Common Diseases in Australian Parakeets

The Australian parakeets , also known as common parakeets are one of the pet birds takes more years in our homes, few can say they have never entered a house where there were a couple of these colorful birds.

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Although we associate them with longevity and sociability, captive life also has its negative consequences and it is increasingly common to find these birds as patients in veterinary clinics. There are many pathologies that appear due to inadequate management. That’s why in this article, YourCatCareguide summarizes the most common diseases in Australian parakeets and how to prevent them!

You may also interest you: Caring for your parakeet

Kneemidocoptic scabies

The cnemidocoptes mite is responsible for this disease so common in Australian parakeets, which causes hyperkeratosis or thickening of the skin of the paws and beak wax.

Dermal overgrowth can give the sensation of “scales on the legs”, as mentioned in the YourCatCareguide article on mites in the canaries , and can deform the animal’s beak if it progresses without treatment.

A scraping of the lesions allows to observe the mite under the microscope, which helps the diagnosis with the lions so characteristic.

How is it treated?

Ivermectin is usually the most effective treatment and can be administered intramuscularly, subcutaneously or even orally. In cases where scabies are localized, or at a more initial stage, they can be applied and topically put on some oil, such as the tea tree, but it is more complicated to control the exact dosage with this method, with the risk of overdose.

It may be advisable to repeat the treatment at the end of a couple of weeks, and a third application is sometimes used.

Lack of iodine

The lack of iodine in the diet may affect parakeets that consume exclusively a mixture of seeds little varied, especially when the most abundant fraction is corn. The scarce supply of iodine over time may lead to a lack of this fundamental element to synthesize thyroid hormones from the thyroid gland, that is, secondary hypothyroidism.

The gland hypertrophies to try to maintain the production of thyroid hormones, causing the typical bulging disc in the neck. We may notice a “lump in the neck” and changes in voice, difficulty in breathing, regurgitation of food, due to excessive growth of the thyroid causing compression of the trachea and esophagus.

How is it treated?

The supplementation of iodine in the drinking water in the form of lugol drops simultaneously with a change in diet is usually sufficient. It is important to remember that when adding drugs in the water, we should not give too much boring or lettuce to the parakeet, because they contain many liquids, which will wash to reduce the need to resort to the drinker.

How can it be prevented?

A varied diet, which prevents the animal from selecting what it likes best, is essential to prevent the development of this common disease in Australian parakeets. Some vegetables contain enough iodine, so providing these foods to the animal two or three times a week is helping to prevent the onset of this problem, as well as promoting a balanced diet. Spinach can be an interesting choice to give your parakeet two or three times a week, always taking what he does not eat after some time and avoiding his abuse. For more information confirm the list of fruits and vegetables for parakeets .


Infection with Chlamydia psittaci may be subclinical, with our parakeets having no symptoms. Usually it develops after stress situations (overcrowding, environmental changes, diseases, lack of hygiene …). This bacteria is excreted in feces, urine, nasopharyngeal and nasal secretions, and can lead to chronic carriers that eliminate it intermittently transmitting to the environment, infecting their congeners.

What are the symptoms of chlamydiosis?

Respiratory and sometimes hepatic signs are indicative, among others, of this infection:

  • Conjunctivitis
  • Dyspnoea (shortness of breath, open mouth)
  • Respiratory sounds
  • Biliverdinuria (feces and green urine, which may indicate liver infection)
  • Diarrhea
  • In more severe cases, apathy, lethargy and anorexia


The diagnosis combines the observation of clinical signs and with specific tests such as a serological test in which the increase of immunoglobulins M is measured, or a laboratory technique called PCR that evidences the genetic material of the bacterium present in the feces and the pharyngeal exudate of the parakeet.

Collection of blood samples is usually a great help, and it is possible to observe an increase in leukocytes and, in biochemistry, liver parameters are usually elevated. Not all Chlamydiainfections have the same severity, it depends on the type of bacteria (there are different subspecies within that we know as Chlamydia ) and often it becomes a chronic infection in the form of constant respiratory problems, for example.


The use of doxycycline , a tetracycline antibiotic, is the most effective treatment known to treat this disease so common in Australian parakeets. It should be administered for about 45 days, and an intramuscular injection of the compound may be administered, although it is at high risk of tissue damage (necrosis). It is only used in more severe cases where more aggressive initial treatment is needed. However, if there is no other way, doxycycline can be given every 7 days for 7 weeks in a row in the pectoral muscles.

The form of treatment of choice is the oral route, directly into the beak with doxycycline syrup, or add the powdered solution that results from the crushing of the doxycycline pellets in the seed mix, using some solvent so that the powder adheres to the surface of the same .


Avoiding stress , poor hygiene environments, overpopulation of birds and the introduction of new individuals without quarantine or of unknown origin is essential. Cleansing is once again a key ally at this point.

We remember that people who work with groups of birds, veterinarians, or people with direct contact with parakeets (owners with a large group), can be affected by this bacterium, so it is considered a zoonosis.

Internal parasites

It is not usual to have an internal parasitosis in our pet parakeets, but it can be observed in birds that live on ground-floored birds and with a large number of birds.

  • Microscopic parasites such as Giardia , or Coccidia can affect our budgerigars, giving rise to typical intermittent or acute diarrhea, dirty cloacal plumage, weight loss, apathy … An examination of the feces under the microscope allows to observe the Giardias or the reproductive forms of the parasites. Coccidios, respectively. Isolation of the diseased animal, thorough disinfection and treatment of the bird with toltrazuril ( Coccidios ) and metronidazole or febendazon ( Giardias ), adding the necessary support therapy, can solve the problem if detected in time.
  • Macroscopic Parasites: Ascarids are probably the most common in parakeets, but it is not very common to observe them in captive birds. These intestinal nematodes can cause diarrhea and weight loss, as well as dull, dirty-looking plumage. Microscope examination of faeces is easy to detect their eggs, and treatment with ivermectin, albendazole, or fembendazole is often very effective.

Reproductive problems

As in all birds, egg laying problems, such as chronic posture , or problems in the formation of eggshells can lead to rupture of the egg in the abdomen and consequent peritonitis.

Chronic posture is difficult to solve, you can try to reduce light hours by keeping the female away from the male (without seeing or hearing), but the most effective is usually a hormonal implant that inhibits the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis. That is, cease the activity of the ovary. It lasts a few months, is variable and requires sedation for its placement, but sometimes it is the only remedy for this dangerous change.

The consequences of a dystocia ( impossibility to perform the posture ), because the egg is excessively large, the rupture of the egg inside the abdomen due to the weakness of the shell, causes a peritonitis, which causes an emergency situation in all cases and few birds can to recover.

As clinical signs we tend to observe distension of the abdomen, anorexia, apathy, lethargy … all of them very unspecific, which necessitates a complementary examination done by the veterinarian to detect their origin to carry out the most appropriate treatment, although the prognosis in these cases is not very favorable.

Although not as common as in other parrots, parakeets can also suffer from picacism and pluck their own feathers .

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 that you bring your pet to the veterinarian in case of any type of condition or malaise.

If you want to read more articles the less common in Australian parakeets , we recommend you to 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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