…than kids with dogs, in my humblest of opinions. xD So do teachers, it seems.
Today was a snow day, which meant I had time to make my birds a foraging toy! Hurray!
Behold the fury that is Louie:
Easiest toy ever–cut a slice off the side of a fairly large bell pepper, stuff the inside with a bunch of fruits and vegetables (this one was filled with carrots, peas, lima beans, a variety of other types of protein-ish beans, banana, and raw jalapenos), then tie it to the inside of the cage. The only safety concern is the string–you want to make sure it’s short. Once your parrot destroys it, you don’t want it long enough that it could get wrapped around your feathered friend!
I’m still not sure Louie actually likes this toy, but, you know… it’s at least entertaining for me?
I will never understand parrots’ obsessions with mouths. Every parrot I’ve ever met wants nothing more than to examine the inner contents of my lips.
If you’re eating something, they want it. If you open your mouth, they want to see just what is in the tiny cavern in your face. If you smile.. Well, see for yourself.
Maybe I had lipstick on my teeth.. Hmm.
I imagine that Louie follows the aforementioned sentiment on a daily basis. As much as I adore the rascal, he drives me batty frequently… but then, I’m definitely feeding into those behaviors.
Seriously, what a pain! He shows very little interest in toys, bags, crinkly objects, etc–unless I’m ignoring him while he’s out (you know, like when I’m staring at pesky grading?)
His obnoxious behaviors (like the one above) stem from the fact that they get my attention; kissy noises not working? Regurgitating for my toes producing no effect? Better chew on a bag or some books!
I have to wonder how many parrots are given up because their owners don’t realize that they are frequently the cause of a developing behavioral issue.
Today, I hereby resolve to give Louie the attention he so desires BEFORE he starts being bratty. =)
Louie is absolutely convinced that he is helpful when we stretch and that tree pose is meant for an eclectus parrot to perch upon.
He’s half-right… I mean, I am being a happy tree and all. XD RIP Bob Ross.
Take a bow, Louie! Your dancing (i.e. terrible toe-tapping) is done.
By the time we took Louie to the vet, he had stopped tap-dancing. In twenty-four hours, he went from almost violent, uncontrolled spasms to… nothing.
He was a lovely little patient at the vet; his coloring is growing in vibrantly in shades of glowing emerald, so much so that another woman asked if we wanted to breed him. Nope, no thanks; he likes feet, not other birds anyway. Dr. LB was impressed with his weight, how healthy he is, how he recovered from his bacterial infection a few months ago, how happy he is. No sign of toe-tapping.
His verdict? Food allergies. Dr. LB claimed that this is a “syndrome”, otherwise known as “Well, we have no clue what causes this, but it’s apparently a thing.”
According to the best avian vet in Denver, the toe-tapping is usually caused by one of the following:
Spirulina – Ekkies do really, really poorly on this nutrient compared to other parrots.
Wheat – Often in pellets.
Corn – AKA a semi-weekly part of Louie’s diet. We solved this by switching to TOPS organic pellets, which are green and corn-free (though not wheat-free.)
We removed the corn (and all corn products) entirely from his diet: boom. Fixed.
Twenty-four hours later, the toe-tapping eliminated. He tapped yesterday morning a bit and the morning before, but there was nothing today.
Moral of the story:
Some parrots (ekkies especially) toe-tap behaviorally, some do so because they’ve lost feeling in their feet (really important to look into it), and some just have allergies, like Louie.
Vet check-ups are essential to know the difference.
The internet is full–FULL–of misinformation. And frustration.
Last night, out of the blue, quite suddenly and violently, my baby boy eclectus started toe-tapping.
Dreaded, dreaded toe-tapping: the allergen of the ekkie world. The curse we all hope never to see, that we dread, that we read tales of ekkies chewing their toes off to stop.
Now, I’m a member of many a bird forum. I volunteer at a local bird shop. I’m a crazy internet-researcher-English-teacher and know to take everything I read with a grain of salt, but I know my ekkies; but the more I research, the more I talk to my vet, and the more I talk to general bird people of the world, the more I realize that very, very few people actually know what in God’s name they’re talking about.
With absolutely no warning, my baby boy started clutching one foot convulsively. His entire foot would seize up, curl up–I always thought that toe-tapping would start slowly and grow progressively worse, but nope. It came on suddenly. Violently.
Louie was toe-tapping.
And still, happy-go-lucky Louie energetically tried to woo our feet (let’s just say he has a foot fetish…) perhaps with more vigor than ever before. Go figure. He encounters the scourge of the ekkie world, and there’s our boy trying his hardest to romance our various appendages.
Hubby and I worried awake all night: “Click-click-click-click…”
Edgar Allen Poe’s “The Tell-Tale Heart” has nothing on Louie’s toe-tap.
The internet was full of (what I hope is) hyperbolic paranoia. Or at least, that’s what I’m telling myself, because sick birds terrify me.
The internet’s theories:
Was it the fact that he’d gorged on ekkie-designed pellets yesterday? (His veggie lunch apparently disappointed him.) Some ekkies do horribly imbibing on any sort of pellet–has he succumbed?!
Is he low on calcium?
Perhaps it’s the weather change! It is now officially autumn, after all!
Is it hormonal? Is he getting enough vitamin D? What about vitamin A?
Too much protein! That must be it! Cut out all forms!
…Etc. Hyperbole? God, I hope so.
This morning, it was better. Not great, but better. Whereas last night he was practically convulsing, this morning he was merely tapping. When he’d walk on the floor, he’d lose his balance; this morning, he clicked across the floor, happy as could be. No spasm.
So we called the vet to figure out what to do; naturally, they never call me back until I have to teach for five classes in a row, but their voice message left me even more confused.
“His toe-tapping could be behavioral, or it could be him attempting to regain feeling in his foot.”
Oh good. It could be nothing–or, it could be something severe enough to cut off circulation in his bloody foot?!
Hubby called. We have an appointment tomorrow at four fifteen with the vet; our avian vet is known as the absolute best in the area. He’s also one of two, but at the same time, all the bird people I know praise Dr. LB like he’s their own personal Jesus. Tomorrow, we will find out what was wrong with Louie. Tomorrow, we will run panels. Tomorrow, we will pray for answers.
Tomorrow is another day. Part two will follow, complete with ekkie videos.