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Budgies are fascinating little creatures. They’re often sweet and gentle, but they can also be a handful when it comes to their health. This is why it’s important to know what healthy budgie behaviours look like in order to recognise the warning signs of illness or injury. Here’s a complete guide on recognising and curing your budgie’s sicknesses naturally so you can keep them happy and healthy for as long as possible!
The good news is using natural remedies for sick budgies can save you a lot of money, heartache, and stress. Most kitchens will already be stocked with many of these common household items which you can safely use to treat your budgie until you can get him to proper medical aid if needed.
If your budgie is seriously ill the best thing to do is have your budgie professionally diagnosed, by a vet to make sure it is not something as serious as a terminal illness or an injured wing. However, if your budgie gets sick late at night or over the weekend and it is treatable by using natural remedies.
It is always a good idea to keep a first-aid kit in your home for your pets and birds, and especially if you are breeding budgerigars.
Is Red Cordial Good for Sick Budgies?
Research is showing that raspberry fruit juice cordial can kill the virulent bacteria that causes outbreaks of gastroenteritis in birds. And it’s not just budgies. Farmers have been using this treatment for a long time with success on pigs, cattle, and sheep.
Raspberry flavoured cordials do not work – most likely due to the high sugars.
Raspberry juice and raspberry cordial with minimum 25% juice both work well.
The Budgerigar Council of Victoria recommends on its website a one in 10 dilution of raspberry cordial to prevent infection in breeding stock.
Prevention vs Cure
Maintaining a healthy budgie and preventing any diseases is easier, and more cost effective than treating a sick bird, but it doesn’t always work out that way.
Even after the best of caregiving efforts have been implemented to avoid illnesses in these beautiful birds they might still become ill or fly into something that requires some sort of treatment for them to get back on their feet again!
Main Signs Your Budgie May Be Sick
Sometimes it is difficult to tell when your budgie is sick as they try to hide it as they would in the wild, for survival. A weak bird in the wild is prone to becoming prey, so naturally they have learned how to look healthy even when they’re not.
If you suspect that your budgie might be ill, monitor him for any signs of behaviour change and/or physical symptoms.
Below is in no way a finite list of symptoms, so if you think your budgie might be ill then contact your avian vet straight away.
Also remember, a sick budgie might not display these listed symptoms. And a budgie displaying these symptoms might not be ill.
1. Observe your budgie’s behaviour
A budgie that is sick will not be his usual, happy self. Just like when you are feeling ill and are sluggish and don’t want to interact with people, your budgie is the same.
* Try to tempt him to play with his toys. If he’s usually playful and chirpy and now isn’t interested, it could be a sign that he is ill.
* If there are other budgies in the cage, watch how your ‘sick’ budgie interacts with them. Budgies are naturally social creatures so if your one is isolating himself from the others, he could be sick.
* If your budgie bites you, it might be a sign that he is ill. Budgies don’t usually bite but when they are sick they might lash out because they are in pain or they are afraid.
2. Monitor your budgie’s eating
Watch to see if your budgie is eating. Check in his seed bowl for husks or seed. They can make quite a mess when they are eating so you could be fooled. If there is more seed then husks then he is most likely not eating.
Not eating will also cause your budgie to lose weight which will bring on its own complications so if you notice your bird isn’t eating, contact your avian vet.
3. Changes in perching behaviour
You might have noticed that your budgie has a favourite perch. They also tend to sit higher up the cage.
If you notice your budgie elsewhere, or on the bottom of the cage, he might not be feeling well and is trying to hide or isolate himself from the other budgies.
4. Loss of voice or change in voice
Budgies are chipper birds and chatter away all day.
You should notice quickly if your budgie stops making a noise, this could be due to a few reasons:
– Fungal disease can cause inflammation and that can restrict air flow
– Bacterial infections can lead to abscesses which can restrict air flow
– Food particles such as seed husks, that become stuck in their throats
There are also a variety of reasons why your budgie’s voice could change.
– Bacterial or fungal inflammation or infection can cause your budgie’s voice to become raspy, wheezy, squeaking, or cause laboured breathing
– Enlarger thyroid gland (goiter) cause due to an iron deficiency
– Giardia is a parasite living in the small intestine which can cause diarrhoea and itching and can cause your bird to make a screaming sound
5. Look at their feathers
Puffed up feathers – a budgie will puff its feathers up if it is cold or even if it’s relaxed. But, it can also be a sign of illness.
Poorly preened feathers – well preened feathers is vital for survival in the wild so if your bird is looking a bit lanky and isn’t taking care of its feathers, it might be sick.
Plucked feathers – this could be due to a wide range of reasons such as parasites, boredom, lack of attention, or illness.
If you are not sure, check in with your vet.
Signs of vitamin deficiency in budgies
In order to prevent illnesses, you should always supplement your budgie’s diet with healthy options like fresh fruits and vegetables, as well as sprouted grains and seeds.
Some of the signs that you might be noticing in your budgie are a change in his droppings, which could become runny or soft; they may have trouble flying and will seem really tired.
