Sunday, March 20, 2011

Parrotlet Health Questions

Hi Sandee,

I think you may be an answer to my prayer. In November 2009, my blue mutation parrotlet, Billy, was diagnosed with an enlarged liver, and was prescribed milk thistle and lactulose. I have been giving him this daily since that time. What else can I do. My vet says that this condition is primarily linked to his diet. My vet says he should be on pellets, but I disagree due to kidney problems seen in parrotlets, especially mutations. Can you suggest a good diet for Billy? Please be specific. I give him a variety of good fresh foods and vegetables daily, progrow birdie bread, and Kashi whole grain pilaf. He also gets a good seed mixture, (although most of his food intake daily is NOT seed), a few cantalope seeds as treats, and Goldenfeast Treat Petite.

I have really tried with this little guy, as I have lost a parrotlet in the past to liver problems. Am I hopeless as a parrotlet mom?

I have prayed so long that I be led to help with Billy, and then I saw you on facebook. Why didn't I think about you sooner? The person that knows everything about parrotlets.

Thank you for any information that you can share.

I'm praying that you folks on the west coast won't be affected by the nuclear waste from Japan.

Jackie, Trixie & Billy in South Carolina

Dear Jackie:

Thank you so much for your very kind email. That is very sweet of you to say. However, I will be the first one to admit I don't know everything about parrotlets - I keep learning every day. That's probably one reason I still keep them after almost 30 years because there is so much to learn.

I am so very sorry to hear about the problems with Billy. You did not mention how old Billy is but I am going to assume he is a fairly young bird - under 5 years of age. Age can be important when liver is involved. Older birds frequently suffer from liver problems and its probably much like the aging process in humans.

You mention Billy is a color mutation. Does the vet think this is a congenital problem? Although there has not been enough data available to make a conclusion, one always has to think about congenital or even genetic problems in color mutations. After all, they are abnormal birds to begin with.

Diet is the usual culprit in liver problems in younger birds. Generally it is blamed on too much fat in the diet although to be honest, I haven't really heard a lot of this in parrotlets. Parrotlets are generally good eaters of a variety of foods and not just 'sunflower seed junkies' the way other parrots such as Amazons or Cockatoos can become. I also find that most parrotlet owners are more willing to take the time to provide a varied diet. Its easier to prepare a couple tablespoons of food rather than huge bowls.

I have never been a big fan of pellets. Probably because I have been around longer than they have. They were created for one reason - the convenience of the keepers. They can also have the added bonus for some birds, again, largely cockatoos and Amazons, of reducing the fat in the diet and helping to reduce fatty liver syndrome in these birds. I am not aware of any studies that have been done on parrotlets in this regard. Furthermore, all pellets are made from seeds - ironically, either sunflower or corn. Corn is not a nutritious grain, it has too much sugar and it is not part of the natural diet of parrotlets. We know that a diet that has a lot of processed foods is not good for people and can lead to diabetes, heart disease, liver problems, stroke and high blood pressure. I don't eat processed foods myself and I don't feed them to my birds. I believe that birds, like people, should eat fresh, whole natural foods. My birds' diet consists of 70% fruit, vegetables, greens, grains, legumes, sprouted seed and egg food. The rest consists of a very high quality parrotlet mix that I have used for 30 years and gave to Volkman's Seed Company. You can get it through and it is called "Parrotlet Super".

I now have three books out on parrotlets. The most recent is called "The Parrotlet Handbook" and was published by Barron's and is available at Barnes and Noble, Amazon and my own website. It has a huge chapter on diet as well as healthful easy recipes that you can make for your own parrotlet.

I do have to say that I am not a vet nor do I play one on the Internet. If your bird is under a vet's care and you are following their protocol, I would not change anything without discussing it with your vet. I will say one more thing about a fresh food diet as opposed to a processed pelleted one, I was talking with the president of a very well-known food company when I was speaking at a convention. I told him what I fed my birds and he told me 'there is no way that any manufacturer can ever make a pellet as nutritious as what you are feeding. But most people will not take the time or effort to feed that kind of diet. So we make the next best thing."

Anyway, I hope you find some of this information helpful. Please keep me posted on Billy's progress. Thank you again for your very kind words and your prayers are appreciated although I am sure we will be fine with the radiation. After all, we went through Chernobyl and that was 1000's worse. But thank you. Take care and best of luck!

Sincerely yours,

Sandee L. Molenda, C.A.S.
The Parrotlet Ranch, Owner,

Join the International Parrotlet Society, – the World’s Largest and Oldest Parrotlet Organization

A Chattering Bird Builds No Nest.
Camaroonian Phrase

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