Lost parrot: what to do?

Tue 03, Apr, 2018
Lost parrot: what to do?

Lost parrot: what to do?

One of the greatest fears for a parrot owner is to see it flee, knowing there’s a high risk of not finding him anymore. Unfortunately, this event is possible with both normal and hand fed parrots. Hand fed parrots can in fact escape in response to being suddenly scared, getting away from the area they know and preventing them from finding their way back home. Surely, a strong bond with a well-trained animal helps in preventing escapes but absolute certainty, unfortunately, can never be obtained. The use of the harness is a sufficient warranty to prevent unpredictable escapes. Keep in mind that even parrots that were raised by their parents in captivity, after escaping are not able to get food efficiently. In addition, there are various hazards, especially in urban environments (glasses, cars, cables, etc.), without even considering the presence of predators such as felines or corvids. We must therefore hurry and resort to every necessary measure to maximize the chances of a finding.

Lost parrot: what to do?

Lost parrot: what to do?

In case of escape, the area we need to monitor is approximately 1.5-2 km around the escape point. In this perimeter we can place flyers that allow to clearly identify the fugitive, providing also the owner’s contact information. It is always advisable to indicate that the irregular detention of animals protected by the CITES Convention is punishable by law, in order to discourage those who may think to adopt the newly found parrot. Lastly, a reward is certainly useful to increase the chances of the parrot’s return. Flyers and notices can be strategically positioned in aggregation places (schools, churches, etc.) but also inside veterinary clinics and pet shops. Using internet or social networks is a very effective method to track lost parrots. On Facebook there are special groups dedicated to lost & found animals: we recommend finding the group corresponding to your residence area and publishing an announcement following the same guidelines recommended for the flyer. Finally, it is possible to warn the territory competent CITES centre denouncing the escape by providing our parrot’s identifications data, it is essential to use ring number and/or microchip.

Lost parrot: what to do?

Lost parrot: what to do?

In addition, you can also start looking for the escaped parrot, focusing in your search on the green areas. If the escape occurs in the evening, it is very hard to get a result in the dark, the advice is to begin the search the next day, at dawn. As a general rule, morning and evening are the best moments for searching, as parrots are more active and may come down from higher places to look for food. They can also start vocalizing allowing us to locate them. If hand fed, you can try to call your parrot, alternatively it is very useful to use conspecific parrots as a decoy. This method often allows to locate escaped parrots when responding to their respective calls. Sometimes this is enough to make parrots return to the owner or near the cage containing the decoy. In the case of hand fed parrots, it is also possible to use games or foods that are particularly appreciated.
As the time passes, the chances of finding it drop drastically. A fugitive parrot may be easier to capture if weakened but always keep in mind that stress can be lethal in very weak animals. In any situation it is in fact advisable to opt for the less stressful capture or recovery system for the parrot. In some cases, the help of firefighters may be necessary, especially if the animal is stuck at great heights. If the parrot is equipped with a ring or even a harness, you can’t exclude that it can end up trapped on trees or buildings, in this case it must be located in a short time, considering the impossibility of drinking or eating.

Lost parrot: what to do?

Lost parrot: what to do?

Unfortunately, the finding often does not occur or occurs in the worst way… However, if you manage to find your parrot, it is recommended to quickly ascertain the apparent health status, in particular the state of nutrition and the presence of wounds or fractures. After coming back home, leave the animal in absolute tranquillity and immediately provide water and food. If the animal is particularly weak, you can use a brooder. If it does not eat or there are conspicuous wounds or fractures, it is advisable to take it to the reference avian veterinarian: it will probably need intensive care. If the parrot eats and does not show conspicuous damage, you can proceed with more calm, however a veterinary visit in the following days is still recommended. In fact, the environment does not only threaten our parrot’s health with hunger and lesions but also with infectious agents and parasites, which are less evident but still dangerous.

Lost parrot: what to do?

Lost parrot: what to do?

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Mon 26, Mar, 2018
Veterinary FAQs, part 1 (by Dr

Veterinary FAQs, part 1 (by Dr. Lorenzo Bassi, DVM)

I’m going to buy a new parrot, what should I do?
Before the sale it is possible to ask the breeder or the seller if he has a supporting veterinarian and, therefore, if any diagnostic test or sexing have been carried out on the animal. In case they have not been carried out, PCR tests for the search of pathogens such as circovirus, polyomavirus and chlamydia are particularly useful, especially if there are already other parrots in the family, in order to prevent infections. Even without other parrots at home, chlamydia test is recommended because it is a pathology that can be transmitted to humans. A first clinical visit is highly recommended especially if little is known about the parrot health status at the time of purchase. While waiting for exam results or however before the introduction, it is recommended to keep the new arrivals in quarantine.

Veterinary FAQs, part 1 (by Dr. Lorenzo Bassi, DVM)

Veterinary FAQs, part 1 (by Dr. Lorenzo Bassi, DVM)

Male or female?

