Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Egg Binding

Egg binding can be a potentially fatal situation affecting female cockatiels. It is considered an emergency; if you believe your bird is experiencing egg binding contact your avian veterinarian immediately.

Egg binding can be caused by numerous things; however, it is usually due to inadequate calcium intake. This is why it is essential that female cockatiels are provided with a cuttlebone and the proper nutrients at all times. Cockatiels on an all seed diet are also more prone to egg binding.

Other causes of egg binding include:
  • Infection of the reproductive tract
  • Inadequate nesting space
  • Excessive egg laying
  • Obesity
  • Nutritional problems
  • An egg that is too soft due to inadequate calcium intake
Symptoms include:
  • Depression
  • Labored breathing
  • Straining
  • Abdominal distention
  • Lack of droppings
  • Fluffed appearance
  • Poor appetite
  • Sitting at the bottom of the cage

Egg binding can occur to both actively mating females and to females laying infertile eggs.

Female cockatiels will lay a clutch of infertile eggs, even without a mate because their natural instinct is to have young. In the wild, cockatiels wait to lay eggs until they have adequate food and water, and feel safe. Cockatiels is captivity often become excessive egg layers because the requirements for egg laying (feeling safe, having enough food and water) are plentiful.

I recently noticed that Loki was acting different; she appeared to be "humping" her perch. I asked my avian vet about this behavior and she said that was exactly what Loki was doing. I have provided her with such a comfortable and safe home that she now feels its time to have babies.

My avian vet, Dr. Vanessa Rolfe of The Bird and Exotic Animal Hospital explained the importance of minimizing this behavior in order to prevent excessive egg laying.

Other ways Dr. Rolfe recommends to prevent egg laying of infertile eggs include:

  • Move toys and perches around in the cage frequently to prevent your tiel from feeling too safe and comfortable.
  • Do NOT feed your bird any seeds, which acts as a trigger to the body to lay eggs.
  • Make sure your bird is getting between 12 to 14 hours of rest (darkness) each night (Cockatiels usually lay their eggs in the Summer, when the daylight lasts longer, so less light will make them feel as though it is winter, not summer).
  • Do NOT stroke or pet your tiel on her back, which resembles mating (keep petting limited only to your bird's head).

Egg binding is extremely serious. You should prevent excessive egg laying of infertile eggs, and make sure if your tiel is actively mating that she has enough calcium. Egg binding can be prevented by simply providing your female cockatiel with the proper nutrients.

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