Why Do Quails Take Dust Baths? (Answered)

by Kloee Ngozi
Updated on

If you’ve never seen a bird dust bathing before, it might seem odd when you witness it for the first time.

Seeing your quails writhing and crawling around in the dirt isn’t the most normal thing you’ll ever see!

However, you shouldn’t worry as this is a normal thing with most bird species.

While dust bathing may be entertaining anytime you see it, it is a critical routine for your quails, as it helps maintain their feathers clean and free of mites, lice, and other parasites.

A dust bath is essentially the bird version of a shower; they become dirty to become clean, as weird as that may sound.

What are dust baths?

Why Do Quails Take Dust Baths

Dust baths, also known as dusting, dirt baths, or sand bathing, are an important element of a bird’s preening and plumage maintenance routine since they help keep feathers in good condition.

The dust that gets into the bird’s feathers absorbs excess oil, preventing them from getting oily or matted.

Then the dust is removed from the body keeping the feathers clean and flexible for more efficient flying and insulation.

Excess dust is also effective in exfoliating dry skin and other debris, and regular dusting may help suffocate or decrease lice, feather mites, and other parasites.

Do quail need a dust bath?

Yes, quails need a dust bath. Birds actively preserve their plumage by bathing in water or saturating themselves with dust. 

The dust suffocates skin and feather parasites and absorbs excess oil eliminated during preening.

For quails, dust bathing is also a pleasant and even social activity. You’ll frequently see your flock bathing together, writhing and flapping merrily!

They’ll choose the finest, most vexing dust they can locate, as it will annoy the parasites as well.

They’ll use whatever they can find, whether fine silty sand, wood ashes, or plaster dust.

Wood Stove ashes, silica sand, and similar items are all acceptable materials to leave out for your birds.

Related: Here is an article I wrote on why quails puff up

What do you put in a quail dust bath?

The majority of the dust bath’s contents should be clean, dry, sharp sand. You can use regular garden soil, but the drier and dustier, the better.

The combination of fine sand and dry dirt is critical to creating an effective duct bath for your flock.

Fine sand and dry dirt mixture offer an excellent foundation for your chicken run’s dust bath.

There are two elements that you should always include:

DE, also known as diatomaceous earth. A Fine Grade Diatomaceous Earth effectively kills lice, mites, and other parasites through prolonged contact.

Leftover ash from a wood fire. Never utilize treated wood or coal ash or ash from the combustion of plastics or garbage.

Some other considerations can benefit both you and your flock. Consider including dried rosemary, sage, lavender, mint, or lemon balm. You can produce and dry your own herbs or add chopped fresh herbs to the dust bath. 

Why do birds rub in the dirt?

Birds do this anytime and anywhere. 

A dust or sand bath is an integral element of a bird’s plumage maintenance and preening process, which helps keep the bird’s feathers in peak condition.

The dust that penetrates the feathers assists in absorbing excess oil that would otherwise cause the feathers to matte or get greasy.

The dust is then discarded to keep the plumage clean and increase its flexibility for flying and insulation efficiency.

Another reason birds rub in the dirt is because the excess dust allows them to remove dry skin and other waste.

Also, regular dust baths limit the number of lice, mites, and other parasites that might live on the feather.

Numerous birds have been observed dust bathing, but the frequency with which they do so varies between species and relies on the local weather conditions and time of year.

Regular dust baths are taken by birds such as ring-necked pheasants, wild turkeys, and California quail.

Birds, particularly those living in areas with limited access to water, frequently engage in dust bathing as well.

Also check out this article on the way to keep quails and pigeons together

Do baby quails need dust baths?

Young quail have a low level of immunity.

Additionally, bathing quail is unnecessary unless they have a particularly harsh substance on their feathering, as they are capable of keeping themselves clean.

They may be able to trim the feathers or remove the filth without harming the quail.

How often do quails take dust baths?

Quails will take a dust bath daily or every other day, especially if they get access to usable dirt.

They spend many minutes throwing dirt on and into their feathers during a dust bath.

Then, when they’re finished with the dirt bath, they’ll shake the dust from their feathers and continue with their day.

Do quail self-clean?

Quails are constantly self-cleaning. The birds clean themselves and keep their feathers looking bright and shining by a combination of preening and dust baths.

They adore self-dust.  When the weather is warm, your quails will seek out a new location and scratch until they reach nice, fine dirt.

Then, they’ll roll about on their backs, close their eyes, and flop onto their backs. 

They work the dirt all the way down into their feathers, all the way to their flesh.

Then, when they’re through, they’ll shake it all off and feel renewed and revitalized.

Apart from washing the birds, dirt naturally plugs parasites’ respiratory pores, such as lice and mites.

When these parasites’ breathing pores become clogged, they are unable to breathe and die.

Can quail use Chinchilla dust bath?

If you’ve ever owned chinchillas, you’re well familiar with the fact that they take dust baths to keep their coats clean.

 Chinchillas, on the other hand, have incredibly distinct coats than chickens. In addition, they have some of the most luxurious, dense fur seen on any mammal.

In any case, chinchilla dust is not what quail’s desires. It is often composed of fine aluminum silicate powder or pumice from volcanic mountains.

Therefore, I would not recommend using it to bathe your birds. 


A dust bath is a vital hygiene habit for many birds. Then they do this to preen their feathers.

Also, this practice helps them to remove any parasite that might have attached itself to their feathers.

So preparing a dust bath for your birds will go a long way in maintaining healthy hygiene.

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About the author

Kloee Ngozi

Kloee is a backyard farmer and avid gardener who enjoys tending to her garden and plants. She is so engrossed with her plants that she has pet names for all of them. She likes to relax with a bottle of wine and read a book.


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