The gender of a parrot can affect his life as a pet, even if there is no intention to have it reproduce. In fact, according to species, different gender can have different character aspects. In particular, females can be very territorial and this can lead to relationship problems with the owner and other cohabiting animals. Furthermore, females may face problems related to egg laying. When a female parrot identifies the owner as a partner, it is possible that she begins to lay unwanted eggs. These depositions, like those of natural origin, can lead to dystocia and therefore to egg binding. In some cases, the laying can become chronic, greatly weakening the animal. There are remedies such as preventive salpingo-hysterectomy (sterilization) or the application of subcutaneous hormonal implants (suprelorin). According to these aspects, it is probably less problematic to choose for a male, even if sometimes sexual dimorphism may make a female more desirable. In addition, at the time of the purchase, the sex of the animal is often unknown. It is therefore always recommended to perform a molecular or endoscopic sexing on your pet, it is useful information, especially in emergency situations.

Veterinary FAQs, part 1 (by Dr. Lorenzo Bassi, DVM)

Veterinary FAQs, part 1 (by Dr. Lorenzo Bassi, DVM)

Are regular veterinary checks necessary?

Yes, definitely. Regular visits performed by an avian vet are the best guarantee for a long and healthy life. If there are no particular problems, an annual check can consist in a simple clinical examination of the animal, checking also its droppings. At the discretion of the veterinarian, a blood count and/or biochemical test can also be performed to assess the organic immune and metabolic status.
My parrot isn’t feeling well, what can I do?
Take it to the vet. There are no alternatives other than taking a huge risk that can even lead to animal’s death. As for all birds, overt symptom manifestation corresponds to a serious pathological state already. In wildlife in fact, birds usually hide their malaise as long as possible as a defence against predators. If it is not possible to immediately transport the animal to the vet, there are some measures that can give you extra time (but NEVER replace a professional visit). If available, place the animal in a warm brooder at a 30° temperature. You can record the weight of the parrot with a food scale and perhaps compare it with past data to see if it’s losing weight, this information will be useful to the vet. If the parrot does not eat, it is possible to administer hand-feeding products using a feeding tube, better if the product is specifically studied for the age and the species. Approximately 10% of body weight should be used as an indication for the dose. The advice is to administer these meals only if you are confident with the hand-feeding practice, otherwise it is not recommended. DO NOT administer any medication, even after an internet research: in most of the cases the do-it-yourself has tragic results. If abnormal droppings are observed, it is possible to collect them to allow the veterinarian to analyse the sample later. Finally, it is recalled that describing the symptoms to the vet by telephone may be useful to define additional temporary measures, but this still cannot allow your vet to define neither diagnosis nor therapy, the visit remains essential.

Veterinary FAQs, part 1 (by Dr. Lorenzo Bassi, DVM)

Veterinary FAQs, part 1 (by Dr. Lorenzo Bassi, DVM)

What is the best diet?
The perfect parrot diet would be the one its species has in wildlife. Sometimes it is possible to reproduce it, based on food availability and preparation time. More often this is not possible but there are valid alternative solutions. Extruded pellets are a complete food and theoretically can satisfy all the nutritional needs of a parrot. It is recommended to pay attention when choosing the most suitable product for the species and, if there are no particular needs, to choose products designed for normal maintenance. Adding fresh fruit and vegetables is surely useful, both from the nutritional and environmental enrichment point of view. Even seeds can be administered but with moderation. A seed-only diet is harmful to almost every parrot in long term. Another valid integration consists of a mixture of cereals and legumes. These can be soaked in water for 12-24h and then passed in the microwave for 2 minutes. The combination of the foods mentioned above can be a good maintenance diet for many species of parrot, but it is advisable to seek for expert advice for each case.

Veterinary FAQs, part 1 (by Dr. Lorenzo Bassi, DVM)

Veterinary FAQs, part 1 (by Dr. Lorenzo Bassi, DVM)

What are the recommended sizes for the cage/aviary?

As a general rule, the more space we can dedicate to our parrot’s cage, the better is. There are no real minimum dimensions as everything must be calibrated according to the management. A parrot that spends most of its time outside the cage does not need exaggerated dimensions. On the contrary, if you have little time to dedicate, would be nice if the cage could allow the animal to fly. In the case of large parrots, you will probably need outdoor aviaries. In any case, we recommend a cage that at least allows the animal to completely extend its wings.

For more information, you can read our article dedicated to accommodation and accessories.

