Breeding parrots requires a fertile male (stud) and female (queen.) If you keep two or more pet birds of the opposite sex together in the same cage, breeding (or egg production) is likely to follow.
Also, if the environmental stimuli are appropriate, female parrots can lay unfertilized eggs without a male. This problem is exclusive to captive birds due to the introduction of artificial light and warmth.
Gestation and laying eggs take a toll on a female parrot’s body, especially as she ages.
Most vets won’t sterilize a parrot unless it has a serious health problem. Female parrots may be spayed due to reproductive problems like chronic egg laying, egg binding, or egg yolk peritonitis (EYP.)
Cancerous tumors in reproductive organs may also necessitate spaying or neutering. A vet will assess a bird with blood tests, radiographs, ultrasound, CT scans, and exploratory surgery before removing the ovaries, uterus, and testicles.
Unless a parrot’s health is in danger, most vets stop egg laying by controlling hormones, reducing their desire to breed. The sterilization of birds is considered a last resort.
Can You Sterilize Birds?
Can you get a parrot fixed? A veterinarian can sterilize a parrot, but the procedure carries a high risk. Many vets refuse to spay or neuter birds unless there’s a medical necessity.
Why is Sterilizing a Parrot Dangerous?
Sterilization requires invasive, open surgery, meaning general anesthesia would be required.
As per Veterinary Anesthesia and Analgesia, sedating a parrot carries significant risk. Anesthesia strains the heart of exotic birds, potentially leading to reduced cardiac and respiratory performance.
The location of avian reproductive organs means that surgery is dangerous. A parrot could bleed to death if the vein connected to the ovaries and testes is accidentally cut.
What Is Neutering in Birds?
Males parrots can be sterilized through neutering, but the process differs from a mammal. Parrots don’t have a penis, and their testicles are located internally in the coelomic cavity within the abdomen.
Neutering a male parrot will involve a vasectomy or castration.
The former is considered a more straightforward procedure but will only be considered if required on medical grounds. Very few vets will sterilize a male parrot to adjust its breeding behavior.
Vasectomy vs. Castration
Vasectomizing a parrot involves cutting the ductus deferens (vas deferens,) a thick tube that connects the testicles to the cloaca. This is the vent that a parrot uses to release feces and urine.
The ductus deferens transport sperm from the testicles to the cloaca.
When a male parrot wants to breed with a female, he mounts from behind, rubbing his cloaca against that of the female. This is called the “cloacal kiss.”
If the parrot has undergone a vasectomy, a section of the ductus deferens will be surgically removed.
This prevents sperm from reaching the female’s cloaca during mating, rendering the male infertile and preventing the female from becoming gravid.
A parrot’s vasectomy can take up to 6 months to be effective, but the outcome will be infertility. Castration will be required if a parrot’s health is at imminent risk due to testicular cancer.
Castration involves subjecting a parrot to open surgery and removing the testicles from the coelomic cavity. If any tissue remains, the testicles can regenerate and become fully functional.
What Is Spaying in Birds?
According to Veterinary Clinics of North America: Exotic Animal Practice, only the left side of a female parrot’s reproductive system is active. The left of the coelomic cavity hosts the ovaries and oviduct.
Fertile females develop eggs in the ovary, releasing them to the oviduct during ovulation.
While in the oviduct, a shell begins forming. Upon transportation to the uterus, calcite – a form of calcium carbonate – hardens this shell.
Two forms of spaying (ovariohysterectomies and ovariectomies) are available to an avian veterinarian. Like neutering a male, fixing a female parrot is dangerous and complex.
Ovariohysterectomy vs. Ovariectomy
If a parrot requires spaying, most vets will conduct an ovariectomy (OVE.) This involves removing both ovaries from the coelomic cavity. Without ovaries, the parrot can’t become gravid.
If a parrot faces a medical emergency like ovarian cancer, an ovariohysterectomy (OVH) may be required. This involves removing the uterus alongside both ovaries.
Can You Stop a Parrot from Laying Eggs?
If a parrot is male, keeping the bird alone will prevent reproduction. However, a lone male will still experience elevated hormones during the breeding season, leading to behavioral volatility.
