Birds

What to do about Feather Plucking and self Mutilation in Pet Birds



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If Polly the Parrot has suddenly started plucking all of his feathers out, its time to evaluate what could be the problem and put an end to it quickly. There are can be many different reasons why birds pluck and self-mutilate, so it may take some time for you to discover what is causing your bird to go bald.

If your bird has suddenly started plucking, one of the first things that you should do is make an appointment with the vet. Your vet may decide to perform a skin biopsy to determine whether or not there is an underlying medical condition causing your bird to pluck, or if the plucking is merely behavioral.

Medical Conditions

Various medical conditions can cause your bird to suddenly start plucking. Allergies, parasites, thyroid problems and bacterial infections are just some of the illnesses and diseases that can cause a bird to pluck its own feathers. Feather plucking can also be caused by improper nutrition, either by lack of proper nutrients, or an access of food causing obesity.

While it is not necessarily a medical condition, unkempt and dirty feathers and skin can also cause your bird to pluck. If your bird prefers to be misted or sprayed, your should make sure that you are frequently misting and spraying to allow your bird adequate water to bath with. If your bird prefers a pan bath, routinely offer a bath for them, so that they may keep themselves clean. This can greatly help to reduce feather plucking.

A skin biopsy and veterinarian exam can help to determine if your birds plucking is medically related. In most cases, one diagnosed and treated with the proper medication, your bird will stop plucking and its plumage will return.

Behavioral Conditions

If your vet cannot find any medical condition causing your bird to pluck, it is then time to determine what else could be the culprit. There are just as many behavioral issues that could be causing the plucking as there are medical issues...if not more so. The most common behavioral issue that causes feather plucking and self-mutilation is boredom. If your bird is not being adequately stimulated he could resort to plucking his feathers simply for something to do. Make sure that your bird has a descent amount of stimuli in and around has cage. Keep toys and other entertaining objects in his cage, and rotate them frequently with other new toys.

There are of course many other behavioral issues that may be occurring. Many of these things could be issues that you may not directly relate with how your bird is effected, such as loud noises in the home, or drastically changing room temperatures. If your bird was frequently handled when young and is now suddenly being ignored, this could cause plucking. The bird may even be jealous of a new pet or new baby that has been brought home. Even a small change in the birds or even their owners daily routine can cause stress to the bird and cause it to pluck.

If something major has changed in your birds life recently, it may be easy for you to identify the cause and help to fix it. Try and keep your birds routine as normal as possible. Feed at the same time everyday. Handle your bird frequently throughout the day, or at least at the same time each evening. Some birds have shown great improvement simply by having their owners leave the TV on for them during the day for company!

There are various other things that people have been successful in using to prevent their birds from plucking. Sometimes moving your bird to a larger cage may help, by giving them more room to explore and be active. Allowing your bird more access to the sunshine may help as well. You may also try putting items into the cage that the bird can preen, rather than chew on itself, such as brightly colored feathers or even wigs.

 

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