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Muscle atrophy rehab help!


Dodle727
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Hello all! I am new here, and so grateful for the Grey community I have found in this place! The love here is amazing! I have some questions to put to community involving rehabbing a bird that has been stuck in tiny cage. 😢 Our sweet Boomer needs some help!
We have a 22 yr old CAG named Buddy, he was a rescue at 12 yrs old, and has recently declared himself an ambassador for parrot kind! 😂 He is the sweetest bird, if you come into our house afraid of birds you will leave completely enamored of them! 🥰 So we are familiar with CAGs and their absolute charm, wit, and love! 😍

About three weeks ago we rescued a 20 yr old female CAG, her name is Boomer and she is such a sweet girl! The people that surrendered her to us had inherited her, and were not able to provide the necessary care and attention she requires. Boomer has been in a travel cage for about three years now, a cat sized metal cage.  I was told she came out and sat on a perch most days, however it is small and provides no room for exercise. She is a lil’ chunky, and I have vet records from about a year ago declaring she is overweight but otherwise quite healthy. When they brought her over they brought over her “big” cage, it is about 2/3rds larger than her travel cage, and has a little rust on it. Not at all large enough for her, the spacing between the bars is at about a 1/2” and her toes get stuck between them when she climbs around on it!  The perch that they had for her is Macaw sized and a little too large for her sweet little feet, so I went out and got her a Manzanita perch and a rope perch at our local pet store. She indicated by day 2 that she would like the stick perch in her cage, she calmly let me put in there and within 10 mins she was making sweet noises sitting on it! This bird is fearless, it’s pretty astonishing sometimes! I attached the rope perch to the outside of her cage so she has a spot to come out and socialize, she loves this one too! Best chewing spot for sure! 
She definitely seems to have some muscle atrophy in her feet and legs, the first week she had a lot of inflammation in her feet and a hard time climbing vertically in her cage. After a couple days the inflammation diminished but flares up occasionally to this day. She could barely hold her weight up without the assistance of her beak, and had a pretty hard time getting around her cage as her toes were getting stuck in the bars as she tried to move her feet around. 
By week two she was doing much better and getting comfy coming out and socializing on her rope perch, we love to dance and sing… and tear up cardboard! She still loses her balance sometimes, and doesn’t get very restful sleep because of it unless she is on the bottom of her cage. In her travel cage she could rest her butt on the bottom while she slept so she has had a hard time adjusting back to perch sleeping.  I have not seen, but heard her fall from her perches a couple of times.
By week three she is much more stable on her perches, climbs all over her cage and the pvc gym next to it. We dance and she shows me her pretty wings, she is getting much more comfortable with stretching them out again and shows them off all the time!  She has lost a little weight, though not too much! And we have been making leaps and bounds in the bonding department! We do target training daily where I have her move all over to exercise and she is very comfortable taking treats from my hand. She has gotten accustomed to our routine around here and enjoys her place in the house! She is much more of a talker than our Buddy, when we put her to bed she tells us “I love you, goodnight!” In my voice and it is the sweetest thing. The two parrots are in separate rooms, and get along so beautifully across the house. We have had some jealousy from Buddy, but nothing we were not already anticipating from him, he makes sure to let us all know that he likes Boomer but is jealous of the attention she’s getting.

I had bought a macaw sized cage with 1” spacing between the bars for Buddy a couple years ago but surprise he hated it 🤣, I pulled it out of storage a week and a half ago with the intention of putting Boomer in there. It has been sitting in the hallway in view of her cage, she is very curious and has played on top of it. My question is do you think it’s safe to go ahead and move her into the new cage while she is still adjusting? She is still getting her toes stuck between bars, and I suspect this is the cause of the inflammation flare ups so I would like to move her as soon as possible! My fear is a fall from a higher perch, but I can always put her perches lower in there until she adjusts more fully. Also if anyone has had similar experience with rehabbing some muscles I would love to hear about the things that worked well for you! 

If it’s helpful I can post pics of the cages.
thank you all so much!

Buddy & Boomers’ Mom

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Hi there and welcome! One inch spacing for medium size birds might be a tad too wide for her, but you can see how she adapts to it. The sooner she is able to have more space to move around in, the better it'll be for her. I'd keep her tiny familiar cage right next to the new one. As all of us CAG owners know, introducing new things to our red fluffy butts is oftentimes met with fear, so you might have to introduce it to her in baby steps.


There are some great rope netting for birds that you might want to consider getting for her. Mine love to climb through the holes, hang upside down from it, and just chill on top.

I'm SO happy she is now in your care! ❤️ 

Edited by Greytness
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Welcome to the forums!

Like Greytness said, if you have the space to have the two cages side by side, that might help. If you've figured out what Boomer's favourite treats are then you could possibly use that to reward her whenever she shows interest or climbs on the new cage so she associates it with a positive reward. If she's already curious and has played on the top of it then that's a really good start.

If you're worried about her falling then I'd definitely start with some lower perches and maybe pad the bottom of the cage with some old towels so if she does happen to fall then it'll be a soft landing. 

In regards to the inflammation on her foot, I've heard of something called bumble foot, which can occur when a bird has inappropriate perches. Their feet can get sores and inflammation from it. Hopefully the fact she's now able to move around more freely and has different sized perches with different materials will help ease any inflammation. It sounds like she's already been working those legs and feet anyway!

Sounds like she really hit the jackpot when she found you! 🙂

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Welcome to the party.  Would love to see pics of the babies.

Don't think it's been mentioned yet so...one of the most important things you can do is get them on a proper diet.    I use two Volkman products: Soak and Simmer and Birdeez Buffet.   Those are cookables which I use as a base and then throw whatever I have available, jalapeno peppers, sweet potato, frozen peas, etc.    After while on this stuff they start to shine.   We rehomed a couple birds on rotten diets and you could see their transformation within months.  If she's on pellets, those can be holding the weight on.  Most pellets are corn-based.   Garbage fat-fillers.    Also Harrisons is bad for weight too if you're bird is not active enough.   My GreycieMae is very active and she somehow can plump herself up on that stuff (we don't use it anymore due to their predatory price-fixing).  That will help reduce the weight and get birdy healthy.   If you're comfortable with the idea, once birdy is settled, you can help with little exercises like perching birdy on your hand and lowering your arm over a mattress to induce some flapping.   Will help with the leg strength too.   I'd be careful though with a bird in the condition you mentioned.   Don't want any accidental flights and broken bones.

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