If you are a new parakeet owner, then one of the first questions you will ask is if they require water. As a small bird, they vary considerably in terms of diet and requirements, so it is only natural to question their demands and needs for hydration. Knowing how important water is is for us humans, I decided to conduct some research into the topic to help you take the best care and to properly look after your pet parakeet. I would like to share this information with you here today.
So, do parakeets need water? Parakeets do need to drink water. It is crucial for them, like it is us. However, birds drink very little water compared to humans and require a lot less. This is because of their relative size and the fact that they do not have any sweat glands. This means that they do not lose water through perspiration. Parakeets roughly require water twice per day, through their food and drinking. Although this does vary depending on their size and age.
Let us now take a closer look at the hydration requirements of parakeets and how you can ensure that they are getting enough to live a healthy and happy life.
What Kind Of Water Do Parakeets Need?
If you own a pet bird, one of the best things that you can do is to provide them with the best quality food and water that you can.
A common question regularly raised by owners is whether tap water is safe for parakeets.
Having spoken to several bird experts and veterinarians on the topic, for the most part tap water should be safe for parakeets. It is not ideal, but it should not cause them any significant or long term harm.
However, it is generally advised that you prepare the water in advance and do all you can to minimize and reduce some of the chemicals found and present within tap water.
Remember, tap water naturally occurs and is treated with chemicals (including chlorine, fluoride) to remove impurities and other dangerous elements. These chemicals will of course enter your parakeet and due to their relative size, these chemicals pose a more significant threat than they would to us humans. The dose of these chemicals is therefore significantly higher comparatively to us.
To prepare tap water there are a couple of things that you can do:
#1: Filter the water using a filtering system like a Brita
These are relatively inexpensive, and you can get them for good prices on Amazon. all you need to do is add the water and let the water sit in the filter for a small period of time.
This will automatically filter out and remove chemicals and then you can easily add the water to your parakeets water dispenser/bowl. the benefits of using a system like Brita is that the process is very fast and you can do this soon before you need to top up your parakeets water
- The BPA-free UltraMax water dispenser holds 18 cups of water, enough to fill six 24-ounce reusable water bottles
- Get great tasting water without the waste. By switching to Brita, you can save money and replace 1,800 single-use plastic water bottles* a year
- This space efficient filtered water dispenser fits perfectly on refrigerator shelves, features an easy locking lid and precision pour spigot; Height 10.47"; Width 5.67"; Length/Depth 14.37"; Weight 3 pounds
- Brita is the #1 water filter** reducing chlorine (taste & odor), Mercury, Copper, Zinc and Cadmium; always get cleaner***, filtered water with an electronic indicator that makes filter reminders effortless
- Compatible with Longlast and Standard water filters; for the freshest tasting water, replace your Longlast filter after 120 gallons or approximately every 6 months or Standard filter after 40 gallons or approximately every 2 months; *16.9 oz water bottle; **Based on IRA data; ***vs tap
#2: Filter the water over time
Another more affordable option is to let the tap water sit over a period of 8 hours. By leaving the water to sit and to settle, the amount of fluoride and chlorine will naturally reduce making it more safe for your parakeet.
It goes without saying that you should never give your parakeet old, stale or dirty water. A good rule of thumb is that if it is safe for you to drink, it should be safe for your parakeet too.
If you have the budget, you can of course offer natural spring mineral water (ensure it is non-carbonated) and this will prevent the need to filter out altogether.
How Much Water Do Parakeets Drink?
Parakeets are small birds, only reaching around 30-40 grams and 18-20 cms when fully grown.
As such, their requirement for water is very little, and it is nowhere near the amount you may expect or would think they need.
Additionally, birds do not have sweat glands. This means that their requirement for water is reduced as they are not losing any through perspiration.
The reason why they do require some water, is because as they are living, they do lose water through breathing (respiration) and through their excrement (poop and urine).
Parakeets, and birds of a similar size, will need to drink a small amount of water twice a day to replace to remain hydrated and replace all lost water.
How To Ensure Your Parakeet Drinks Enough
To ensure your parakeet gets enough water, you should be sure to provide easily accessible water dispensers and hang them up in their cage appropriately.
There are two distinct styles and ways you can keep your parakeets hydrated. Using open water bowls and water dispensers. Either work well and are effective for parakeets and other small birds. Its just down to your personal preference. They both hook onto your cage so are easy to set up, remove and replace.
Dispensers generally work well if you do not want to spill any water into the cage and they are easy to replace.
Bowls enable you to provide more water at a time and are easier for your parakeets to access, but you do run the risk of spilling and not getting a clear visual as to how much is left.
Either way, be sure to regularly refill and monitor. Check to ensure that your parakeets have plenty of access to water at all times and that dispensers have not clogged up or fail to dispense over time.
Its a good idea to provide water in several places across the cage too, so that your parakeets have the choice and ability to get water at all times when required.
You may observe that your parakeet does not drink whilst you are in their company. Interestingly, parakeets do not like to eat and drink whilst their owners are nearby. So to ensure they are drinking enough give them some space from time to time.
Also if you have never seen your parakeet drink, its not always a cause of alarm. Just check their water bowls/dispensers regularly and monitor changes in their respective levels.
How Can I Tell If My Parakeet Is Dehydrated?
Parakeets will never overtly ‘tell you’ that they are dehydrated. There will be no specific noises or calls that we can use to identify if they are thirsty or in need of water.
However, there are some surefire ways to tell that your parakeet is not okay and these signs and symptoms could indicate that they are dehydrated.
Here are some signs and symptoms to look out for:
- Not wanting to be petted, held, and moving away from you when you are by the cage.
- Lack of singing, chirping and general noises.
- Weakness and general lethargy – a lack of movement, activity and exercise is often evident.
- Discoloring of feathers, or other body abnormalities.
- Aversion to food and interestingly, sometimes water.
- More time spent sleeping and at the bottom of the cage.
- Visible symptoms like sunken eyes and reduced skin elasticity.
- Elimination issues, and difficulty passing droppings.
The problem is, these signs and symptoms often overlap with other illnesses so it may not be dehydration per se.
Moreover, dehydration often accompanies other illnesses and forms of sickness so it may not be something you can resolve for your parakeet with water consumption alone.
If you suspect dehydration, then it is usually a sign that something more significant is occurring. The best thing you can do is to get medical attention immediately.
You do not have much time with a parakeet when it comes to helping them overcome illness, and dehydration is considered a dangerous state for all birds.
Visit your vet at the earliest opportunity and they will be able to provide fluid therapy that will help to raise the hydration levels. They’ll also be able to spot and detect other illnesses which may be inadvertently causing the dehydration to begin with.
Parakeets do need water, just not as much as other mammals. They will generally drink 2-3 times a day, and this will provide them with the hydration they need.
While they may not drink in your company, ensure you are providing enough, easily accessible water, and be sure to monitor the levels over time. Provide fresh water as often as needed and consider investing in a good quality water filter to ensure you are removing as many toxic chemicals and elements from your parakeets drinking water.
While tap water should be safe, its better to provide filtered/un-sparkling (non-carbonated) mineral water. A brita system will save you a lot of time, otherwise you may need to let the water sit for a period of time.
Ultimately, be logical about it. If water is not safe for you it will definitely not be safe for your pet parakeet.
I am a practiced pet owner with decades of experience owning a number of different pets. I am also the main writer and chief editor here at Pet Educate; a site I created to share everything I’ve learned about pet ownership over the years and my extensive research along the way.