Not sure where to post this thread since it touches on so many topics so I’m putting it here.
We got Baby from a terrible situation about 2 weeks ago. With some great advice from members here and a LOT of reading we were making good progress with him! I adore this bird and this is why what happened today breaks my heart.
Baby had his first visit with the avian vet today. He had never been seen by one in 22 years of life except when he was still a baby bird. Additionally he has been kept in a “bird room” with many other birds in cramped filthy conditions with little human interaction for several years.
Two conditions came to light today that are the product of uncaring and awful human guardians. Baby has either an abcess or more likely squamous cell carcinoma on his preen gland. It is small enough that it can be treated if done soon. Surgery to remove and biopsy the growth and send for pathology will be $400-$500. If it is cancer it can still be treated by cryogenic methods which will be another $300-$400. At the moment it is not functioning so he is not getting any benefits from preen oil and it’s not helping his feather quality. It is also causing him to be in constant pain. The condition was caused by his poor diet of only seeds and dried fruit for his entire life.
The scarier condition, if you can call it that, is that he does have severe aggression issues. The vet who saw him has been specializing in avian medicine for over 20 years and was one of the first 100 vets to be board certified in avian medicine when they began doing so in 2002. Guy knows his stuff. Dr B said that Baby is the most aggressive bird he has seen in 15 years. Beat out only by another Triton as most aggressive bird ever... he went for the vet like a velociraptor the instant he moved in his direction after weighing him. (I had taken him out of the carrier and put him on the scale perch) I have (thankfully) never seen him act like that. This is not a bird that will ever be able to be taken out in the world for his enrichment as I had hoped one day I could do.
This both saddens and scares the crap out of me. I am sad for him, that he’s been so mistreated, neglected, and uncared for that he feels the need to attack so viciously. I am terrified because what if he decides to go after one of us one day? We spent a lot of time talking about how best to control his behavior, what he is and isn’t allowed to do, and how to protect ourselves from a very dangerous bird. He also wants to X-ray him and see if his testes are enlarged, if so we will be starting him on Lupron to decrease testosterone production. It makes sense- the mood swings he gets remind me eerily of a friend I once had who was a bodybuilder and got roid rage.
While both diagnoses are scary and not the best outcome I am happy for one thing- that we have him now. We may have spent $450 to “adopt” an older bird who now has some health issues but spending that $450 saved his life. For sure the people we got him from wouldn’t have taken care of his preen gland issue and it would have killed him. Of course when contacting them they aren’t willing to give us back the money to put towards his treatment but that’s ok. At least we will make it happen. Tax time is soon and Dr B said if we do it in the next few months he will be curable. The aggression issue is a whole other ball game. It’s possible that Lupron may help. It’s possible that he will get better with time and human interaction. It’s also possible that in a few weeks he will get dangerously aggressive with us and become cage bound for the rest of his life as the other highly aggressive Triton did. This is a very real possibility that the vet made extremely clear and said to be ready for. In any case we will love him and keep him as part of the family as long as he lives. If he must live in the cage he will always be in the house with the rest of us, we won’t banish him to a bird room.
For those of you reading this who are getting a “used” bird, PLEASE do as we did and bring them to an avian vet immediately. He looks healthy but he has a serious health issue. Don’t get a “cheap” bird and think that because you can afford a few hundred dollars you can afford a big bird. We knew we’d have to have cash for veterinary care and thankfully we were able to get started on it. A yearly exam with blood work etc is $250, pbfd testing is $90, poly vaccine is $50, gram staining another $80. Please be aware of these costs before taking on a bird so you can do right by them.
For those of you who have a bird and aren’t getting it the care it needs, please do or rehome (for free) to someone who will. If you can’t keep the commitment to your pet to give him or her the proper care you shouldn’t have one. It breaks my heart that those people claimed to “love” him and were all boo boo about letting him go but hadn’t brought him to see a vet in 20 years and were shocked that he likely has cancer. I told her last night that it’s unfortunate she won’t return our money to help pay for his care so we can do the first surgery immediately instead of waiting until January but that it doesn’t matter anyhow- rehoming him saved his life and for that I am thankful.