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General Health Care Remember to use common sense and consult with an avian veterinarian.

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Old 04-24-2013, 04:15 PM
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Sudden self-mutilation during incubation in Green cheek conure

Hello all,

New here, and shocked by my 10 year old hand-reared Green cheeked conure suddenly mutilating herself in her nestbox. I wondered if anyone had any knowledge of anything similar happening elsewhere? I'm sorry this is a bit of a long post but I thought I'd give as much detail as possible in case anyone else has gone through this and has any advice.

She laid three eggs a couple of weeks ago (infertile: she's hand-reared and there's just me and her in the house) and sat on them very tightly in her nestbox. She came out twice, three times a day to eat, poo and drink. I wasn't handling her very much at this point, because she just wanted to be on the eggs, but was in the same room with her pretty much all the time (I work from home.) On Sunday a.m. she came off the eggs and her beak and chest feathers were covered in blood. I picked her up and saw to my total horror the skin all over her breast was bruised dark red and she'd bitten a huge hole right over her breastbone - I could see the pectoral muscles.

It was horrendous. She must have been doped up on self-harm endorphins because she behaved completely normally all the way to the emergency vet appointment -- feeding, drinking, preening, clambing all over her cage. The vet gave her three stitches and an elizabethan cone. She's been back with me three days - obviously I've removed the eggs - and she seems fine in herself, is feeding and getting head-scratches with obvious pleasure, but obviously I am in a terrible state about this. The wound itself is healing fine, but her voice is very croaky. This also worries me.

The vet wondered whether the bruising/skin problem might have pre-dated the mutilation, and that maybe she was biting herself because it hurt/itched. She's on baytril now. But I'm absolutely horrified by what's happened. Does anyone have any suggestions? Stress from egg-laying? An infection? Is there anything else it might be?

Also -- I shall look at the boards too in case this has already been answered but I'm having terrible, terrible trouble getting baytril into her. Does anyone have a foolproof method to disguise the taste?

Sorry about going on but this has been a terrible shock and so totally out of the blue.

Very best wishes to everyone and hope someone might have some answers! -- Helen.

PS. She's never plucked before, is full flighted, and fed all sorts of fruits/leafy vegetables along with Avian Specific parakeet/conure mix. Never had any health problems with her. She hasn't laid before because I've moved around quite a lot over the last ten years and only now have been settled in one place long enough for her, I think.
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Old 04-24-2013, 04:32 PM
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Re: Sudden self-mutilation during incubation in Green cheek conure

my female lovebird plucks herself when sitting on eggs, we think to line the nest box, but she does not chew her skin.

she does however have a history of chewing the skin off her legs.

will she drink any fruit juice? maybe you can put a small amount of fruit juice in a syringe with the meds and see if it helps with the taste better. i would not give it in water or juice in a cup because you need to get the full dose in.

or, if she will accept handfeeding formula, you can mix the dose of baytril in that as well and syringe it to her if she will accept it.
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Old 04-24-2013, 04:39 PM
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Re: Sudden self-mutilation during incubation in Green cheek conure

Holy Cow! Best Wishes!
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Old 04-24-2013, 04:40 PM
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Re: Sudden self-mutilation during incubation in Green cheek conure

Do you live in a dry climate or is your home overly dry? We were discussing giardia earlier on another thread and if a bird has an under the skin giardia infection that can cause itching & self-mutilation as the bird tries to rid itself of the irritation.....

Look carefully at her skin & if it looks dry & flaky, run to possibility of giardia infestation past your vet.....take a look under the wings & thighs also.....just my best guesses.....

Good luck.....
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Old 04-24-2013, 04:56 PM
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Re: Sudden self-mutilation during incubation in Green cheek conure

I'm wondering why if she is alone and you don't breed her that she has a nestbox? Maybe I'm missing something or misread.
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Old 04-24-2013, 05:14 PM
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Re: Sudden self-mutilation during incubation in Green cheek conure

Wow i have not heard of that. That's terrible. My guess would be that she is frustrated with the eggs not hatching. Normally it is good to leave the eggs in for a few days until the bird loses interest, Then remove them. This helps keep them from laying eggs over and over. Sounds like you were doing that.

If she were my bird i would first make sure there was no medical reason she did this. Next i would let her calm down a bit. If you are able to change her cage i would place her in a different cage. New toys, perches nothing that can become a nesting type toy. If you can't change her cage at least move the toys and perches around. I would try to teach some foraging or clicker tricks to help get her mind off of other things. What do you feed her?

Hope this gets better soon...
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Old 04-24-2013, 06:51 PM
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Re: Sudden self-mutilation during incubation in Green cheek conure

It's normal for some birds to pluck when nesting. Unfortunately her behaviour is quite sounds extreme.

when you give her baytril, unless the directions on the bottle say to administer in the water, you must give it to her by mouth. the vets should have given you a syringe.

what I do with my birds, and if I don't have a second pair of hands around to help, I grab a clean hand towel, wrap the bird up gently leaving the head exposed. I have everything set up prior to doing this so everything I need is right where I want it. sometimes I like to sit on the floor, and I hold the birds head gently, and put the syringe in the side of the beak. It takes a bit of practice, but once you get the hang of it, it's relatively easy.
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Old 04-24-2013, 06:57 PM
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Re: Sudden self-mutilation during incubation in Green cheek conure

Well I'd defiantly go with the vet, but my suggestion remove the nest box she has no need for this and IMO is sexually frustrated because of it and could be root of the mutaliting.
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Old 04-24-2013, 07:46 PM
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Re: Sudden self-mutilation during incubation in Green cheek conure

I would never give a nonbreeder a nest box. These are highly intelligent animals and I am sure they morn over the "loss" of there eggs. If a egg is not kept warm enough they will not start to develop. It may be her instincts told her to add more feathers to keep them warmer and when she ran out she kept trying. I am so glad things worked out ok.
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Old 04-24-2013, 10:24 PM
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Re: Sudden self-mutilation during incubation in Green cheek conure

well, it's possible the bird laid before a box was put up. i know munch lays every winter, we dont give a nest until she lays. otherwise she keeps laying off perches and breaking them all in a nonstop cycle. otherwise, they dont need a box.

but i do wonder at the mutilation being due to lack of nest material (to the bird's approval anyways lol) as mentioned above. it makes sense that it could be a possibility
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