There isn’t a lot of actionable knowledge out there for how to prepare an RV for your parrots–especially multiple parrots. Some suggestions are helpful, but not particularly practical (getting your parrot “used” to the RV–How? Why? What?)
Others are as simple as “everything you need for them at home, you need for them in the RV.”
…Okay, yes, but.
What does it look like to provide “everything from home”?
We started thinking about how to give our parrots all the comforts of home in the small space of an RV without sacrificing our sanity. This is what we came up with, and after one eight week trip, we’ve had no problems!
Parrot RV Need #1: A safe space to travel.
- Birdy backpacks or carriers that can be buckled up – we use Celltei backpacks, which are super sturdy (the big parrots sleep in them on the rare nights we stay in pet-friendly hotels), but spacious enough for both big parrots
- An acrylic carrier (that doubles as a cockatiel-safe playgym when not in motion) + playgyms from Petsmart
- This protects the interior of the RV from wandering cockatiel beaks
- I double-checked with my vet that their acrylic would have enough ventilation; as long as they’re not panting or overheating, the cockatiels and parakeet are doing well.
We attempted to travel with the cockatiels and parakeet in a travel cage, but goodness it was messy! They also needed MUCH more space.
Plan Ahead: Your Tow Vehicle
We discovered the hard way that it’s not enough just for your Class A or Class C to be large enough to accommodate all your creatures.
Your tow vehicle needs to be big enough to carry everyone (and their food and water) with you at all times.
We had the unfortunate experience of blowing out a tire–which meant we had to drop off the RV at a Discount Tire. The parrots and dogs couldn’t stay in the RV itself while we waited for service (it was a whopping 90 degrees outside), so instead, we packed up all the birdy backpacks, the cockatiels’ acrylic carrier, both dogs, and all their various food stuff and water, and hung out in the car with them for several hours.
Parrot RV Need #2: A back-up generator and temperature monitor.
- It gets hot in Florida. According to everyone I talk to about this (and Jason!) while it’s rare that the power will go out, if it does, it can be an emergency on a hot day. So, we made sure to secure an RV with a generator that will kick on if the power goes out, and to test it appropriately.
- How fast does the rv heat up? We also spent time in our RV on the hottest days possible to see what it’s like inside it without the power. While it takes longer to heat up than a standard car, it still gets hot fast.
- Temperature monitor: we are bought a temperature monitor, which not only will send an alert and an email if the temperature hits above a certain threshold, but will also tell us if the power is out itself. If there is still air movement, it’s not as dire a situation; if the power is out, though, we need to move, and fast. While our parrots come from some of the hottest places possible, they’re not exactly used to 115+ temperatures, so we spent the extra $$$ to ensure that the temperature in our RV is always at an acceptable level. We’re able to check the temperature remotely at any time!
Parrot RV Need #3: A safe space to exist / sleep.
- RV with bunks to carry their primary cages + parrot supplies (food, water, parrot first aid kit)
- After consulting with our avian vet, we ended up purchasing two chinchilla cages with the appropriate spacing, as they were the largest we could find that would also fit in the space allowed.
Parrot RV Need #4: A safe space to eat and play beyond a cage.
- Dinner time: We purchased two wingdows with food cups. A fellow RV-friend was worried the suction cups would fall right off with differing temperatures, but our wingdows have been shockingly resilient through freezing cold and sweltering Florida heat!
- Wingdow Rule: All wet food is to be eaten in the wingdow and to be cleaned up every night.
- A Class C RV + bunks is perfect for additional playstands — the over-the-cab space works for additional playstand needs, though ours were perfectly content to hang out on their wingdows.
Parrot RV Need #5: Bird-Safe Cleaning Supplies
(A small space + limited ventilation = you need bird-safe cleaners.)
- Hand-held vacuum (to be used daily around their cages, play spaces, etc.)
- Apple cider vinegar
- An ACV spray bottle for fruits and vegetables to eliminate bacteria
- A bottle of ACV “with the mother” to drop half a capful of into their water (as recommended by our veterinarian, keeps parrot crops clean) twice a day
- White vinegar + water (1/4th white vinegar to 3/4ths water) for general cleaning needs, including the bathroom and kitchen — no harsh chemicals, and our RV smells amazing, weirdly, which I did not expect.
- A spray bottle used only for water to give the birdies their weekly baths (which we give them in the wingdow, which contains so much of the mess!)
- Packing paper from Lowe’s or Home Depot to line birdy cages with — these are easy to remove and change, which has kept our birdies and their living spaces happy and healthy!
- One consideration: We purchased an RV with a convection cooktop (we did not cook with gas due to ventilation concerns) and ensured that absolutely no teflon or non-stick cookware was in our drawers. While it might be possible to cook safely using propane, strong ventilation is key to keeping birds safe!
Parrot RV Need #6: Parrot chewables toys + protection for the RV fixtures itself
- Chewables: Parrots are not domesticated animals; you cannot demand that they learn “not” to chew on their environments like you can with a dog. However, you can give them appropriate options that appeal to their need to destroy stuff. We have Vi’s favorite wooden beads and several paper shreddables for Louie.
- Containment: Louie is not much of a chewer, thank goodness, but he does get into… well, everything. He is never to be left unattended, ever, even for a moment. We brought a plexiglass carrier with a stand on top so that if he starts being persnickety while we’re working, he can simply be put away and safe from himself! Oddly, we haven’t needed to use it, but it’s good to know we also have a backup cage in case someone gets sick and needs to travel safely to the vet and/or be in quarantine.
Parrot RV Need #7: Food, glorious food!
- Frozen vegetable and fruit smoothies to mix with their bird mashes.
- Bird Street Bistro – dehydrated and microwaveable, so it’s perfect for travel!
- Pellets + containers so they don’t spill when in motion.
- Stainless steel cups for food and water in every cage. Plastic cups are prone to growing bacteria, so it’s a best practice to only use stainless steel, especially when you have no dishwasher to disinfect everything.
Parrot RV Need #8: Health considerations.
- Cornstarch works in a pinch for styptic powder if a bird is bleeding due to breaking a blood feather or, I don’t know, flying into a window (it is an RV after all).
- We bought two birdy first aid kits, which include a book on what to do in various dangerous situations.
- Drinking water — our RV has a double filtration system, but campground water is notoriously awful. We make sure never to run out of bottle water for our birdies.
- Rowena has special needs; she lives in an Elizabethan collar as to not pick herself apart (her heart is two sizes too big per her latest x-ray, so she goes after herself due to circulation issues). So, we:
- Brought along extra collars
- Brought along vet wrap, scissors, and medical tape
- Brought her meds and extra droppers
- Have a calendar that sticks to the fridge to ensure we never miss a dose, even on busy travel days.
- Essential: Bring a parrot weigh station
- Why? A birdy scale alerts us to a birdy illness early — if they start dropping weight, we know to find the nearest avian vet and go! We brought a parrot weigh station and check their weights frequently to make sure they’re all doing just fine.
We also have a bin full of additional toys to rotate to ensure birdies don’t get bored when we’re out and about on our adventures.
Our favorite splurge?
The best purchase we made to keep our sanity and the birds happy? The wingdow — the big parrots or little ones can hang out next to use while we work, which keeps them engaged and from screaming bloody murder due to more limited space. We wouldn’t go anywhere without them now!