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Wed 07, Mar, 2018
Plumage and molt in parrots

Plumage and molt in parrots

Parrots, like all of the birds, have more specialized skin appendages than mammals: feathers. These structures, made of keratin, have been forged by evolution in order to have different functions. Feathers have insulating properties and allow parrots to maintain their body temperatures, exceeding 40 degrees. The main feather type that determines this characteristic are powder feathers, next to the skin. Feathers are also light but resistant, allowing parrots to fly (flight feathers) and ensuring total protection of the skin from external agents (coverts). For each type, however, the basic feather structure is always the same. We’ll start the description from the root, fixed in the skin, from which the quill is prolonged: it’s the “base” of the feather that is still free from the vane. The vane is attached to the quill shaft that runs along the feather along its length. The vane is the “colored” part of the feather and compose the bird livery. The vane is a microscopical reticulate, in fact, there are barbs departing from the rachis, which are divided into barbules. Barbules are equipped with small hooks that hook with those of other barbules, forming feather’s uniform surface. It’s interesting to note that even a small parakeet has from 2000 to 3000 feathers in its plumage.

Plumage and molt in parrots

Plumage and molt in parrots

Feathers are subjected to great mechanical stress in every situation of a parrot’s life, they must therefore be renewed beyond a certain time limit. The control unit is the follicle, each one manages the growth of a single feather, based on hormonal stimuli received from parrot’s organism. This control is precise, nothing left to chance, it is natural considering the importance of these structures. For example, the accidental loss of a fight feather causes the loss and re-growth of the corresponding one on the other wing, to not unbalance the flight. Even the complete replacement of the plumage, the molt, takes place respecting precise rules. The plumage makes up to 10% of a parrot’s weight, three times than the skeleton. Given the expensive amount of energy and nutrients used to produce all these feathers, molt can’t overlap the reproductive period, another critical phase in a parrot’s life. The organism, for reproduction, it’s stimulated by the days lengthening, and activates the sexual organs reducing also the functionality of the thyroid, responsible for the molt. On the contrary, the shortening of the days suppresses the of sexual organs and stimulates the activity of the thyroid. In this way molt does not overlap the reproductive period and in fact, generally, it’s consecutive.

Plumage and molt in parrots

Plumage and molt in parrots

The molt phase requires the maximum organic efficiency from our parrot. We can therefore easily understand why this can be interrupted or even skipped due to pathological states. A sick parrot can in fact greatly slow down his molt. The state of the plumage can be also indicative of the health of organs such as the liver: many of the observable alterations can be connected to liver diseases.

Plumage and molt in parrots

Plumage and molt in parrots

Let’s now consider the particular condition of captive parrots. Our friends are not subject to natural light stimuli, nor to faithfully seasonal temperatures. This means that the molt will not be always regular and that feather replacement is distributed throughout the year. However, they can still have a period where the molt is more intense and larger feathers are replaced. In these periods, clearly identifiable by the owner, it is recommended to feed the birds with foods rich in calcium and vitamin A. At the same time, it is good to not expose parrots to air currents, particularly harmful during the molt. Low temperatures are not the danger, heavy thermal excursions are. A parrot can live outdoor even in winter without problems, as long as his body had time to adapt to the situation. In particular, fat accumulations and the molt must have naturally followed the season passage, in this way parrots can overcome the winter without problems.

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Thu 25, Jan, 2018
Feather-plucking in parrots (b

Feather-plucking in parrots (by Dr. Lorenzo Bassi, DVM)

Often, during the clinical practice, veterinarians have to treat parrots suffering from feather-plucking. The presentation of this symptom may have so many causes that the veterinarian himself has difficulty in identifying the correct one, it is also possible that more than one can coexist in the same animal. To better understand the issue let’s consider that feather-plucking is nothing more than an aberration of a normal parrot behaviour: the physiological plumage care, normally consisting in cleaning and smoothing. When a factor undermines a parrot’s psychophysical wellness, it can cause feather-plucking.
A cause that is relatively easy to exclude (for specialized vets) is the parasitic one. Parrots can in fact get infested by lice and mites, which cause feather-plucking due to their irritating action. Skin parasites are not the only ones that can cause feather-plucking, even intestinal parasites such as Giardia can trigger this behaviour. Parrots’ skin can also be attacked by various bacteria and fungi: the irritation caused by these infections can lead the parrot to tear off its feathers. Usually, skin infections are secondary as a complication of a primary factor (trauma, malnutrition, poor hygiene, immunosuppression, etc.).

Feather-plucking in parrots (by Dr. Lorenzo Bassi, DVM)

Feather-plucking in parrots (by Dr. Lorenzo Bassi, DVM)

Another aspect to keep in mind is food. A deficient or unbalanced diet leads very easily to plumage alterations. The earliest alteration sign is represented by the “stress bars”, dark lines marking the feathers trough their length. This single condition usually doesn’t lead the parrot to feather-plucking. In case of extreme malnutrition, however, skin and plumage conditions may be so altered that the animal can start pecking its own feathers. In some cases, even when the diet is balanced, adverse reactions against certain foods may occur. This sort of “allergy” can have repercussions on the skin, irritating it and leading the parrot to feather-plucking.
A pathology that is often involved in feather-plucking cases is called polyfolliculosis. The origin of this pathological condition is not clear; it consists in several feathers (usually altered) growing from the same follicle. The presence of many altered follicles on a parrot’s body can cause great annoyance for the animal, which usually tears off feathers from affected areas (usually: hips, rump, ventral neck). However, it’s important to remember that many other diseases can cause feather-plucking, as a simple sickness manifestation. This malaise, therefore, has not necessarily dermatological origin but can also derive from other organs.

