In this week’s Pet Talk, Maneka gives information about parakeets, parrots and budgerigars
By Maneka Gandhi
My pet parakeet’s nares and cere are crusty. What does that mean?
The most common reason for this condition is a mite called Knemidokoptes. This usually appears as a fuzzy or crusty overgrowth of the tissue of the cere (the band of tissue over the beak), around the nares, around the skin of the eyes, around the vent, or on the legs. This condition is usually found in young birds, but may also occur in older birds, as well. It may have a genetic component, or may also be found in birds with a weak immune system. You probably are not either keeping the cage clean, or feeding the bird properly .You need to have a vet look at the bird. If not treated properly, over time, it can result in permanent deformity of the beak or toenails.
One of my parakeet’s feet is turning purple. It seems to be getting darker and he is able to support himself with it less and less. He was trying to sleep and kept falling off his food dish. What should I do?
It is so annoying when people keep birds without knowing anything about them. Unfortunately, no vets know anything either. The few people who can diagnose bird diseases in India do it because they are self-taught. If your parakeet’s foot was simply slightly more purple than the other foot, and it was not affecting its behaviour, this is just a pigment-related issue.
However, the fact he can’t use the foot to stand on means the colouring is probably due to a decrease in circulation. As the circulation becomes worse, or the longer it continues, the more damage will be done to the local area. He may have full use of the limb but no feeling (much like “pins and needles” in humans), and therefore not stand on it, or he may be losing the functionality of the limb. Loss of circulation creates a lack of oxygen supply to the cells in the area, which will eventually lead to necrosis and loss of the limb. You will need to have your bird examined immediately.
My parrot has a yellow lump on its back. The lump seems to be growing bigger, rapidly. What should I do?
Feather cysts are a common skin and feather condition in pet birds. It occurs when a new feather fails to come out and, instead, curls up under the skin, within the feather follicle. As the feather grows, the lump — caused by the ingrown feather — also continues to grow until the feather cyst becomes an oval or long swelling. At times, it can involve one or more feather follicles at a time.
A feather cyst can occur anywhere on the bird’s body. In parrots, however, it is commonly seen in the primary feathers of the wing. And although any bird can suffer from feather cysts, it usually occurs in parrots, macaws (blue and gold), and canaries, which usually have multiple feather cysts.
In most birds, feather cysts are caused by an infection or an injury to the feather follicle. Treatment consists of surgically removing the involved feather follicles. If the follicle is just incised and the feather, with its accumulation of keratin, is removed, it will usually recur.
My budgerigar is laying lots of eggs. What do I do?
Female budgies are determinate layers, meaning that she will usually lay a predetermined number of eggs per clutch. If you take her eggs away from her, she may begin another cycle. She will attempt to replace the eggs that, according to her, a predator removed from her nest. This is not good for her health as her calcium will become depleted. For this reason, it is safest and best to leave her eggs in with her, allowing her to attempt to incubate her eggs. Fertile budgie eggs will usually hatch after 18 days of incubation. If not, wait for this period to elapse then you can safely remove the clutch of eggs.
I feel very sorry when I see chickens waiting to be killed in open chicken coops on the road. I really would like to rescue them. What can I do?
You have given the answer yourself. Rescue them! Every chicken coop on the road is illegal. Under FSSAI law, they cannot be kept on an open road. Under the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act, they can’t be locked up and killed in front of each other. According to the Municipal Laws, chickens can’t be kept in khokhas, or killed in open areas, as this is bad for everyone’s health. So, if you use all the laws and keep them with you in writing, you can rescue them.
The next step is where to keep them. If you have a garden at home, make a small shed for them in a corner, put hay in it. Otherwise let them roam around freely. Each chicken has his/ her own personality and they make charming pets. In fact once you get the courage up, you can make a team called Chicken Rescue, inform the Police and clear your town of these khokhas.
I have a new house and six new dogs rescued from a shelter. Any tips on what to use in my house?
Welcome to the world of love, fun, hair-shedding, mud and ticks. Keep very little furniture and that which is easily movable. If you have to have carpets, forget wool and cotton and go for all-synthetic fibres. Natural fibres absorb everything, and that guarantees stains and odours. No shag carpets which provide homes for fleas and ticks. Varied hues of the same colour hide dirt and stains the best.
Use light curtains that are well off the floor. Opt for tightly woven, smooth-surfaced upholstery. Such fabrics will resist a few claw marks and will not encourage furniture-scratching. Anything with a loose or open weave invites cats and dogs to pull at it, fiddle with it, claw or scratch it. You could also use washable slip-covers.
Make use of mats everywhere. Rubber-backed mats of synthetic pile collect dirt and moisture and clean easily. Use them just outside and inside the doors, under dog food dishes and in sleeping areas. You might look at nice car mats.
Brush the dogs every day. Grooming is good for your pet, good for your relationship with your pet and good for the general cleanliness of your home. Set time aside on a regular basis to comb and brush your pet, making a fuss over him as you do so he’ll come to love it. Not only will your pet be more attractive and happier for the extra attention, but every piece of fur you snare will spare from your floor or sofa.
Keep Dettol handy. If a dog urinates in the house, then clean and put Dettol on the surface. Dogs generally avoid the place. Otherwise, should the urine smell persist, they will do it again in the same area.