Motion sickness is caused by disorientation. When you are still and seated in a vehicle, but you can see and hear the world whizzing by, a confused signal is sent to your brain. The inner ear knows that you’re moving, yet you are motionless. The result is sweating, nausea, and vomiting. Though it seems like a trick of the mind, it is very real and quite unpleasant. Parrots, like people, can be affected during travel.
There really aren’t any rules regarding motion sickness. Some are affected by it, others aren’t. Some eventually get sick during a long drive, while others feel the effects almost immediately.
Before you take a long, possibly uncomfortable trip with your parrot, it is advisable that you take shorter ones with her to see how she reacts to riding in the car. Start with quick 15 minute trips and build up the duration to help increase her tolerance to travel. You might be well into an out of state trip before she begins to get sick.
If you do determine that your bird is affected by motion sickness, you will want to see that you travel with her on an empty stomach. Remove her food a couple of hours before the trip. There are a couple of home remedies your can offer to settle the stomach. Try giving her ginger tea in place of her water before you go. (Place a few slices of fresh ginger into some hot water and steep like you would regular tea. Strain off the ginger when the water is cool enough to serve. Bring some with you for the trip along with regular water.)
Other stomach remedies are basil and peppermint. If your parrot doesn’t care for ginger these are good alternatives. You can prepare them in the same way using the leaves of the plants.
Some parrots seem to do better with motion sickness if they are left covered. Perhaps NOT seeing the world whizzing by keeps the disorientation at bay. Observe whether a partially or fully covered cage works best for your bird.
The best way to handle this problem, once you determine there is one, is to experiment to see what makes your bird the most comfortable with travel. As always, planning ahead of time will save you a lot of worry and help your parrot to feel better during a trip.
Author Patty Jourgensen specializes in avian health, behavior and nutrition and has been working with and caring for rescue birds since 1987.