Last Updated on by Mitch Rezman
Howdy, all! I enjoy reading your newsletter every week. So thank you for that.
I have a small flock consisting of two cockatiels (Pikachu and Rufus) and two budgerigars (Moby and NewDoug).
They all live in their own room in my home and come out to hang out daily (mostly the cockatiels – the budgerigars do their own thing most of the time.)
Late 2022 I noticed that Moby’s toe wasn’t pointing in the right direction, so after a week of no improvement, I brought him to the avian vet. The vet immediately knew what the problem was and confirmed it with an X-ray.
He said that Moby had a testicular tumor that was pushing on his spine and causing partial paralysis of the leg and would only progress over time. His advice was to just keep him comfortable unless Moby started chewing his foot off, then I should bring him in to be euthanized. The vet gave Moby a couple of months max.
Since then, we moved across the country with the birds caged in the back seat of our truck. Yes, that was an adventure, but the birds were more behaved than I had a right to expect and we all made it in one piece.
Even after the move and everything, Moby remained consistent in his behavior. His one leg was a little hinky, but he perched great and just nibbled at the foot once in a blue moon.
It’s been well over a year since “a couple of months”.
My denial had me thinking I had dodged the bullet and Moby would be just fine. However, recently I noticed his other foot seemed to be bugging him when he went to perch at night, so I made sure to put cushions and flat spaces for him around the room. I had most of these set up because Rufus has a splay leg and sometimes gets pooped and wants to lay flat. So, I was already well-trained.
Generally, all the birds like to hang out on the ceiling fan blades because it’s the highest point in the room.
I have the switch taped over so nobody can accidentally turn it on.
Now, instead of sending Moby and NewDoug to their perches at night, I leave them on the fan blades, where they seem to sleep fine.
Moby likes to get flat and hang his head over the edge. It kinda freaks me out when I see it, but I still see him flying and eating during the day, so I take a step back from my panic. The cockatiels still perch on a stand.
I feed them all a combination of pellets and seeds. They also only get bottled water. (I know, I’m a crazy bird lady.)
Every morning they get a fresh cilantro/broccoli salad (Peep salad – named after my deceased budge who died of old age. It was her favorite.)
The vet told me that this happened because of genetics due to overbreeding. I lost another budgerigar to fatty liver disease a few years back, even though I fed him well and he was in otherwise good health. So I get that bad genes could be the cause. I just want to be sure that I’m not somehow contributing to the bad health of these guys.
My questions are,
- How do I know if Moby is in pain and how can I help him?
- Is there anything else I can do to make him comfortable?
- What can I do to prevent this from happening to my budgies in the future?
He’s an awesome bird and deserves to be happy and comfortable. So, I’d appreciate any advice you have to give me.
Our hearts go out to you and Moby. We are well aware of how an ailing pet can tug on one’s heartstrings.
Last year we had a parakeet with a broken wing and having it surgically fixed was out of our budget so we tried to make him comfortable.
To ease his pain we did find a solution of aspirin and water did help him. But it is not a cure. At some point, the pain will cause him to stop drinking and eating so you may wish to have him put down before he suffers too much.
ASPIRIN SOLUTION Dissolve five (5-grain) aspirin tablets in one gallon of water. Offer this solution free to the birds for the duration of an illness. The solution aspirin is equivalent to 25 grains/gallon or 324 mg/gallon of drinking water. The dosage rate is about 25 mg/lb of body weight per day.
And yes, inbreeding is likely the main issue with parakeets in the USA.
We have not had any new blood imported from Australia for about 40 years now so the birds we have now are not getting any new genetic material and few breeders are swapping birds from across the country to do so. So basically, the line is weakening and a bird that had the capability of living 25 years now may live for only 7-12. Budgies that are all white are often the shortest living of the bunch with maybe 2-4 years of life expectancy.
Yes, housing and diet do matter. Many bird owners keep 1-2 budgies in a small 16″ cage and they get no exercise and get just parakeet seed and water to live. It all is a recipe for a short, boring life.
Offering budgies a large cage, big enough to fly some, food options more than just seed and water can help extend their life, but genetics and accidents still can happen.
All you can do is your best by them and hope you can enjoy them as long as possible and they can continue to enrich your life by their company.
Regarding the parakeet that may be left alone once Moby is no longer there. You can of course get another keet. Or if the keet is older and you want to not bring home another one. You may be fine with a small mirror or two in the cage for company.
Please note that the solo bird may turn to the cockatiels for company and may not be welcomed. So observing them while all are out is crucial.
Please stay in touch and let us know how it goes.
Fortunately, our flock has been fully integrated since the beginning. Moby has been known to feed and groom the cocktails and I’ve witnessed NewDoug doing it, too. I think having an entire bedroom’s worth of space helps them separate from each other when they get on each other’s nerves.
Written by Catherine Tobsing
Approved by Mitch Rezman
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