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parrot can't walk properly

Why Is My Parrot Limping? (Lame Foot, Curled Feet, Weak Legs)

Last Updated on: 7th November 2023, 12:09 pm

Parrots’ feet and legs can be temporarily or permanently harmed, resulting in limping or lameness. Birds will struggle to walk when their feet, claws, legs, or joints cause pain and discomfort.

Limping can be due to cuts, abscesses, long claws, sprains, broken bones, and diseases.

Parrots can develop joint, limb, and foot pain from some perches. For example, overly abrasive perches can allow bacteria to enter, resulting in bumblefoot.

Parrot Can’t Walk Properly

If a parrot is unable to walk, put weight on a single foot, or appears to limp, it may be unable to:

  • Feed itself.
  • Navigate its cage.
  • Perch comfortably.
  • Pick up or engage with items.

As this continues, the parrot may be affected by arthritis, problems in its hips, and injuries to its healthy foot or leg. This can leave a parrot in constant pain.

The reason can be easy to resolve, like trimming overgrown claws. However, it could be more severe, like a broken bone or degenerative joint condition (like arthritis).


Parrots can injure themselves from a fall, knock, or catching a foot. They may also enter altercations with other pets or birds, leading to debilitating injuries.

A parrot’s legs can be susceptible to the following problems:

  • Broken bones.
  • Sprains.
  • Dislocated joints.
  • Gashes and scratches.
  • Sores and open wounds.

This can leave the parrot unable to walk, so it’ll refuse to put weight on both legs or limp. If the limping is due to an injury, it should become evident immediately.

parrot with weak legs


Parrots may limp or have weak legs from bacterial, viral, and fungal infections. Parrots are vulnerable to bumblefoot, a swollen abscess under the foot caused by staphylococcus bacteria.

Infections like psittacosis and avian mycobacteriosis don’t always need an injury to find an entry point.

Once infected, a parrot may show these external symptoms:

  • Visible wounds.
  • Swollen areas.
  • Feverishly hot skin.
  • Discolored and foul-smelling flesh.
  • Pus or discharge.

The signs of internal infection vary based on the problem. Common symptoms include:

  • Lethargy.
  • Loss of appetite.
  • Ruffled or unkempt feathers.
  • Weight loss.
  • Sneezing.
  • Coughing.
  • Labored breathing.
  • Tail bobbing.
  • Diarrhea.
  • Eye, nose, and mouth discharge.

Overgrown Claws

Overgrown nails cause parrots to hold their feet awkwardly or shift from foot to foot.

Claws that are too long affect a parrot’s ability to support its weight, putting pressure on the toes, feet, and ankles. This can become painful and cause limping.

The toes and nails may also become malformed. The parrot’s stance will even be affected, forcing it to perch at an angle or be unable to perch.

The signs of overgrown claws include:

  • Long nails that begin to curl under the foot.
  • An inability to lay their feet flat.
  • Limping or an unwillingness to perch on certain surfaces.

Improper Perches

Perches can harm a parrot’s feet if hung incorrectly, broken, or made of non-parrot-safe materials. Mainly, they cause parrots to rest at odd or uneven angles, which escalate into feet, hip, and leg problems.

Such conditions can lead to permanent issues with walking and perching. Arthritis may develop if a parrot is only given one type of perch to stand on.

Arthritis develops slowly over time. The American Journal of Veterinary Research notes subtle behavioral changes occur due to arthritic pain.

The symptoms of arthritis include:

  • Hesitance to move.
  • A stiff, limping walk.
  • Reduced movement of the legs and feet.
  • Swelling in the joints (ankles and toes).
  • Overly warm skin at the joints.

Sometimes, elderly parrots will develop arthritis, even when offered a broad range of perches.

Kidney Disease

The nerve that goes to the parrot’s legs passes through the kidneys. If it’s compressed or pinched, a parrot may lose its ability to stand, balance, or walk.

The symptoms of kidney disease include:

  • Lameness.
  • Reduction in appetite.
  • Weakness.
  • Losing weight.
  • Excessive thirst.
  • Swollen joints.
  • Labored breathing.

Kidney disease can only be diagnosed and treated by a vet.

Dietary Problems

An improper diet can be responsible for lameness and weakness of the legs. There are certain foods that parrots shouldn’t eat. Without proper nutrition, the parrot will:

  • Have a weak immune system.
  • Be more prone to injury.
  • Endure a more protracted recovery from illnesses.

This can open the door to the causes of lameness. Aside from that, a parrot deprived of nutrition, like calcium, as a chick may have permanently misshapen legs.

