How to Stop Unhealthy Feather Plucking in Birds?

How to Stop Unhealthy Feather Plucking in Birds?

How-to-Stop-Unhealthy-Feather-Plucking-in-Birds-1
How to Stop Unhealthy Feather Plucking in Birds?

Typically, feather plucking is a habit displayed by anxious or bored birds. Birds develop a bad habit by doing it to get relief from their illnesses. Feather plucking can be both a typical behavior and a worrying one at times. Feather plucking can aggravate bird keepers because it may be a sign of a deeper issue. The bird may not look the same after, and the feathers take a long time to repair. The bird's new feathers can sometimes appear whiter than its natural color because they are more delicate.

Before it worsens, feather plucking or chewing should be halted as it is abnormal. If the underlying cause is not addressed, the issue could last a lifetime.

What is Feather Plucking?

This destructive mental behavior—known medically as pterotillomania—is brought on by a variety of stimuli. Birds kept in captivity exhibit this maladaptive behavioral condition by yanking out their feathers or chewing them till they fall out. On the breast, this frequently happens close to the tailor and is accomplished by their beak. The bird may attempt to pluck all of its feathers in some instances, with the exception of those on their head and other inaccessible areas.

Damage is done to the skin and feathers, and the feather plucking behavior becomes ingrained. About 10% of captive-bred parrots will exhibit this behavior at some time in their life, and it is most prevalent in Psittaciformes. It is typically located in an inaccessible section of their body, such as the ventral wing region, neck, chest, or back. Contour or down feathers are the main feathers most at risk of getting pluck. Feather pecking, which similarly results in feather loss and skin damage but less severely, is a habit that is closely comparable to this one.

This habit can resemble trichotillomania, also known as impulse control disorder (ICD) in people. The bird uses feather plucking as a means of mental or physical relaxation. All parrots kept in captivity are prone to acquiring this behavioral issue, and some birds even have the mental aptitude to steal feathers from their parents from birth. Plucking is enjoyed as a sensation, and it can easily become routine.

Symptoms of Feather Plucking

  • Large and abnormal bald spots
  • Bleeding
  • Rashes
  • Skin discoloration
  • Pulling and tearing at connected feathers
  • Screeching
  • Abnormal aggression
  • Large amounts of feathers piled at the bottom of the cage
  • Dry, flaky skin in damaged areas
  • Rocking
  • Uninterested in being handled
  • Unfriendliness

Causes of Feather Plucking

1. Habitat

This destructive mental behavior—known medically as pterotillomania—is brought on by a variety of stimuli. Birds kept in captivity exhibit this maladaptive behavioral condition by yanking out their feathers or chewing them till they fall out. On the breast, this frequently happens close to the tailor and is accomplished by their beak. The bird may attempt to pluck all of its feathers in some instances, with the exception of those on their head and other inaccessible areas.

Damage is done to the skin and feathers, and the feather plucking behavior becomes ingrained. About 10% of captive-bred parrots will exhibit this behavior at some time in their life, and it is most prevalent in Psittaciformes. It is typically located in an inaccessible section of their body, such as the ventral wing region, neck, chest, or back. Contour or down feathers are the main feathers most at risk of getting pluck. Feather pecking, which similarly results in feather loss and skin damage but less severely, is a habit that is closely comparable to this one.

This habit can resemble trichotillomania, also known as impulse control disorder (ICD) in people. The bird uses feather plucking as a means of mental or physical relaxation. All parrots kept in captivity are prone to acquiring this behavioral issue, and some birds even have the mental aptitude to steal feathers from their parents from birth. Plucking is enjoyed as a sensation, and it can easily become routine.

2. Pain

Because they are unable to manage pain adequately, birds will begin to pull out their feathers in the place where the pain is emanating. As they seek to intentionally hurt the affected place in an effort to further harm themselves and focus on a different form of pain, this is a behavioral issue that contributes to the problem.

3. Behavioral

Usually, boredom, loneliness, or attention-seeking behavior are the causes of this. A social bird that must reside in groups of its kind can develop a feather-plucking behavioral issue if it is kept alone. This issue can also be displayed by lonely or bored parrots who do not receive enough human contact or toys.

4. Disease

Feather plucking may be brought on by a virus, discomfort, endocrine disorders, vitamin shortages, or malignancy. Even though the bird is receiving medical attention and medications to cure the various ailments, they still feel ill and powerless in these situations.

5. Toxins

There are several poisonous compounds found in homes that might damage birds. This includes smoke vapors from a stove or outdoor burner, aerosols, lead from rusting metal cages, and cigarette smoke.

6. Allergies

Numerous things can be represented by birds in allegory. As a result of the allergic reaction, the bird may scratch or pluck at its feathers until they fall out, leaving a dry bald patch on its body. Common household allergens that cause allergy reactions in birds include corn, wheat, rice, and maize.

7. Diet

Birds that are fed a poor-quality food are more likely to experience a variety of health problems and vitamin deficiencies. Their feathers may grow fragile and fall off more frequently, and their skin may be scratchy and unpleasant.

Treating and Preventing Feather Plucking

Diet and allergies

Encourage your bird to consume a variety of seeds, nuts, pellets, and fresh produce. They should be fed a premium food created to satisfy the dietary needs of the particular bird you keep. Try the diets that your avian veterinarian recommends and stay away from items that make your bird allergic.

Habitat and Enrichment

Make sure the habitat is big enough to accommodate the size and number of birds in the tank comfortably. You should provide your bird plenty of chewable toys, as well as things that stimulate the mind, such mirrors. To combat boredom, always keep sociable birds in pairs or groups and make an effort to give regular interaction.

However, make sure there is adequate circulation and keep the cage away from dry areas. To stop the growth of mold, regularly clean the cage and wipe up any water that spills from their dish.

Toxins and Disease

Different bacterial and fungal illnesses thrive in moist environments. You should constantly keep the cage tidy. Fresh fruit and vegetables should be removed after a few hours to avoid them fouling the cage, and the substrate should be replaced frequently. Make sure you don't smoke close to the cage and keep it out of the kitchen. Stay away from the cage while using aerosols like deodorant or room spray.

Conclusion

An expert avian veterinarian should handle severe feather plucking. They can also support future medical treatment by assisting in identifying the reason of the feather plucking. If your bird's feather plucking escalates to a severe behavior issue, you may need to speak with an avian behaviorist who can provide you with advice and techniques to successfully stop your bird from plucking feathers.

By Petscaretip