Birds that pluck feathers themselves – main reasons!

Birds ripping their own feathers is a more common problem than you may think! Although this problem does not occur with birds in freedom, it is common in birds kept in captivity. There are different reasons that lead a bird to tear its own feathers or even mutilate!

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We know how desperate it is to see your calopsita or your parrot every time with less feathers and you without realizing what is going wrong.

Because this problem is very common, YourCatCareguide wrote this article about birds that pull their feathers and what the reasons that originate this anomalous behavior. Keep reading!

It may also interest you: Most common diseases in poultry

Why does the parrot tear its own feathers?

The pulling and / or chewing of feathers and sometimes even the skin itself is called picacism . This behavior should not be considered a diagnosis, but rather a clinical sign since it may originate from different diseases or problems.

This problem is very common in parrots, commonly called parrots. The order Psittaciformes(psitacídeos) includes different birds from calopsitas, parakeets, catatuas and great parrots. Some studies have indicated that the gray parrots ( Psittacus erithacus ) are parrots that pluck feathers more often [1] [2] .

Picacism can have different degrees of aggressiveness. Sometimes it starts only because a bird is chewing its feathers, having more aesthetic consequences. The most common cases are when parrots pull feathers. In more severe situations, the bird may even become self-mutilating, which can lead to infections. As a consequence, thermoregulation can be altered because there are changes in the normal cycles of feathering.

If you have detected that your parrot is pulling its own feathers , regardless of the severity of picacism, consult a veterinarian who specializes in exotic animals. The sooner the problem is diagnosed, the faster you can start a treatment and not let the case progress. Picacism is a very complex syndrome and especially in cases of behavioral etiology, the treatment can be very complicated and the prognosis worsens considerably with the passage of time.

Your parrot may be pulling feathers for different reasons , the three main ones being:

  • Physiological problems
  • Environmental problems
  • Psychological problems

The veterinarian is assisted by data such as the distribution of the lesions, the progression of the case and the onset of the problem to determine the origin. Typically, picacism affects the areas of the body that the animal can access with the beak, namely the chest , the shores , under the wings and lower limbs . The bird may be pulling feathers in a localized or widespread way. Some birds pull feathers everywhere except the head, the only part of the body where they can not access with the beak.

Why does calopsita pull feathers?

Although the occurrence of picacism in calopsitas [3] is less frequent , occasionally a few cases of calopsitas with feathers pulled out in veterinary clinics appear.

As we have already mentioned, this problem can have physiological, environmental and psychological origin. Most of the time, there is more than cause by triggering the problem so the calopsite is taking its feathers !

Physiological causes

There are numerous physiological or organic causes that can cause picacism. Before the veterinarian concludes that your bird is plucking feathers for a psychological or environmental problem, it will have to rule out all possible organic causes. Here are some examples of possible physiological causes:

  • Allergies
  • Malnutrition
  • Hypovitaminosis A or B
  • Deficiency in fatty acids
  • Liver problems
  • Pancreatitis
  • Dermatitis
  • osteoporosis
  • Hormonal problems
  • Tumors / neoplasms
  • Hypocalcemia
  • Genetic problems
  • Impaction of the uropygial gland
  • Viruses: polyomavirus, papillomavirus
  • Fungi: Aspergillosis

Environmental problems

After excluding possible pathological processes associated with pulling feathers, the veterinarian will review possible environmental problems. Sometimes the slightest environmental change can be a source of stress for the bird and initiate anomalous behavior. If your calopsita is pulling feathers, it is important that you carefully review how to care for a calopsita , to ensure that it is providing you with all the right conditions. An environment lacking in stimuliis very conducive to the appearance of behavioral deviations such as picacism. Birds in nature spend most of their time looking for food. In captivity, food is always available and the birds have to try to occupy their time with other activities. Care and cleaning of feathers occupy a small percentage of the day of the bird. Some birds, when they have nothing else to do, begin with an exaggerated behavior of taking care of their feathers , beginning to damage the feathers. When a feather is badly damaged, it is normal for the bird to boot! Birds hate having their feathers disorganized and spoiled, they take great care of their appearance. If an excess of care begins to damage the feathers of the bird, it begins plucking and ends up becoming a vicious cycle.

