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Foot Tapping

Foot or toe tapping is a condition where a bird has repetitive muscular twitching in its toes.

By Liz Wilson

DESCRIPTION OF

Foot or toe tapping is the common name given to a condition characterized by repetitive muscular twitching of the toes of a bird. This condition is most commonly seen in the Eclectus parrot and some species of cockatoos.

CAUSES OF

Anecdotal experience and educated observation indicates that this behavior can be a response to chemicals and/or additives in a pet Eclectus parrot’s diet. With pet cockatoos, nutritional deficiencies have been implicated.

WHAT TO DO

Regarding Eclectus parrots, after a full medical workup to access health, avian veterinarian Dr. Brian Speer and Eclectus breeder Laurella Desborough recommend the removal of “pellets, vitamin powders, vitaminized seed mixes, vitaminized treats, spirulina and other herbal mixtures, processed people foods such as commercial bread mixes, pasta, processed cheese, pizza, TV dinners, and any food item that contains man-made vitamins, preservatives or chemicals of any kind.” Instead, pet Eclectus parrots should be fed only organic and well-washed fresh foods. The diet of pet cockatoos should also be carefully analyzed with necessary nutrients properly balanced.

Disclaimer: BirdChannel.com’s Bird Behavior Index is intended for educational purposes only. It is not meant to replace the expertise and experience of a professional veterinarian. Do not use the information presented here to make decisions about your bird’s health if you suspect your pet is sick. If your pet is showing signs of illness or you notice changes in your bird’s behavior, take your pet to the nearest veterinarian or an emergency pet clinic as soon as possible.


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Foot Tapping

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Reader Comments
It has been our experience after 20+ years breeding Eclectus exclusively that the feeding of dry seed and nuts to be especially detrimental and will lead to this problem. Sprouted seed is much better and a quality organic pellet is much better than dry seed but no nuts or peanuts, and 75% of the diet should be fresh food. Synthetic vitamins will cause problems, but we have found that the feeding of spirulina actually cleared up a case of toe-tapping in a bird we received which had previously been fed dry seed in his diet. Within 2 months of adding 1/4 tsp per day of spirulina to his diet -- all toe tapping symptoms disappeared. All of the other birds in our large flock of Eclectus never had any symptoms of toe-tapping during the 20+ years that they had DAILY been fed 1/4 tsp of spirulina per day, along with fresh food and a handful of organic pellets per bird.
Scott, Atlanta, GA
Posted: 11/21/2012 1:31:03 PM
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