Budgie Diseases

Budgie specific health problems

    • megabacteria
    • trichomonas
    • brown’s hypertrophy
    • tumors

The flocks of similar species in different countries have very different problems.

With UK budgies, we are more likely to see under supplementing not over supplementing. By far the most common “bug” in budgie necropsies is Megabacteria. Though the jury is out as to whether this is the real cause of death or just a symptom of other debilitating diseases. Megabacteria is probably in every flock of exhibition budgies in the UK. Fortunately the birds are now building up quite good immunity and no major outbreaks have occurred in the last three years. We are trying to encourage breeders to use herbal immunostimulants but budgie breeders ……….!!

I’m not sure where Trich fits in the list but I think it would be number two or three. I think Australian budgies would be similar. The problem with trich at necropsy is that the parasite dies very quickly after the bird dies so it is only reliably detected on live birds. Here in the UK if someone says “vomitting budgie” trich will be the cause in 90% of cases. Malcolm Green

Hi Malcolm, Thanks for bringing up the possibility of parasites. I hadn’t thought of them but it is definintely a possibility. I’ve never heard of trichomonas being endemic with budgies here in the US, but maybe it’s something not mentioned among the breeders? The budgie problems I’ve heard of most commonly in the US have involved mites and psittacosis. Perhaps GB and US see different flock problems as they see different nutritional problems? Is that possible? gloria

For what it is worth, the main budgie problems in Australia are (besides tumours and intestinal gram negative bacterial infections) megabacteria, Trichomoniasis, and coccidiosis – a herbal treatment for those three would sure be useful since so far I have only found mainstream veterinary medications work – when any of these diseases is identified you have very little time, so it has to be a rapid (a couple of days to take effect) cure.

Never see too many psittacosis problems – that is a Neophema and cockatiel disease here. cheers, Mike Owen Queensland

Mike, Interesting that you get coccidiosis in budgies down there. It is quite rare in psittacines. Certainly our herbal ingredients work exceptionally well against coccidia. We have evidence in poultry, rabbits and canaries. We now incorporate these herbs into our eggfoods as well as selling them seperately to those people who still insist on using other peoples eggfoods!

How well they work with trich and megabacteria is going to be harder to tell. I certainly sell less of our medicinal trich treatment these days so perhaps the herbs are doing the work there. As for megabacteria the same is true. Since the Megabac-S came off the market the only people who ring me up about trying to get it are non-customers. I think many of our happy customers stopped using drugs a while ago since we started to incorporate herbals into so many of our main line products. They don’t see the need for the drugs when their birds look so healthy anyway. Malcolm Green

Brown’s Hypertrophy

Hi everyone! I don’t post here regularly, but have a scary question  about my male budgie Kramer (age 4). His cere, up until about 3-4  months ago, was a beatiful, bright sky blue. But I’ve been noticing  that his cere color isn’t as deep and bright anymore. It’s almost a  dull blue with a brownish hue to it. I haven’t been able to find  anything on a male’s cere changing color, but this afternoon at the  local Barnes & Noble, I found a bird book that said a color change in  a male budgie’s cere could mean a tumor on the testicle.  Does anyone know about this? Thanks.  Chris

As I’ve mentioned before, my conventional vet will only do 1 blood test at a time on my budgie, because you can’t get enough blood at one time to do a full panel. I’m not saying it might not be helpful, I’m just saying it makes complete bloodwork a little less feasible than with bigger birds.

My budgie had Brown’s Hypertrophy (just what you describe with the nares). At 8 years old she got very hormonal, tried twice to lay an egg & became egg bound both times, almost dying one of those times because the egg was too large and malformed. Because of this, I consulted with Dr. McCluggage by phone (a holistic avian vet) and he sent me a supplement he calls TK Gin Combo. This put an end to her hormonal surges & egg laying. It also took away the Brown’s Hypertrophy. Her nares are extremely light tan/off white at times and other times are regular tan color. She no longer gets that build up on the nares. Brown’s Hypertrophy is somehow related to hormones (possibly an excess?) and that’s why the supplement took care of it.

