Assessing parrots’ droppings enables you to monitor the bird’s health. If the feces are olive green, it has a healthy digestive tract, while black stools are a warning sign that a parrot has blood in its stool.
Bloody poop in parrots is known as melena. The discoloration of the feces is usually caused by internal bleeding in the digestive tract, as blood moves through the intestines and is eliminated as waste.
Sometimes, a bloody stool is a temporary concern caused by a change of diet. It could also result from egg binding, hookworms, or ingesting toxic heavy metals.
The bleeding could also be due to intestinal blockages or tumors in the gastrointestinal tract, requiring testing and surgical intervention.
What Is Melena in Parrots?
Melena is the scientific term for blood in the stool, often due to bleeding in the gastrointestinal tract. This blood is digested, which is why it ends up in the stool during elimination.
Healthy parrot poop is olive green, while a bird with melena will be a deep black, a comparable shade to tar. Melena is often looser than standard bird feces but can also be firm.
Medical attention is advisable if you observe persistent melena symptoms for more than 24 hours. The following changes in behavior are also common warning signs of internal bleeding in parrots:
- Tucking the head into the wing.
- Reluctance to eat.
- Vomiting and regurgitating food.
- Lethargy and depression.
Black droppings in a parrot cage don’t always mean a bird has melena.
A sudden diet change can sometimes result in a temporary adjustment to the parrot’s waste. However, any change to a parrot’s waste should be medically assessed.
Why Do Parrots Poop Blood?
The sight of blood in the stool can be a concerning symptom, so you’ll understandably ask, “what does it mean when a parrot poops blood?”
While internal bleeding is the likeliest cause of blood in the poop, there are other explanations. So, let’s take a look at the most common causes:
Damaged Pinfeather or Dry Skin
Before assuming the parrot has internal bleeding, check the problem isn’t external.
A parrot bleeding from the bottom may have a damaged pinfeather following a recent molt or have dry and scaly skin that has been scratched.
Pinfeathers are also known as blood feathers. These immature feathers resemble needles on the parrot’s skin and have a direct blood supply.
If a pinfeather is damaged or broken, bleeding can occur. If the pinfeather were located around the cloaca, this blood would make its way into the feces.
Dry skin beneath the feathers, including the area around the cloaca, could also be to blame. Common explanations for dry and crusty skin include:
- Nutritional imbalance, like hypovitaminosis A.
- Excessive heat and low humidity.
- Mite or lice infestation.
If a parrot scratches dry skin around its bottom with its sharp claws, it can break the skin, leading to bleeding. Check these warning signs before concluding the parrot is bleeding internally.
Egg Binding (Dystocia)
If a parrot has been showing nesting behaviors, she may be ready to lay eggs. Captive parrots don’t need to breed for this to happen. If the parrot struggles to lay her eggs, she may be egg-bound.
A parrot becomes eggbound when the egg becomes trapped in the lower oviduct. As per the Journal of Avian Medicine and Surgery, that could be due to torsion of the oviduct.
Alternatively, the egg may not have formed appropriately due to a calcium deficiency. This can be due to a lack of calcium or vitamin D3 (due to insufficient sunshine or UV rays).
If an egg has become stuck, it can rupture blood vessels in the parrot’s vent, the outer segment of the cloaca. Spotting or blood in the stool can then follow.
Other warning signs that a parrot is egg-bound include:
- Sitting on the cage floor.
- Bobbing the tail.
- Paralysis of one or both legs due to the egg putting pressure on the nerves.
Egg binding can be fatal to parrots, so seek immediate guidance from a veterinarian.
Heavy Metal Toxicosis
Parrots with heavy metal toxicity (due to zinc, lead, copper, and iron) can experience various adverse symptoms, including bloody stools. Household items that contain heavy metals include:
- Keys and chains
If a parrot has consumed toxins, a vet will flush these toxins from the body with intravenous fluids. Any foreign objects in the digestive tract will also need to be removed.
Hookworms are less common than roundworms or tapeworms, but the Journal of Biology, Agriculture, and Healthcare confirms that they can arise in birds, including parrots.
Hookworms take their name from the shape of their head, which hooks at the front of the body.
If hookworms infest the parrot’s digestive system, they attach themselves to the intestinal wall. Hookworms feed on the parrot’s blood and cause melena when shed in feces.
Hookworms can be prevented and treated with a bird-specific over-the-counter worming medication.
As discussed, issues with the upper gastrointestinal (GI) tract will cause internal bleeding. This blood will then enter your parrot’s digestive system, leaving through the feces, which is why the blood is discolored at the point of elimination.
There are three core explanations for why your parrot struggles with internal bleeding in the GI tract.
If a parrot swallows something inedible, it’ll remain in the intestines and cause a blockage. This can lead to melena, as food and waste can’t pass through the bowel.
Foreign bodies will need to be removed by a vet under an anesthetic. The warning signs of a gastric blockage include refusal to eat, constipation or diarrhea, and lethargy.
Unresolved gastric blockages can be fatal to parrots within 48 hours.
According to Avian Diseases, tumors can lead to ulcers in the digestive tract, leading to internal bleeding.
These are known as neoplasms and result from tissue masses that expand and divide within the parrot’s body. Neoplasms require tests to determine if the tumors are malignant or benign.
These must be treated if the parrot has cancerous tumors within the GI tract. If possible, and it’s safe to do so, a vet will surgically remove the malignant tissue. If not possible, chemotherapy will be required.