can we learn from a bird's feet temperature? A lot, because it
indicates how healthy a bird is. At least in many cases. First of all
let me explain you how to "measure" the temperature of a bird's feet.
Well, this is fairly easy in case your bird is tame and likes to perch
on your finger or stand on your bare skin. Best results can be achieved when the bird is calm
and relaxed while you try to find out how the temperature of its feet
feels like. 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
core body temperature of a budgie and of many other pet bird species is
about 41°C. The feet's temperature in general is about
37 to 39°C. Just try to get familiar with the sensation the temperature
of a healthy budgie's feet cause while the bird stands on your hand the next
time. Keep in mind how it feels and use this sensation as the
reference respectively your bird's personal average. If you train this
situation, you will be
able to notice any aberration from this average in the future.
But what does an difference in temperature actually mean? You can find
further information on this topic below.
Temporarily hot feet
a bird's feet seem to be extremely hot, their temperature is higher than
40°C and the core body temperature is a bit too high.
Now take a closer look at the plumage. Are the feathers placed very close to
the body and does the bird hold its wings as if he pretends that he
is a soaring eagle (see photo on the right)? And does your bird breathe with
wide open? Your bird feels very warm if you observe all the mentioned
aspects. In summer or after extensive flights this behaviour is quite
Or maybe your bird was in panic just before you tried to find
out more about the temperature of its feet. Fear makes the heart beat faster and
also the body temperature rises. This effect is even stronger in case
the frightened bird has fled and flown through your house for a while.
But in in general, shortly after the bird feared
something or after an extensive flight the feet cool down quickly until
they reach their average temperature within a few minutes. If your bird
went through a situation that caused panic and an increased body
temperature, especially in summer you should offer
a cooler and shadowy place where your bird can take a rest.
Otherwise the animal is in danger of a heat stroke!
Hot feet for a longer period
If the budgie's feet remain
quite hot for a longer period, an
infection of the kidneys (nephritis) might be the reason for this. As the organism of a bird
is not properly detoxified by the wakened kidneys, the body reacts with
a kind of "fever" and overheats. If you think your bird might suffer
from a kidney disease, there is immediate call for action. Your bird
should be taken to an avian vet as soon as possible. Any kind of infection which affect the kidneys
wear a budgie's body quickly so that the bird is in great danger of losing
its life if the
illness isn't treated.
Overweight budgies as the blue bird shown in the
paragraph above tend to have slightly warmer feet than slim birds because their stored body fat
isolates their inner organs. Thus if you have to deal with a podgy bird,
warm feet aren't necessarily a sign of an illness. But regardless of
this fact an overweight budgie should be taken to a vet. It makes sense
to discuss a diet because on the long run overweight can cause severe
Temporarily cold feet
If cold feet appear only from time to time, this 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 is wet or
if the feet have been covered with water, the body temperature is often a bit lower than usual.
As long as a bird is healthy, the temperature should rise to a normal
point within a few minutes.
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.
Maybe the feet and toes are not sufficiently supplied with blood as a result of
such an illness. In case such symptoms occur, it is necessary to take the bird to an
avian vet or to an
alternative practitioner who is specializes in treating animals.
Cold feet for a longer period
When a budgie's feet are permanently cold, the bird seems to be apathetic,
the feathers are all fluffed up and the bird sleeps more than he or she in general does,
your feathered friend
most probably is suffering from a (severe) disease. It is recommended to
a sick bird to an avian vet as soon as possible. Only by doing so you
can make sure to avoid further complications.
Please keep in mind that nearly all diseases have one thing in common: A
bird's body needs more energy to fight the bacteria, viruses or other pathogenic germ
than its food provides.
Due to this the body lacks energy to keep the core temperature at its
general level - the temperature drops and the bird feels cold.
So unlike humans birds do not show fever in most cases, they rather suffer from
low temperature. Thus in most cases it is reasonable to support the bird
by placing an infra-red heat lamp near its cage. Please discuss this
heat therapy with your avian vet to make sure it is suitable for your
bird in the individual case.