Another budgie I had also suffered from Brown’s Hypertrophy and she died of an ovarian cyst, so it’s not too far reaching to think her ovary may have been malfunctioning.

The only treatment I’ve seen recommended by conventional vets for Brown’s Hypertrophy is to moisten & gently remove the skin (Avian Medicine, Principles and Applications), especially if it flakes and blocks the nares. This is only treating the symptom, of course, and not actually addressing the underlying cause.

I don’t know that any of this is of great help, but thought I’d share my experience. Hopefully, someone more knowledgeable can offer some info. Leanne

Tumors in Budgies

Budgies are prone to tumors because they’ve been carelessly bred for so long. That is the quick answer. Budgie people say if it makes it to 7 it will have a reasonable lifespan but most birds that have been in-bred or line bred & come from pet shops have a life expectancy of 5 years, 7 with good care.

All tumors are not the same; if it is a fatty tumor foods & herbs may help – to keep the tumor from increasing if not actually reducing it. They are prone to them in certain areas & if in a life threatening region the bird should see a vet. (Bird should see a vet anyway) Also they often recur. Having budgies myself I would venture to say the problem will be getting the food & herbs past the beak. The other thing is if there is a tumor that can be seen there are probably ones which are not visible.

Without more detailed info I would give as much sprouted seed as possible, alfalfa for greens – not dried rabbit pellets but fresh if possible if not anyway you can get it in; strawberries; barley & tofu as well as Echinacea to stimulate immune system & help with stress. I’d plant (just sprinkle on sterile soil) alfalfa & radish seeds & offer as they grow – put outside cage so they can be reached from inside. This works with my most stubborn – they aren’t being “offered” the sprouts so they want them & nibble the greens & pull them up, get the nutrition then look so pleased that they got over on me.

Is the budgie a willing eater of anything but seeds? has it been seen by vet? What type of tumor? where? biopsied? growing? color? More data, more ideas. Kat

Hi Chris, I don’t raise budgies or know much about them so I hope one of the many lurkers on this list will come forward to help you. I have heard and read that budgies are prone to getting tumors. I don’t know if these are just domestically raised budgies or if wild budgies that have not been the result of human breeding programs are also ‘prone’ to tumors…or if it is more true with English or American type budgies.

You didn’t mention in your post if the vet said your bird’s tumor was a fatty tumor or another kind of tumor. You also didn’t mention the foods your bird is eating or what kind of an environment (cage, chemicals, routine etc) your bird is exposed to. You said that the vet gave your bird some medicine but didn’t say what it was. All of these things are important and give people something to go on when they are trying to help you.

Some people believe that genetic predisposition for diseases (in animals) should not be helped even if they can be. This was brought home to me when I wanted to share a study about how large amounts of Vitamin C can help to prevent and heal dysplasia in dogs. I was not allowed to post that information to the dog list because if there was a cure or prevention for dysplasia, then breeders would not feel it necessary to eliminate dysplasia-prone dogs from breeding programs. In their view, the suffering of the people and their dogs was a cruel but necessary means to the end of dysplasia at the genetic level.

There are some herbs that have been found to have anti-tumor effects. Maitake and shiitake mushrooms, cat’s claw, and essiac tea have all been effective under different circumstances. Another that I’ve been hearing good things about is called IP6 . It’s made by Enzymatic Therapy. (Here’s a plug but I have no connection with the company: Enzymatic Therapy is a very innovative company that has been working closely with Germany, the country responsible for much of the scientific validation of herbal medicines. They work under the guidance of Michael Murray ND- author of Encyclopedia of Nutritional Supplements, Encyclopedia of Natural Medicine, and others; and have won high praise from Dr. Julian Whitaker.

The problem is that some herbs help in some cases but not in others. It’s pretty much a ‘shot in the dark’ because we still don’t have enough information about precise actions and precise causes. Other factors include the nutritional profile of the body that needs to be healed.

I think we will be seeing a way to solve that problem for our birds shortly. They are doing it now for dogs and cats. (for those who can afford it.) It’s a test called Bio Nutritional Analysis. BNA looks at blood values to determine which nutrients are being used up by the body in its fight to stay well. These are the nutrients that need to be supplied in greater amounts.

