Rosie – The African Grey

So as a veterinary student in my final year of studying I have decided to start this blog for two main reasons. Firstly because it is a useful way for me to keep on track with my learning, and secondly to try and cover some common health issues and how to prevent them for anyone reading this. Please do post any questions you may have and I will try to get back to you!

The first case I’m posting about is an African Grey Parrot called Rosie. She is 7 years old at the time of writing and suffered from a seizure. The seizure was stabilised with butorphanol and diazepam before referral to the exotics department at the university where I am studying. Bloods were drawn and calcium level was very low. Rosie was then treated for hypocalcaemia and her blood calcium slowly improved over the next couple of days and she was allowed home.

Hypocalcaemia is a common cause of seizures in African Grey parrots for two main reasons – lack of UV-b light and incorrect diet.

In African Greys vitamin D can be provided in the diet and from the sun through UV-b light rays. In their native Africa these birds receive plenty of vitamin D through the bright sunlight in the wild, however this can be a problem in the UK due to the slightly more temperamental weather! It is therefore important to have a special UV-b light bulb installed in your African Grey’s cage/aviary, and replace it as least as often as the manufacturer states.

Another part of the treatment was to swap Rosie to a pelleted feed rather than her normal seed mix. Parrots are clever birds and will only eat their favorite (often less healthy!) parts, much like us if we were offered a diet of doughnuts and broccoli! A pelleted parrot food ensures that your parrot will eat a balanced diet, with all nutrients in the right quantities because it cannot pick out its favorite parts. Seeds should be thought of as parrot ‘junk food’ and only given as a treat on special occasions.

Husbandry is so important in all bird species and often most health problems can be traced back to an issue with husbandry! The closer to ‘wild’ conditions the parrot can be kept in the better, both mentally and physically.

Rosie’s living arrangements had a much needed upgrade and she has been a happy healthy parrot ever since, with no more seizures.