Feather Picking and Self-Mutilation

Feather picking is not an uncommon problem in many parrot species. The causes are many and in most cases there is more than one problem contributing to the feather picking. The diagnosis can involve numerous tests and treatment trials to determine if there are concurrent disease, nutritional and /or behavioural problems. Nutritional and husbandry problems are generally involved in the majority of cases.

  1. Infectious Diseases
  • Viral Diseases

Beak and Feather disease, Polyomavirus, Poxvirus

  • Bacterial diseases of the skin (usually secondary infections)

Including staphylococcus, Streptococcus, gram negative infections and Mycobacteria

  • Chlamydia
  • Fungal disease of the skin and feathers
  • External parasites

Mites and lice (an uncommon cause of feather picking and self-mutilation)

  • Internal parasites

Protozoa (giardia, hexamita, cochlosoma), worms and coccidia

  1. Non-Infectious
  • Nutritional deficiencies (commonly involved in most feather picking)

Especially all seed diets are a problem

  • Allergies to food, aerosol particles and in contact substances
  • Poisons and toxins

Heavy metal (lead, zinc and copper), nicotine and plant poisons

  • Metabolic and organ Disease

Especially liver, kidney and airsac problems

  • Psittacine Pruritic Polyfolliculosis
  • Skin growths and lumps

Trauma, wing clipping, feather cysts, tumours, abscesses, adhesions and granulomas

internal Tumours

3. Behavioural Problems

  • Boredom. Lack of a mate or friend. Lack of visual, tactile and aural stimulation. Lack of regular flying time, sunlight and showers. Birds that are threatened or insecure.
  • Hormonal, especially in breeding season
  • Moulting





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