Winter Heating and Budgie / ParakeetParakeets are tropical birds. In the wild they live on the grasslands of Australia, hanging out in trees, soaring in the sky, enjoying the sunshine. The average temperature ranges between 60F and 80F. Remember that keets in the wild are able to seek shade if they need to, and do not have drastic changes where it goes from 80F to 60F instantly. While they can fluff their feathers up to stay warm, they were simply not meant for freezing cold temperatures. They are not penguins!
This can pose a problem for individuals who live in very cold, drafty houses. Both the cold temperature and the sharp breezes can cause damage to a parakeet's health. While a human can put on snuggly pajamas and pile quilts on top of them, a parakeet is stuck!
Here are some ideas for keeping your parakeet safe and warm in the winter.
You won't know how cold it gets without a thermometer. They have cheap $2 thermometers at WalMart and other stores that have a "minimum memory". That is, if it gets down to 50F overnight, it will show you that minimum 50F value as one of its readings when you wake up the next morning even if the temperature has gone back up to 60F by then. It's really important to have a thermometer that tracks minimum values. That way you always know "how bad" it gets in the dead of night, and can take steps to fix the problem if there is one.
There are many "fuzzy bird tubes" out there that birds can go into and sleep in. The trick here is if your bird will actually go into it. Birds are very unique and one bird might adore a bird tube while another might hate it with a passion. If your room is cold, it might at least be worth a try. Put some yummy millet into the tube and give your bird a few weeks to get used to it. Your keet might be afraid of it at first, but over time your keet might adore sleeping in it. Then again, your keet might simply decide she hates it. It is all up to your bird's unique mentality!
Part of the benefit, if your bird does adapt to a bird snugglie, is that they can go in and out based on their own needs. So they can warm up or cool down on their own schedule.
The first step for keeping out breezes and drafts, and to provide some insulation for the keet, would be a heavy blanket to put over the cage at night. Just like a tent keeps you warm when you camp, a blanket will provide a barrier against breezes and allow the air within the cage to stay still. This means the keet's body - as small as it is - can warm up that air and keep it slightly warmer than it might be otherwise. It's like a big sleeping bag, in essence. If you're not currently covering your keet's cage at night, this is an important first step.
You might think that heat rises - but actually cold air falls! Cold air is denser than warm air, so when air warms up, the cold air above it is too heavy to stay up there and heads down. Over time it keeps going down, leaving only warm air in the area. The key here is again to cover the cage first - and put a heating pad beneath the cage. That way as the cold air sinks, the warm air stays within the cage, keeping your keet warm.
Of course make sure you use a safe heating pad. You don't want to set your keet on fire! Make sure there is no way for the keet to get her beak on the pad or wires to chew on them. Keets love to chew, of course, and you don't want your keet anywhere near something with electricity in it.
Homemade Heating Pad
If you want to have a cheap version, I have a "neck warmer" which is simply a sock of cloth filled up with hard rice. You simply microwave it for a minute or so and it says warm for a half hour. You can do the same thing for your keets, make a pillow of rice and use your microwave to warm it up. As always, make sure it is not TOO hot before you put it near your keets.
The way many rooms get cold is that cold air works its way in through windows. Something I did at many chilly apartments was to seal the windows with plastic as soon as winter approached. You tape the plastic around all edges of the window. It is *amazing* how much warmer the room stays. You save tens if not hundreds of dollars in heating costs. You can buy the plastic very cheaply at many stores, and you easily save that money in just a few weeks. This is good not only for your keet's health but for your own as well.
Even if you do plastic coat your windows, always have thick curtains. You can get cheap, heavy fabric from a store and make your own! The heavy curtains can definitely make a big difference in retaining heat at night.
Cold air is notorious for seeping down along the base of doors. Make some snakes in the same way you make a heating pad - with a "sock" of cloth filled with rice. Line the bottoms of your doors with them. You'll be amazed at how well it helps to control drafts.
Be very careful with in-room heaters that radiate heat. Some of these can get quite hot, and if your keet gets loose she could get burned and seriously injured. If this ends up being a necessary step for you, be sure to research the heater options carefully and to supervise your keet with great caution when she is out of the cage.
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