Allergies Don’t Disappear: Mild Toe-Tapping

Oh, the holidays–friendship, cheer, the season of giving…

What more could a bird want than a bit of pizza crust?

Unfortunately, Louie acquired a mild case of toe-tapping to go with it. 😦

I gave Louie a tiny bit of pizza crust (standard practice when we feel like spoiling our birds.)

This particular pizza crust came from Old Chicagos, where they apparently add cornmeal to their tasty, tasty dough. And any type of corn product will set him off tapping.

This time, at least, I got a video. Ekkie toe-tapping:

Louie’s feet started that dreaded spasm approximately fifteen minutes after receiving a tiny piece of crust (no bigger than the size of a dime.) It only lasted maybe half an hour,

Louie has finished dancing! Toe-Tapping Part 2.

Take a bow, Louie! Your dancing (i.e. terrible toe-tapping) is done.

Hopefully.

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.

Nothing.

What…?

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:

  1. Spirulina – Ekkies do really, really poorly on this nutrient compared to other parrots.

  2. Wheat – Often in pellets.

  3. 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.

Luigi is tap-dancing, and it is horrible. Toe-Tapping Part 1.

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?!

#ReasonsYouShouldCallYourVet #TheInternetIsNotAnAvianVet

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.