Wednesday, February 17, 2010

A Parakeet Health Risk

If you keep other birds along with your grass parakeets, there’s something you should know. I learned about it the hard way when we lost our best breeding pair. Parakeets are highly susceptible to a disease called Canker and it can be carried by other birds that have no symptoms.

This protozoan infection (a single celled organism) is prevalent in cockatiels, love birds, and especially pigeons and doves. It may not harm them unless they are old, sick or weak. It is more likely to be harmful to parakeets, especially when stressed through breeding or other infections or bacteria. Under those conditions, it’s very easy to lose parakeets to this disease.

We saved the rest of our Bourke flock with a medication called Ronivet-S. It’s available over the internet and must be in their water for 7 days. If your parakeets are exposed to any of the larger birds, it might be wise to treat them all (large and small) with this medication. Also, always wash your hands before handling your birds or their food. If you’ve been outside, maybe picking fruit, cutting flowers or shrubs, working in the garden, or just holding a handrail that may have wild bird droppings on it … you could be bringing this protozoan into your house.

The first symptom I saw in our birds was a lot of stretching the neck and swallowing. I read that these parasites lodge in the throat. Eventually I noticed “goo” coming from the male’s beak. This wasn’t the same as the mixture of “milk” he fed the hen to give to their offspring. It was more like he’d thrown it up and couldn’t get rid of it. It stayed around his beak. He couldn’t eat and died a day later. The hen showed signs shortly thereafter and quickly died as well. If we’d known what it was, we might have saved them. Research and an autopsy told us, and the rest of the flock were quickly medicated. The stretched neck swallowing subsided in those birds that had been doing it.

Any new bird is quarantined, and before joining our others, is subjected to a week of water with Ronivet-S. It’s the only water given that week, or birds may not drink it. I also replace it every day with a fresh batch. I pre-mix it according to directions and store it in the refrigerator for the week.

May your birds remain ever healthy… (By the way, the birds in these photos are a pink Bourke and a Rosy Bourke).

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