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Cold or warm feet?What 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 reliable result.

The common 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
This budgie feels very warmIf 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 its beak wide open? Your bird feels very warm if you observe all the mentioned aspects. In summer or after extensive flights this behaviour is quite usual. 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
Overweighed budgieIf 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.


Please note:
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 health problems.

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
Two sick budgiesWhen 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 take 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.

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