Sometimes it’s difficult to tell if your bird is getting enough vitamins and minerals so for this reason many people give their birds supplements like vitamin drops at least once per week. This way they won’t suffer from any deficiencies and be more healthy overall!
The best time to give your bird a vitamin supplement is in the morning, after you’ve cleaned his cage. If possible feed them some fresh greens beforehand and then mix their vitamins into water so that they have no chance of refusing it!
If you notice any other signs like weight loss, a change in sleeping patterns or appetite please take him to see an avian vet as soon as possible because this could mean there’s something more serious going on with your budgie.
SIGNS OF VITAMIN "A" DEFICIENCY
Vitamin “A” deficiency in budgies can cause some nasty symptoms, including a white discharge around their beak. This is combined with wheezing, sneezing and nasal discharge which plugs up the nostrils too!
SIGNS OF VITAMIN "B" DEFICIENCY
Vitamin “B” deficiency can make your bird paralyzed, it will be hard for him to perch and he may only be able to walk around. The droppings of the sicker birds are white or yellowish-white in color instead of red being a healthy vibrant poop!
SIGNS OF VITAMIN "D" DEFICIENCY
Vitamin D is incredibly important as it helps your budgie’s body to absorb calcium and phosphorous as the food passes through their small intestine.
Vitamin D also helps supply their skeletons with essential mineral salts. If your budgies do not get enough vitamin D, their bodies cannot absorb these nutrients and minerals and they will not be able to develop strong bones.
Essentially their bones become soft and their spines and legs will bend. In a chick this is called rachitus, and in adult birds it is called adult rickets.
You can assist by exposing your birds to sunlight as this helps their bodies to produce this vitamin D3. If you are unable to put him in the sunlight, you can use a special avian lamp to produce the correct artificial light that your bird’s body can use.
We highly recommend the Zoo Med Labs Aviansun Deluxe Floor Lamp with Aviansun
SIGNS OF VITAMIN "E" DEFICIENCY
Not common in budgies but it can happen, is that when your budgie lacks vitamin E, his body will tremble when he walks.
Their vision may become impaired, or worst-case scenario, they can go blind.
In order to prevent illnesses, it is important to feed your bird a variety of healthy options because, once a bird has a lack of vitamin E, the symptoms cannot be reversed.
The best natural sources of vitamin E are –
-Avocado (Becareful with avocado see our post 23 Surprising Foods That Are Harmful to Budgies
-Apricots and Peaches
and Grass seeds. See How to Prepare Sprouted Seed for Budgies to unlock the nutrition in your budgies seed.
All these foods can be found in your typical, everyday grocery store and you should try to include them as much as possible into their diet!
If your budgie is lacking vitamin E then please make sure that he supplements his diet with one of the above ingredients every day or two! If not, there’s no telling what could happen…
Natural treatments for mites
Mites are arthropods, tiny little creatures that are part of the arachnid family. They have eight legs, a hard exoskeleton, and no eyes. Most types of mites are harmless because they feed on plant leaves or other insects.
Even though adult bird mites are only 1 millimeter when fully grown, they are still a nuisance.
Bird mites do bite birds and changing colour from a white or grayish colour to a reddish hue after they have had a feed on your birds. These mites need the blood of the bird to complete their life cycle.
Treating mites can be tricky because they don’t stay on one bird, they move from budgie to budgie and can quickly infest an entire flock, To treat mites naturally you have a few options.
The first is to apply olive oil or coconut oil around the eyes of your budgie, this will suffocate and kill the mites around the eyes which is where budgies are most affected.
Another option is to make a strong tea from peppermint leaves and then mix it with water in a spray bottle, just be sure that you spritz at least three times per day for two weeks before stopping treatment (this has shown time after time to completely stop an infestation). You can also use peppermint oil added to your cleaning water to deter mites in the budgies cages.
The other option which can be costly depending on where you live is Diatomaceous Earth; it must be used when the cage is completely dry, remove all bird baths or sources of water the budgies could get into, because if it becomes wet then it does not work and it gets messy, all clumped up together like clay. Also be cautious not to inhale the dust as it is a severe respiratory irritant. Diatamatious Earth is a naturally occurring siliceous earth that has been shown in studies by the USDA (US Department of Agriculture) to kill mites on contact within 24 hours without harming your birds or their eggs.
After treating your budgies, it is important to clean every part of your budgie’s cage with hot soapy water, add a few drops of peppermint oil and eucalyptus to it to help deter the mites.
Epsom salts dissolved in water can also be sprayed around the home and cage area to kill and deter mites. You can add a little to the budgies bird bath so they can wash in it too.
Regular cage cleaning is the number one way to prevent mites in your birds.
TYPES OF MITES FOUND ON BUDGIES
Red mites are active at night and can irritate your bird. During the day they hide in the crevices of the cage.
Scaly mites are found on a birds’ feet and legs. Granted, these appendages do already look scaly, look for any changes in colour, texture, shape etc.
Crusty mites cause crusty patches to appear on the cere, eyelids, vent, beak, toes and wing tips.