Feather-plucking in parrots (by Dr. Lorenzo Bassi, DVM)

Last but not least, among the medical causes of feather-plucking there are viral infections by circovirus and poliomavirus. Both can cause great discomfort and immunosuppression in our parrots, facilitating the occurrence of every other feather-plucking mentioned before. In addition, unfortunately, both infections can lead to heavy plumage alterations and, most likely, to feather-plucking. This behaviour is often associated with stunted feather regrowth when these infections occur. These are serious infectious diseases with no cure, we always recommend a test for both viruses before introducing new parrots in an existing group.
Unfortunately, there are also non-medical causes: feather-plucking can in fact have a psychological origin. Our parrots are very intelligent animals and therefore some situations can frustrate them to their limit, leading them to this abnormal behaviour. When a psychological origin is suspected, the information given to the vet must be precise and complete. Sometimes it is possible to identify the stress source that triggered the feather-plucking and thus the problem is solved. In other cases, especially in chronic ones, removing the stressor is not enough to stop feather-plucking, which has become a permanent behaviour. When sudden changes occur in a parrot’s life (such as variations in activity habits, housing or interactions) it is important to restore the original situation as soon as possible, before the behaviour loses correlation with the triggering cause. In selected cases, the veterinarian can even resort to use psychotropic drugs.
In conclusion, we emphasize one again that feather-plucking is a complex issue, both for causes and for solutions. Treatment can often require a lot of time and consistency by the owner, supported by the veterinarian.

Follow the new article “Drug usage in parrots (By Dr. Lorenzo Bassi, DVM)”—–>>> http://www.parrotsforfriends.com/?p=1204&lang=en  

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Sun 21, Jan, 2018
Parrot hybridization

Parrot hybridization

Depending on genetic affinity, it is possible to make crossings between specific groups of parrot species. This phenomenon has always attracted the attention of breeders, who have experimented various combinations in order to obtain animals with new colours and to transfer mutations from one species to another. Hybridization is certainly under debate, as it involves the alteration of the genetic heritage of a species with loss of the original wild genotype. Therefore, the conservation role of the captive breeding of these species is lost. In this article we will simply describe the phenomenon for information, highlighting some of the most famous examples.

Parrot hybridization

Parrot hybridization

When crossing two different species, it is possible to obtain hybrids or mongrels, depending on the genetic similarity of the parents. However, if the species are too genetically distant, it is impossible to obtain any kind of crossing. In particular, we talk about hybrids when the offspring from the crossing is sterile, whereas they are defined mongrels if fertile. To better understand this concept, we can think about what happens in lovebirds, from the Agapornis genus. This genus includes the so-called “eye-ringed” group (A. fischeri, personatus, lilianae and nigrigenis) and other species, including A. roseicollis. Crossing a roseicollis with any of the eye-ringed species will produce sterile hybrids of intermediate phenotype. This happens because the eye-ringed species belong to an evolutionary line that is quite distant from roseicollis. On the other hand, by combining two eye-ringed birds from different species (eg personatus x fischeri), fertile mongrels are obtained. It will be possible to further cross these birds, which belong to neither of the species. However, this feature has been exploited by breeders to “transfer” mutations from one species to another. The correct term is “transmutation” and has been used, for example, to bring the blue mutation originated in A. personatus, to A. fischeri. A. personatus-fischeri mongrels carrying the blue mutation have been paired for generations and generations with fischeri only, until blue subjects phenotypically undistinguishable from A. fischeri were obtained. However, at least on a theoretical level, these birds can’t be considered genetically pure, this practice leads in fact to a genetic contamination of the species, with consequent imperfections visible even in the wildtype.

Parrot hybridization

Parrot hybridization

Even among the different species of macaws it is possible to obtain mongrels and hybrids. These crossings give birth to unique colour combinations that have their own name. To simplify, Ara ararauna (blue and gold macaw) is used as starting species, as it is certainly the most widespread and common. The main classified colours are determined by first generation hybrids, which are the offspring of pairs composed by two different natural species. Some breeders have also experimented with pairings made by fertile mongrels, obtaining additional colour combinations.
By pairing Ara ararauna with Ara macao, birds called Catalina macaw are obtained. This hybridization can rarely occur even in wildlife, in fact, Catalina macaw specimens has been spotted in the wild. The body of the Catalina macaw has an orange-yellow colour. The upper part of the head is green, like the covering feathers, while the flight feathers are blue.
By pairing Ara ararauna with Ara chloropterus, the so-called Harlequin macaw is obtained. The offspring of this hybridization mainly inherits the paternal species characteristics. Harlequin macaws have never been observed in the wild. Body colour is like in Catalina macaw, with a colour tone closer to red. It also has some green and blue on shoulders and wings.
The crossing between Ara ararauna and Ara militaris generates the Miligold macaw. This hybrid has a characteristic green-aquamarine colour. The abdomen is yellow, whereas it has blue hues on the back and on the wings. The facial mask is characterized by a lot of black plumage. A rather similar crossing is the Bluffons macaw, that is the hybrid from Buffon’s macaw and A. ararauna.
Lastly, Ara ararauna can also be paired with the Hyacinth macaw, giving birth to the Caloshua macaw. It is a very rare hybrid characterized by yellow breast that fades with the head’s aquamarine. This hybrid has no mask and therefore its face recalls the Hyacinth macaw, whereas the colour of the back and the wings recalls instead Ara ararauna’s blue.

