What Can Your Parrot's Beak Tell You About Their Overall Health?

18 October 2016
 Categories: , Blog

A parrot's beak is its own little Swiss army knife; not just used during meals, the beak is also employed while climbing and used much like a hand in order to explore the bird's surroundings. With the beak used for so many tasks, it should come as no surprise that you need to keep your parrot's beak healthy—but did you know that you can also judge the condition of your bird's overall health simply by checking on its beak once in a while?

Here are just a few beak-related warning signs that can be indicators of overall poor health.

Unusually Fast Growth

Your parrot's beak is made of the same thing as your own nails, a substance called keratin. Most people don't realise this, but, like our nails, a parrot's beak will continue to grow. As the beak is used for some of the tasks listed above, the older parts of its surface will be worn down to make way for the new.

If your parrot is enjoying a healthy diet, this process should take care of itself without any need for intervention. However, you should be worried if the beak seems to be growing longer at a faster rate than normal. Excess growth might not sound like something to worry about, but it's often a sign of nutritional deficiencies, with a lack of vitamin A being a likely suspect. This often occurs when parrots are fed a seed-only diet, and is associated with a similarly speedy grow rate of the claws.

Honeycomb Appearance

A parrot's beak should be shiny and without any breaks. If you can see any signs of crustiness or flakiness, you might have a problem. This can indicate the presence of mites, which can infest numerous other parts of your parrot's body, most notably the feet. If your parrot has mites, the beak will show the most obvious signs; beyond the crustiness and flakiness mentioned above, the beak will likely be very brittle. The parrot may also rub their beak against other surfaces, as if scratching an itch.   

One thing to keep in mind if you notice signs of mites is that these are very contagious. If you have two parrots that are kept together, it is likely that they will both be affected.

Dryness and Peeling

Another issue that can cause flakiness on the beak, though without any crusting, brittleness, or signs of itchiness, is a diet that is lacking in methionine. This is a vital amino acid that your parrot needs to stay healthy, and you'll find it in foods such as fish, seeds, nuts, and meats.

A diet that is low in methionine is also likely to cause a deterioration of feather condition, and possibly excessive moulting. Unfortunately, it often takes a long time for the beak and feathers to return to full health after nutrition has been improved.  

If you notice any of the signs listed above, make sure you bring your parrot to the veterinarian so they can have a proper check-up.