Hi, my ducorps cockatoo keeps biting her feet until it bleeds. Does anyone know why?

moonsurfer

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Hello! I am new to the forum and would like to ask for urgent advice!

Our family Ducorp, who has been with us for over 10 years now has developed this new habit
of biting her feet until it bleeds.
I'm assuming the reason is the itchiness, which is why she stomps occasionally when she sleeps.
We think it becomes worse at night, because she stomps her feet at least twice as much when she goes to sleep at night.(video attached)

The onset of the biting is quite recent, I think less than a month.
However, the feet stomping we have already seen previously. We didn't consider it serious because
she always stopped at nibbling, and never went further to biting until bleeding.
Can't name an exact date for the stomping, but it was there for at least half a year, if not longer.

She has always been a mild plucker, which is why she has her silly collar around her neck most of the time she is alone but we take it off when she is with somebody and she has gotten used to it (so much so that she still plucks some of her feathers with the neck collar on).

We take her out every day for a stroll and spend time with her whenever we are home, and understand each other pretty well, so she knows to call for us whenever she needs assistance/attention, when she's hungry, plays with us, and expresses herself very well generally.

Sadly our previous experiences with avian vets in Korea was poor, as not too many people keep birds as a pet in the country, so I turn to the forum hoping to clarify the reason for her habit.
(We will try to find one anyhow, but we do not expect too much.)

As of now we have made a new, wider neck collar so she won't be able to touch the whole feet, but she still manages to bite off the scale and skin underneath of the frontmost toe of her feet. After it bleeds, we compress and wipe off the wound with an alcoholic wipe and apply something that would correspond to a Neosporin in Korea.
Widening the neck collar further impairs her ability to move around the house too much, so we are also looking for another option to prevent further self-infliction.

I'm terribly worried that repeated wounds to her feet could eventually lead to a complication like a serious infection that would result in partial amputation, which would tear my heart out.

If anyone could provide some pointers, we would be grateful.
 

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PippTheBananaBirb

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What is her diet? Can I have a pic of the cage?

Have you seen this thread? There may be an avian vet near you:
You can also contact an online vet, which isn't as good but better than nothing.

Some exotic vets can also treat birds.
 
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moonsurfer

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What is her diet? Can I have a pic of the cage?

Have you seen this thread? There may be an avian vet near you:
You can also contact an online vet, which isn't as good but better than nothing.

Some exotic vets can also treat birds.
Hi, thank you for the quick response.
We don't keep her in a cage, she just roams around the house freely.
(She sleeps on top of a rice cooker every night in the kitchen.)

Can't say we keep her on a strict, healthy diet, as what she eats is the choice of her liking out of what we eat at the table, but she does seem to have a healthy sense of choice herself, so we leave her to be.

Based on 10+ years of observation, her favorite choices are
tofu(bean curds)
cooked rice,
the fatty part of red meat
fresh chili pepper
cabbage
the head of cooked bean sprouts
cooked carrots and fried egg
and cooked shrimp.
Whenever she shows hungry behavior, we offer whichever one of these that come up in the day's food and she eats it well.
And of course, she has her own seed mix and eats from it when she pleases. (At least 1-2 a day)

I'm attaching a photo of her rice cooker, eating meat, and the status of her freshly bitten feet shot close up. This time I disinfected it with soap water, washed it away and applied topical antibiotics for cuts.
 

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PippTheBananaBirb

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I wouldn't reccomend her current diet. It is very high in fats.

Am appropriate diet for a parrots would be mostly fresh foods and a small amount of seeds with some pellets or grains.

Poor nutrition can cause plucking.
 
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moonsurfer

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Really? The only fat she eats from what is mentioned is the fatty part of the meat and everything else is either protein/carbs + veggies, but we'll keep her off the meat, as suggested.
But would it also be causing the feet biting?
 

HeatherG

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I agree. Your cockatoo would be helped by being on a more appropriate diet for a bird or parrot. She also needs to take baths in plain water (like a big pan) or a spray or shower.

I would start with low fat seeds and add in colorful vegetables, peppers, some fruits and a small amount of protein (egg, baked fish, tofu, cooked chicken).

She is just like a small child: she has her favorite foods which are savory or fried and doesn’t want to eat more healthy foods that will give her the right nutrition to grow healthy skin and feathers. You wouldn’t allow your toddler to only eat French fries and ice cream, would you?

Some of the foods she likes ARE good for birds. Tofu, bean sprouts, scrambled egg (small amounts), chili pepper, cabbage, carrots are all very good for her. I’ve heard of people feeding a small amount of cooked shrimp to cockatoos, also. But fried foods are not good for her. Her diet would be a likely explanation for her skin and feather problems.

It must be nice to have a cockatoo living in your home! Unfortunately it sounds like she bosses you around. My birds do that a little bit, but I insist that they must eat healthy bird food. They have a pelleted diet with some seed, some vegetables, a bit of fruit, and a bit of protein.

I think your bird is harming herself because her skin and feathers don’t feel good and to feel good she needs to eat better.

You clearly love her! So help her feel better and not chew herself.
 
