Questions & Answers

My 3 year old Quaker Parrot has been self mutilating. What can I do?

Q: My 3 year old Quaker Parrot has been self mutilating. It started on his neck and legs. But now he has pulled all the feathers from under his wings. Now he has a raw spot under one wing. Should he be seen or can I put something on the spot so it doesn’t become infected. We have tried everything to stop this but he is still doing it. Sometimes he stops and he gets feathers back again but as soon as he does he starts plucking again.

A: Thank you for your question.

Feather destruction and self-mutilation are very frustrating problems in our pet birds. They can result from medical disorders (skin infections, intestinal parasites, etc) and more frequently as a symptom of behavioral problems such as separation anxiety, abnormal mate selection, or poor socialization.

The first step in the management of these disorders is a good physical examination by an experienced (preferably board-certified) avian veterinarian. This examination will help to determine the cause of the problem and work towards improving the condition. Lab testing may be advised including blood work, fecal testing, or microscopic evaluation of the affected areas.

If a diagnosis of a behavioral problem is made, we can offer treatments to help. There is no quick-fix to these problems, and the use of sprays, Elizabethan collars, and behavior-modification drugs are usually ineffective. Please contact us at 813 973 8566 to set up an appointment with our avian vet as soon as possible to help to diagnose and treat your pet.

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