How JustAnswer Works:
  • Ask an Expert
    Experts are full of valuable knowledge and are ready to help with any question. Credentials confirmed by a Fortune 500 verification firm.
  • Get a Professional Answer
    Via email, text message, or notification as you wait on our site.
    Ask follow up questions if you need to.
  • 100% Satisfaction Guarantee
    Rate the answer you receive.
Ask Dr. Michael Salkin Your Own Question
Dr. Michael Salkin
Dr. Michael Salkin, Veterinarian
Category: Bird
Satisfied Customers: 28538
Experience:  University of California at Davis graduate veterinarian with 45 years of experience
Type Your Bird Question Here...
Dr. Michael Salkin is online now
A new question is answered every 9 seconds

My 1 yo female parrotlet began what appeared to be losing

Customer Question

My 1 yo female parrotlet began what appeared to be losing her balance yesterday. She was not able to maintain herself upright and would extend her neck out on the floor to prevent herself from tipping over. If picked up, her neck returned to the normal upright position as she felt that her balance is secure in my hand. At that time her motor skills were normal and she was able to walk in a wobbly sort of way. Today, I noticed she has bilateral leg paralysis and is no longer able to grasp onto things with her legs. What could this possibly be? She's on her normal seed diet but is out of her cage most of the day exploring the room. Could she have ingested something harmful? And what is the treatment, if it exists?
Submitted: 1 year ago.
Category: Bird
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
She's feeding normally and preening her feathers. She's also making chirping sounds. She's not lethargic in any way and seems to be in no distress except for the fact that she has lot control of her feet. Motor control of her wings is normal. No abnormalities or changes there.
Expert:  Dr. Michael Salkin replied 1 year ago.

It's important to note that once a parrotlet acts ill they're quite ill and in need of the attention of an avian-oriented vet (please see here: This is a protective mechanism because ill birds are attacked by other birds in the wild. Qtip's symptoms of ataxia ("drunken sailor") and subsequent paresis (weakness/paralysis) of her legs are important symptoms but they're not pathognomonic (specifically indicative) of any one disorder. To answer you directly, yes, she may have ingested a toxin - heavy metals are attractive to these birds - but I'm primarily concerned that her regular diet has left her malnourished. Nutritional imbalances are a common cause of illness in our pet birds. What has Qtip's diet consisted of, please?

An avian-oriented vet will first treat symptomatically and supportively by providing supplemental fluids and electrolytes by needle and tube feeding a "recovery" food. Blood tests and cultures of Qtip's choana - the slit between her oral cavity and nose - and cloaca (vent) may be taken.

Until she can be attended to, please heat up her environment to 85F by means of a 100W bulb shined into her partially covered cage (not at night when she needs to rest) or by taping a heating pad set on its lowest setting to the sides of her cage. Remove her perches and put her food and water on the bottom of the cage along with her. Add a water soluble avian vitamin such as Oasis brand to her water at half of the recommended dose so as not to make her water distasteful. Add a calcium supplement such as Calcivet or Calciboost to her water. These supplements are available in pet/feed stores. Avoid over the counter antibiotics designed to be placed in her water. They won't be effective if only because an ill bird won't drink enough to medicate itself properly.

Please respond with additional information and further questions or concerns if you wish.