Deficiencies in calcium and vitamins A and D are most likely to lead to foot problems. Vitamin A is essential for skin health, including the feet.

Calcium is critical for bone health. An egg-laying female with insufficient calcium will lay eggs with weaker shells. Then, calcium is taken from the bones, resulting in weak legs.


A parrot may hold itself differently if growths appear on the feet, legs, pelvis, and hip area. Due to the discomfort, its posture will be affected. Both problems result in limping or the use of one leg.

Tumors that grow large enough to press on tissues or organs may harm parrots. Pressing on veins and blood vessels restricts blood flow to the feet and legs.

Knowing if a tumor has developed without a visible lump isn’t easy. However, the growth could lead to mild discomfort or compromised organ performance. The parrot may hold itself differently.

Symptoms of Foot Problems in Parrots

Here are some signs that a parrot is nearing lameness:

  • Curling of the toes.
  • Swollen feet.
  • Lumps or abscesses on feet or toes.
  • Splayed legs.
  • Weakness.
  • Shifting from foot to foot.
  • Inability to move or perch properly.
  • Visible wounds.
  • Shaking or trembling legs.
  • Limping.
  • Fever.

Record how the parrot behaves and how the symptoms manifest to share with the vet.

Behavioral Signs of Lameness

A parrot that’s going lame may experience a personality change. You may find the parrot:

  • Is unwilling to perch on you.
  • No longer flies.
  • Bites.
  • Fights with other birds.
  • Refuses your company.
  • Shows a lack of interest in food.
  • It stops preening itself.

Broken Legs Symptoms in Parrots

Check for broken bones if the parrot has recently had a fall and is limping. Parrots can be fragile, and a broken bone can become a life-threatening problem. Check for the following:

  • Misaligned legs, feet, and toes.
  • Bulging skin, as though something is pressing on it from the inside.
  • Bones poking out from the leg.
  • Leg, foot, or toe swelling.
  • Not putting weight on its foot.
  • Biting or fleeing when you reach for or touch the area.
  • Inability to walk or use the leg.

Treating A Parrot with A Lame Foot

A vet must perform checks and tests to diagnose a parrot’s foot issue.

Making an assessment and applying treatment can lead to further problems. For example, treating a broken bone like a sprain can result in malformation, damaged tissue, infection, and pain.

If a parrot has a shared cage, you must confine it to a single cage during treatment to prevent it from hurting itself further. This prevents other birds from bullying a weaker flock member.

Ensure that it has a comfortable perch and is in easy reach of water and food.

Dietary Issues

Vitamin and mineral deficiencies can be hard to resolve because prolonged deprivation can result in permanent disabilities, especially for chicks and juvenile parrots.


Injuries must be cleaned and wrapped to avoid infection. Infected wounds must be flushed with sterile solutions and treated with medication.

The medication will depend on the infection, but options include the following:

  • Oral medication.
  • Topical ointments.
  • Antifungals.
  • Antibiotics.

Severe infections may require that the parrot remain at the vet’s clinic.

Broken Bones, Dislocations, And Tumors

Beyond cuts and abscesses, health problems may require veterinary assistance, including supportive therapy and surgery. Broken bones and dislocated joints must be set and bandaged.

Tumors require surgical attention, as they need a biopsy to determine if they’re cancerous or benign.

Overly Long Claws

If a parrot’s nails are overgrown, they must be trimmed.

In severe cases, a parrot may need therapy for its joints and toes to return to their natural shape. The vet may treat puncture wounds or injuries due to the claws curling inward.

parrot foot problems

How To Prevent Parrot Lameness

You can prevent a parrot from redeveloping a limp or foot problem by doing the following:

Cage Maintenance

Tidy up droppings, shed feathers, and food scraps. As stated in Animal, the cleanliness of the parrot’s environment is linked to the health of its feet.

Limit exposure to harmful bacteria, mold, and fungi by cleaning the cage.


Provide suitable perches for the parrot at 3 levels to promote exercise. They should be made of parrot-safe materials, like wood or rope. Always replace heavily chewed or damaged perches.

Cage Size

Ensure the cage is large enough for its size so it can:

  • Exercise and play.
  • Use its feet on different materials.
  • Stay away from soiled areas.
  • Avoid injuring itself as it flaps, climbs, or moves around.

A parrot will have stronger legs and feet by maintaining its muscle tone.

Claw Maintenance

Vets offer talon-trimming services. If a parrot’s claws are overgrown and sensitive, use these services.

If you intend to trim the nails, don’t cut them too short. Avoid the nerve endings (the quick) because this will cause additional discomfort and lasting damage.