August 2001

Frankie's Diary
Treating Proplapse with White Oak Bark
Prolapsed Parrotlet

Frankie's Diary
by Gudrun maybaum

Frankie was among about 10 other Quakers my friend Lori got as a breeder colony. About a year and a half later, Lori discovered that Frankie was mutilating himself. A visit to the vet brought no suggestions about the cause of the self-mutilation, so they put him in an Elizabethan collar and kept him in a single cage in her house.  But Frankie chewed open his throat underneath the collar. 

My friend wanted to euthanize him, but her roommate said she'd take care of him. A few months afterward, her roommate moved out and left Frankie behind. Lori was also planning to move to California, where Quakers are not allowed, so she decided a second time to put him to sleep. 

When I met Frankie, he was in a cage that sat on the floor in a room without windows. The entire right side of his body, leg and shoulder was chewed open and bleeding. He ripped big pieces of flesh out of his back and shoulder, shook his beak and got another piece. He smelled like rotten meat.  

According to my friend, this had been going on for almost four months. She also told me that this practice is common in Quakers and that, even if they were doing fine for a while, they often started the mutilation process again and would just be found dead in their cages some morning. 

I had worked the last seven years with up to 60 rescue parrots at any given time and had solved most of their problems with nutrition and herbal remedies, only taking my birds to the vet to find out what the problem was. So I asked my friend if I could take Frankie and give it a try. Because nobody knew his name, I called him Frankie. 

On July 21, I took Frankie home. My friend and business partner, Taylor, came over to help me. She held Frankie while I simmered some fresh plantain leaves. The towel she held him in was seeping blood in a matter of minutes. This little guy must have lost and was still losing a lot of blood.  

Frankie wrapped in Co-Flex™

Click on photos for a larger view

I used the plantain water and made a poultice with some slippery elm. We put that all over his right back, leg and shoulder, then covered it with the plantain leaves and wrapped the whole bird in Co-Flex™. Throughout the procedure, Frankie was as sweet as he could be. He willingly let us do everything without the slightest struggle. He seemed to be comfortable in his wrap. He probably was, because the plantain reduced the itching. 

At this point, Frankie was eating only seeds, so I added some echinacea, white willow and Vitamin K1 to his water. 

When we took the wrap off the next day, washed off the slippery elm and the plantain, the flesh already looked pink and not red and bloody anymore. Healing was already visible. Taylor took the first photos of him. 

For the next five days, we used only simmered plantain leaves. Frankie was getting better every day and wanted to cuddle continuously.  

On July 25 at 9:00pm, Frankie suddenly fell on his side. His left leg had no strength at all and his body looked kind of crooked. Immediately, I dosed him with my homemade cayenne tincture . . . and waited. After about half an hour, he tried to use his leg again. It was still very weak, but usable. 

About July 26, we thought it was time to let some air to Frankie’s body. Taylor had already looked all over the internet to find something we could use to prevent Frankie from reaching his itching body parts. She found instructions for a really lightweight collar, made from pipe insulation and athletic tape (thanks to the QMS side and Gator's mom). Off Taylor went and came back with the material to make a collar.

When we put Frankie in his first collar, he played “Poor me, look, I cannot move.” When that didn't work, he started running and climbing around in his cage. After a few days he even flew around with the collar on. 

The first collar was a little bit too short. Frankie could reach his leg and started pulling flesh. I sprayed him with aloe vera gel for the next few days to help with the itching. On July 29, Taylor made him a little longer collar. This one worked. Frankie now could not reach those body parts that must have itched so badly for him to rip off his own flesh. His main interest was cuddling. He jumped on everybody and literally attached himself on the chest close to the throat.

Because he was still eating mainly seeds, I pulled them in the morning and he had, like all my other birds, his Beak Treats Mix only during the day. He rarely ate the fruit my birds get in the afternoon. His system needed to be cleansed, and he was still getting echinacea, cayenne and Vitamin K1 in his water. I started giving the K1 every other day and milk thistle on the days without the K1. 

By August 14, his first feathers were coming in, and his leg was also healed but didn't show any signs of feathers yet. Frankie started chewing on the newspaper in his cage and the shredders he had ignored since being with me.

As of August 25, Frankie was a busy bird, chewing on everything and even trying to pinch me when I gave him his food without playing with him.

On August 30 we took a chance and let Frankie preen himself instead of just changing the collar. He had two scars he went for immediately and the blood was running again, so we held a finger on each of the places where he chewed and let him preen everywhere else. I exchanged the milk thistle for aloe detox.

Frankie finally started eating more of the Beak Treats Mix™ and was getting stronger by the day. He jabbered a lot, especially when people came, to get their attention, tried to open his cage when he was inside and behaved like a spoiled brat. 

By September 17, Frankie had been eating the whole mix for three days. He climbed in his cages, took some bites from the mix and climbed back on top. He seemed stronger every day. His left leg was almost back to normal, his body straight and he flew around more and more. 

September 20 was an important date, for it was the first time Frankie was out of his collar without trying to mutilate. He preened for half an hour, with Taylor watching him like an eagle.

On October 1, Frankie set another record by spending an hour perched at the top of his cage, still not trying to do anything but preen. 

By October 21, Frankie was without his collar for almost a week. It was exciting and thrilling. 

Packing up for our coming move stressed Frankie so much that, overnight, he chewed a big hole in the back of his right leg. So, back he went into the collar on October 22, and he healed up just fine once we were settled in to our new home. 

On December 3, I dared to remove the collar and didn’t prepare a new one. This time, everything was fine until December 15, when he got his throat. I applied a simple bandage with some slippery elm and plantain and wrapped it around his throat. Naturally, an hour later he had pulled everything off. I decided to leave him without a collar and wrapped comfrey salve bandages around his throat when I left for a while. He chewed on it, but didn't take it off anymore. 

