ARTICLES | Parrot Cages

Cage almost kills monk parakeet

by Sabrina Gärtner

A beautiful Sunday afternoon. Just before 2 pm my pair of monk parakeets, Lumpi and Azzurra, fly to their feeding bowls to splurge on parrot mash. I am relaxing on the sofa, reading a book, when I suddenly hear a strange noise from the direction of my birds. Alarmed, I jump up and run to the cage. I see Lumpi throwing up his food. He keeps gagging until he is only expelling clear mucous.

At the vets

I am lucky and am able to reach my vet in spite of it being Sunday. I am taking Lumpi over to him along with samples of his vomit and his food. After visual and manual examination, Lumpi is being x-rayed. The vet also examines the vomit and and food sample I brought along. The vet voices the suspicion that Lumpi has metal poisoning and medicates him as well as giving him an infusion.
At that point I am barely functioning. My vet explains to me that the treatment is symptomatic. If Lumpi survives the night, I absolutely must bring him back the next day. His words, “It does not look good”, are still sounding in my head.

To the pharmacy

Back at home, I prepare a sick cage for the night while tears are pouring down my cheeks. I am devastated, close to breaking down. What should I do? Panicky fear is swamping me and I am looking for help and support in ann’s forum. Based on her recommendations I drive to the pharmacy at 10 pm to obtain some homeopathic remedies. The nearest pharmacy that carries these is half an hour away from my home. I have no one to look after Lumpi in the interim. and the pharmacy refuses to deliver int the middle of the night. Thus, I have to go there myself. During the drive back and forth the most awful horror scenarios are running through my head. I am afraid, so horribly afraid.

The worst night of my life

After explaining to the astonished pharmacists what I so urgently need the globuli for which he comments with a head shake, I rush home. With me rides the fear that Lumpi meanwhile may have already lost his battle. But my baby is strong, even if this night one cannot see much of this strength. He sits with fluffed feathers and totally apathetic in his sick cage. He does not react to anything. I spend the night next to the little cage, stay at Lumpi’s side. It is hard to express my fear and feelings in words. But this is by a long shot the worst night of my life!

The next morning

We survived the night! Lumpi still looks awful. But at least he takes a little sip of the homeopathic solution I prepared. As I open the blinds, I can see that Lumpi is throwing up again. A wave goes through his body. He gags hard. Clear mucous drips from his beak. Afterwards he is deep asleep in broad daylight and does not utter a sound. The quietness is painful.
At 10 am we are at the vets again. My little monk receives another drug injection and infusion. He spends the remainder of the day almost without movement asleep in his sick cage. Luckily, I have Ann’s first aid book and can prepare a nourishing pap for him. I offer this to him every 15 minutes. In the evening he finally takes some. He gradually stops shivering and does not appear quite as fluffed as before.

A ray of hope

We spend another sleepless night. Luckily my boss allows me to take another day off work. We are back at the vets. He gives me medication for the next five days plus some motivating and encouraging words.
Slowly first improvements start to show. Lumpi is now eating his warm nourishing pap which he clearly likes. I weight him twice a day so that any weight loss is noticed immediately. Suddenly, Lumpi develops an appetite and goes to his feedbowl by himself. Finally, he leaves his sick cage and allows his mate Azzurra to extensively cuddle and preen him.

The search

Already on the first day of Lumpi’s illness I was searching for the cause. Guided by suggestions from my vet, I found the culprit quickly. You just have to know what to look for. On Lumpis cage, I found two damaged areas. Almost impossible to find by visual inspection I could feel them well. They are two areas which my little monk likes to chew on.

Barely visible: damages in the powder coating with the zinc layer underneath

Photo: Sabrina Gärtner
Barely visible: damages in the powder coating with the zinc layer underneath

Barely visible: damages in the powder coating with the zinc layer underneath

Photo: Sabrina Gärtner Barely visible: damages in the powder coating with the zinc layer underneath

During the week of Lumpi’s illness I did search my complete home and am certain that only the cage can be the cause of Lumpi’s illness.

Please read!

On January 6th 2011 I fell in love with my Lumpi. As a complete beginner when it comes to parrot keeping, I think I probably did most every thing wrong what a beginner can do wrong. During the last year I learned a lot and tried to prepare for him a little parrot paradise. Whether it is the search for a mate, a balanced diet or a species appropriate occupation program: I wanted and continue to want to do anything I possibly can, to ensure that my feather friends are not wanting for anything. I never would have thought, that I would risk the life of my little monk parakeet by choosing the wrong cage.
Therefore my urgent plea to you all: Be careful when you buy cages. Do not allow yourself to be taken in by nice sounding marketing promises. Please learn from my mistake and do not risk the lifes of your feathered friends like I did. The truth is: Only stainless steel will do!

At last

Today Lumpi is doing well, again. He flies with his mate Azzurra happily and noisily through our home. My heart jumps with joy when I am watching them. I am incredibly grateful that we were so very lucky. And: A stainless steel aviary is already in progress.

zinc poisoning through parrot cage

Photo: Sabrina Gärtner
Today Lumpi is healthy again and happy with his mate Azzurra ...

zinc poisoning through parrot cage

Photo: Sabrina Gärtner
... whom he loves to cuddle and preen.