Smart, affectionate and playful, Senegal parrots make terrific companion pets. A hardy breed, Senegals live 20 to 30 years, if well cared for. Like most birds, they hide their illnesses well, because showing illness in the wild means the flock leaves you behind. But if you know what to look for, you can nip health issues in the bud to keep your feathered friend happy and healthy.
Humans aren't the only ones who can pack on unwanted pounds -- Senegal parrots can as well. To keep your bird at a healthy weight, make sure you feed her a balanced diet of pellets, fresh veggies and fruits and whole grains. Seeds are a great treat, but a diet of too many can add to her adding excessive weight. If you notice your Senegal has sudden weight loss or refuses to eat, take her to an avian vet, as this could be a sign of illness.
Like most parrots, Senegals are sometimes susceptible to intestinal illnesses. It’s common for your parrot’s droppings to become loose or change colors when you change her diet. Cut back on the amount of fruit you give her to see if that helps her droppings return to normal consistency. If her droppings continue to be loose or differently colored, consult an avian vet, as this can be a sign of internal parasites, and she may need some medication to get rid of them.
Your Senegal’s beak can tend to get a bit overgrown, so make sure to give her wood toys to chew on to keep her beak naturally trimmed. If you notice your bird’s beak growing despite her using these toys, however, or if you see her beak has a deformity, take her to see an avian vet, as this can be a sign of liver or another disease.
All parrots have sensitive respiratory systems, and your Senegal is no exception. She can get infections or diseases in her respiratory tract, including the trachea, air sacs or lungs. Common illnesses are air sac mites, bacterial infections, and illnesses that come from exposure to noxious fumes found in your homes from cleaning agents, Teflon pans, and tobacco smoke. Some signs of respiratory illness to watch for are wheezing or coughing, sneezing, voice changes and lethargy or failure to stay on a perch. Take her to your trusted avian vet immediately if you see any of these signs.
If your Senegal plucks or shreds her feathers, she’s under stress. Sometimes the cause for this is boredom, sometimes it’s hormonal and sometimes it’s environmental. But it’s often an indication of an illness, so if you see her plucking, consult a vet to rule out illness as a cause. Likewise, consult a vet if you notice your feathered companion’s feathers have an abnormal color, as this can be a sign of a beak and feather disease common to Senegals.
Jennafer Martin has more than 14 years of experience in writing, editing and brand management for literary, business-to-business and consumer publications. She is a writer for Zoe Soul Spa and "Pets in the City" magazine.