BNA would help to answer the question why two birds on the same diet do not enjoy the same health. Each body is an individual and each may utilize nutrients in a different way depending on genetics, emotional health, metablolism, reaction to stress, etc.

If you or anyone else is interested in finding out whether they have begun to determine nutritional blood profiles for birds, have your vet call 800-361-2313. The BNA program is available to all veterinarians directly through Antech Laboratories working under the guidance of Dr Martin Goldstein, DVM, who developed the program.

Nutrients that have been found helpful in fighting cancer include: CoQ10, Vitamin C, and flaxseed oil. Flaxseed oil contains Omega 3 fatty acids. Most seed mixes contain only omega 6 fatty acids.

Although animals can produce their own Vitamin C and CoQ10, it is entirely possible that ailing animals could be malfunctioning. If this is the case, then they may not be producing adequate amounts to meet their needs.

Again, it is important to know what your bird is eating. Sometimes a seed mix isn’t enough. I firmly believe that nutrition is the major player of good and bad health.


Budgies are extremely prone to tumors, in fact I read in a avian medicine book that budgies are more prone to tumors than any warm blooded animal. From my experience I can well believe this. I see many, many budgies with tumors pass through our shop, in fact we have an aviary especially devoted to such birds that are still enjoying a reasonable quality of life but are not sellable because of developing tumors. Of maybe 8 or 9 pet budgies we have had die over the last 8 or 10 years, all but 2 have died from tumors, and those two had ovarian cysts – another common problem. None were over 5 or 6 years old. None of my other birds (and budgies are in the minority in our house) have ever had a tumor.

It seems to be a captive budgie problem – I have never heard any report of wild budgies getting tumors – of course a wild bird with a tumor is not going to survive long so we may gain a false impression of the incidence of tumors in them. However a wild budgie leads a very active and spartan life – often surviving on native dry seed alone for long periods – and the fatty tumors I will discuss below are not going to be a problem. The wild budgie is a pretty small bird, weighing less than 30 grams, whereas our captive bred birds here are rarely under 45 grams, and I have had some with English blood in them which have reached over 80 grams – approaching the weight of a cockatiel! Fatty tumors are most common in these larger birds, but I don’t see any difference in frequency of malignant tumors between sizes. I think it is essentially a factor of intensive inbreeding to establish the many colours of budgies.

The tumors are of many types, and that complicates any attempt to find a cure. many are fatty lipomas, usually on the chest, and in themselves pretty harmless, except if they continue to grow eventually the skin gives up and ulceration starts. Diet is obviously a major factor in controlling these. A low fat diet is best, and that means not giving pellets – at least the pellets we have in Australia. We use White French Millet, a low fat seed type – only about 2% fat – and combine this with as much fresh vegetables as we can persuade the budgie to eat. The lowest fat content in pellets we see here is 4% or higher.

Malignant tumors most commonly affect the liver, kidney or reproductive organs. A male budgie whose cere starts to turn from blue to brown is most likely suffering from a tumor on the testes. I know of no cure for them, indeed I have never heard of anything that will even slow the tumors. Most will become too large within 3 months of identification, or even quicker. Some inexplicably will stop growing, as with the occasional human tumor, but I have never worked out a reason for remission of budgie tumors.

I believe that al that can be done for such birds is to provide the best possible conditions both in diet and environment for the bird – in the hope that the bird’s own immune system can prove effective, and to be prepared to euthanise when necessary to avoid suffering.


Mike Owen Queensland

According to my research the most common internal tumors for budgies are kidney & ovaries (only on females, so knowing the sex of your bird is also important). My budgie died of a right ovarian CYST which is also very common & the vets were calling it a tumor until the necropsy was done, so that’s another possibility. I now know that my budgie could have most likely been helped by Dr McClugage, had I known about holitic pet care then. I think both of these budgies would benefit from a phone consult with Dr McCluggage, the holistic vet I consult with. I’m very impressed with all he’s done for my birds. Dr McCluggage uses Homeopathy, but also many, many other forms of treatment (see his listing at the bottom of the page).

