Tuesday, June 28, 2011

How do budgies keep cool in the Summer?

We're currently experiencing a heatwave in Belgium, which makes life hard for everyone. Old people, children, everyone's wishing it was Winter again. "How do budgies manage to stay cool?" my fiancé asked me today, so I went to find out.

Image © Triplej Australia
It appears that budgies in general are well adapted to hot climates: they have been surviving in the hottest parts of Australia for millions of years.

But:

Budgies have a higher body temperature than humans (common temperature of 41°C) and a higher metabolic rate. Their body size is quite small, so you would think they absorb the heat very quickly. Budgies spend all their activity during the day so that they really have to control their body heat to keep from overheating!

How can they stay cool?

Physical evolution to withstand the heat in Australia:
  • A fast respiration rate (which allows greater heat dissipation through breathing)
  • Bare feet, which may sound silly, but it also contributes to heat loss
Otherwise, budgies are very hardy little creatures and basically do the same thing humans do when they try to stay cool:
  • Keep their activity level down compared to regular days, when the air is cooler
  • Sleep/take naps
  • Hide in the trees when it's too warm during the day
  • Panting: just like dogs, budgies also pant to dissipate heat
  • Bathing, of course, helps to cool their bodies down. It also keeps their feathers clean.
  • When a cool breeze provides some relief from the heat, budgies may puff out their feathers or flutter their wings to let the circulating air reach their hot skin.
  • Survive, no matter how hot it gets!
Some types of food can quickly go rancid in the Summer. Photo © Kurt Kolar's "Grasparkieten"
You have to take good care of the budgies you keep at home, because they can get really hot during the Summer. Don't keep them right under the roof where the sun burns the hardest. Make sure they have a shelter in the shade, where they can go regularly. Provide them refreshment under the form of a bird bath or make them wet with a plant sprayer. Also make sure they have enough nutritious food and give them some fresh fruit on the side. Don't forget to keep an extra eye out for hygiene, because certain types of food can quickly go rancid in the Summer. These small things will be very much appreciated by your budgies on hot days like this.

    1 comment:

    1. This information will come in handy for Belgian budgies ;) Thanks!

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