With the help of the temperature of a budgie's feet, one can find out
a lot about the bird's state of health. Measuring a tame bird's temperature
is most simple since many budgies love to perch on their owner's
fingers or hands. Best results can be achieved when the bird is calm
and relaxed while you try to find out the temperature of its feet. If
a bird is upset or was just flying around a lot, his heart is beating
faster and the feet are a little warmer than usual. So you should always try to
measure the temperature of a completely relaxed bird for getting a
The common body temperature of a budgie is about 41°C in
the inner parts of its body. The feet's temperature in general is about
39°C. Just try to get familiar with the sensation the temperature
of a healthy budgie's feet cause when he stands on your hand the next
time. Keep in mind how it feels and use this temperature as the
reference respectively your budgie's personal average. You will be
able to notice any aberration from this average in the future.
Temporarily hot feet
If the feet are extremely hot, their temperature is higher than
40°C and the body temperature of the bird is elevated.
Now take a closer look to the plumage. Are the feathers very close to
the body and does the bird hold its wings as if he pretends that he
is an eagle (see photo on the right)? And does he breathe with his beak
wide open? Your budgie feels very warm if you observe all the mentioned
aspects. In summer or after extensive flights this behaviour is not unusual.
Or maybe your budgie was in panic just before you tried to find
out more about his temperature. Panic makes the heart beat faster and
also makes the body temperature rise. Shortly after the bird feared
something or after extensively flying around, the feet cool down until
they reach their average temperature. In summer you should offer
a cooler and shadowy place where your bird can take a rest.
Otherwise he is in danger of a heat stroke.
Hot feet for a longer period
If the budgie's feet remain hot for a longer period, most probably an
infection of the kidneys (nephritis) is the reason. As the organism of a bird
is not properly detoxicated due to the stricken kidneys, the body reacts with
a kind of "fever" and overheats. There is immediate call for action, the bird must
be brought to a vet as soon as possible. Any kind of infection which affect the kidneys
wear a budgie's body quickly so that bird is in great danger of losing his life if the
illness isn't treated.
Overweight budgies as the bird shown in this
paragraph always have slightly warmer feet than slim birds because their stored body fat
isolates the "core" of their bodies. Thus warm feet aren't necessarily a sign of an
illness concerning a podgy bird!
Temporarily cold feet
When cold feet appear only from time to time they can be a sign of
excitement or stress. Another possible explanation may be that the bird had a
bath right before one checked its temperature. If the plumage or even the feet are
wet, the body temperature is a bit lower than usual. Within a few minutes the temperature
should rise again when the bird is healthy, so there is no need to fear.
As one notices that the budgie's feet are cold for a few minutes several times a day
this could be a sign for a disturbance of the cardiovascular system.
The feet and toes are not sufficiently supplied with blood as a result of
such an illness. It is necessary to bring the bird to a vet or to an
alternative practitioner who is specializes in treating animals when those symptoms appear.
Cold feet for a longer time
When a budgie's feet are permanently cold, the bird seems to be apathetic,
the feathers are all fluffed up and he sleeps more than he in general does, he
most probably is suffering from a (severe) disease. It is recommended to bring
a sick bird to a vet as soon as possible to avoid further complications.
Nearly all diseases have one thing in common: A bird's body needs more energy
than the food releases to fight the bacteria, viruses or other pathogenic germ.
Therefore the body temperature drops, heating the body would "cost" too much energy.
Different from us humans birds do not show fever in most cases, they rather suffer from
insufficient temperature. Thus in most cases it is reasonable to help the bird
by placing an infrared heat lamp near the cage.