Egg binding leaves female parrots (hens) unable to expel eggs from their bodies. They develop abdominal swelling where the egg is stuck, straining to push it out of their bodies.
Egg-bound parrots develop rapid or labored breathing, fluffed-up feathers, lameness, constipation, diarrhea, prolapse, and a loss of appetite.
If a parrot sits on the cage floor or struggles to perch, the egg’s applying pressure to the spine and nerves, making it too uncomfortable to stand up.
A parrot can recover as long as dystocia is resolved early, but it’ll be life-threatening if left unresolved.
How Do I Know if My Parrot Is Egg-Bound?
Egg binding is an uncomfortable condition that affects female parrots. Other names include:
- Post-ovulatory stress
- Egg retention
- Impacted oviducts
Dystocia occurs when the egg passes through the reproductive system at an abnormal rate, leaving the parrot unable to expel it from its body.
VCA Hospitals explains how it’s treatable when detected early, but it can become life-threatening if too much time passes from when the parrot lays her eggs.
Egg binding is most common in smaller parrots, such as:
It surprises some owners when female parrots lay an egg, even without a male. Parrots ovulate like many female animals, but birds produce eggs that need to be physically pushed out of their bodies.
The most common signs of egg binding in parrots include:
1/ Rapid or Labored Breathing
Hens with egg binding breathe too quickly or slowly.
You may hear a “panting” respiratory rate, or your parrot may appear to be barely breathing. Dystocia affects all birds differently, but any breathing changes are a reason for concern.
2/ Abdominal Swelling
A parrot will develop a rounded stomach or swelling around her bottom where she’s attempted to lay an egg. Any type of swelling is abnormal and should be checked by a veterinarian.
If a parrot fails to produce droppings, it could be due to egg binding.
Inflammation of the oviduct is the most likely cause because the egg constricts the intestines, preventing them from functioning properly.
While this may seem to contradict the symptom of constipation, some parrots produce wet feces due to their cloaca relaxing during the egg-laying process.
The droppings may also be white. Whether your parrot develops constipation or diarrhea depends on its condition and where the egg resides.
In severe cases, you’ll see a part of a parrot’s reproductive tract protruding from its cloacal opening. Prolapse will look like a pink mass from where the parrot’s strained too hard or too often.
Most egg-bound hens visibly strain as they attempt to pass their eggs. Unfortunately, straining is usually futile, as the egg can’t go anywhere.
If you notice that a parrot continues to strain but doesn’t pass an egg, it’s likely gotten stuck. Many owners mistake this behavior for their parrot pushing to excrete waste.
7/ Fluffed-Up Feathers
Parrots hide their illnesses so that predators don’t target them.
As a result, they fluff up their feathers to make themselves appear larger and more intimidating. It also hides injuries and ailments – in this case, an impacted egg.
8/ Sitting On Cage Floor
A stuck egg puts pressure on the spine, making it difficult and painful for parrots to perch. In the most severe cases, egg binding causes paralysis, leaving parrots confined to the cage floor.
Lameness is likely to occur in the advanced stages of egg binding.
An impacted egg exerts pressure on the spine and affects the nerves, leaving affected parrots unable to move their legs. This is another reason you’ll find a parrot sitting on the cage floor.
10/ Loss of Appetite
Egg-bound parrots lose their appetites as they struggle to deal with the discomfort of the condition.
However, appetite loss is a symptom of several illnesses, so look for other clinical signs of egg binding to determine whether your parrot has the condition.
What Causes Egg Binding in Parrots?
All hens are at risk of egg binding, regardless of their age. Young parrots laying eggs for the first time are just as vulnerable as older parrots in poor health. Nevertheless, there are many causes, such as:
- Thin-shelled eggs
- Malformed eggs
- Cessation of egg-laying
- Cloacal prolapse
An unbalanced diet causes calcium deficiencies. However, you can also give your parrot cuttlebones, oyster shells, and leafy greens to increase a parrot’s calcium intake.
Breeding parrots need more calcium, so monitor the hen’s diet during the breeding season.
Low Protein Diet
As parrots primarily eat plant-based foods and little meat, they lack protein from their diets, which causes malnutrition. Parrots lacking protein are more likely to have impacted eggs.
Eating the right amount of protein decreases the risk of obesity and weight-related diseases, which are other leading causes of dystocia.
Lack of Exercise
Parrots that aren’t provided with enough toys to play with or exercise can become egg-bound because their muscles don’t develop properly, making it difficult to expel eggs.
Females tire easily and won’t have the energy to lay their eggs. Too-small cages are a problem as they don’t allow enough room for parrots to move freely.
Not only does obesity cause health and behavioral problems, but it makes it difficult for hens to lay eggs. It’s unhealthy for parrots to be obese, and it puts pressure on their organs.
Environmental stressors can impact the egg-laying process, making it difficult for hens to expel them. The following factors can adversely affect a parrot’s mental well-being:
- Loud noises
- Too much noise
- Predatory pets
- High or low temperatures
- Location changes
- Aggressive cage mates
- Constant bedtime interruptions
Parrots need a consistent environment with a routine schedule.
Misshapen or malformed eggs become stuck in the reproductive system, making it impossible for hens to expel them. This can be caused by a defective shell gland and infectious bronchitis.
Malformed eggs are also the result of stress, deficiencies, and poor exercise habits.
How To Prevent Egg Binding in Parrots
While egg binding is serious, you can take steps to minimize the risk. Take the following egg-binding prevention steps to protect your parrot:
Parrots on a poor diet need to switch to a nutritionally complete diet consisting of 50-70% pellets. While parrots love seeds and nuts, they lack several essential nutrients.
Parrots need a balanced diet consisting of the following:
Provide supplements in the short term.
Wild parrots spend their days playing and foraging for food and water, but they lack as many opportunities to explore their environment in captivity.
Their cage should be large enough to allow for movement and have space for toys and puzzles for your parrot to play with when you’re not around.
Allow your parrot out of its cage to fly and walk around once the room is bird-proofed.
Discourage Egg Laying
You can discourage a parrot from egg-laying, which minimizes the risk of eggs becoming stuck in the reproductive system. You can do this by:
- Removing nests and nesting materials.
- Separating the female parrot from male cage mates.
- Being careful not to stimulate your parrot through petting and touch.
- Reducing access to natural light.
- Providing fewer fatty foods.
This can prevent egg binding in parrots who can’t stop laying eggs.
Surgery and Treatment
A hysterectomy to remove the oviducts and uterus may be necessary when extracting the egg through the vent is impossible. However, this is only carried out when no other options are available.
Chronic egg-laying parrots may be suitable for hormonal drug therapy, which is designed to temporarily stop parrots from laying eggs to allow their bodies to recover.