Home » Why Is There Blood in My Parrot’s Poop? (Melena)
why do parrots poop blood?

Why Is There Blood in My Parrot’s Poop? (Melena)

Last Updated on January 28, 2024 by Carrie Stephens

The color and consistency of a parrot’s droppings are health-indicative and should be monitored daily. Their droppings comprise three parts (green fecal matter, off-white urates, and urine).

While a parrot’s droppings and frequency of waste passage are diet-dependent, sudden changes to poop can be a warning sign of illness and disease if they persist.

Bloody poop in parrots is called melena. Black stools occur due to dried blood from gastrointestinal bleeding. Blood moves through the intestines before leaving the body during bowel movements.

Bloody stools can also occur due to egg binding, hookworms, bacterial infection, intestinal blockages, and heavy metal ingestion. Sometimes, bleeding is due to tumors in the upper GI tract.

Veterinary attention should be sought if the symptoms persist for 24 hours.

Fecal testing and bloodwork will be performed to determine the cause. Treatment is cause-specific, from dietary modifications to prescription medications to surgery and hospitalization.

Melena in Parrots Meaning

Melena is the scientific term for blood in the stool, often due to bleeding in the gastrointestinal tract. The blood is digested and ends up in the stool, observed post-elimination.

Healthy parrot poop is olive green, while a bird with melena will have black, tar-like poop. The waste from parrots with melena is often looser than normal feces but can sometimes be firm.

The following changes are warning signs of internal bleeding in parrots:

  • Dark-colored stools.
  • Reluctance to eat.
  • Anaemia.
  • Breathing distress.
  • Dizziness and disorientation.
  • Low energy levels.
  • Unhappiness.

Black droppings in the cage don’t always mean a parrot has melena.

Food can temporarily change the color of parrots’ waste. For example, fruits and vegetables, like blueberries, blackberries, and beetroot, can change the color of poop from green to red, brown, or black.

signs of internal bleeding in parrots

Why Parrots Poop Blood

While internal bleeding is the likeliest cause of blood in the poop, other explanations exist.

Here are other common causes of bloody poop in parrots:

Damaged Skin

Before concluding that a parrot has internal bleeding from the GI tract, check the problem isn’t external.

A parrot bleeding from the bottom may have a damaged pinfeather following a recent molt. It could also have cracked skin near the vent, exacerbated by a cut or flesh wound.

Pinfeathers (blood feathers) are immature feathers that resemble needles on the skin. They have a direct blood supply. If a pin feather is harmed, it can bleed heavily.

Blood could enter the feces if a pinfeather is located near the cloaca.

Dry skin beneath the feathers, including the area around the cloaca, could crack and bleed.

Explanations for dry skin in parrots include:

  • Nutritional shortfalls and imbalances, like hypovitaminosis A.
  • Hot, low-humidity environments.
  • Allergic reactions.
  • Parasites (mites, lice, fleas, etc.)

If a parrot scratches dry skin around its bottom with its sharp claws, it may break the skin and bleed.

Egg Binding (Dystocia)

If a parrot shows nesting behaviors, she’s ready to lay eggs. Females can produce eggs without a male, but the eggs will be unfertile. If a parrot can’t lay eggs, she may be egg-bound.

A parrot is egg-bound when the egg is trapped in the lower oviduct. According to the Journal of Avian Medicine and Surgery, dystocia could be due to torsion of the oviduct.

Alternatively, the egg may not have adequately developed due to a calcium deficiency (hypocalcemia). This can result from a lack of calcium or vitamin D3 (due to insufficient sunshine or UV rays).

If an egg is stuck, it can rupture blood vessels in the vent, the outer segment of the cloaca. Spotting or blood in the stool can follow.

Other signs that a parrot is egg-bound include:

  • Constant straining to lay an egg.
  • Distended (swollen) abdomen.
  • Fluffed-up feathers.
  • Constipation or diarrhea.
  • Sitting on the cage floor.
  • Bobbing the tail.
  • Vomiting
  • Paralysis of one or both legs due to pressure on the nerves.

Egg binding is life-threatening, so a vet must resolve the condition.

Heavy Metal Toxicosis

Parrots with heavy metal toxicity (due to zinc, lead, copper, and iron) can experience adverse symptoms, including bloody stools. Household items that may contain heavy metals include:

  • Batteries.
  • Coins.
  • Ink.
  • Paint.
  • Insecticides.
  • Jewelry.
  • Keys and chains.
  • Toys.
  • Wire.

If a parrot has consumed toxins, a vet will flush them from the body with intravenous fluids. Any foreign objects lodged in the digestive tract must be removed, sometimes surgically.

Bacterial Infections

A bacterial infection from a contaminated food or water source can lead to bloody diarrhea. Bacterial infections can spread rapidly and must be treated with vet-prescribed antibiotics.

Ensure the cage is spot-cleaned daily and deep-cleaned weekly. Also, avoid leaving heat-sensitive food in the cage post-mealtime because bacteria multiply quickly.

Hookworms

Hookworms are less common than roundworms or tapeworms, but the Journal of Biology, Agriculture, and Healthcare stated that they can arise in bird species.

Hookworms derive their name from the shape of their head, which hooks at the front of the body.

If hookworms overwhelm the parrot’s digestive system, they attach themselves to the intestinal wall. Hookworms feed on the blood and cause melena when shed in feces.

Hookworms can be prevented and treated with over-the-counter worming medication. Regardless, pet parrots should be wormed every 6 to 12 months.

what does it mean when a parrot poops blood?

Gastrointestinal Blockages And Tumors

Issues with the upper gastrointestinal (GI) tract often cause internal bleeding. Then, blood will enter the parrot’s digestive system and present itself through black or discolored feces.

Here are the reasons why parrots bleed from the GI tract:

Blockages

If a parrot swallows something inedible, it’ll remain trapped in the intestines and could cause a blockage. This can lead to melena because food and waste can’t pass through the bowels.

A vet must remove foreign bodies from the digestive tract under local anesthetic. The signs of a gastric blockage include food refusal, constipation or diarrhea, and lethargy.

Tumors

According to Avian Diseases, tumors can cause ulcers in the digestive tract, leading to internal bleeding.

These are called neoplasms and result from tissue masses that expand and divide inside the body. Neoplasms require extensive tests to determine if the tumors are benign or malignant.

If a parrot has tumors within the GI tract, these must be urgently treated. A vet surgically removes the tumor or uses chemo to destroy the malignant tissue.