If your budgie is panting, you’ll find it breathing heavily with its beak partially or fully open. Its breathing will likely be accelerated or more strained than normal.
Temporary panting is normal after exercise, but unexplained rapid breathing is a problem.
Stress and fright can cause panting, which may be triggered by loud noises, poor husbandry, cage movement, and predatory animals. Also, budgies pant due to overheating as temperature rise.
If accompanied by sneezing and nasal discharge, panting can signify an upper respiratory infection. However, panting doesn’t always mean that your budgie is sick.
Why Is My Budgie Breathing Heavily?
Budgies have sensitive respiratory systems, so they can be prone to problems with their breathing.
According to Respiration Psychology, budgerigars’ lungs are notable for their thin membranes. Therefore, you may find that your budgie’s respiratory system is more reactive to stimuli than other birds.
As in other animals, panting helps a budgie regulate its body temperature. So, you may observe your budgie panting temporarily after heavy exercise, which is normal. However, if your budgie is always panting or breathing heavily for no obvious reason, something could be wrong.
If your budgerigar is panting, you may notice the following signs:
- Breathing with its beak slightly open
- Opening and closing its beak with each breath
- Breathing seems heavy or strained
- Breathing is faster than usual
- Rocking or bobbing the tail up and down with every breath
Your budgie may also show other symptoms of distress, illness, and panting, including audible breathing (clicking or wheezing sounds), unusual vocalizations, and reduced appetite.
Here are the most common reasons why budgies pant:
Many owners find that budgies begin to pant when released from their cages. In other cases, they may feel anxious being touched by people or being introduced to new environments.
Stressed and nervous panting is especially common among new pet budgies getting to know their owners. The same can happen when you move home or put your budgie in a different cage or room. Even something as simple as painting the budgie’s room a different color can cause anxiety.
Budgies are sensitive to modifications to their daily routine, e.g., when an owner changes work shifts. Also, loneliness, boredom, and a lack of mental stimulation can contribute to nerves and anxiety in birds.
Budgies will be scared by sudden, unexpected stimuli. Fear can also arise from being in a situation that your budgie perceives as dangerous, such as the following:
- Loud and sudden noises (e.g., a truck backfiring outside, loud music, a toddler screaming, fireworks).
- Storms (thunder and lightning), windy conditions, or hail.
- Predatory pets, such as cats and dogs.
- Strangers/unfamiliar people visiting the home.
- Cage being knocked or jostled.
Your budgie may have been scared by something outside of the home. If your budgie’s cage is near a window, it may have seen a cat or wild animal/predatory bird.
Budgies can have nightmares, inducing a night-time panic known as night fright. According to PLOS Biology, budgies experience REM sleep, which is when dreams occur.
Budgies can experience thermal stress or overheating, leading to heatstroke.
This condition is common among warm-blooded animals when the temperature remains unregulated. Panting heavily is one of the most obvious signs that a budgie is too hot.
The ideal room temperature range for a pet budgie is 70-75 degrees Fahrenheit. A temperature above 85 can cause discomfort, and overheating occurs at temperatures above 90 Fahrenheit.
According to the Journal of Comparative Psychology, other signs of overheating in budgies include yawning, wing venting, and fluttering.
A budgie that can’t cool down may experience heatstroke.
Your budgerigar may have a respiratory infection or undiagnosed illness.
Respiratory problems in budgies can be due to the following:
- Inhaling environmental toxins (e.g., fumes from vaporized cooking oil, cigarette smoke, aerosols, paint, or Teflon).
- Parasites, viruses, fungi, and bacteria.
- Underlying illnesses, such as tumors.
- Nutritional deficiencies, particularly a lack of vitamin A in the diet.
If your budgie has a respiratory infection, you may notice it panting or breathing heavily. You may hear a clicking or wheezing sound when it breathes. It may also have watery eyes, nasal discharge, or a cough.
The problem may not always be respiratory, as some budgies pant because they’re in pain. General signs of illness include ruffled feathers, closed eyes, and sitting on the cage floor (failing to perch).
How to Stop My Budgie from Panting
Here’s what you can do to help your budgie stop panting:
If your budgie is panting heavily when it’s out of its cage, return it immediately. It may be overwhelmed, and returning it to a safe environment will calm it down.
Reduce any stressors in your budgie’s environment that may be causing it anxiety. Try to reduce any noise around the budgie’s cage, and avoid making sudden movements.
Walk slowly near the cage and speak in a low, calm voice. Offer the budgie food, water, and toys or enrichment to keep it occupied.
Getting a second budgie can be beneficial if your budgie is distressed due to loneliness.
Fewer Fear Triggers
If your budgie appears to be scared of noise, light, or another obvious stimulus, turn it off or take it away.
If your budgie is frightened by another animal, baby, child, or stranger, move them to another room. To calm your budgie, place a blanket or covering over the cage.
You can cool off a budgie by turning on the AC or putting the cage in a cooler room. Alternatively, open the window slightly to increase airflow, but ensure the budgie is securely inside its cage.
Always provide your budgie with plenty of cool, clean water to drink. You can spray your budgie with cool water or give it a shallow dish of cool water to bathe in.
If a budgie has exercised during the day, give them time to rest. Ensure that they have access to food and water, and let them recuperate in their cage.
Contact an avian vet if your budgie continues to pant heavily. If your budgie is experiencing respiratory problems, it may need medication to clear up a respiratory infection.