If you're not trying to breed your bird, it can be distressing to find many eggs inside their cage. Excessive egg-laying is a common problem among smaller pet birds like cockatiels, and it can cause health problems for your pet. Here are three things bird owners need to know about excessive egg-laying.
Why do birds lay too many eggs?
Excessive egg-laying is only a problem for captive birds. In the wild, birds don't lay eggs unless they have a suitable mate, but in captivity, many things can trigger this unusual behavior. They may lay eggs because they're bored by their cage environment. Regularly rearranging their cage decor can help combat this boredom.
Your bird may also be stimulated to produce more eggs when you remove her eggs during cage cleanings. If you find eggs in the cage, leave them in place. When they don't hatch, your bird will get bored of them and stop laying eggs. If you remove the eggs, she will feel like she needs to keep laying more to replace the missing eggs.
Captive birds can also be stimulated to lay eggs by the presence of inappropriate mates. Your bird may feel like you or her female cagemate are her mates. In some cases, birds can even think their food cups or toys are their mates. If you see your bird rubbing her vent on cagemates or cage objects, separate her from the objects of her attraction.
Why is excessive egg laying a problem?
You may think that egg-laying is just a harmless oddity, but it's actually dangerous for your bird to produce eggs. Producing eggs takes a lot of nutrients from your bird, and prolonged laying can give her malnutrition or even osteoporosis. Eggs can also get stuck inside her body, leading to a dangerous condition known as dystocia. The force it takes to push out eggs can also prolapse your pet's cloaca.
How can your vet help?
Your vet can determine the cause or causes of your pet's excessive egg-laying and recommend ways to overcome those causes. This may include taking away her cagemate, leaving the eggs in place or getting her a different cage with new toys.
If addressing the causes doesn't help, your vet can give your bird hormone injections. These injections can help stop the egg-laying behavior, though they don't work in all birds. However, they're fairly safe, so your vet may want to try this method anyways.
If nothing else works, a surgical procedure known as salpingohysterectomy can be performed. During this procedure, the vet will remove your bird's uterus and oviduct. Without these organs, your bird won't be able to produce eggs.
If your pet bird is laying lots of eggs, take them to a vet right away. Contact a facility like TLC First Animal Hospital to learn more.