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Ask August Abbott, CAS Your Own Question
August Abbott, CAS
August Abbott, CAS, Own Animal Care/Rescue Org
Category: Pet
Satisfied Customers: 7621
Experience:  Dogs, Cats, Critters; Animal Care author; Behavior & Nutrition.;Cert. Avian & Opossum Specialist;
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My 20yr old cockatiel was laying on the bottom of s cage

Customer Question

My 20yr old cockatiel was laying on the bottom of his cage this morning at first I thought he was just playing peek a boo with his papers but then I noticed he wasnt moving much and dragging himself along the bottom withhis beak. So I took him out of his cage which usually he won't let me do help only come out when he wants to play but today he let me pick him up and hold him. He couldn't climb me like he likes to do he just laid in my hands he isn't as talkative as usual he chirps every now and then I have to help him drink his water and he isn't eating as much. He's having normal bowel movement's. I Alamo noticed that his back is kind of hunched by his tail which it's usually straight he is gripping with his claws.
JA: I'm sorry to hear that. Could be a lot of things that cause lethargy. The Veterinarian will know how to help the cockatiel. What is the cockatiel's name?
Customer: His name is ***** ***** we tried to find a get near is that will take him but there aren't very many. And the only two that do weren't open today he seems to be doing a little better he's moving around a bit more but not very much
JA: Is there anything else the Veterinarian should be aware of about Elvis?
Customer: He hasn't ever had any medical problems or anything at all. Sometimes he likes to just drop to the bottom of his cage to get down instead of climb down is it possible he injured his back when he landed? He's also having sown labored breathing
Submitted: 1 year ago.
Category: Pet
Expert:  August Abbott, CAS replied 1 year ago.

While you're seeing some improvement in Elvis, don't trust it. Birds are among the very best "maskers" in the animal kingdom. No matter what and no matter when or in front of who, they will pretend to be just fine until they can't hold the act any longer. By then, whatever the problem is, has advanced. Sometimes beyond help

As for what might be wrong with Elvis, given that you note normal droppings even now, fortunately blockage or impaction is unlikely

If he's truly male and you know this beyond any doubt, we can rule out egg binding which often presents with these symptoms

Unfortunately, beyond that these symptoms often accompany a variety of health issues and only upon a hands on exam can we figure out which one it is

Birds don't usually hurt their backs or legs playing normally in their cage so breaks and sprains are low on the list

If Elvis is a seed eater we may be looking at liver disease (hepatic lipidosis most common) or even a tumor somewhere inside

Getting him immediate veterinary care is essential. Remember, do not trust what might look like recovery no matter what

To help him survive until you get that care:

Use a thick, clean sock and fill it ¾ with plain, raw white rice. Knot the end and microwave it for about 1 ½ minutes. Shake it afterwards to distribute the heat and be sure it's not too hot. Tuck this in just under the cloths.


A heating pad under the box is also helpful, set on low. This is one of the few times I’d ever use both heat sources if necessary to maintain incubation temp (90-105 degrees).


If ever using an electric source for heating anything in anyway, please be vigilant and constantly double checking carefully.


Gently drape a light cover over this box to further help hold heat in and keep light low.


If he seems to be fading, try some corn syrup, maple syrup, honey or plain sugar water (tablespoon real sugar in 1/2 c of water) to the side of his beak so that a drop gets inside (do not force it down his throat or anything)

If you have a Pet Smart near you they generally have a Banfield clinic inside and they treat small birds like this; also, call Pet Co and every other pet store and vet in the area and ask who they use for birds. There are probably more than you think

Good luck with him and please let me know what happens ok?

Expert:  August Abbott, CAS replied 1 year ago.

I'm just following up on our conversation about your pet. How is everything going?

August Abbott, CAS