Perhaps you remember Omar from our “Meet the Flock” page. He was the troubled little Lesser Sulfur Crested Cockatoo that had experienced violence at the hands of his owner’s alcoholic father. As a result, he would exhibit symptoms of acute post traumatic stress disorder. For as long as we at Garuda Aviary have known him, Omar would hide in the back of his cage, trembling and afraid.
As time went on, we learned how to help Omar manage, despite his nearly crippling anxiety. Unfortunately, sometimes anxiety disorders get worse. Omar had never been a feather plucker. But early this spring, Omar began chewing the feathers on his chest. By itself, that is worrisome enough. But this problem took a frightening turn. Omar began to chew a hole in the skin on his chest. His anxiety disorder was quickly becoming potentially dangerous. Sadly, I had to fit him with an E-collar. The collar would keep Omar from mutilating the skin on his chest. But they’re cumbersome and often uncomfortable. In my experience with parrots, I’ve found that once a Cockatoo’s anxiety disorder gets that bad, they typically spend the rest of their lives wearing an E-collar.
Bad to worse
In the months to come, we would try to help Omar cope with his growing ordeal. Much to our collective dismay, it would continue to progress. He would destroy his collars, intent on mutilating his chest. After I replaced his fourth collar with his fifth collar, his disorder reached a grim new level. In an E-collar, Omar couldn’t reach his chest. But he could reach the tops of his wings. So he suddenly began to chew them bloody. My heart sank. When a self-mutilation problem like Omar’s expands to other parts of the body, it’s often only a matter of time before the bird does mortal damage to itself.
I decided to throw every Holistic therapy for anxiety at Omar that I could think of. At this point, I was willing to give him enough Valerian root extract to make him drowsy, just as long as it stopped him from tearing himself apart. In staggered intervals, I began dosing Omar’s water with a few Holistic remedies. One was Valerian root extract. Another was Bach’s Rescue Remedy. But the most impactful was a homeopathic therapy containing four remedies useful for treating nervous tension, anxiety and irritable sleeplessness. This product had a profound effect on Omar’s acute anxiety. Within a week, he had stopped plucking feathers. In another week’s time, it was clear he wasn’t mutilating the tops of his wings or trying to mutilate his chest. He seemed to be doing so well that I decided to remove his E-collar. He was so relieved!
When you remove an E-collar from a parrot, the first thing the parrot is going to do is preen all the feathers it couldn’t reach while wearing the collar. And you must allow the parrot to do so. Otherwise, the areas of un-preened plumage will just drive the poor thing crazy. So you then watch with great apprehension, praying the parrot only preens without plucking feathers or mutilating skin.
In this case, much to my great delight, Omar was only preening. He wasn’t exhibiting the dire pathological behavior. I was amazed. Avian experts generally agree that once a parrot begins to pluck its feathers or mutilate its skin, it is unlikely to stop. My experiences have led me to the same conclusion. So, it seemed these remedies had done the impossible; stopped a ferocious self-mutilator from destroying itself.
But the surprises kept coming…
Not only was Omar suddenly being kind to his plumage and skin, he seemed to be going through a remarkable transformation. Instead of timidly hiding in the back of his cage, he was coming up to the front. Instead of afraid, he was curious, as Cockatoo’s naturally are. He was even beginning to engage socially with humans. Nearly all of our volunteers have commented on how delightfully different Omar is now.
What did it?
The homeopathic remedy compilation consists of:
Avena sativa 2x
Coffea cruda 12x
Passiflora incarnata 2x
Zincum valerianicum 4x
I explained the situation to my homeopathic doctor. He believes Coffea cruda 12x and Zincum valerianicum 4x are the remedies responsible for this stunning change.
Could this be a cure?
With renewed enthusiasm, I am trying these remedies on other parrots with acute anxiety disorders.
Another member of our flock you might remember is Tala, a Moluccan Cockatoo. For years, she has worn an E-collar that prevents her from chewing a hole in her chest. I have tried again and again to wean her out of the collar. But as of yet, she continues to return to the pathological behavior. My homeopathic doctor advised me to be patient regarding Tala’s anxiety disorder. She has spent far longer in an E-collar than Omar has. Her neurosis has had a lot more time to set in.
So I am patient, but no less enthusiastic. It is my hope to single out homeopathic remedies that can effectively treat the anxiety disorders of most parrots.
Stay tuned for new developments, my friends!
Christopher (Rigdzen) Zeoli
Please note that while Christopher (Rigdzen) Zeoli has nearly 20 years of experience handling and caring for parrots, he is not a certified veterinarian. Nor is he a Homeopathic physician. Also, these holistic remedies have not been evaluated by the FDA for the treatment or cure of disease. If you have a veterinary emergency, please contact a certified veterinarian immediately.