To address a few things Gloria mentioned: from what I understand, tumors are more prevalent on budgies in captivity, the product she was naming is IP6, my mother’s cat was put on this for her cancer by the famous Smith Ridge Vet Clinic (Dr Martin Goldstein) and was told the *only* brand she was to use was Cell Forte’, it’s available on-line & in most health food stores.

I talked to Dr McCluggage about the Bio-Nutritional Analysis pioneered by Smith Ridge Vet Clinic and he isn’t a big fan of it. He feels that (like other conventional tests) it lumps all pets into a group & doesn’t take into account the individuality of the pet. What might be normal for one pet isn’t normal for another, so while there may be benefits to it, a small percentage of pets could actually be thrown off by being forced to fit within certain parameters. Then again, I have heard wonderful stories from people that have had it done. Just something to keep in mind.

There is another treatment out for cancer called PolyMVA (www.polymva.com). I don’t know about it’s use in birds, but they are using it with other pets & people with tremendous success. It actually fixes the part of the cell that goes wrong, causing a cell to become cancerous. Currently, the FDA is in the process of approving it specifically as a cancer treatment (that shows how serious the claims are about it’s benefits), right now it’s just called a supplement.

Another view to consider is that we have cells that go wrong (‘cancer’ cells) in our body everyday & our immune system takes care of them. When cancer cells produce in great numbers, as in the case of tumors, it means something is wrong with the body & immune system. This can be caused by diet, environment, toxins, genetic predisposition, etc, etc. Bringing the body (& immune system) back into balance helps it be better able to deal with the cancer. This is the theory behind the BNA mentioned above. Bringing the body back into balance COULD (but doesn’t always) mean the body might totally get rid of the tumor. The body knows the tumor isn’t supposed to be there, it just needs the right tools to be able to deal with it.

Here is Dr McCluggage’s information: David McCluggage, DVM 9390 Rogers Road Longmont, CO 80503 303-702-1986 Fax- 303-702-9602 Small Animal, Avian, Exotic He practices: -AC(IVAS) Acupuncture (International Veterinary Acupuncture Society certified) -AK Applied Kinesiology -BF Bach Flower Remedies -CH Chinese Herbs -WH Western Herbs -CR(AVCA) Chiropractic (American Veterinary Chiropractic Association certified) -CN Clinical Nutrition -CM Conventional Medicine -GT Glandular Therapy -HC Homeopathy Classical -NU Nutrition

I’ve consulted with him 6 times, for 4 of my pets & have had tremendous results from the treatments he prescribed, that’s the only reason I recommend him in so many situations without any hesitation. He has also been the president of one of the holistic veterinarian associations and was a microbiologist before he became vet. I have no commercial interest in his practice or anything he prescribes, but I am an extremely satisfied client. He did more for my liver disease bird in 3 months, than conventional medicine (5 vets and 1 specialist) was able to do in over 3 years!! And when life long hormone injections or a spay surgery were the only options conventional medicine gave me for my egg-laying budgie, he took care of the problem naturally with Chinese Herbs.  Here is an article about him: http://www.landofvos.com/articles/holvet.html


I am reading this thread with interest. I lost a slate colored lovebird “Mouse” last year to a tumor. She was nine years old. The tumor was pouchy and soft in the lower abdomen and she had it for two years.

I had bought some una de gato to give to Mouse after reading Cherane’s posts on it last year but never figured out an appropriate dose or how to dose. Cherane, could you tell us in what form, how often and how much (by weight) you would use of una de gato?

Also, I didn’t exactly understand, is calron (is that it?) the same as that NSG-3 (I’m guessing at that name too!)? I read the article but don’t understand the source of the product except that I am assuming that it is not shark cartilage.

Linda Seger

Linda, This is how I have done it and am doing now with Sheba till I get the Cantron. I take a 100 capsule and put 10cc’s of sterile water with it..mix it up and I’m also adding Biotic Research vitamin E forte emulsion to this mixture (did you know the MD’s are using vitamin E for lumps in breast) I dose at .1 per 100 grams..of body weight that is 1/10 of a cc…I do this up to three times a day or according to the movement of food…also they have the bark of une de gato… they also ate the bark through the day. Do not give this to birds who are breeding or laying eggs.!