Air sac mites cause laboured breathing. You might hear your budgie struggling to breathe, or you could notice his tail moving up and down or that he breathes with his mouth open. There are treatments for this but unfortunately the mortality rate is high for budgies with air sac mites.
Natural first aid products for your sick budgies
If your budgies have been poisoned, have had a medication overdose, or any toxin ingestion. Budgies will instinctively eat this if they are feeling unwell. You can also add it to their grit.
APPLE CIDER VINEGAR
Dilute one tablespoon of apple cider vinegar per one gallon of water, or 5ml to 1 litre of water, and add to their drinking water. You can do this for one week a month, year round.
The apple cider vinegar will help their immune systems, it helps if they are feeling unwell by acidifying their digestive system.
Do not use any other vinegars for your budgies.
Molasses can also be used to flush the body of toxins if you do suspect poisoning. It also has many beneficial nutrients that can help your budgie who has been ill.
Be cautious with the use of it as too much molasses can cause diarrhea.
Cinnamon is high in fibre, manganese, iron, and calcium.
It helps to lessen the growth of bacteria on fresh food, and can be used as a treatment for fungals.
Select cinnamon spice with no additives and add this to your budgie’s soft food once or twice a week, or you can provide your birds with cinnamon sticks which can act as an edible toy.
Coconut oil is another natural remedy that you most likely have in your kitchen cupboard.
Coconut oil contains medium chain fatty acids, such as lauric acid, caprylic acid, and capric acid. These will provide your budgie with essential nutrients they could be missing.
Birds enjoy coconut oil and the easiest way to give it to them, is to dip some bread or a cracker into the coconut oil and feed it as a daily snack.
Coconut oil is a great moisturizer that you can rub onto dry and irritated skin, especially watch for this during winter. It is a lighter oil and is absorbed quickly.
Cornstarch stops bleeding.
If you cut your budgie’s nails too short and they bleed, wash them gently with lukewarm water and put cornstarch in your hand.
Dip your budgies’ nails into the cornstarch to stop the bleeding. You might have to do this a couple of times.
Don’t let your budgie inhale the cornstarch.
Epsom salts are a good source of magnesium and as mentioned previously it will deter or even kill some mites. Be careful with its use, too much could have a laxative effect.
Honey can be used as an antiseptic to treat wounds and keep them clean from infections.
It is non-toxic and 100% natural, however, due to its sweetness you will most likely notice your bird trying to eat it.
Honey is too sweet to consume often and should only ever be given to your bird as a rare treat if you do intend on feeding it to your budgie.
Saline solution can also be used to clean a wound or clear eyes and nostrils. You can use an eye dropper to treat your bird gently, or softly wipe with a cotton wool ball.
Calcium is required by birds for the strong formation of egg shells and therefore birds, especially the hens, need an adequate supply of calcium in their diets. (TIM: link to the article that has information about egg binding – I think it was in the food article)
When a hen is going to lay eggs, you need to increase her calcium intake so that the eggs can form with a strong shell. If she doesn’t have enough calcium, her body will naturally use all of her calcium reserves, depleting this essential nutrient from her body and she will suffer.
Liquid calcium is a natural remedy that you can add to her drinking water during the breeding season to help her body build up their calcium reserves.
If a budgie hen is egg-bound, you can add a few drops of liquid calcium with an eye dropper to her beak every hour or two. She should then be able to pass the egg.
A calcium deficiency in your budgie hen can also result in her baby budgies hatching with splayed legs.
Pay attention to the new chicks and if you do notice splayed legs, add 2 – 3 drops of liquid calcium a day directly to the beak and legs and they should correct naturally.
OIL OF OREGANO
In the wild budgies will eat wild herbs to keep themselves healthy, Oregano is a herb that your budgies can eat naturally. This is another natural remedy that you can use safely on your sick budgies.
A study at commercial poultry farms has shown that this is especially effective when fed in conjunction with cinnamon.
There are a variety of natural teas that you can offer as natural remedies for any sick budgies that you have.
Make a cold tea brew from black tea or green tea. Do not add anything to this. Use it as the sole source of drinking water for a couple of days when your budgie is ill as these teas help to improve circulation.
Thyme tea has anti-fungicide and fungal suppressive effects and can help your budgies as treatments towards yeasts (thrush and mycosis).
Anise tea or fennel tea can be given to your bird if he is suffering with constipation. You can either offer it as a single tea, or you can mix the two together. Fennel tea also helps birds relieve flatulence.
As the budgie owner, the birds’ health is completely your responsibility as they are unable to forage for themselves.
The best way to take care of your budgies is to prevent illnesses rather than to cure them.
Conduct proper research regarding their nutrient, mineral and vitamin requirements and then figure out how you can provide your budgies with a healthy diet to ensure they have all their little bodies need.
If your bird does get sick, you need to take him to an avian vet who specializes in birds.
The above remedies are there as a home-made first aid kit for emergencies, but it is always best to seek out professional advice if you are not sure what is happening to your bird, and of course for more serious things.
Work together with your avian vet and follow their guidance on how to best take care of, or nurse, your budgies back to health.