Last Updated on: 28th June 2023, 04:59 pm
A female parrot can lay eggs with or without a male. If breeding hasn’t occurred, a parrot will lay unfertilized eggs. Regularly becoming gravid and laying clutches of eggs is called chronic egg laying.
A chronic egg layer is more at risk of mineral deficiencies, egg binding (dystocia), egg yolk peritonitis (EYP), and prolapse of the cloaca. The dangers posed by these conditions rise with age.
Unfortunately, medication to reduce egg-laying won’t resolve hormone-related issues. Also, a veterinarian won’t spay a parrot unless chronic egg-laying gravely threatens her life.
To stop chronic egg laying in parrots, determine the triggers and make lifestyle adjustments. This involves reducing light exposure, warmth, food, and contact with other birds during the breeding season.
Do All Parrots Lay Eggs?
Male parrots can’t lay eggs, but a female of reproductive age can. The age a parrot can reproduce depends on the species, which are as follows:
- Small parrots, like budgies, often start laying eggs within a year.
- Medium-sized parrots, like conures, commence reproduction after 2 years.
- Larger parrots, including macaws, start reproducing after 4+ years.
Parrots can enter their reproductive phase suddenly and with little warning.
Why Does My Bird Lay Eggs Without Mating?
While parrots reproduce sexually, meaning the presence of a male is required to produce sperm that fertilizes the egg, not all parrots’ eggs have embryos. Female parrots can lay unfertilized eggs.
Female parrots ovulate regularly but don’t menstruate. If environmental factors line up, ovulation will lead to the formation of eggs. The absence of male sperm means the eggs won’t contain an embryo.
Factors that lead to parrots laying eggs without breeding include:
- Increased light exposure, indicating warmth and abundant food.
- Opposite-sex, same-species parrots if they don’t physically interact.
- Petting from a bonded owner provides stimulation.
- Easy access to nesting materials within the cage or while exercising.
You must control hormonal responses if you don’t want the parrot to lay eggs without a partner.
How Often Do Birds Lay Unfertilized Eggs?
A healthy parrot with no reproductive issues should lay 1-2 clutches of eggs per year. Depending on the species, these clutches may have 1 to 8 eggs, usually laid every other day.
As laying eggs drains a parrot of energy and nutrients, it’ll need a break between clutches. If not, minerals will be taken from the skeleton, putting the bird at risk of osteoporosis.
What Is Considered Chronic Egg Laying in Parrots?
Chronic egg-laying symptoms are defined by a parrot laying excessive eggs in a single clutch (usually more than 7 in larger parrots – budgies can lay up to 8 eggs in a standard clutch) or, more commonly, when a parrot lays multiple clutches of unfertilized eggs in a single year.
While the concern can arise in any bird, especially those that were hand-reared by human owners as hatchlings, parrot species most prone to chronic egg-laying include:
If you care for these species, monitor the parrot’s reproductive cycle.
Health Implications of Chronic Egg Laying
Laying eggs takes a heavy toll on a parrot’s body. A healthy parrot that doesn’t experience complications while gravid can withstand this if she lays eggs at a more gradual rate.
If a bird continually lays eggs, she’s at risk of the following health concerns:
Dystocia (Egg Binding)
If the parrot lacks calcium and vitamin D3, the eggshell will be weak and misshapen, becoming trapped. Egg binding occurs when a parrot can’t move an egg through its body.
Old age, or wear and tear on a parrot’s body caused by chronic egg laying, can also increase the risk. The parrot’s oviduct and uterus may not contract sufficiently.
The bird will be in pain if an egg is trapped in the body. Dystocia can also lead to intestinal blockages, as parrots expel urine, feces, and eggs from the cloaca, located under the base of the tail.
Egg Yolk Peritonitis
Egg yolk peritonitis (EYP) is known as internal laying.
EYP results from an eggshell breaking or rupturing within the parrot’s body. If this occurs, the yolk becomes trapped in the coelom (a cavity in the abdomen).
EYP causes pain and inflammation. Bacterial infection (septic egg peritonitis) is also common.
A parrot may be unfortunate and experience EYP once, but if a bird constantly lays unfertilized eggs, the risk drastically increases. If EYP isn’t detected early, it can have life-threatening consequences.
