Why Do Parakeets Swell Up?


A parakeet who is properly cared for can live for 20 years. For your parakeet to live that long, however, you must understand his behaviors. A parakeet, also known as a budgie or a budgerigar, often swells or puffs his feathers because he's cold, sleeping or sick. Knowing why your parakeet is puffed up will help you determine whether he needs veterinary care.

A Cold Budgie

A parakeet will swell his feathers because he is cold. Fortunately, you can take several simple steps to help him to become and to stay warm.

  • Make sure his cage isn't in a drafty area, such as near a window.
  • Put a blanket over three sides of the cage to prevent a draft.
  • Keep the temperature in the room your bird inhabits between 70 and 80 degrees Fahrenheit.

A Sleeping Parakeet

You'll generally witness some puffing of feathers when parakeets are sleeping. Parakeets generally fluff their feathers and nestle their beaks and faces in their wings. A healthy parakeet will stand on one foot when he is sleeping. If your budgie is standing on two feet, he may be sick. Consult an avian veterinarian.


  • Birds typically need 12 hours of sleep nightly. Cover your parakeet's cage in the evenings, if he doesn't live in a room you can darken completely in the evenings, so he gets the sleep he needs to remain healthy.

A Sick Budgie

If your parakeet's puffing his feathers and he's neither obviously cold or sleeping, he may be sick. Seek immediate assistance from an avian veterinarian if your 'keet spends most of the day puffed up on his perch or if he's sleeping on both feet. Healthy budgies sleep standing on one foot. If he's sitting or lying on the floor of his cage, puffed up or not, take him to an avian vet as soon as possible.

If you aren't sure if he's puffed because he's sick, look for other common symptoms of illness:

  • He's bobbing his tail up and down while his feathers are swelled.
  • He appears lethargic and sleeps much of the day.
  • He repeatedly sneezes.
  • His personally begins to change.
  • He begins to lose weight or to pluck his feathers.

Egg Binding

A female parakeet may be fluffed up as the result of egg binding. Egg binding occurs when your parakeet has laid too many eggs and is simply too weak to push out an egg; it becomes stuck inside her. Signs that she is suffering from egg binding include fluffed up feathers, lying on the bottom of the cage, labored breathing and big, watery droppings. If your parakeet displays such symptoms, take her to an avian veterinarian immediately to increase her chances of survival.

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