My parrot is getting older and he seems to have slowed down compared to the previous years. He seems a lot more mellowed out and relaxed and I don’t believe it’s a bad thing. Like us humans, we become slower with age, so I assume it’s the same for my parrot. But the other day it got me thinking, can parrots get dementia? Maybe my parrot is experiencing this mental health issue. This is when I decided to do some research.
At this moment, nobody has studied if birds can get dementia. We know that birds can get slower with age and can also show signs of depression and anxiety. Although you may think your parrot is showing signs of dementia, it could a sign of other bird-related mental illnesses.
We now understand that it’s unsure if parrot can get dementia as it’s not a topic that has been studied in birds yet. However, we do know that they can get other mental related illnesses. During my research I found out about this, It helped me a lot. I thought It would be extra help for our viewers to understand more about other mental illnesses, such as depression and anxiety in birds. It’s important to understand the signs of these illnesses and how to act to prevent them.
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Other Mental Health Issues a Parrot Can Have
As you’re now aware, birds have their own types of depression and anxiety. Both can have a dramatically negative effect on birds. These illnesses can spiral your bird’s health out of control if not taken care of probably. Similar to humans they can get increasingly quiet, aggressive and in some cases, harm themselves through feather plucking. Without further or due, let’s get into this.
Depression is normally the most common mental illness a bird can experience. If there’s a lack of excitement going on in their life and aren’t treated often this could be the issues. It could also be down to the loss of a partner, a missing favourite toy or the general environment they are in. By how can you spot depression in a bird?
Loss of cravings – Us humans and many animals, can also get this indication when feeling depressed or having depression. If your bird has lost its appetite, it could be down to the boredom of the food or that they’ve lost both energy and interested in eating. Birds and in particular parrots have a fast metabolic rate, meaning that they process calories for energy very quickly. If your bird stops eating this could be a huge issue as when there aren’t any calories to burn for energy, they’ll then start to burn fat for energy. This can result in rapid weight loss. If you’re bird shows signs of this for two or more days, I recommend you seek veterinary help right away.
Belligerence behaviour – Another huge sign in a parrot having depression is their behaviour change. But not just any behaviour change, they typically come increasingly aggressive towards other animals or owners. However, this behaviour change shouldn’t be mixed up with seasonal aggression. Sometimes, birds go through hormone-related problems causing them to become violent or unhappy. This will only happen for a short period of time, but if your parrot stays like this you should figure out the reason why. It could be down to their location, how they’re being treated, the lack of toys or freedom they have, etc.
Self-inflicted pain – When birds are feeling depressed, they can resort to inflicting themselves in pain, like plucking their feathers. This isn’t just awful to see your parrot do, but can also develop into a chronic problem if not taken care of properly. If you’re noticing that your parrot is plucking itself over a certain amount of time and you can visually see bald patches popping up on their body, see veterinary help. Seeking help by a professional will ensure that your parrot hasn’t got any illnesses, once you’ve ruled that out you can then start to treat the depression. A lot of the time, parrots will start this type of behaviour when they are extremely bored, not getting enough attention from either their owners or other birds, and living in conditions that aren’t suitable for them.
A shift in vocals – what do I mean by this? We’ll if your familiar with your parrot’s vocals you should be able to notice a change. Typically, you’ll understand the pitch of their voice and when it changes it could mean that they’re experiencing depression. This shouldn’t be mixed with the standard behaviour of a bird as they are generally quite noisy creatures. But if you’re bird is screaming or shouting out of nowhere. It could mean that they are bored or frustrated. Some people say a quick fix to this will be to just spend more time with your bird.
Stress bars – When a bird is experiencing such mental issues like depression you may be able to tell due to “stress bars”. They’re physically shown on parrots and can indicate to us that the parrot is stressed. These are lines that run crosswise through the feather shaft (commonly shown on the back of the parrot and wings). If your bird is showing stress bars it should be taken critically and a solution is a must. Just remember, stress bars also appear if your parrot is on a poor diet.
Depression and anxiety in birds show similar indications. But typically, if a bird is more shy or timid this could show more signs of anxiety rather than depression.
Violence – If you’re bird is in an anxious state it can inflict violence if not approached correctly. Birds are very stuck-up and when they don’t want to be handled or are anxious about being handled they will attack due to fear.
Stress Bars – As mentioned above, stress bars are a strong indicator that your bird is undergoing stress. Stress can then lead to anxiety, if you spot horizontal “stripes” or “bars” across the back of your parrot and it’s wings. It can be a sign that your bird is experiencing stress and therefore should be treated right away.
Feather picking – Another one which is commonly a sign of stress and depression. Feather picking could also be a sign of anxiety. It’s been shown that some birds will “pick” their feathers of and even start going for their skin and sometimes through to the bone. This is under some extreme circumstances, but if such mental health issues that occur in a bird aren’t treated correctly. This is what can happen.
Change in Behaviour – The next two symptoms are hard to understand unless you truly understand you parrots everyday behaviour patterns. If your bird’s behaviour dramatically changes over a period of time or every single day. It could be a sign of possible health problems like anxiety. You should try things such as changing your bird’s environment, spending more time with them, mixing up there food/toys.
Repeated Behaviour – Understanding your bird’s body languages and behavioural patterns will really help with this. If you know what signs your parrot shows when it’s stress, that perfect. You’ll be able to see an increase in these patterns and realize that you’re seeing it more often and you can then act on it before it gets too much.
How to Stop Your parrots From Getting Mental Health Issues
Preventing your parrot from experience mental health issue just requires you to take more care and take into consideration of how you would feel if you were them. From doing some research, I come to find that a parrot’s brain works similar to humans. If they are stuck in the same environment, with the same toys and continually eating the same food, they might run into mental health issues.
For example, if we ate the same food in the same room every day we’ll become bored and frustrated and this is the same for your parrot.
However, sometimes it can be uncontrollable. They may show signs of mental health issues, despite being treated great their whole life. If you see any of the below signs, seek veterinary advise and act on it fast.
- Loss of cravings
- Belligerence behaviour
- Self-inflicted pain
- A shift in vocals
- Stress bars
- Change in Behaviour
- Repeated Behaviour
My top tips to prevent such mental issues would be;
- Change the environment of the cage, a lot of the time a bird can get bored with being in the same location.
- Deep clean both the cage and other food or water source. Over time these can become dirty and a bird may be losing appetite because of this.
- Introduce new foods and toys into their life. They can become frustrated with repeated things, mixing it up can help with this a lot.
- Start spending more time with them, creating more “play” time or “petting” sessions can make the bird feel like they’re loved and have a companion.
- If your bird is still experiencing issues, you should seek professional help.