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Sun 14, Jan, 2018
A parrot’s home: housing and

A parrot’s home: housing and accessories

Housing is an extremely important aspect for domestic parrots as it directly affects both physical and psychological wellness. A correctly sized cage and the right arrangement of the accessories allows the parrots to maintain its fitness through muscle development. At the same time, enriching the environment where a parrot lives most of the time helps in maintaining a balanced behavior. They are in fact very intelligent animals and so they need different environmental stimuli.

A parrot’s home: housing and accessories

A parrot’s home: housing and accessories

The ideal condition, in general, would be a large outdoor aviary with enough space for flights, enriched with natural elements such as plants and simple toys (ropes, sticks etc). Obviously, it is not always possible to offer this kind of accommodation, but the principles set out below can be applied to indoor cages too. The orientation must be horizontal, it is absolutely essential in order to make the most from the available space, allowing parrots to fly. In a tall and narrow cage, parrots will always tend to occupy only the top part, making only minimal movements. The aviary must be made of metal and must not release toxic fragments. Galvanized iron or steel are the best solutions in most of the cases. Grid meshes must be proportionate to the size of the animal and grid orientation must facilitate climbing, vertical bars are therefore to be avoided. The ideal floor is made of concrete, hygienic and easy to clean. In indoor cages, different litters can be used, just make sure they aren’t toxic and dusty. An outdoor structure also requires a well-protected area from weather conditions, from air currents in particular. In fact, in temperate zones, cold is generally not a big problem, but temperature changes and air currents are dangerous. Insulating panels can be used for this purpose.
Depending on size and number of parrots, sufficient manger and drinking troughs must be placed to avoid competition. Moreover, manger position must be chosen in order to avoid parrots to dirty them with their feces. This is possible by avoiding all the spots below perches, toys or other places on which parrots can stand. Swivel steel feeders are the most comfortable to handle and keep clean. Finally, accessories and perches arrangement must allow the longest flight possible in the aviary. This result is achieved by creating a corridor without obstacles that runs along the aviary through its length, best if located in the highest part, placing two perches at the ends. In this corridor, that must take into account bird’s wingspan, will not be present neither accessories nor perches higher than those at the ends. Best perches are natural ones, made of non-toxic woods such as willow or hazel. The average diameter must be proportionate to the bird’s foot, too large or too small perches may cause feet injuries. The natural variability of the wood diameter allows a correct paw muscle exercise, moreover, the possibility of gnawing away the wood truly entertains parrots.

A parrot’s home: housing and accessories

A parrot’s home: housing and accessories

In addition to the perches, cages can be also equipped with different toys. The choice can be made based on bird’s preferences but there are some concepts to keep in mind. Toys must be compatible with animal size: a plastic game for parakeets can be destroyed and ingested by a grey parrot, with unpleasant consequences. Toys must also be made from non-toxic material, use only accessories explicitly created for birds or, alternatively, from natural origin. When using ropes as a toy, always make sure that fibers can’t bind to bird’s plumage or feet. All available space should be exploited with intelligence, according to the principles we have talked about, overshadowing the aesthetic aspect: you absolutely should not fill the cage with toys reducing space for flight.
In most cases, the space provided by indoor cages is not sufficient or badly structured. This is especially true for large parrots held at home, the ideal condition would be to have a room completely dedicated to them. When this is not possible, it is advisable to let the parrot come out as often as possible, especially if the cage is small (which should in any case at least allow the bird to completely spread its wings). As for small parrots, many of the cages commercially available are designed to please the owner’s aesthetic taste and not for the bird’s wellness. In fact, even for smaller friends, rectangular cages with horizontal orientation are preferable.