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moonsurfer

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Thank you for the detailed advice.
I'll try to improve her diet and see how it goes!

She already has her own big bathing tub, she bathes herself every now and then when the rain gets her in the mood.
(When she doesn't bathe for too long, we bathe her quickly in the bathroom ourselves.)
 

ravvlet

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Welcome to the forums!

Feet biting and picking at skin can be neurological, but it’s best to eliminate any possible medical cause if possible. Yeast and other bacteria can cause infections that may cause skin picking.

I agree with Pip & Heather - I see what looks like sunflower seed kernels near her feet in some of those pics, which are also high in fat. I would suggest seeing if you can order some parrot pellets online. It’s possible to build a balanced diet without them, but they are handy in assuring your parrot has a well rounded and nutritionally correct base diet. Harrison’s and TOPS are favorites here, and Harrison’s has distributors in South Korea:


I know eating the fatty portions of meat may not seem like much, but parrots are not normally meat eaters; although ducorps do eat insects occasionally. In captivity, even if she’s flying around your house, it’s unlikely that she is getting enough exercise to work off the additional calories.

Are you near Seoul? The Association of Avian Veterinarians lists four vets that are members, I think in or near the city. You can use the search tool here to find them:


Alternatively, I know it’s an inconvenience but you may be able to ferry to Japan and see an avian certified vet there. The AAV website says there’s an avian vet in Fukuoka.

Failing all that, perhaps you can find a vet willing to give advice over the phone or by video conference? I’m sorry, I wish I had more to offer!

Your bird is very beautiful and it’s clear you care for them very much!
 
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moonsurfer

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Welcome to the forums!

Feet biting and picking at skin can be neurological, but it’s best to eliminate any possible medical cause if possible. Yeast and other bacteria can cause infections that may cause skin picking.

I agree with Pip & Heather - I see what looks like sunflower seed kernels near her feet in some of those pics, which are also high in fat. I would suggest seeing if you can order some parrot pellets online. It’s possible to build a balanced diet without them, but they are handy in assuring your parrot has a well rounded and nutritionally correct base diet. Harrison’s and TOPS are favorites here, and Harrison’s has distributors in South Korea:


I know eating the fatty portions of meat may not seem like much, but parrots are not normally meat eaters; although ducorps do eat insects occasionally. In captivity, even if she’s flying around your house, it’s unlikely that she is getting enough exercise to work off the additional calories.

Are you near Seoul? The Association of Avian Veterinarians lists four vets that are members, I think in or near the city. You can use the search tool here to find them:


Alternatively, I know it’s an inconvenience but you may be able to ferry to Japan and see an avian certified vet there. The AAV website says there’s an avian vet in Fukuoka.

Failing all that, perhaps you can find a vet willing to give advice over the phone or by video conference? I’m sorry, I wish I had more to offer!

Your bird is very beautiful and it’s clear you care for them very much!
That's a very keen observation! Yes, I forgot to mention she has a preference for sunflower seeds.
We'll take her off them or reduce them, at least, and try to find a more balanced seed/pellet diet alongside taking her off meat and other high fat containing food.

Thank you all the links to the vets and to the store. I'll be sure to check them out.
 

Terry57

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That's a very keen observation! Yes, I forgot to mention she has a preference for sunflower seeds.
We'll take her off them or reduce them, at least, and try to find a more balanced seed/pellet diet alongside taking her off meat and other high fat containing food.

Thank you all the links to the vets and to the store. I'll be sure to check them out.
I think it is best to start with reducing her food she is used to, a bird can and will starve themselves sometimes if their food is completely changed. We could have lost one of my Amazons because we added a different pellet to his dish if we hadn't noticed pretty fast that he wasn't eating anything.

This is a great link on how to gradually change their food:

https://www.harrisonsbirdfoods.com/large-bird-conversion.asp
 

ravvlet

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Oh! I had another thought. You can also try applying coconut oil to their feet. It’s mildly antimicrobial so if the issue is fungal or bacterial in nature it may help; but it also moisturizes the skin. Make sure that it is food grade as your bird will likely ingest some of it! Kirby had dry feet when we first got him and our vet suggested it to us.

You can also try giving them mist baths with a solution of 1 part food-grade aloe to ten parts distilled water.
 

HeatherG

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Yup. I’ve got a jar of coconut oil in the fridge that I used to apply to Lucy’s feet.

My birds loved having a foot massage. Both of them would moan and groan. It was really funny! Your bird may come to enjoy this once her feet heal up. 😁
 
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moonsurfer

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Oh! I had another thought. You can also try applying coconut oil to their feet. It’s mildly antimicrobial so if the issue is fungal or bacterial in nature it may help; but it also moisturizes the skin. Make sure that it is food grade as your bird will likely ingest some of it! Kirby had dry feet when we first got him and our vet suggested it to us.

You can also try giving them mist baths with a solution of 1 part food-grade aloe to ten parts distilled water.
Thank you, we're visiting one of the vets that were on the list tomorrow with excellent reviews - and I'll look into that coconut oil advice:)

I'll be sure to let you know how it goes!
 

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