The importance of substrate for parrots at Loro Parque Fundación

February 20th, 2021 | by Rafael Zamora Padron
The importance of substrate for parrots at Loro Parque Fundación

In Loro Parque Fundación we dedicate a specific importance to the floors of the enclosures. Knowing that some species of parrots descend to the ground on rare occasions. The danger of being hunted by predators makes them avoid this behavior. However, soil is important for Australian species, which mostly get seeds and water at this level.

It is also for other species in the rainforests, since it is in the soil where they obtain certain minerals that are suitable for their metabolism. Especially before the breeding season, it’s on the ground where, if they are in a group, usually spend some time of the day.

The contact with the soil in controlled environments is usually avoided by the breeders, since they reduce the risk of contact with parasites. In this, the Australian species are particularly sensitive and caution should be necessary. Although not for them they should be deprived of platforms where they can walk and develop their natural behaviors. We must remember that many cockatoos are excavators and locate tubers, seeds or even larvae that are part of their diet.

Most species should have novel elements available on the floor of the cage. Pieces of trunks, or hidden seeds,  that will allow them to dedicate themselves to looking for them in a part of the day. Achieving an environmental enrichment necessary for the exemplars to better use the space available.

Blue and gold macaw ( Ara ararauna) looking for hidden seeds on the substrate      M.Kortmann/ LPF

The natural soils can be of earth, sand, river stones or volcanic substrate, and each of them must be renewed, scrambled and cleaned regularly. Regular desinfección of substrates will prevent diseases.

In spacious enclosures the growth of annual, non-toxic plants is very desirable. Herbs such as dandelion (Taraxacum officinale) or the herb chickweed (Stellaria media) can make a big difference in the health of the specimens that consume them and more if they grow naturally giving a balance to the substrate.

If the cages are suspended, the use of internal trays with a little substrate will be very welcome by the parrots. In the case of the king parrots (Alisterus. sp) the trays with peat sterilized with some hidden seeds have a very interesting effect on the animals.

We must also remember that many parrots also take advantage of the dirt baths. That many species make them to eliminate external parasites from their body.

LPF Advice: Keep in mind to adapt the concepts to the reality of your aviaries.

Author: Rafael Zamora Padrón, Scientific Director of LPF

Title photo: M.Kortmann/ LPF, Lear Macaw looking for seeds on the substrate     


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