Exotic Animal Medicine: Avian
We see all pet birds including parrots, songbirds, backyard poultry, and raptors used for falconry.
Depending on why your bird came in, and what we find during our physical exam, we may recommend a variety of diagnostic tests. These tests are designed to help diagnose your bird, as well to screen your bird for illnesses that may be detrimental to your bird, you, or other animals in the house.
Here are some tests that we offer for your bird’s health and how they help us keep your bird well:
- Fecal exam: Believe it or not, looking at your bird’s stool gives us a lot of information! We look for the types and proportions of bacteria and yeast that are in the gastrointestinal tract, as well as for some types of parasites.
- Bloodwork: Routine bloodwork usually consists of a complete blood count (CBC) and a biochemistry panel. This gives us a great deal of information about your bird. The CBC allows us to look for signs of infection and inflammation, as well as for anemia. The biochemistry panel allows us to evaluate kidney and liver function, protein levels, and muscle damage.
- Radiographs: We often recommend taking x-rays of our bird patients. This allows us to see bones, the respiratory system, the heart, the liver, the gastrointestinal tract, the spleen, the kidneys, and the reproductive tract. We can gather a lot of information about these body systems by examining an x-ray, such as whether or not there are any changes in size and position of organs, and the presence of ingested metal fragments.
- Infectious disease testing: Birds can be exposed to diseases in many different ways. Birds from pet stores or fairs, and birds that regularly contact other birds may be more likely to acquire infectious diseases, such as certain bacterial diseases, Chlamydophila (“Psittacosis”), Psittacine Beak and Feather Disease, Herpes virus (“Pachecos” disease), Polyomavirus, and Proventricular Dilatation Disease (“PDD”, or “Macaw Wasting Disease”). We can discuss the various diagnostic options for these diseases if we are concerned that your bird may be infected or exposed.
- Heavy metal testing: Often, birds are exposed to heavy metals that the owner is unaware of, such as lead or zinc. We can test for exposure to these metals to help diagnose your bird’s illness.
- Cultures: We can get samples from your bird for culture, such as cloacal culture or choanal culture to help diagnose specific types of bacterial infections, and which types of antibiotics should be most effective.
Poultry Mobile Service
The NC State poultry mobile service allows individual health assessment and treatment as well as evaluation of the flock and the environment, right where birds live. Our team offers a thorough review and can ask as many questions as needed.
We provide behavioral counseling (eg. Cannibalism) and consultations on nutrition and production. We also evaluate best farm practices and provide disease prevention guidelines for the specific farm.
Appointment Policy and Resources
The Exotic Animal Medicine Service is available to the general public and welcomes referral cases.
We strive to provide a safe and caring environment for your pet bird, small mammal, reptile, amphibian, fish, or invertebrate. We ask that you arrive with your pet in a carrier; this will help keep them safe from other animals that may be in the lobby, and will help reduce stress. We also ask that you bring a sample of your pet’s diet to your appointment. Upon check-in, you and your pet will be escorted into an exam room where someone will talk with you about your animal’s lifestyle, diet, and current and previous medical concerns.
The Exotic Animal Medicine Service at NC State University does not accept wildlife of any kind. The NCSU Turtle Rescue Team can be contacted regarding the rescue and rehabilitation of wild reptiles and amphibians. If you have found a wild animal that you believe is injured or orphaned, please contact a wildlife rehabilitator for instructions about safe capture and transport from the organizations listed here:
- CLAWS, Inc., located just outside of Chapel Hill, North Carolina, 919-544-3330, CLAWS, Inc.
- Wildlife Welfare, Inc. (triangle-based group of independent wildlife rehabilitators), 919-619-0776, Wildlife Welfare (website and phone line have useful information)
- Carolina Raptor Center, Huntersville, NC, 704-875-6521, www.carolinaraptorcenter.org
- Wildlife Rehabilitators of North Carolina, www.ncwildliferehab.org (look up NC rehabilitators by county and species they work with).
- NCSU Turtle Rescue Team (wild turtles, snakes, lizards and amphibians only), 919-982-5923, www.turtlerescueteam.com
Additional resources may also be found at the NC State College of Veterinary Medicine’s website.
Alumni Voice: What Zoological Medicine at the CVM Meant to Me
As chief veterinarian at the South Carolina Aquarium in Charleston, S.C., Shane Boylan (DVM, ’05) treats some of the world’s most amazing marine animals, including sea turtles impacted by oil spills in the Gulf of Mexico and loggerheads in need of rehabilitation at the aquarium’s Sea Turtle Care Center. As a student at the NC