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Feather picking in birds: All Creatures’ advice

May 21, 2019

Birds often pluck their own feathers as part of their self-grooming routine. However, if this behaviour becomes excessive and starts to cause damage to the bird’s skin, it’s a health problem known as feather picking.

Feather picking can be caused by both medical and behavioural issues in domestic birds, which you may be able to figure out yourself – but if you’re unsure about anything, please do get in touch with our Sandy Lane team for advice.

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Medical causes of feather picking in birds

Often, feather picking occurs when a bird is suffering from discomfort as a result of an underlying condition.

These can include:

  • Reaction to pain and irritation from underlying illness
  • Internal or external parasites
  • Kidney damage
  • Ovarian or testicular disease
  • Musculoskeletal problems
  • Viral conditions
  • Bacterial dermatitis
  • Allergic reaction
  • Skin irritation

It may be necessary for a vet to determine which of these is causing the problem, then advise treatment to tackle the underlying condition – after which the feather-picking behaviour should also hopefully resolve itself.

Our vets will be happy to help you out, so please don’t hesitate to book an appointment if you’re worried about your bird’s behaviour or general health.

Behavioural causes of excessive feather plucking

Your bird might also have developed a bad habit as a result of something in its daily life that’s making it unhappy.

This could be:

  • Boredom – in which case you might need to make your bird’s habitat more entertaining
  • Lack of exercise – again, ask us how to improve your bird’s daily routine
  • Inappropriate sleep patterns – there may be improvements you could make to light or temperature

Picking behaviour could also be caused by a desire for companionship – but don’t simply run out and purchase a second bird. Have a chat to us first, to determine whether that would be good for your pet, or whether it might simply introduce further complications.

Plus, if you have a bird or another exotic pet, make sure you sign up for our exotic pet news so you’re among the first to hear our thoughts on animal care, offers and more.