Follow the new article “Dangers at home” ——>>> http://www.parrotsforfriends.com/?p=637&lang=en  

 

 

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Tue 19, Dec, 2017
PET THERAPY

PET THERAPY

The term “Pet therapy” or “zootherapy”, refers to a “gentle” therapy based on the interaction between man and animal, which integrates and strengthens traditional therapies. Pet therapy can be used on patients with different pathologies, aiming to behavioural, physical, cognitive, psychosocial and psychologic-emotional wellness. Therefore, pet therapy is not a therapy by itself, but a co-therapy that accompanies a traditional therapy in progress. The purpose of such co-therapies is to facilitate the patient approach on the part of various medical and rehabilitative figures, especially when the patient does not demonstrate spontaneous collaboration. The presence of an animal allows in many cases to consolidate an emotional relationship with the patient and to establish a patient-animal-physician communication channel, stimulating the active participation of the patient, with positive effects on their mood. Pet therapy has far-reaching roots: at the end of the eighteenth-century contact with several animals was already used to improve wellness. Pet therapy was later described for the first time around 1960 by the infant psychiatrist Boris Levinson that observed the benefits of animal company applied to the care of his patients. Levinson noticed how the caring for an animal by psychiatric patients or people with motor disorders could help calming down anxiety, stress and depression, increasing also the self-control. Levinson’s patients showed interest in taking care of weaker creatures than they were. In Italy, pet therapy has received official recognition only in 2009; it has been introduced in many hospitals, nursing homes and communities.

PET THERAPY

PET THERAPY

Professional figures in pet therapy
Project manager: a healthcare professional;
Veterinarian: evaluates animal behavioural and health requirements, hygiene and animal welfare;
Intervention coordinator: may be a psychologist, psychotherapist, educator, nurse/health assistant, doctor in physical education and sports, psychomotricist etc.
Animal curator: promotes the human-animal relationship and monitors animal health status and welfare in collaboration with the veterinarian. This figure usually lives every day in close contact with the animal, almost in symbiosis, in order to deeply understand its moods and movements.
Before any animal can take part in this project, the veterinarian must conduct a series of clinical examinations to exclude the possibility that the animal could transmit diseases to humans.

Therapeutic effects
Benefits on patients are incredible, as animals can stimulate play, calm people, improve empathy and help in socialization. Last but not least they can fill with happiness the endless hours that small patients pass in the hospitals.

Species involved
In pet therapy, animals involved must possess precise physical and character qualities, they must in fact be docile and used to staying with groups of people, without reacting negatively to stimuli or unpredictable situations. It is essential to identify the right animal for each individual patient, basing the choice on personal preferences and psycho-physical capabilities. It is also important to analyse specific phobias, allergies and emotional response during the first sessions. For example, if several dogs are available, the dog-patient combination must be defined taking into account the size of the dog, character and hair type.

PET THERAPY

PET THERAPY

The most frequently used animal species for pet therapy are:
(Some are still experimental, as for them we talk about AAA – “Assisted Animal Activities”)
Dogs: dog is the most common choice, as a pet that is strongly prepared to establish a relationship of mutual dependence with the owner.
Cats: the contact with cat’s hair is pleasant and relaxing, and its purring gives an immediate response of the animal’s attention.
Rabbits and hamsters are generally usable with younger patients due to their size and poor aggressiveness.
Parrots: they can stimulate cheerfulness and positive moods, are often used in projects for older people (nursing home) and for detainees.
Turtles: their care facilitates the responsibilities takeover and reduces the feeling of inadequacy.
Horses (hippotherapy): they are without doubt charming animals and with them it’s possible to establish a relationship that gives intense gratification.
Donkeys (onotherapy): it’s based on exclusive features of these animals, such as pleasure to the touch, patience, slow and repetitive movements. They establish a reassuring relationship.
Dolphins: with their indole they can help a lot both depressed and autistic patients.
Farm animals (cows, goats, sheep): these species have recently been employed with excellent results.
Fish: observing fish aquariums leads to a stress reduction and muscle tension.

PET THERAPY

Who is it for?
Pet therapy is especially useful with children with psychological and behavioural problems, autism, for people with physical or mental disabilities and for the elderly.

In depth view of the use of parrots
It has been widely demonstrated that the presence of hand fed parrots in some facilities, such as nursing homes, improves the mood of guests by offering cheerfulness and carefree. The use of these birds is particularly effective thanks to the ability of reproducing human language, they in fact stimulate the patient in responding and interacting. Naturally, the opposite can also happen, with the patient stimulating the parrot’s talking activity. During the activity, parrots are left free to interact with patients in proper rooms. From this co-therapy has emerged that patients with poor attention or those with problems in motor skills tend to increase their body control. As for the language aspect, patients can become used to talking to the animal for expressing their emotions, which may be complicated for cognitively compromised patients in a normal inter-human relationship.

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Wed 13, Dec, 2017
TALKING PARROTS

TALKING PARROTS

The capability of parrots to reproduce human vocalizations has fascinated us for centuries. The first record of a talking parrot is dated around the fifth century BC and it was probably a plum-headed parakeet. Birds do not have neither vocal cords nor lips, yet they can produce a wide range of sounds thanks to the syrinx, the typical bird phonatory organ that is located along the trachea, on the bronchi bifurcation. Parrots are not the only birds capable of reproducing sounds, even other species, such as the common hull myna and the jay, can be good talkers. However, this ability reaches its peak in parrot species, due to the extreme specialization that this behavior has in wildlife. Wild parrots use in fact their wide range of vocalizations for different purposes.