While gravid, a parrot will utilize her calcium reserves. If diet and supplementation don’t replace the calcium that has been utilized, the bird is at risk of hypocalcemia.
The symptoms and impact of hypocalcemia in parrots include:
- Infertility and substandard shell production.
- Higher risk of dystocia.
- Muscular weakness.
- Brittle bones and osteoarthritis.
- Neurological disorders, including reduced cognitive performance.
Chronic egg-laying will be a constant drain on the bird’s calcium reserves.
Every time a parrot lays an egg, the cloaca turns itself inside out temporarily.
This cleans the egg as it is released, ensuring that spores that allow oxygen through the eggshell aren’t blocked. Once the egg is laid, the cloaca returns to its natural position.
Oviductal prolapse arises when the cloaca doesn’t return to the body, remaining prominent and exposed. The more frequently a parrot lays eggs, the higher the risk of oviduct prolapse becomes.
This is dangerous for multiple reasons:
- Bacteria can enter the cloaca, leading to infection.
- Another bird may peck or bite at the exposed cloaca, pulling out part of the intestines.
- The cloaca can bleed to excess, which can be fatal.
An avian surgeon must return a prolapsed cloaca to the body.
At What Age Do Parrots Stop Laying Eggs?
Parrots don’t experience menopause. This means a female parrot can lay eggs throughout her life. Even if the parrot is made infertile by ill health, she may continue laying unfertilized eggs.
The older a parrot gets, the more the risk of health problems is elevated.
How To Stop Chronic Egg Laying in Parrots
Chronic egg-laying shouldn’t be ignored because the issue will lead to long-term problems. If a parrot is laying eggs more than is deemed normal, take steps to minimize this behavior:
Distract the Parrot
One way to keep a parrot from laying unfertilized eggs is to distract the bird. Chronic egg-laying is often reported in parrots that are bored and understimulated in captivity.
Ensure that a parrot has ample mental and physical stimulation in the cage. Encourage a parrot’s natural foraging instincts by making it search for food.
Some parrots grow weary of being given easy access to meals, especially as they spend up to 80% of their waking time in the wild foraging for food.
As laying eggs is due to a parrot’s hormones, reduce hormonal spikes through lifestyle changes.
Long, warm days trigger a hormonal response in birds. If a parrot enters the breeding season in the spring, cover the cage with a blanket earlier.
While a parrot is hormonal, be mindful of where you touch and pet it. Focus on the parrot’s head, avoiding the back and vent.
Touching these parts of parrot anatomy can cause sexual stimulation, especially if a parrot grows attracted to you and considers you its mate.
Remove toys from the cage the bird rubs its vent against, and relocate the cage away from other birds. Knowing that another bird is nearby or hearing its calls can cause egg production.
A vet may consider prescription medication to slow egg production and chronic laying.
Medroxyprogesterone acetate (MPA), called Depo-Provera (DEP), is a hormonal contraceptive that frequently halts egg production but can have adverse side effects in parrots.
Gonadotropin-Releasing Hormone (GnRH) agonists can reduce egg laying. The most commonly prescribed GnRH agonist is leuprolide acetate through the drug Lupron.
Lupron aims to prevent the bird’s uterus from producing reproductive hormones and is considered safe for birds, but it isn’t always effective and can be expensive.
Deslorelin is a rival GnRH agonist administered as an implant roughly the size of a grain of rice.
While deslorelin is cost-effective and lasts the duration of a parrot’s lifespan, it’s only available in some countries – deslorelin isn’t authorized for use in birds in the USA.
Combining medicine with lifestyle changes is likelier to yield results, as the medication won’t cease the desire to lay eggs – it just makes it physically impossible.
Spaying a parrot may be the only solution in serious cases of chronic egg-laying. This will involve an ovariectomy (removing the ovaries) or an ovariohysterectomy (removing the ovaries and uterus.)
Parrots don’t cope well with anesthesia, and the surgical procedure is dangerous. A very compelling reason must be presented to a veterinarian for them to consider fixing a parrot.
Chronic egg-laying must be controlled because it negatively impacts female parrots. Understanding triggers and making lifestyle changes is the most effective solution.