The purpose of this blog is to share general information and is written to the author's best knowledge. It is not intended to be used in place of veterinary advice. For health concerns, please seek proper veterinary care.
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Out of all the animals that you could choose to own, many people have a deep love for their budgies. Budgies are an affectionate pet that, once bonded with you, will be a loving companion that will enjoy riding around the house while perched on your shoulder.
As with all pets, and especially pets that are beyond the standard cat or dog that people take in, it is important to research the pet so that you can be completely prepared to adopt it.
Budgies, despite being one of the most popular birds that people will own as pets, are not nearly as popular as cats or dogs, so it can be hard to find the right information you need to care for one.
The proper thing to do in this kind of situation is to research everything you can about caring for your budgies, and one of the most reliable ways that people will get this done will be through reading other people’s accounts of budgie care.
One thing that you may come across, especially when you are researching what can go wrong when caring for a budgie, is a phenomenon where it seems as if budgies will die out of the blue. You may read stories about a budgie that sat still with its feathers puffed up slightly before no longer being in this world.
Naturally, if you are looking for a pet to take care of, this can be a worrying thing to read. Dealing with the potential for sudden death is something that nobody wants to deal with.
With that being said, there is a bit more to this phenomenon than meets the eye. The truth is that your budgie may not die “suddenly” as much as it is hiding its own sickness.
Like many other animals that are prey, budgies have evolved to hide signs of sickness as a way to keep itself safe. This is a behavior that you cannot change as it is often hardwired into the way budgies behave.
This also means that a budgie may be sick for a little bit, suffering silently, before it expires.
You might begin to wonder if there is anything that you can do to help your budgie. The best thing that you can do for your little bird companion is to make sure that you know each and every sign that a budgie is sick.
You also need to remember that if a budgie is actually showing signs of sickness, then it is very sick and needs to be taken to a bird-experienced vet at once.
Once a budgie’s sickness is severe enough that it is openly showing symptoms of weakness or sickness, it is often severe enough that it could die within a matter of 24 hours, and that you do not have time to waste wondering how bad it could be.
Keeping Watch for Signs of Sickness
Birds, and notably budgies, will do everything within their little bird powers to try and hide any and all signs of sickness. They are pack (more specifically, flock) animals, which means that they want to appear as healthy as possible around other members of its group so as not to be left behind.
In your budgie’s mind, you and your family are its flock, so it is naturally going to try and hide all signs of it not feeling well.
This creates a dilemma where even experienced budgie owners may not catch a sick budgie until the sickness has caused too much damage and the most that can be done is giving the budgie a comfortable last day.
This means that to many owners, especially ones who are inexperienced, it can appear as if a budgie “dies suddenly” despite the fact that a sickness may have been brewing for a while now.
While you can’t necessarily teach your budgie that it is okay for it to show signs of weakness, you can do some research on what signs your budgie has a chance of showing when it is sick.
This way, when you do end up seeing these signs, you will be able to recognize them as signs that your budgie is not healthy and needs to be taken to a vet who specializes in caring for birds. Thankfully, there are some signs that you will be able to spot if you are diligent.
A sick budgie, like any sick creature, is not going to be interested in moving more than it has to. Ideally, you will have owned your budgie for long enough that you will be able to have a sense of how active your budgie typically is and when its most active times of the day are.
If your budgie has no interest in playing or interacting with you during its most active hours of the day, then there’s a chance that your budgie may be feeling under the weather.
Budgies that are less sick may actually make an effort to play, though it will come across as more lethargic than it normally would be. Always note how the budgie responds to play or interaction, including with other budgies in its enclosure, if you suspect that it may be sick. Budgies that are sick will also try and avoid the other budgies in the enclosure.
If you try to interact with the budgie by presenting your hand, and assuming that the budgie has bonded with you and is acquainted with you, it should not feel the need to bite you.
If your budgie bites you when you present your hand the same way you have in the past, this may be a sign that they are either scared or in pain, and you should evaluate the budgie and the surroundings to get a sense of which it is.
Another sign of a sick budgie is if its vocalization patterns change. This is another trait where you will have to have a sense of what normalcy is for your budgie, as sick budgies can be louder or softer than normal when they are vocalizing.
Sometimes a budgie will screech or scream if they are in pain, and other times, they might try and conserve their energy and remain quiet, not feeling up to vocalization.
If your budgie is abnormally loud, you should look at it and see if there is a cause for it. Some budgies will scream out of boredom, and they will generally still be active and animated if this is the case.
