Are Parakeets Sensitive to Smell?

How to take Care of a Parakeet Beginners Guide to Pet Birds

Once upon a time, a charming little creature named Kiwi lived in a world filled with vibrant colours and melodious sounds. Kiwi was a parakeet, a bird known for its vivacious personality and captivating beauty. Every morning, Kiwi would greet the day with a cheerful song, filling the air with joyous notes that echoed through the quiet dawn.

Kiwi’s world was a symphony of sounds and a tapestry of smells. From the sweet aroma of fresh fruits to the earthy scent of his wooden perch, Kiwi was surrounded by many odours. But, unlike humans, with our keen sense of smell, Kiwi and his fellow parakeets experienced the world of scents differently.

You see, parakeets are not known for their olfactory prowess. They don’t rely on their sense of smell for survival as some animals do. But does that mean they are completely oblivious to the world of odours? Are they immune to the effects of strong, artificial scents that fill our modern homes? Or are they, in their own unique way, sensitive to smells?

Are Parakeets Sensitive to Smell?

While parakeets don’t possess the same olfactory prowess as some animals, they do have a sense of smell. Their olfactory capabilities are not as developed as those of humans or certain other animals, but they can detect and react to various odours in their environment. However, their primary senses are sight and hearing, which they rely on for survival and communication.

It’s also important to note that certain strong or artificial smells, such as those from chemicals or smoke, can harm parakeets, potentially causing respiratory or other health problems. Therefore, while their sensitivity to smells may not be as acute as ours, it’s still crucial to their overall well-being.

What Smells Are Harmful to Parakeets?

Parakeets, with their vibrant plumage and lively personalities, are a joy. However, these feathered friends have delicate respiratory systems that certain smells can adversely affect.

As parakeet parents, it’s crucial to understand what these harmful smells are to ensure the health and happiness of our avian companions.

1. Chemical Odors

Chemical odours, especially those from household cleaning products, can harm parakeets. These products often contain harsh chemicals that, when inhaled, can cause respiratory distress in parakeets. This includes products like bleach, ammonia-based cleaners, and even certain air fresheners.

When cleaning your home, opting for bird-safe cleaning products or natural alternatives like vinegar and baking soda is best.

2. Smoke

Smoke, whether from cigarettes, fireplaces, or burnt food, is another harmful smell to parakeets. The particles in smoke can irritate a parakeet’s respiratory system, leading to coughing, sneezing, and in severe cases, respiratory infections.

If you’re a smoker, it’s best to smoke outside, away from your parakeet. Similarly, ensure your bird is in a well-ventilated area away from the kitchen when cooking.

3. Non-Stick Cookware Fumes

Non-stick cookware, while convenient for us, can be deadly for parakeets. When overheated, non-stick pans release a type of gas called polytetrafluoroethylene (PTFE) toxic to birds. This can lead to a condition known as ‘Teflon toxicity’, which can cause severe respiratory distress and even death in parakeets.

Therefore, it’s best to avoid using non-stick cookware around your parakeet or ensure they are in a different room when cooking.

4. Scented Candles and Air Fresheners

While scented candles and air fresheners might make your home smell like a garden in spring, they’re not the best for your parakeet.

When burned or sprayed, these products often contain chemicals that can release toxins harmful to parakeets. Opt for unscented candles and natural air fresheners instead.

5. Paint and Varnish Fumes

The strong odors from paint and varnish can also be harmful to parakeets. These products contain volatile organic compounds (VOCs) that can cause respiratory issues in birds.

If you plan to paint or varnish something in your home, ensure your parakeet is in a well-ventilated area, away from the fumes.

Can Strong Odors or Perfumes Bother Parakeets?

Indeed, strong odors or perfumes can bother parakeets. These birds have delicate respiratory systems that can easily irritate by intense, artificial scents. Perfumes, colognes, and even some scented personal care products can cause discomfort to parakeets. They may react by sneezing, showing signs of distress, or trying to move away from the source of the smell. In some cases, prolonged exposure to such strong odors can lead to respiratory issues.

It’s also worth noting that the chemicals in these products, when inhaled, can potentially harm parakeets. Therefore, avoiding heavily scented products around your parakeet is advisable to ensure their comfort and well-being.

Are Scented Candles or Air Fresheners Safe Around Parakeets?

While scented candles and air fresheners can make your home smell pleasant, they are unsafe around parakeets. The issue lies in the chemicals used to create those enticing scents. When these products are used, they can release toxins into the air. Parakeets, with their delicate respiratory systems, are highly sensitive to these airborne chemicals.

Prolonged exposure can lead to health issues, including respiratory distress. Therefore, avoiding scented candles and air fresheners in your home is recommended if you have a parakeet. Instead, consider using bird-safe alternatives or natural ventilation to keep your home smelling fresh.

How Do Parakeets React to Different Scents?

Parakeets react to different scents in various ways due to their smell sensitivity. While their olfactory system isn’t as developed as humans, they can still detect and react to certain odors. Strong, artificial smells, such as those from cleaning products or perfumes, can cause discomfort.

Signs of this discomfort can include sneezing, coughing, or even attempting to move away from the source of the smell. On the other hand, natural smells, like fresh fruits and vegetables, can attract them as these are part of their natural diet. However, it’s important to note that not all parakeets may show visible signs of distress, even if they’re affected by a particular smell. They’re not as vocal about their discomfort as humans, so we must ensure their environment is as odor-free as possible.

Precautions to Odor-Free Environment for My Parakeet?

Rose Ringed Parakeets in the rain

1. Avoid Strong-Smelling Cleaning Products

Many cleaning products have strong chemical odors that can be harmful to parakeets. Instead, opt for bird-safe cleaning alternatives. These products are usually unscented and free from harmful chemicals, making them a safer choice for your parakeet’s environment.

2. Say No to Air Fresheners and Scented Candles

While air fresheners and scented candles can make your home smell lovely, they can harm parakeets. The chemicals that create those pleasant scents can release toxins when burned or sprayed. Opt for natural odor absorbers like baking soda or simply open a window for fresh air.

3. Be Careful in the Kitchen

Cooking can release a variety of smells, some of which can be harmful to parakeets. Non-stick cookware, for instance, can release toxic fumes to birds. When cooking, it’s best to ensure your parakeet is in a different room, away from potential harmful odors.

4. Smoke Outside

Cigarette smoke is harmful to parakeets. Smoking outside or in a separate room away from your feathered friend is best if you’re a smoker. This will help to keep their environment smoke-free and healthy.

5. Regular Cage Cleaning

Regularly cleaning your parakeet’s cage can help to maintain an odor-free environment. However, avoid using strong-smelling cleaners. Warm water and mild, unscented soap can do the job effectively.


While parakeets may not have the same olfactory prowess as us humans, they are indeed sensitive to smells. Certain odors can harm them, while others can attract or repel them.

We can ensure a safe and odor-free environment for our feathered friends by taking simple precautions. After all, a happy parakeet is a chirpy parakeet!

Written by Justin Michaels

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