The basics of lory diseases

By Jos Hubers, article taken from Internationaal lori journaal

I have always been interested in health care with birds as far as I can remember. Because I was confronted with the human health care during my education and work experience I was able to use this experience in my avicultural hobby.

I noticed that many aviculturists lack the basic knowledge (as well as the logic) to act when a bird is sick.

In this lecture I'd like to go into this subject in short to explain what we can do when we notice a bird that looks sick. I will only talk about the basics of this subject because of the restricted time of this lecture. Later I will write a more extensive article.

A number of matters are vital such as:

-keeping a hospital cage

-recognise a sick bird and the following action

-first aid materials and medicine

I notice that many aviculturists spend a lot of money on purchasing birds but a hospital cage is missing. One of the most important matters is that a sick bird is isolated a soon as possible and kept warm. A hospital cage should be used for this purpose. This cage has to comply with the following conditions:

-cleaning and disinfecting should be easy

-preference should be given to a synthetic material

-access to the birds' own faeces must be impossible, eg use a wire bottom

-a good heath source, eg an infra red heater or heat element

-a thermostat

-a thermometer

-a light (not too bright)

-good ventilation

It is further important that, after putting a bird into a hospital cage, the cage is cleaned regularly. I have often seen that the hospital cage is not cleaned while the bird is in the cage. Or that even a new bird is put into the hospital cage without cleaning and disinfecting the cage first. Usually only the (paper) bottom is cleaned. You are asking for trouble by doing it in this way.

Placing the cage in a quiet spot is important too. The bird should not be disturbed by people passing by. It is best to be able to observe the sick bird from a position without the bird seeing you.

It is very important to take immediate action when a bird is sick. Usually most of us notice when there is something wrong. I still like to mention a number of signs we have to watch.

-the birds feathers are fluffed up

-the bird sleeps with the head between the feathers and is sitting on two legs

-tail bobbing

-condition of the feathers around the vent

-the throat moves (usually only visible by close examination)

-vomiting and/or regurgitation

-the bird has laboured or wheezy breathing

-enlarged abdomen (not caused because the bird is about to lay an egg)

-closed eyes, wet eyes etc.

-difficulties with sitting on the perch

-loss of balance

There are of course more symptoms to consider but I have only mentioned the most obvious ones.

After catching the bird it is very important to examine the breast bone or better still to look at the breast bone by blowing the feathers aside. Sometimes you will see that the bird has lost a lot of weight before you noticed it. So it is very important to observe the food consumption of the birds. If there is a sudden increase in the amount of food left than usual, then it is better to observe the bird more closely. If in doubt isolate the bird immediately. Seeing something unusual on the bird means that there is probably something wrong. It is very possible that, by taking the bird in the hand, you will notice that the bird has lost a lot of weight. This is a very important step and most mistakes are made here: WE WAIT TOO LONG! The sooner action is taken, the higher the survival chances are. Sick birds seldom recover without help of their owner. Sometimes a little bit of heat will be sufficient to bring the bird back to a good health.

The question will be asked what is the right temperature for a sick bird. There is no fixed rule for this. It depends of how sick the bird is. Usually the temperature is right when the bird is no longer sitting fluffed up. So it is better to look at the bird instead of looking at the temperature. Often the sicker the bird the higher the temperature that is used. So adjusting the temperature can take some time. For instance when the bird starts eating a bit more and shows some signs of recovery, we can gradually lower the temperature. NEVER TOO QUICK. The bird's condition might decline and it may never recover again. When the bird does not take enough food it might be better to leave the light on during the night. You can also give the bird some extra food by crop needle if necessary.

This brings me to the medicine cupboard. I have saved many birds, both of myself as well that of other people, by having a first aid cupboard.

Recommended materials/medicines:

-hospital cage

-crop needle

-several needles

-physiological salt (9 grams salt to one liter of water, used to prevent dehydration)


-vitamin B complex, if necessary a mixture of multi vitamin/amino acid

-vitamin A


-eye cream


-broad spectrum antibiotic (like enrofloxacine=baytril)

-ronidazol or any other anti-trichomonas medicine

To mention antibiotics may have consequences. We should generally only use antibiotics on prescription of a vet. The problem is that not always a vet can be consulted.


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