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Macaw as Pet


Macaws are playful, noisy and love to chew.

It is the chewing habit that can usually cause most of the common health problems found in macaws. Proper pet health care, veterinary attention and a good diet can help avoid and treat the illnesses. Some of the usually found ailments amongst macaws are psittacosis, macaw wasting disease, plucking feathers and oral and cloacal papillomas.

The macaw wasting disease which is the proventricular dilation disease, is a disease caused by a virus. This virus attacks the nerve centers of the intestinal tract and interferes with digestion.

Some of the symptoms of this disease are weight loss, seizures, passage of whole intact seeds in the droppings, abnormal head movements, pendulous crops, depression or even sudden death. No medication should be started without consulting a vet as these symptoms can also be seen in case of other diseases like bacterial or fungal infections and lead poisoning. The macaw wasting disease is difficult to diagnose and treatment options are very limited. The affected bird can still have chances of survival after a year of incubation.

Macaws can also be affected by the herpes virus. Wart like growths are formed which are called oral or cloacal papillomas. This disease is contagious and cannot be completely cured. The disease can be transmitted from an infected female macaw to the baby while feeding. If there is a possibility of this infection, it is advised that the mother macaw be put in quarantine. Babies can develop the constricted toe syndrome. In this case one can increase the humidity in the house.

Psittacosis in macaws is caused by a bacterium named chlamydophila psittaci. Some of the common symptoms of this infection are inflamed eyes, difficulty breathing, green urates and watery droppings. If left untreated, this infection can also result in the bird’s death. Immediate veterinary consultation is needed as this infection causes rapid deterioration. This infection can also be transmitted to humans, so owners need to be careful. A habit of chewing flight on tail feathers is common amongst macaws. This habit can cause nerves and tissue damage. They develop this habit generally due to stress or sexual frustration. It is advised that macaws be given toys to chew on. Macaws can also get infected by chewing on lead objects as chewing is their hobby. Hence try to keep objects like fish weighs, curtain weighs, old paints and perfumes away from the bird.

  Submitted on May 7, 2010