  • It’s best to offer a dark, quiet environment
  • Increasing sleep may decrease problem behaviours

After all our parrots are just like toddlers, if they have a bad sleep they will scream the house down!

Works Cited

Schwarz, Dorothy. “Parrots and sleeping – ExoticDirect.” Exotic Direct, 16 July 2020, Accessed 18 July 2022.

Wilson, Liz. “Is Your Parrot Getting Enough Sleep?” Northern Parrots, 23 April 2012, Accessed 18 July 2022.

Written by Hannah Green