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Feather picking...HELP!!!!!


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Hi everyone, Im new here. I really need your help!!!!!!!!


I have a 4yr old CAG. Ive been sick for over 2 years and Molokai has become a chronic feather picker. I know he senses Im sick and that may be why he is picking. He also does it when he doesnt want to do something. For example, if he doesnt want to step up.


I feel like a bad mom. I have no idea what to do with him. I am scared that he is in real danger. On Wednesday, i had to leave him in his cage and even though he had plenty of toys food and water, he picked all his tail feathers out...well he looks like he got a tail-cut. He only has half of them...like he took scissors and clipped right across his tail feathers.


Please, someone help me, help Molokai!!!


Thank you...Erin

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Erin we are going to need more information before we can begin to help you with Molokai.


When you say you have been sick does this mean he was left a lot in his cage for long periods of time or all day because you were in bed or otherwise indisposed? Is there anyone else in the household who interacts with him? Have you had him since he was a baby?


I know we have no control over what the future holds for us but if he had to spend all his days in his cage even if he had plenty of toys he still gets bored and stressed out and he takes that frustration out on his feathers. Greys need some time out of their cage every day and if they don't get it then they start plucking.


You are not a bad mom, you can't help that you are sick but Molokai needs to have time out of his cage and things to keep him busy when he is in it.


Another thing is not to get upset when you see him plucking, some will take your reaction to be encouragement to continue for it is attention, at least in their eyes.

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It's not a question of being a bad mom. If you're having a problem and looking for help, that makes you a good mom. It's difficult to say whether he plucks because he realizes you're ill, but you may be partially on target if your illness has caused you to not be able to give the same amount of attention like you did before you became ill. If your bird started to be caged more than before, that would cause plucking. Chronic plucking refers to a bird that will not stop plucking because they've learned how to live with it comfortably. Acute plucking is temporary and can be somewhat controlled. You may have a very high strung nervous type bird which many greys are. They have a huge reputation for plucking.

As far as him being in danger, a plucker is really in no danger of anything unless there's illness involved which has to do with plucking. You may want to check with your vet and have the bird checked out for skin problems. There's an item that's called aloe vera juice which can be sprayed on a bird's skin to make it less itchy. Greys have very dry skin and need frequent misting or bathing. As far as his tail, he chewed them, not plucked them. If he plucked them out you wouldn't see any tail feathers at all.

The best thing to start off doing is soothing his dry skin with aloe vera juice. There's an article written on the board telling all obout it. I would also recommend getting a small bottle of aloe vera gel if he has bare,damaged areas ( looking like sores).

Another imoportant thing to know is that once a bird starts plucking on a regular basis it'll take quite a long time to bring the bird back to normalcy.

It's a long step by step process and you need patience and you should expect relapses because plucking is a hard habit to break.

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Dear Judy,

In answer to your questions, Molokai is out of his cage all day every day...accept when we go out to a Drs appt or something like that. He had to stay in his cage for 24 hours because i had to leave for 24 hours on Wed.

I live with my hubby, and our puppy Madison. Ron gives him all kinds of attention when i cant and Madison and Molokai get along really well for a puppy and a CAG.

Yes, I have had him since he was 3 months old. He started feather picking probably about the time i got sick. I guess he isnt as much a chronic picker than an acute picker, because he does let his feathers grow back, but then he starts all over again.

I do however get upset when he picks, i cant help myself. I guess i need to learn not to get upset when i see him doing it, or try to hold in my emotions. He only does it when I am around or when we leave him in his cage, or when he doesnt want to do something I...MEEE, asks him to do something.

Thanks for your response....Erin

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Dear Dave,

Thanks for the advice. The Aloe sounds like a great idea. I guess molokai is an acute picker by your definition. He lets his feathers grow back, then starts all over again. The last time he did this we took him to the vet and he said Molokai was just a nervous bird and suggested prozac, which we immediately declined.

He even gets UV light for 4 hours a day/Dr recommended.

I do let him show that i dont like his picking, by sometimes crying, because i feel so bad, especially when he looks so bad. As i said to Judy, i will have to stop showing emotions around him. We interact with him. His sleeping cage is downstairs and his perch is upstairs with us, so he is always in a high traffic area. He can always see us and we him. He comes and sits with us on the couch and gets tickles, and he gets to eat paper and toilet paper rolls which are his favotite toys off his perch.

Does anyone here use prozac for their birds? Im just asking, because im wondering how it works.

When i say i think hes in "danger" i dont want him to pick out his blood feathers and bleed to death.

Anyway, thank you again for your advice. I think I will take Molokai to the vet, just to make sure he doesnt have any kind of skin condition. Right now he looks all raggedy. The poor baby.


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I know holding your emotions in is hard to do but greys are very sensitive to our emotions and if you are upset when you see him plucking himself then he knows it.


He is obviously very attached to you and when you can't be there for him then he retaliates by plucking and I would say he is a nervous type.


I have heard of giving greys drugs for nervousness and to help stop plucking but I don't think I could ever give mine that, who wants a doped up bird.

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