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Why Does a Parakeet Twitch?

| Updated September 26, 2017

The term parakeet usually refers to the budgerigar, or "budgie," which is one of the smallest types of parrots, measuring approximately seven to eight inches long and weighing 20 to 40 grams. Budgies come in a variety of colors and can be social, playful, affectionate pets. There are a few reasons a budgie might twitch, though if this is a new or atypical behavior for your bird, it is most likely due to a medical problem.

Non-Medical Reasons

Budgies exhibit certain behaviors that might resemble twitching. One of these is preening, in which the bird spreads oil from a gland through its feathers, using its beak. Another is bathing, in which the budgie splashes around in a dish of water. Sometimes budgies and other parrots will poof up their feathers and then shake out their tails in order to straighten their feathers. Finally, they might simply be playing. None of these behaviors would appear suddenly, however.

Medical Reason

The most likely medical reason for a budgie to twitch is a seizure. Seizures may be caused by a number of things, and most of these indicate a serious problem. A partial seizure may involve twitching of a leg, a wing or the head. A general seizure may involve wing flapping, shrieks or other vocalizations, falling off the perch, loss of consciousness, and vomiting.

Causes of Seizures

There are a number of reasons that your budgie may be having a seizure. Ingestion of toxins such as tobacco, poisonous plants and pesticides can cause illness and seizures. Brain trauma can also cause seizures, as can infectious diseases like Aspergillosis. Overheating, dehydration and malnutrition are other causes, and end-stage liver disease is a possible culprit, especially if the bird is on a fatty diet like birdseed.

Treatment and Care

If you suspect your budgie is having a seizure, put it in a small box and take it to an avian veterinarian immediately. The vet is likely to calm the bird by placing it somewhere warm and quiet, hydrating it with intravenous fluids, and administering Diazepam to stop the seizure. He may also take other measures, such as putting rubbing alcohol on an overheated budgie's wings to lower its body temperature. Back at home, move your budgie to a smaller cage with padding on the bottom.