By the beginning of January, 2001 I quit doing the bandage. 

In the last 6 month Frankie chewed one hole in his shoulder, one in his leg and one in his throat. They were rather small and it took just some washing them with aloe vera to stop him and get them healed. But he has quite an attitude. Every once in a while some person is good enough to pick him up. With most people he acts like he is going to kill them. 

Will we someday find a bloody spot or a blood-dripping Frankie one day when we come home? I think we will always have to expect that.

It seems clear that he does not suffer from intense itching anymore, which may have been caused by something in his food to which he is allergic or by overloading his system with toxins. Knowing what my friend fed him, the only thing I can assume might have caused it is menadione. Since Frankie has been with me, he hasn't had anything containing menadione and it probably took a while to rid his system of it.

It is also clear to me that Frankie was a very spoiled pet bird that got put in a breeding situation. He probably wanted to be a human with feathers, not a bird, and his frustration supported the mutilation. He is a very cuddly, smart, manipulative and sometimes funny little bird that needs lots of loving attention and a very carefully chosen food for the rest of his life.

Treating Proplapse with White Oak Bark
by Bob & Liz Johnson

Our first experience dealing with a cloacal prolapse was with a Scarlet Macaw about twenty years ago. The vet wanted to do surgery but, since we were deeply into natural therapies even back then, we decided to look for some alternative methods of treatment. After reading through a number of our herb books, ( we didn’t have the internet in those days ) we found that white oak bark was used for prolapse and hemorrhoids in human beings as it is an astringent and shrinks or contracts tissue.

The suggestion was to make a bolus of Vaseline and white oak bark powder, but since we were afraid the bird might pick at it, we made a thick paste of white oak bark powder and olive oil instead of Vaseline. We applied this paste to the prolapse and gently pushed it back into the vent and then packed the area with the paste. We repeated this procedure every time we noticed it protruding again (which was quite often for the first couple of days). After about two weeks, though, it finally stayed in place permanently and never prolapsed again.

A prolapse can be caused by a number of different factors such as excessive egg laying or anaerobic bacteria or, as was the cause in our case, papillomas. However, we didn’t find out until several years later that this prolapse was caused from papillomas since nothing much was known about them at that time. In addition to treating the prolapse, we gave her everything we knew at the time in the way of vitamins, minerals and herbs to build her strength and immune system. Actually, when she got better, we weren’t sure whether it was the white oak bark treatment or the general health enhancement program that had done the trick. We gained confidence in the white oak bark over the years, however, as we saw it work in a number of other similar cases.

The most impressive results that we have ever seen from its use occurred just recently to an umbrella cockatoo owned by a friend of ours. The cockatoo’s prolapse was much worse than any that we had ever seen before. It protruded more, the tissue seemed more flaccid and it was bleeding much of the time. The Vet and several “bird experts” had all recommended putting the bird down. We told her of our experience, but warned her that this case was much worse than ours had been and that she might not get the same results. She was determined to save her bird, however, and she started the treatments immediately.

In addition to the paste, she made white oak bark tea which she gave him to drink as well. She also injected some of the tea into his vent periodically. We suggested also giving him some additional manganese as this helps to strengthen ligaments and tissue. She followed this protocol diligently plus she kept him on a program of general health enhancement that encompassed everything we could think of. Besides all of the various supplements he got every day, a meal replacement supplement made for people, called The Perfect Food, became the major part of his diet. This is one of the new high tech food supplements that has a very impressive record of success in helping various health problems in people.

In spite of all that she was doing, at the end of the first week the prolapse did not appear to be responding to the treatment. However, she persisted and in just over two weeks it had completely disappeared and the bird
was back to his normal happy, exuberant self. It has been about eight months now and there has been no recurrence of the problem. Our friend swears that she will never be without white oak bark again and we have sworn that we will never again doubt the power of natural therapies.

Bob and Liz Johnson

Prolapsed Parrotlet
by Pat Miller

Prolapse is a condition where part of the intestine or oviduct protrudes from the bird's cloaca (vent area.)

In the left photo, this parrotlet exhibits a prolapse. The right view demonstrates a normal vent appearance after the prolapse has been corrected.

Our thanks to Pat Miller for use of his photos. Click on photo for a closer view.

Pat Miller shared the following story about his parrotlet, pictured above. Although natural therapies were not used and the vet was not a certified avian vet (but he still has many avian patients), the outcome was successful. We are adding this so those who have birds that prolapse will not feel they need to have their birds euthanized if they or their vets aren't comfortable using natural therapies.

We encountered the problem about 2 days ago and I took pictures before going to the vet. The bird is an 8 month old Parrotlet who was in a cage with other hens. She laid an egg two days prior and then expelled her insides two days later. Funny thing - I had never seen a prolapse before!

After discussing the situation with with a knowledgeable parrotlet breeder, I decided to put this bird down. It seemed like the humane thing to do. However, the vet said to meet him at his office at 9:00pm to see this bird. He wanted to try to help her before considering euthanasia.

This is the vet that I mentioned who does not roll his eyes when I discuss holistic remedies. He always works with me, so whenever he wants to try something, I go along with him. Perhaps another vet wouldn't have attempted to save this bird, but Dr. Nick Minivini of Flanders Veterinary Clinic in Flanders, New Jersey is WONDERFUL.

Dr. Minivini used saline solution to clean it, KY and a Q-tip to push it back in to no avail. He then used tiny tweezers to lift the external skin and managed to manipulate it back inside. He gave her a steroid injection and placed her on Baytril. The biggest concern was if she would expel the tissue when she went to the bathroom. I'm happy to say that she is eating and pooping fine now for 2 days! (and without stitches).

Pat Miller