TALKING PARROTS

TALKING PARROTS

We can say that certain wild parrot populations possess a real “language” made of shouts and whistles, which changes from area to area. This allows families and groups of these parrots to recognize their members and to alienate strangers when hearing a different “language”. Because of this phenomenon, it is possible that a parrot knowing human words can teach them to his flock while returning to wildlife. The sounds making up this “language” can be conditioned by the environment: in public parks in Australia it’s possible to hear wild parrots repeating simple words frequently used by people, such as greetings. In the wild this ability can also be used to mimic larger birds, to intimidate potential predators.
Due to the numerous situations in which this ability can be useful, it has been maintained and improved during evolution. With man’s help, parrots are able to overcome their limits and learn hundreds of words. But…is it just a simple repetition, or there’s something more? Researchers disagree on the subject, although Dr. Irene Pepperberg’s experiments have shown interesting results. Dr. Pepperberg is a researcher from Harvard University who has devoted her professional life to the study of animal cognitive abilities. Her name is often associated with Alex, acronym of Avian Learning EXperiment.

TALKING PARROTS

TALKING PARROTS

Alex was an African grey parrot that was able to learn a wide vocabulary thanks to Dr. Pepperberg. Alex has also shown that he was able use the words he learned in different situations, for example to answer questions or solve simple puzzles. This suggests that Alex had learned to associate a meaning to each word and that he was able to combine words according to logic. Let’s take an example: even if Alex had never seen a yellow cylinder, he could be still able to describe it, knowing the concepts of “cylinder” shape and “yellow” color. The training method used by Dr. Pepperberg consisted in placing Alex to attend dialogues between two people, one of whom asking and receiving interesting objects and treats. This method stimulated Alex to do the same to get attention. Thanks to Alex’s efforts, scientific community started to think that parrot words are not a simple repetition: on the contrary, it could be one of the greatest intelligence demonstrations in the animal kingdom.
Alex died prematurely in 2007 at the age of 30, without even expressing his full potential. His last words were “You be good, see you tomorrow. I love you”, the same he used to say goodbye to his friend Irene every night when she left the lab.

Follow the new article “Curiosities through the 5 senses —–>>> http://www.parrotsforfriends.com/?p=986&lang=en  

 

 

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Wed 13, Dec, 2017
Drug usage in parrots (By Dr.

Drug usage in parrots (By Dr. Lorenzo Bassi, DVM)

Drugs are an important resource for our parrots, they allow to fight infections, to reduce pain due to trauma and to restore the body balance in case of illness. Avian medicine is a very specific veterinary branch, which deals with very particular species. Birds have a fast metabolism and a physiology that differs a lot from mammals: this affects therapies with any kind of drug. Improper use, such as the use of human medications without prudence, can be very damaging to our friends, even lethal in some cases. Addressing to a specialized veterinarian is essential for a safe therapy, even when you are considering using drugs with no prescription. In last years, avian medicine has developed a lot and today veterinarians can know therapeutic doses for most of the avian species, in addition to side effects and toxicity. Some drugs, for example, can be safely used in birds only with the addition of specific vitamins. Furthermore, the need of a certain drug is evaluated by the veterinarian only after the clinical visit. It’s unthinkable that “homemade” treatments can be carried out without endangering our parrot’s health.

Drug usage in parrots (By Dr. Lorenzo Bassi, DVM)

Drug usage in parrots (By Dr. Lorenzo Bassi, DVM)

An incorrect drug usage may be harmful to humans too. There is in fact a specific problem with antibiotic drugs usage: the antibiotic resistance. Antibiotic resistance is the ability of bacteria to withstand these drugs. This resistance develops when the drug is used excessively or incorrectly. In these conditions bacteria can acquire the ability to survive the action of antibiotics very quickly. Therefore, infections by these resistant bacteria can become very hard to treat. In the worst cases, resistance may be so extreme that it does not allow the treatment with any antibiotic drug. A common cause leading to antibiotic resistance is the interruption of the therapy just as the animal’s (or human’s) health improves. This is strongly discouraged, since the infection may still be present, and a discontinuous therapy may favour resistant bacteria. It’s also necessary to comply with the veterinarian’s prescription when using antibiotics, always strictly respecting dosage and duration. These resistances can be very dangerous for humans. Bacteria can in fact transmit antibiotic resistance to each other and eventually threaten people. If resistant pathogenic bacteria infect a human, the treatment will be much more complicated, and symptoms heavier.