In Shebas case I’m giving her .6 of a cc and using a 500 mg capsule of una de gato with 15 cc’s of sterile water with a drop of emulsified forte E. Once a day I’m giving her the Nutr Clear by Biotic Research with one teaspoon in a 20 cc’s of water and change the water after 6 hours..


This is out of a book called Encyclopedia of Nutritional Supplements by Michael T. Murray, N.D.

As a class of compounds, flavonoids have been referred to as “nature’s biological response modifiers” because of their ability to modify the body’s reaction to other compounds such as allergens, viruses, and carcinogens. This is evidenced by their anti-inflammatory, anti-allergic, antiviral, and anticarcinogenic properties. In addition, flavonoids act as powerful antioxidants by providing remarkable protection against oxidative and free-radical damage.

Quercetin (a flavonoid) has demonstrated significant anti-inflammatory activity because of direct inhibition of several initial processes of inflammation. For example, it inhibits both the manufacture and release of histamine and other allergic/inflammatory mediators. In addition, it exerts potent antioxidant activity and vitamin C-sparing action.

Many flavonoids inhibit tumor formation, but again quercetin has consistently been the most effective. In experimental models, quercetin has demonstrated significant antitumor activity against a wide range of cancers, including squamous cell carcinoma; leukemia; and cancers of the breast, ovarian, colon, rectum, and brain. Unfortunately, there are no human studies to support the impressive results noted in animal and in vitro studies.

Quercetin is available alone in powder and capsule form. However, if the quercetin is used for its anti-inflammatory properties, products that provide a combination of the pineapple enzyme bromelain may provide additional benefit. Bromelain exerts anti-allergy and anti-inflammatory activity on its own and may also enhance the absorption of quercetin. Combination preparations of protein-digesting enzymes (like bromelain) and flavoniods potentiate each other’s anti-inflammatory activity. The amount of bromelain (1,800) milk clotting units) should be equal to the amount of quercetin.

Recommended dosage range for quercetin is 200 to 400 milligrams 20 minutes before meals 3 times a day for humans.

Quercetin as apparently well tolerated in humans. Carcinogenic and teratoginic studies in rats and rabbits shown that quercetin is without apparent side effects even when consumed in very large quantities (2,000 milligrams per kilogram of body weight and 5 to 10 percent of total diet) for long periods of time (up to 2 years).


I don’t know that all budgies will die in three-five years, though. Maybe there are breeders out there that have been selecting against this. Nancy Newman on this list raises budgies. Nancy?

Sorry – I’m a bit behind on my mail. Just now catching up. I was surprised when I read the original post about budgies and short lifespans. I remember when I was a kid (in the Stone Ages), that the expected lifespan of a budgie was about a year. We would buy them at the dime store and feed them the Hartz Mtn. seed and they would die in about a year.

When I started breeding budgies about 13 or 14 years ago, I started learning about the nutritional requirements and social interactions, etc. It is not hard to see why the budgies in those days only lived for a year or so.

I’ve been reading on the lists about budgies being more prone to the tumors and shorter lifespans. But maybe I’ve just been fortunate but I’ve never had a budgie with a tumor, and counting breeders and babies, there have been hundreds. Of course, I don’t know about all the babies (now). But as far as pets, I haven’t had any with tumors.

In my experience, the expected lifespan for a budgie with a good diet and relatively stress-free life (meaning large cage, social interaction, no threat from predators, etc.) is around 10-15 years. Now, this is the American budgie, not the English (the American are smaller).

Although they are smaller, they are still a member of the parrot family and have all the same requirements as the larger birds as far as nutrition and social interaction. They are wonderful companions and it is no accident that they have been rated as the number one seller in companion birds. Of course, the fact that they have a smaller price tag helps, but that small price tag in no way diminishes their value as a companion parrot.

I think that some of the problems that budgies are experiencing is due to the large-volume breeders who produce literally thousands of babies per month. I still prefer that a person purchasing a bird of any type (including budgies) go directly to a smaller-scale breeder. I feel that the chances of better genetics, better nutrition, better health and better socialization are greatly increased by doing so.