Mudou recentemente a gaiola de lugar e a ave começou a arrancar penas? Adotaram um novo animal? Mudou a rotina da ave? Um motivo ambiental pode ser tão simples como alguma destas situações.

Origem psicológica ou comportamental

Some psychological problems have visible behavioral consequences. Like dogs and cats , birds can also suffer from separation anxiety . Birds are very sociable animals and need lots of interaction. Especially in the case of an individual housed alone (without other birds of the same species), it depends on humans to supply their social needs. If you only have one bird and you have little time for it, it is possible that during your absence she becomes extremely bored and starts pulling out the feathers. Usually, this behavior occurs as soon as you leave home.

Another possible cause of the psychological forum are phobias. A phobia is defined as an exaggerated and inexplicable fear for no apparent reason [4] . Psittacidae are usually very fearful and nervous about new people and objects. A phobia is not a simple fear. If your bird panics for some reason and flies inside the cage bumping against the bars, even damaging the feathers, most likely it has a phobia.

Stress is one of the main causes of picacism. In nature, when birds feel threatened for some reason, their first reaction is to get away. In captivity, birds are rarely allowed to escape since they are enclosed in a cage. Thus, small factors that stress the bird, as a new person approaches the cage or other animal of the house, can frighten the parrot. Since the bird has nowhere to run away when it is frightened, it channels its stress into another behavior: pulling feathers!

There are numerous stress factors in birds . Check out some of them:

  • Sleep deprivation
  • Presence of predators (dogs, cats)
  • Children
  • Too noisy environments
  • Too quiet environments
  • Cage without sheltered spaces
  • Change in routine
  • Climate change

Canaria starts as penalties

Although not so common, there are other birds that pull feathers, such as canaries. In these species, the psychological and behavioral origin is infrequent. Generally, this problem is associated with other diseases. One possibility is to be due to a parasitic disease, caused by lice or mites .

If you have a canary, you must ensure that you have all the necessary care that will promote his well-being and consequently avoid the appearance of problems secondary to poor management.

Other causes of Picacism

Reproductive causes

Sometimes there is picacism associated with the reproductive season. The birds pull their feathers to accommodate the eggs and the young. This type of picacismo is temporary and for that reason it is not worrisome . Typically, the regions without feathers are: neck, legs and abdomen. The region without feathers of the abdomen allows the bird to have space to welcome and warm the young.

Picacismo iatrogênico

This type of picacismo occurs due to a bad handling in the cut of the feathers . Some tutors of these birds choose to cut flight feathers. When this cut is not done well, the feathers are damaged. As we mentioned earlier, the birds are very perfectionistic with the state of their feathers. For this reason, if they feel that a pen is damaged it is very likely that they will pull it off. On the other hand, small cages can also damage the feathers of the bird and be at the origin of the picactic behavior.

As you have read, there are many different motives that lead the bird to pluck its own feathers. If your bird is having this anomalous behavior, consult a veterinarian specializing in bird behavior. The sooner a treatment is started and the necessary environmental changes made, the faster the bird will stop pulling its feathers. Unfortunately, this problem is very complicated and sometimes requires months of treatment.

This article is purely informative, in we do not have the capacity to prescribe veterinary treatments nor to make any type of diagnosis. We suggest you bring your pet to the veterinarian in case of any type of condition or malaise.

If you want to see more similar items like Birds that rip their own feathers – main reasons! , we recommend that you enter our section on Other health problems .

Emily Harris

Hi Guys, Girls, and Cats:-p I am Emily Harris, and you can see in above pic. She loves me I swear. I saved her from a dumpster a few weeks back.

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