Drug usage in parrots (By Dr. Lorenzo Bassi, DVM)

Drug usage in parrots (By Dr. Lorenzo Bassi, DVM)

Sometimes in parrots, especially during breeding, antibiotic therapy is done indiscriminately or without necessity. This happens when the breeder doesn’t consult a specialized veterinarian. Antibiotic therapies are in fact often not necessary for good reproduction results, especially if animals are healthy. Drug resistant bacteria arising from this misapplication can reach our homes directly when buying a parrot from these breeders. In my graduation thesis I observed that resistant bacteria can be found in parrots both domestic and from breeding. If a parrot is healthy it doesn’t need any antibiotic to maintain its health. A varied and complete diet and hygiene of the cage are far more important. By providing clean seeds and fresh vegetables every week, with proper calcium supply, you do already a lot for their health. Such a diet provides sufficient energy, vitamins and minerals to maintain perfect immune defences. Additional fats and proteins can be needed, especially during reproduction, but with no exaggerations. Finally, a regular cage cleaning reduces the risk of infection, regardless of the parrot’s immune status. It is therefore advisable to always address to serious breeders who rely on a specialized veterinarian when buying a parrot. This will minimize the risk of taking home weak animals and resistant antibiotic bacteria.

Follow the new article “Common infectious and parasitic diseases in cage birds”—–>>> http://www.parrotsforfriends.com/?p=458&lang=en  

 

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Wed 08, Nov, 2017
CURIOSITIES THROUGH THE 5 SENS

CURIOSITIES THROUGH THE 5 SENSES

Sight
Parrots have a well-developed vision, they have in fact very large eyeballs compared to the head size. They can perceive more colors than humans, thanks to a particular type of sensory cells that allow parrots to see UV light. Parrots perceive colors as much “brighter” than humans so they don’t love intense tones. The worst color for parrots is red: in nature it’s associated with danger or threat. Preferred colors, according to researchers, are green and blue. These colors in nature are associated with trees and sky. A parrot’s eye can see about 150 frames per second, whereas the human eye just about 60. Parrots have in fact “slow motion” eyes and thanks to them can locate any enemy movement in wildlife.

CURIOSITIES THROUGH THE 5 SENSES

CURIOSITIES THROUGH THE 5 SENSES

Taste
Parrots can distinguish very well tastes, having a tongue with very numerous taste buds (10 times more numerous than other birds). Parrots can in fact distinguish very well between sweet, salty, sour and bitter and are also real gourmets. Garlic and chili are two great foods for our parrot’s diet. Garlic is a natural antibiotic, good for intestinal deworming and has many other beneficial properties. Chili is really special for parrots: it’s cardiotonic and vasodilator, so if our winged friend suffers from heart conditions, chili can help by lowering blood pressure. Parrots do not feel spicy, so they eat chili with no problem.

CURIOSITIES THROUGH THE 5 SENSES

CURIOSITIES THROUGH THE 5 SENSES

Hearing
Ears consist of two cavities found under the plumage and are more easily visible in nestlings, because of the absence of feathers, or after a bath. They have almost the same hearing capacity as humans, as they can hear sounds between 400 and 20000 Hertz (human range is 16-20000 Hz). Their peculiarity is the memory: they can in fact remember a sequence of tones and voices throughout their whole lives.

Touch
It is an underdeveloped sense: Parrots don’t have the same sensibility as humans. They can in any case perceive vibrations through their legs, recording any movement of the floor.

CURIOSITIES THROUGH THE 5 SENSES

CURIOSITIES THROUGH THE 5 SENSES

Smell
This sense is not one of the most developed, Parrots tend in fact to touch everything with their tongue in order to decide the taste, matter and whether it is edible or not. Nasal cavities are positioned just above the beak.

Talking
Talking parrots, or rather repeating, do it to try to establish contact with their own breeder. Parrots in fact, when living along with his own kind, usually speak rather rarely, if not at all.
Parrot phonetic apparatus is quite complex and allows to imitate different sounds. The principal part of this apparatus is the syrinx, which lies on the bifurcation of the trachea in the two bronchi. This structure allows the sound modulation.

CURIOSITIES THROUGH THE 5 SENSES

CURIOSITIES THROUGH THE 5 SENSES

Sleep
Parrots usually sleep with their head bent down, hiding their beak in the back feathers. However, sometimes parrots can sleep in acrobatic positions, balancing on a single leg, or hanging upside down in the cage. Some research has proven that for a decent rest, parrots should sleep between 10/12 hours in a day, preferably in dark places.

CURIOSITIES THROUGH THE 5 SENSES

CURIOSITIES THROUGH THE 5 SENSES

Did you know…
…that parrots will gladly eat flowers? Of course, you need to be careful and recognize toxic flowers. Among the edible flowers for birds there are acacia flowers and fruit tree flowers (cherry, orange, peach, etc). Make sure to give just the flower part as the branches and leaves can be toxic. Other edible flowers include: camellia, chicory, sunflower, magnolia, rose, violet, clover (except the white one), nasturtium, passionflower, purslane, mimosa, locust, dandelion and lilac.

CURIOSITIES THROUGH THE 5 SENSES

CURIOSITIES THROUGH THE 5 SENSES

Follow the new article “History and evolution of parrots through the ages”—–>>> http://www.parrotsforfriends.com/?p=666&lang=en  

 

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