Do Birds Fart or Burp? What’s That Stink?

Do birds fart or burp?

Do birds fart? Once you get your first pet bird, there are many things that you will soon discover about your little friend. While there are many things to keep in mind about their upkeep, you might soon start wondering if birds fart or burp… especially if you had just heard or smelt something from them!

Birds are truly sensational animals. They are curious, intelligent, and often exhibit behavior that is totally out of the blue. The most exciting thing about being a bird parent is to come across their unique set of features and abilities that will surely blow your mind. Many bird owners often wonder whether birds fart or burp!

Interestingly, there is no reason to believe that birds do not fart or burp. However, the simple reason why it hasn’t been readily detected in these species is that it simply does not require to perform this activity or have this impulse. But your bird can sometimes make you believe that they are farting or burping, but there are perfect explanations for these. Keep reading to get all your answers regarding your bird’s fart or burp. 

Do birds fart?

To answer this question quite simply, birds do not fart. The digestive process in birds and mammals like humans is vastly different. Not only can birds digest their food much faster than human beings they are also smaller in size. This means that their intestinal tract is much shorter, so digestion can happen quicker in birds compared to humans. 

If you are still wondering if birds fart at all, it is not that they do not, but simply that they do not need to. Birds defecate much frequently than humans, sometimes even after every 10 to 15 minutes. The reason why farts are produced by humans is that the food remains in the digestive tract for too long for it to get fermented and produce gas. This gas is later released as a fart or burp. However, since birds defecate more frequently, the food does not remain in the digestive tract long enough for it to get fermented and produce gas. 

While veterinarians have discovered that birds do possess all the anatomical and physical prerequisites for passing gas, they simply do not need to do so. Another reason that will help to understand it better is by looking into the bacteria that remain in their digestive tract. The bacteria that produce gas in humans during the process of digestion are not the ones that are found in a parrot’s gut. Since they do not have such gas-forming bacteria, they simply do not have anything to pass. 

Do birds burp?

Did you know that both farts and burps are mechanisms used by an animal’s body to pass wind that is created during that time of digestion? So, a fart and a burp are very closely connected! Now when it comes to an understanding about whether birds can burp, there is not much agreement or evidence to prove whether birds release any gaseous buildup through their mouth or not.

As already mentioned, the composition of gut bacteria is not the same for birds as it is for humans. They have a significantly less proportion or an absence of gas-producing bacteria which leads to less or no build-up of gases that need to be released. This means that they do not feel the requirement to release gases through burping.

However, the kind of gut bacteria present in birds varies from one species to another. The type of gut bacteria in wild birds, for example, is very different from that of a chicken. They actually have a greater diversity of bacteria in their gut in comparison to humans. In the human guts, a specific type of bacteria known as Bacteroidetes is in abundance, which actually leads to the production of gas during the process of digestion. Hence humans feel the need to burp or fart from time to time while birds do not. 

Gut bacteria in birds

The kind of bacteria that lives in the gut of a bird varies from species to species and, in particular, from organism to organism. The gastrointestinal microbes play a very important role in nutrient uptake, maintaining health, detoxification, and interaction with the immune system. Hence gut bacteria, like in humans, have a very important role to play in birds as well. 

One thing that has to be kept in mind is that there are a wide variety of gut bacteria that may be present in birds. The kind of bacteria that remains in wild birds or even in domesticated ones depends on a variety of factors. It is associated with factors such as physiology to even migratory behavior. The kind of microbes found is also sometimes specific to certain species. In general, there are a number of intrinsic as well as extrinsic factors associated with the gut bacteria available in birds. 

For example, the most important and widely available bacteria in captive parrots can be put into three significant phyla: Proteobacteria, Firmicutes, and Actinobacteria. However, it is to be kept in mind that the kind of gut bacteria present may vary among species but also in the same species among organisms. Some of the most important external factors associated with the presence of gut bacteria include food resources, living environment, and behavioral factors such as social interactions and migration. On the other hand, the intrinsic factors include phylogenetic history, physiology, health, diet, reproduction, and fitness. 

How birds get rid of excess gas in their bodies

Since there are not many reasons to believe or research that can prove that parrots farting is a natural phenomenon, you may be wondering how birds expel any gas that might get built up in the body. As we have already discussed, birds do not have the necessary bacteria that create gas. This means that they are not really required to get rid of excess gas from the body. 

However, if gas built up ever happens, it is generally expelled while they are urinating or defecating. This can be observed as little bubbles in the excrement from time to time. However, if you see that it is happening too often or notice bigger bubbles, it may be a signal of some kind of health issue that needs to be looked into immediately.  

What is that farting sound my bird is making?

Parrots have the ability to create sounds and even whole words mimicking their owner. Since birds like parrots have the ability to mimic sounds, they often make farting or burping sounds that are actually sound like the real deed! Parrots have the ability to change the shape and depth of their vocal organs. This gives them the ability to produce various sounds such as running water (my lovebird, Loki, loves making this sound), a barking dog (like this funny cockatoo), or a phone’s ringtone (like this cockatiel). It is also well-known that they can also articulate proper words if trained. 

My lovebird, Loki, makes low farting noises whenever she is given comfortable head scratches, as if someone was trying to fart discreetly. The first time I heard it, I did a double take as I had thought that she was farting! However, she was actually making the sound of low purring, denoting contentment. 

Hence if you are confused about farting or burping sounds coming from your parrots, it is most likely just their fantastic mimicking abilities!

If my bird doesn’t fart, why does it stink?

Some of the reasons why people started initially questioning whether parrots fart or burp, was because they can sometimes get really stinky. However, this does not have to do anything with the burping or farting abilities. All animals have a layer of the microbiome on their skin and feathers, and birds are no exception. This gives them a characteristic light smell which can sometimes get a little peculiar, especially after a bath while they’re still wet.

If you have been in close contact with your pet or other animals, you will know that they do have a smell that is actually very normal. Humans do too, but we often mask it with fragrances and perfumed shower gels, so we hardly smell it on ourselves. Loki stinks like a wet dog after her baths, while Freya smells slightly sweet and Bibi smells like dust. The kakapo, a flightless parrot from New Zealand, has a distinct musty-sweet scent especially in male birds for location purposes. Unfortunately, this scent also lures predators which led to them being easily hunted. There is even a Bird Sniffers Club where people describe the various scents that they have sniffed from their birds!

On the other hand, if you notice that your bird is smelling uncharacteristically strongly, then it might be a sign of illness, and you must take them to a veterinarian for immediate diagnosis and treatment. 

Kakapo Strigops habroptila “Sirocco” amongst renga renga lillies. Maud Island, New Zealand.

Final notes

It is not out of the ordinary to wonder if birds fart or burp, and there is nothing to be embarrassed about if you’ve ever wondered this! It is actually the sign of a great bird owner who is always curious about learning more about your bird. Here’s a quick recap of what you should keep in mind about this topic:  

  • It is believed that birds have the anatomy required to fart. However, they do not fart because they simply do not need to pass gases. Gases do not form in their gut during digestion. 
  • Similarly, birds do not burp since they poop much more regularly than humans, which means that the food cannot remain in the digestive tract for long enough to be fermented, producing gas that needs to be passed. 
  • The gut bacteria in birds vary significantly from those in humans. They do not have gas-producing bacteria which means that they do not need to burp or fart. However, if they need to release excess gas, they do so while defecating. 
  • Birds can sometimes produce farting or burping noises which they learn through mimicking their owner or other family members. 
  • All birds have a natural odor that can become stronger when they are wet and is generally not because of a fart. 

Encountered a faux farting or burping incident with your parrot? Share your anecdote with us in the comments section!

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