There are two ways to approach the issue of touch.
First I feel like I have to mention that parakeets don’t necessarily like being touched by their humans. As I explored in when will my parakeet let me pet him, petting is not natural to a parakeet. They will groom each other and regurgitate, but unless they are engaged in mating behaviors, there’s not a lot of touching going on.
Many hand fed babies, probably males more than females, can be raised from an early age to enjoy some snuggles. But, when you’re starting out as a parakeet parent it’s not something you should expect your parakeet to enjoy, more a pleasant surprise if they do.
From my personal experience, my budgies would much prefer to be in control of the touching, they like to tap my fingernails with their beaks, groom my hair, walk all over me, etc., but if I try to even put a pinky on their necks they act as though I have violated a long-standing treaty. They are both girls, to be fair, and I know that girls tend to be much more standoffish.
The bottom line is that if you want a pet that’s going to cuddle up with you parakeets are not your best bet, although some will be cuddly.
Second would be facts about a parakeet’s sense of touch, quick research confirms that they have the same nerve endings that humans do, and are therefore able to feel pain. I know that parakeets are skilled at masking injuries and illness, so knowing that they do feel pain means we humans should take extra care to examine our budgies for injuries that they may not want us to see.
Parakeets are particularly talented at feeling vibrations, which would help keep them alive in the wild avoiding predators lumbering through the woods. Unfortunately, in the home this sensitivity to vibration is a major cause of night frights. I live on a busy road and there are trucks lumbering to the highway at all hours of the day and night, I assume that Toby and Kelly must have gotten used to them over time and no longer find it a cause for alarm. This talent for detecting vibration also helps hens know when their chicks are hatching.
Parakeets mostly use their beaks and feet to touch things. So it’s important they have a wide variety of stimulating objects to use and also to keep their beaks and nails trim. This can be achieved with different perches and toys. Particularly where there feet are concerned, if they don’t have perches with varying widths, textures and shapes their feet can get out of condition, causing muscle stiffness and ultimately atrophy. Since we know that parakeets feel pain, it is especially critical that we don’t allow this to happen by only offering smooth doweled wood or plastic perches of a single width.
The feet can also become very dry and crack, especially during winter, so make sure to frequently offer your parakeet a regular misting, bath, or even a shallow dish of water to run around in – whichever they prefer, or all three.
It’s important to stimulate all of the senses of your pet parakeet and touch is certainly no less important than the others. I have to admit that although I’ve been covering my bases, I really hadn’t put too much thought into their sense of touch. Going forward, I will be looking for new ideas for how to enhance their touching experience, without trying to give them a hug, of course!