Unlike Eclectus parrots, many birds are monomorphic and display no visual differences between genders. Arrange a DNA test to confirm the parrot has been accurately sexed.
Captive female parrots can become gravid without a male companion. This is because their bodies are triggered to produce eggs by favorable environmental conditions (light, warmth, food, etc.)
Cover the cage earlier to reduce natural (and artificial) light so the bird believes the days are shorter. Also, moderate temperatures so its room is less warm, and reduce the amount of food.
Avoid petting the vent, back, or wings because these are reserved for mates. Also, don’t provide a female parrot with anything that could be used for nesting material.
When Will Vets Spay Birds?
A life-threatening medical reason must be present for a vet to justify sterilizing a pet bird. A desire to modify a parrot’s behavior through spaying or neutering won’t suffice.
A vet will assess the parrot and confirm if sterilization surgery is required.
Chronic Egg Laying
Female parrots remain fertile for their entire lifespan, which can be problematic.
Gestation and egg-laying are physically and emotionally exhausting for parrots. Consequently, repeating the process will take a heavy toll on the bird’s body and organs.
If a parrot consistently lays unfertilized eggs, she’s straining her body for no reason. A vet may recommend spaying to prevent chronic egg-laying activity.
When a parrot lays an egg, the cloaca temporarily turns itself inside out.
This cleans the egg, ensuring that oxygen can reach the shell. From here, the embryo within the egg can draw air from tiny spores found on the egg’s exterior.
The cloaca will return to the body. If the laying bird is obese, stressed, lays the egg too soon, or attempts to pass an egg too large, oviductal prolapse may occur.
Oviductal prolapse means the cloaca will remain outside the body and must be manually returned. Sterilization may be the only safe option in instances of regular oviductal prolapse.
Egg Yolk Peritonitis (EYP)
EYP arises when a yolk from an egg enters a parrot’s ovary and becomes trapped within the coelomic cavity. Essentially, the parrot is laying an egg within its own body.
When this concern arises, the peritoneum – a membrane that transports blood and other essential fluids throughout the body – becomes inflamed, which is very painful.
Egg yolk peritonitis can be septic, which means the egg yolk trapped within your parrot’s coelomic cavity is contaminated with bacteria. Untreated septic EYP can cause lethal organ damage and toxicity.
All parrots can get EYP once through misfortune or short-term stress during laying.
Pyometra is a bacterial infection of a female parrot’s reproductive organs, leading to a build-up of pus within the ovaries. Older females that have laid multiple clutches face a higher risk of pyometra.
If a parrot develops pyometra, a vet will perform an ovariohysterectomy to remove the infected organs. Left untreated, pyometra will spread to the kidneys and cause premature death.
Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS)
PCOS is a disease that impacts a female parrot’s reproductive system.
The most common cause of PCOS in parrots is polycystic ovaries – enlargement of the ovaries due to the presence of sacs filled with fluid (called follicles) surrounding any gestating eggs.
According to the Journal of Immunology Research, PCOS is frequently linked to ovarian cancer (OVCA) in parrots and can cause infertility.
PCOS can be managed with diet and lifestyle changes, but a vet may recommend an ovariectomy.
As female parrots grow older and lay multiple clutches of eggs, they’re at greater risk of ovarian neoplasia. This will result in the growth of tumors within the reproductive system.
Contagious viral infections can be the explanation for uterine tumors. The most common is Gallid alphaherpesvirus 1, often known as avian herpesvirus.
Also, Marek’s disease, Pacheco’s disease, leukosis, and reticuloendotheliosis can cause uterine tumors.
Uterine tumors are identified through x-rays and bloodwork, with radiation therapy or chemotherapy required if the concern is captured early enough for treatment.
In addition, a parrot may need her reproductive organs surgically removed.
Mammary or Testicular Cancer
Another avian oncology concern is mammary cancer in females or testicular cancer in males. These may be treated with radiation or involve the surgical removal of the organs.
Parrots can be fixed, but the procedure carries extensive risk. Non-invasive approaches to preventing egg production and hormonal behavior should always be explored first.