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Dr. Pat
Dr. Pat, Bird Veterinarian
Category: Bird Veterinary
Satisfied Customers: 4244
Experience:  25+ years working primarily or exclusively with birds
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10 yr old yellow backed chattering lory lost tongue bristles

Customer Question

I have a 10 year old yellow backed chattering lory that has suddenly lost all the bristles from the end of her tongue. She still eats, acts and poops the same.

I have contacted a well known expert on lories and while hes heard of it before he has no idea what causes it. Does anyone else have any ideas on this?
Submitted: 7 years ago.
Category: Bird Veterinary
Expert:  Dr. Pat replied 7 years ago.
I would worry about several things.
Vitamin A deficiency can cause diminished integrity of the mucus membranes and can lead to ulceration or sloughing of the tongue.

There are several viruses that like the mucus membranes and can cause extra OR loss of tissue.

Next, it sounds dumb but just double check that she is not licking anything abrasive or caustic. I've seen it happen.

If she is using a sipper tube, bacteria (and sometimes yeast or fungus) can accumulate in enormous numbers and can cause severe oral infections. Some nectars can also be contaminated (in our lories, they do not get nectar at all).

She needs to see an avian-experienced veterinarian ASAP for complete examination, diagnosis and appropriate treatment. Check the link for members of AAV in your area or call your regular vet and see who they recommend. If she were my patient, I would start with complete fecal analysis and direct smear, for multiple parasites; bacterial culture and sensitivity of the feces and choana. Depending on the case I might do a fungal culture. Routine blood work is necessary to rule out other issues. Generally I start them out on antibiotics as indicated by the tests (I use a lot of human antibiotics that are injectable).

Pet/feed store medications and home remedies are harmful, ineffective, immuno-suppressive, and make them much worse and may interfere with the veterinarian's diagnosis and treatment. Do not use them.

She may need injectable and many other medications. Act quickly and good luck.

FYI the following may help in recovery:
Birds (yes, yes even Lories!) should be on a high-quality, preferably prescription, pelleted diet (I prefer Harrison's High Potency). In addition, they should be offered dark leafy greens, cooked sweet potatoes, yams, squash, pumpkin; entire (tops and bottoms) fresh carrots and so forth. No seeds (and that means a mix, or millet, or sprays, etc. etc.) and only healthy, low-fat high fiber people food. A dietary change should be closely monitored and supervised by your avian vet.

Birds should get 12-14 hours dark, quiet, uninterrupted sleep at night. Any less and they can suffer from sleep deprivation and associated illnesses. They should be covered or their cage placed in a dark room that is not used after they go to bed. They should have access to bathing by daily shower, misting, bath bowl, etc.

The cage material should be cleaned everyday, and twice a day if the bird is really messy. Paper towels, newspaper, bath towels are ok. Never use corn cob, sawdust, wood chips, or walnut shell. Consider getting a large cage that is longer than tall--as birds move in a horizontal rather than vertical orientation; and have several feeding stations.

Never give grit, gravel sandpaper or cement perches. A bird will eat those to excess when it is not feeling well or if there is a nutritional deficiency. They do not need it at all (an old myth from the poultry days, even poultry do not need it). It can cause an impaction and lead to serious or fatal consequences.
Customer: replied 7 years ago.

What would be the symptoms of either the viruses or the sloughing of the tongue. She is not acting any differently.. if i hadn't noticed the loss of bristles i would not have assumed there was anything different. She eats from a nectar bowl twice a day, has water in case she chooses to eat powder instead of the mix, its a diet specifically formulated for lories to be their only requirement. she had a blood screen 6 mths ago and was fine.


she does not appear to be in any distress. She has toys in her cage (wood etc) that are rough and could have rubbed them off however its not an action that i see all the time.