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This information is provided by Provet for educational purposes only.

You should seek the advice of your veterinarian if your pet is ill as only he or she can correctly advise on the diagnosis and recommend the treatment that is most appropriate for your pet.

Water is a very important nutrient for birds and a fresh, clean, uncontaminated supply should always be available

If a bird is deprived of water it can die within a few days. There are three ways in which a bird can obtain its daily water intake :

  • In the food that it eats. This is the only route by which fledglings can get water until they learn how to drink. Some foods are naturally high in water content - eg fruits, mammalian prey , whereas other foods eg seeds are low in moisture content.
  • From drinking at a water source. If water is provided in an artificial container it should be positioned to minimise the chances of faecal contamination, and it should be deep enough that the bird (especially waterfowl) can immerse its bill under the water. Ideally waterfowl should have access to running water.
  • By absorption across the skin - this occurs in waterfowl

Except for pigeons, birds can not suck up water - they need to get the water in their bills and hold their head up so the water runs down into their throat by gravity

Water intake generally increases if the environmental temperature goes up, and if the bird exercises more and the volume required varies from one species to another: 

  • Small birds:
    • budgerigars drink about 5ml/day
    • canaries drink about 3ml/day
    • Others may drink up to 20ml/100g body weight per day.
  • Larger birds may drink less eg pigeons may drink 10--12ml/100g body weight per day
  • Waterfowl - about 1 litre of water per kg body weight per day needs to be administered when hand feeding, and water should be provided at less than 15oC. In fact water intake will decrease if the water temperature is too high - such as occurs if containers are left in direct sunlight, and this can be detrimental and cause gastrointestinal upsets


Updated January 2016