what budgies should smell like

The glorious smell of budgies – what budgies should smell like

Pet owners who have cared for small pets in the rodent or reptile family may wonder what budgies should smell like, considering other small pets can have such a strong odor. Budgies are a totally different ball game, not only do they have a particularly lackluster sense of smell, but they don’t produce odor themselves. Under good conditions, what budgies smell like is nothing, what they rub their heads on, or what they eat.

This extends to their poop as well, if your budgie’s poop is smelly then he may be ill and you should seek veterinary care. Literally, you should be able to not clean your cage(s) for weeks (totally not recommended) and it should not smell. If it does smell and you have been feeding fruits and vegetables look to see if you’ve missed some scraps of food that are rotting. Also, watch out for ants!

Typically, I find that my parakeets smell like very mild citrus, which is pleasant and comes from their seed mix. For a while I was freaked out because Toby smelled like tomato soup, at the time I was trying her on Roudybush Pellets and it turns out those smell like tomato soup to me.

Another cause of transient smell can be eating fresh vegetables and fruits. After Kelly eats broccoli she has very distinct and fairly gross broccoli breath. That makes sense because the broccoli is hanging out in her crop for a while with her hulled seeds, basically composting itself. If that smell persisted it would be another sign of illness such as a crop infection, impaction, or sour crop.

Persistent bad breath can be a sign of other internal issues as well. If your budgie has a foul odor coming out of its mouth that can’t be tied to eating something and lingers beyond a day then it is probably time to find an avian vet and get a diagnosis and treatment.

For anyone who’s been wary of getting a budgie due to the potential of bad odors, fear not! Their lack of smell is part of what makes a budgie an excellent pet for a smaller space/apartment, in my opinion. And for those of us who are already budgie owners, keep your nose at semi-alert, a new odor on or around your budgie can be an excellent first warning of illness or habitat conditions like rotting food that need to be remedied.

Disclaimer: As always, I’m not a vet and I’m not qualified to diagnose or provide recommendations for medical treatment of your pets. When in doubt, seek the expertise of an avian vet.

16 thoughts on “The glorious smell of budgies – what budgies should smell like”

    1. So interesting! I have to give mine a good sniff directly after their next bath. Although this week was cilantro in a dish of water so I bet they smelled like tacos! LOL.

  1. I love the faint scent of budgie body odor. My birds let me nuzzle their neck feathers. Hen budgies have more of a veggie or celery scent while males smell a little more like talcum powder or in Pradeep’s sutuation, he smells sort of like a chicken. I found a Facebook group devoted to Sniffing parrots.

  2. My budgies don’t smell except when they are really close to my nose. And the smell is glorious. It is a warm sandy clean smell that I love.

    1. No, they do not smell like anything naturally, but they can smell like their food, like stinky breath after eating broccoli.

    1. That’s pretty unusual. What does your bird eat for their primary diet? Do they seem otherwise healthy?

    1. Hmm, that’s odd. Are the cages kept pretty well clean with no old food (fruits and vegetables) left in them?

      Also, what is being used to line the bottom of the cages? I use a thick weight craft paper which doesn’t have an odor, but if you’re using a shredded substrate of some type that might have an odor when it gets wet?

      I’m not sure that’s any help, but good luck finding the source of the smell!

  3. My son has 2 budgies. One of them doesn’t smell. The other one smells like spoiled milk on the top of its head. The cage does not stink. We feed them a mix of fresh fruit and veggies, sprinkled with seeds on it. Plus we feed them Millet as a treat a couple times a day. What is the cause of the smell?

    1. That’s an interesting mystery. It’s good that it’s just the top of his head that smells, if the smell was coming out of his beak/mouth I would be concerned that he had some kind of infection and needed veterinary care.

      Does the budgie bathe? Is it possible that he got some food mess on the top of his head and it’s now started to smell a bit rank?

      Outside of that I’m not sure what would cause the top of his head to smell off like that, unless he’s rubbing it on something that smells like spoiled milk? How about cuttlebone or mineral block? Even a toy might have a gross smell to it.

      Best of luck finding the source of the smell.

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