Screaming combined with lethargy is a sign of sickness in budgies, as is non-vocalization in budgies that are both moving or lethargic. A quiet budgie that is not sleeping is a sick budgie.
You should also pay note to how much food and water your budgie still has. Budgies usually eat on a regular basis, and assuming you have owned your budgie for long enough, you should have a sense of how much your budgie eats in a day.
If you notice that your budgie is not eating as much as it usually does, you should try and see if there are any stressing matters that may cause your budgie to lose its appetite. If there are seemingly none, this will be a sign that your budgie could be sick and should be seen by a vet before it begins to lose weight.
You should also consider how often you watch your budgie’s movements. A budgie that is getting sick is going to move far, far less than they normally would. Unless your budgie is sleeping, your budgie should be moving every so often.
Most healthy budgies do not sit still when they are awake, so if your budgie is doing this, it is often going to be because it isn’t feeling well. This also applies to budgies that are in multi-bird enclosures. If a budgie, which is a naturally social animal, is trying to keep to itself, then it is likely not feeling well at all.
Similarly, if your budgie has developed a favorite perch to sit on, there’s a good chance you may have noticed it by now, as most budgies are creatures of habit. More often than not, that favorite perch will be one of the higher ones in its enclosure.
If your budgie is hanging around on the lowest perches or especially on the floor of the enclosure while being sedentary and inactive, then this will likely indicate that your budgie is sick.
Budgies that are not feeling well will also try to puff up its feathers. Keep in mind that, to some extent, this is completely normal behavior as budgies ruffle their feathers as a form of relaxation.
If your budgie is doing this at times other than before the budgie settles down to sleep, this indicates that the budgie may be uncomfortable or too cold. Consider checking the temperature around the enclosure, as budgies can get too cold very fast.
Speaking of the feathers, make sure that they are properly cleaned and preened. Budgies are animals that care deeply for cleanliness, and if your budgie is not feeling well enough to preen its feathers, then this is a serious indication of sickness.
Proper grooming of the budgies’ feathers is required for them to be able to fly properly, and with budgies being prey, if they are not caring for their main method of mobility, this means that they are very sick.
You should also check for fecal matter around the budgie’s tail feathers as well, as this is also a strong indication that your budgie is not preening as it should.
What Can Make a Budgie Sick?
So, now that you know what to look for to try and determine if your budgie is sick, you will want to make sure that you know what factors can cause sickness in budgies. There are quite a few things that can negatively affect your budgie’s health.
Before you try to fix things drastically, you should always remember to try and take your budgie to a bird-experienced vet first so that the vet can try and bring it back to full health while you work on alleviating the cause of the illness.
Naturally, causes for sudden death in budgies can include toxic foods and plants, and you need to make sure to keep those far away from the reach of your budgie.
Whenever you take your budgie out of its enclosure, you will want to try and make sure to limit its access to eating anything other than what you might offer it, as you don’t want to risk the budgie ingesting something that it cannot eat. This applies especially to the risk of heavy metal poisoning, which comes from the ingestion of certain metals.
In this kitchen, especially, you run the risk of your budgie trying to eat non-stick coatings. Your budgie may not be intending to eat this in particular, but it is dangerous for your budgie if it tries to ingest it. You need to do what you can to ensure that it does not try and eat any non-stick coatings it comes across.
There are also quite a few sicknesses that budgies can develop, especially if they are in close proximity to other budgies and animals. For instance, if your budgie was imported from another country, there’s a chance that it may have a form of tuberculosis known as Avian Tuberculosis.
Signs of this sickness, aside from sudden death, include progressive weight loss despite a good appetite, diarrhea, increased thirst, lethargy, and trouble breathing.
Avian goiter can also be a cause of sudden death in budgies, and it is the enlargement of the thyroid in budgies (and other birds) due to abnormal proliferation of the cells lining follicles.
It is most commonly caused by an iodine deficiency in the budgie’s diet, though it can also be caused by other conditions that would affect the budgie’s thyroid. Its symptoms include frequent infections, lethargy, feather abnormalities, and so on.
As the disease progresses, signs can include sudden death, weight loss, and respiratory problems.
French Molt is another condition that budgies can develop, and it often develops when the budgie is around five or six weeks old. As the name might suggest, its main symptom is excessive molting, although feather loss, skin problems, and broken wings can also result in this. Sudden death is more common in chicks.