There are a couple of herbs that can be used to poultice tumors. According to Balch and Balch, many people have responded well to external tumors using poultices of comfrey, pau d’arco, ragwort, and wood sage.

Dr. Andrew Weil in his book “Spontaneous Healing” mentioned using bloodroot (sanguinaria canadensis)as a tumor poultice and having the tumor completely disappear. He had medical students try it with the same results. He first started researching bloodroot when he received a letter from someone who used it to dissolve moles and other growths including malignant melanoma. He ordered some of the prepared product after reading that it was a popular herb used by the Plains Indians for sore throats, respiratory ailments, and externally for growths on the surface of the body.

It has fallen into disfavor because it is toxic if taken internally (it interferes with cell division and pay promote mutations and cancer.) However, Dr Weil found several references that it dissolves abnormal growths on the skin without harming normal tissue, even dissolving some breast cancers that had eroded through the skin.

His dog had developed a growth about the size of a marble that looked like a black cauliflower.. He smeared a thin coating of the paste over the growth and repeated the application every morning for three days. On the fourth day, he saw blood running down her side. The tumor had turned grayish and seemed to be separating from the sin, leaving a gaping wound. He stopped applying bloodroot, cleaned the area with peroxide. Two days later, the whole tumor fell off, leaving a raw circular area that quickly healed over.

Later he used the same technique with a friend who had a mole on his chest. After two days, the mole became inflamed and was quite sore. On the third day, the mole became pale and started to swell. On the fourth day, it fell off, leaving a circular wound that healed quickly.

Over the years he has given this paste to medical students for removal of warts and moles. The results have been consistent.

On the other hand: Rodale’s encyclopedia of herbs has a section of herbs that are considered unsafe. Here’s what is said about bloodroot: Prevention magazine editors: Used by American Indians as a skin dye and to treat breast cancer, it shouldn’t be used by reputable healers. FDA: Contains the poisonous alkaloid sanguinarine, and other alkaloids. James Duke: In toxic doses, bloodroot causes burning in the stomach, intense thirst, paralysis, vomiting, faintness, vertigo, collapse, and intense prostration with dimness of eyesight.

If you choose to use bloodroot, be sure it won’t be consumed. It might be best for birds if it was covered. Also, it is best used for small growths. I would not be comfortable using it on large growths because of the pain and swelling caused by an immune reaction.

A friend of mine tried to us bloodroot for psoriasis. It left a tingly feeling on her skin, but she still has psoriasis. I don’t think bloodroot will work for that kind of ailment because psoriasis is not a growth or tumor.

Bloodroot stings on cuts and open wounds.

As with anything, think carefully consider all the pros and cons before using anything without supervision.

If the malignant tumor is internal, then the treatment approach would be different. Unfortunately, not every cancer victim responds to every treatment. So, what works for one will not work for another. The mission is to find the treatment that will work for a particular individual, and that doesn’t always happen. Part of the problem is eliminating the cause of the disease.

The cause can range from environmental factors (such as exposure to household toxins), to dietary factors (improper nutrition and pesticides), to genetics. In the case of budgies, we often are working against genetics.

Here are a few more treatments that have a following because they have been successful with some cancer patients. The reason these treatments are not recognized by the medical community is because they cannot be proven work on every individual using the scientific method.

Essiac Tea – (however, rhubarb is said to be toxic to birds and one of the ingredients in essiac formula is turkey rhubarb. I do not know how closely the two plants are related or if they are indeed the same plant, since I can’t find a scientific name listed.) Another concern is the large amount of oxalic acid in sheep sorrel and turkey rhubarb. The cancer patient is expected to drink lwater to help flush the system. This would help to flush oxalates if budgies would drink large amounts of water. Unfortunately, it is not their nature to do so. So, essiac tea might not be the treatment of choice for budgies if used on a daily basis.) http://essiac-info.org/ http://essiac-info.org/herbs2.html

Another possibility Budwig’s cottage cheese and flax oil diet http://www.positivehealth.com/