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Why do Parrots Pull Their Feathers Out?

Why do Parrots Pull Their Feathers Out and Self Mutilate?

Feather plucking and mutilation is one of the most challenging and frustrating problems a bird owner can experience. Pluckers will readily pull out their own feathers, or severely damage existing feathers by gnawing on them. Areas of feather loss and/or bald patches will be noticed on the chest, abdomen, upper leg, shoulder and inside of the wings. If left untreated and undiagnosed, infection and permanent damage will be the result.
Feather plucking is habitual, destructive and extremely difficult to diagnose and treat. Underlying illnesses and psychological problems can result in feather loss and damage. Only an avian veterinarian can truly determine the problem.
Illnesses and conditions a vet will check for in a Parrot:
*Viral infections (Polyoma, Psittacine beak and feather disease)
*Bacterial or fungal infections
*Liver Disease
*Air Sacculitis
*Lead poisoning
*External and internal parasites
*Nutritional deficiency: Poor quality feed, too many sunflower seeds
*Poor husbandry: inadequate cage space, unsanitary living conditions
Psychological Stress for a Parrot:
If the vet determines the problem is not medical, it is a psychological issue. The feather plucking can be the result of boredom, sexual frustration or stress.
Parrots and Boredom:
Birds of the parrot family are flock animals. Caged birds lack the comfort and social aspects of being in a group. Humans must assume the role of being a flock member and provide physical and mental stimulation for their pet bird. Birds will thrive in an environment where a wide selection of toys and activities are available. The toys should be of various bright colors, textures, sizes and durable enough to withstand a powerful beak gnawing repeatedly. Playtime and interaction with their human flock on a regular basis will also curb the “boredom bug”.
Sexual Maturity of a Parrot:
As the parrots come into sexual maturity pets can become frustrated for the lack of a suitable mate. Some experts believe that feather plucking can begin as the result of a hormonal bird’s attempt to create a brood patch (bare featherless area for heat transfer to incubate eggs) on their breast. Without a mate, the plucking can progress into habitual picking even after hormone levels decrease. Redirect the bad behavior with activities that include a variety of toys, extra playtimes, hard shell nuts, hard pastas and puzzle toys. The hope is that they will spend more time investigating the new challenges than plucking.
Parrot Stress:
Stress can be associated with an inappropriately sized cage, improper cage location or an overly noisy environment. Also, a bird that is too isolated will begin to show signs of distress for lack of attention. Provide the largest cage possible, filled with stimulating toys and activities. Place the cage in the main part of the home away from windows, vents and main walkways. Relocating the cage will provide the socialization needed while still providing the feeling of security to your feathered friends. Turn on a radio for some background noise while you are away so your pet won’t feel so lonely.
To Improve Living Conditions of a Parrot: 
*Toys: lots of colors, textures, sizes, sounds
*Rotate toys weekly: replace when worn
*Buy a larger cage with a play top
*Eucalyptus branches and Beak Conditioner blocks for gnawing
*Exercise on a regular basis
*Spend more interactive time with your bird
*Bathe daily: 8 in 1 Bird bath spray
*Regular 12 hr. day time / 12 hr. nighttime cycle
*Improve dietary needs: feed only a high quality foods: Zoopreem, Kaytee Fiesta along with a large assortment fruits and vegetables.
This article is not meant to be a substitute for receiving veterinarian care. Only your vet can accurately determine the underlying cause of feather plucking and mutilation by performing a thorough diagnostic workup. The advice given can be helpful to prevent plucking and assist in the healing process of known pluckers.
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By dandevarona on 9/11/2009 |
Caged Birds | 4868 View(s) | 0 Comment(s)
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