Why Bathing Is Important for Canaries

22 March, 2021
Canaries need to bathe regularly, between two and four times a week. This prevents the appearance of mites and will give them a better quality of life.

Most people are aware of the need to bathe their dogs, cats, or even rodents because they can easily get dirty and generally have more freedom to move around. But bathing is also important for birds, such as canaries. In fact, it’s essential to give your canary a bath now and again.

Just like with dogs and other hairy mammals, harmful substances and pathogens can find their way into a bird’s feathers even if they never leave their cage. If you want to know how to bathe your canary effectively and safely, then read on to find out more!

Bathing is important for canaries too

Despite what you might think, the domestic canary (Serinus canaria domestica) is a fairly clean species. Adults will spend a significant part of the day grooming themselves and spreading their feathers with protective oils which are secreted in the uropygial gland.

This gland plays a vital role in the canary’s immune system and fulfills various functions, such as:

  • Creating oils to make the feathers waterproof.
  • Secreting vitamin D precursors, which are converted into vitamin D when they come into contact with the sun. Then, the canary will reingest them it grooms itself.
  • These oils also have some antimicrobial effects.

So, canaries are far from being dirty. However, living in dry environments in people’s homes can dry out their features. This can lead to flaking and reduce the insulating effect of the features. It can even lead to infections. So, bathing is really important for canaries.

A yellow canary in a cage.

How do you bathe a canary?

The answer couldn’t be simpler. All you have to do is place a small bowl of water in your canary’s cage and they’ll do the rest. Generally, how much your canary needs to bathe will vary depending on the season:

  • In winter, they should bathe at least twice a week.
  • In summer, because of the heat and the risk of dehydration, they should have their bathing water available at least four times a week.

Ideally, you should place their bathing water in the cage in the morning. This is when they instinctively go to clean themselves. If they bathe themselves at night, they might go to sleep with wet feathers, and this can be risky in the long run.

The body temperature of most domestic birds is between 104 and 108°F. This means that it’s important to make sure that their water is warm so that they don’t suffer from the shock. It’s also important to make sure that their cage isn’t in a place where there are strong air currents. Otherwise, your canary will get cold immediately after bathing.

Finally, remove the bathing water from the cage as soon as you see that they’re finished. Otherwise, they might try to drink it, and since it’s likely to be dirty, this isn’t such a good idea.

It might seem obvious, but canaries can’t swim, so make sure the bowl isn’t too deep!

Water types and other considerations

Interestingly enough, there are different types of water that you might want to give to your canary for their bathing needs. Here are the most common:

  • Warm tap water for regular bathing. This is what you should give them most of the time.
  • Water with bath salts for canaries. Special bath salts for canaries can be an extra addition to help keep their feathers bright and protect their health. If you can, try to use them during the period when your canary is molting.
  • Vinegar water. Add a splash of apple cider vinegar to their bathing water every now and again. It acts as an antiparasitic.

It’s also important to mention that all canaries like bathing. If your bird shows a reluctance to bathe itself, you could use a spray or water mister on the cage a couple of times a week. This will make sure that you don’t stress your canary, especially if it’s just like a short rain shower.

An orange canary on a branch.

As you can see, bathing is certainly important for canaries and shouldn’t be underestimated. But simply placing a shallow bowl of water in their cage four times a week will keep them happy, healthy, and hygienic!

  • Baños para canarios, canaricultores.com. Recogido a 12 de noviembre en https://canaricultores.com/trucos-y-consejos/banos-para-canarios/