my budgie was healthy as usual yesterday and within 3 hours he deteriorated to half its size and died. i don't understand why. is this normal? I left the house and came back within 3 hours and he was dead and was half his usual size, withering away. he was his usual self when i left and i am frightened in case he was poisoned while i was out
Hello, I am Dr. B, a licensed veterinarian and I would like to help you with you today.
I would not say sudden death and appearing to be wasted despite seeming to be healthy before is normal. That said, it is a scenario that we sometimes see in birds. The times we tend to see this is when a bird had actually been unwell (perhaps just losing weight and wasting away under his feathers) for a period of time but has been hiding the illness from us.
As I am sure you will appreciate with birds to that they do a very good job of covering up when they are sick. This is because as a prey species, attention to your illness will make you a target for predation. So, too often us humans are the last to know when our birds are unwell. And this means that bird instinct puts us human owners at a disadvantage for catching things early and often leads to situations where the first hint of something being amiss is their decompensating or even dying.
In regards XXXXX XXXXX bird, I would say that poisoning is highly unlikely. If he had suffered from a sudden ingestion of a toxin, we'd actually expect to find very little in the way of external body changes (since he'd have died before he could have lost weight and become withered). Instead, an appearance of having lost body weight and condition is more suggestive of a chronic weight loss perhaps secondary to an infection, a parasitic infestation, or even a tumor. And of course this may look more dramatic now in death then it did in life since you will be seeing the weight loss combined with the rigor and muscle contraction associated with passing on.
So, I'd not suspect foul play here but would say that we'd have to consider issues of asymptomatic chronic wasting for him. If you wished to know which agent caused his signs specifically or if you do have other birds you are concerned about, then you may wish to considering submitting this bird for autopsy. If you speak to your vet, they may be able to perform the autopsy in the practice. Alternatively, if you are near a vet school, veterinary lab, or agricultural college, they may be able to do this for you as well. They will be able to open him and check for signs of tumors or parasites. If they do so and find no obvious cause of death, then they can collect samples to submit to the lab for the pathologists to evaluate. The pathologists will be able to examine the tissues under the microscope and determine the causative agent that lead to her death. As well, if bacterial, fungal or viral causes are suspected, these can be cultured to determine what is present and levels of toxins (like heavy metals) can be tested for as well if need be. And in this situation where he gave you no advanced warning, this might be a step that you wish o take to give you closure on his loss.
I hope this information is helpful.
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