Can a Band on a Pet Bird be Good?
Sure – there are some times when a band is very useful
- International Travel may require unique identification and some birds are too small for microchips.
- Identification in a breeding situation ensures that birds are not mixed up – which is especially important if there are subtle health issues.
- A band, if the number is known, is a way to prove the bird belongs to you.
So Why is a Band ever Bad?
When it is unnecessary.
- Larger birds can be microchipped.
- Birds that have left a group situation no longer need their bands.
- Since there is no central database for bands they cannot be used to track down an owner.
Why Should You Remove a Band?
The main reason – to prevent injury. We see birds who damage or break their legs because the band got caught on something. They can irritate or annoy birds causing them to bite at the band. If the leg is injured it may be difficult or impossible to remove the band without causing further injury.
Jackie’s Band Problem
Here is Jackie – a cockatiel. She came in for an injured leg. You can see that the skin of her leg has swollen around the band:
Luckily we were able to remove the band and with supportive care the leg has healed well…if a little different from her other leg!
It could have been much worse – the pressure can cause damage to the bone. In Jackie’s case, she didn’t need surgery to repair the leg since there was no exposed bone and she still had good blood flow to all the digits. Her smallest toe was damaged – it is likely permanently pushed forward due to the swelling. Maybe it too will heal with time.
Jasper and the Pot of Water
We all fear accidents – all we can’t do is take reasonable precations. But our pets sometimes outwit us and late last night Jasper flew into a pot of boiling water. When I saw him the next day I explained to the owner that even though the legs looked pretty good, the true extent of the damage might not show up for several days.
The owner was not surprised since, as a cook, he was familiar with burn first aid care. Jasper was bathed in warm (not cold) water initially and repeatedly. Warm water helps stimulate blood flow which leads to long term improvements in healing.
Within 24 hours you can see the swelling starting already:
Initial swelling on the left leg
Irritation and swelling
Regardless of the presentation, we treated for the possibility of very bad burns by starting Jasper on pain medication, antibiotics and topical treatments. Sometimes wrapping a burn can be helpful but it depends on the location and the patient. Jasper did well on his treatments and recovered fully. He was lucky – many of our patients lose toes or worse. It can be very hard to keep their pain under control and to medicate them frequently until the burns are healed.
Take a look at some of the changes to Jasper’s legs over the following weeks:
3 days later the skin is sloughing.
Improvements 11 days after the burn
But now a thick scab is present
The scab is trimmed to prevent a constriction
All healed after 1 full month of care
For some reason I was discussing children with my receptionist – she has 2, I have none. I discovered that she followed a similar practice to my mom. You didn’t have to eat the food that was served to you, but neither she nor my mother were willing to make anything special. I fondly remember foraging in the kitchen from a young age.
Our pets can be like young children – frustrating to feed. You do have to stay on top of them, learn what they need and figure a way to get them to eat it! Many of our exotic pets are “concentrate selectors”. That is, they pick out all the yummy stuff first and move onto the nutritional stuff later. In the wild, this works great. In the home, not so good.
For many rabbits, guinea pigs and reptiles, all you have to do is offer them the correct mix. There are rabbits who prefer the pellets to hay – maybe the hay is stale, or they’d rather have oat hay than timothy…but for some, the nutrient rich pellets just are more yummy. The key is not to allow them to control what you are offering. If you’ve let your bunny eat nothing but pellets for years, you may not be able to get them back onto hay.
…and always, there is no such thing as too much hay!
Birds are a little different. They are very smart – sometimes it feels like you’ve got a toddler on your hands. But they can’t make cognitive leaps. If they haven’t been offered a food previously, they may not know that it is food. This is why you never just change the diet “cold turkey”. We’ve seen birds starve to death because their food dishes appear to be filled with rocks.
It’s a good plan to make sure your bird is healthy prior to working on a forced conversion to pellets. Modifying the diet can be stressful and the last thing you want to do is turn a mild self-limiting illness into a problem requiring a doctor’s intervention.
Check out our diet recommendations at Bay Area Bird Hospital for recommended food types, brands of pellets and conversion recommendations.
Don’t give up! Getting your pet onto a healthy diet is the single more important thing you can do for their long-term health.