undigested seed in poop [Archive] - Talk Budgies Forums

: undigested seed in poop

09-02-2011, 10:13 AM
Hi All,

Does anyone have any ideas?

Khan has got to see the avian vet who will examine samples etc on Monday, but wondered if anyone had any ideas :

Put him back on seed, as he ignored pellets on the second day of trying.

Now he has undigested seed in his droppings, which are loose and green, black and watery, sometimes just water and seed. He is not acive and fairly quiet, allthough he did chirp to the birds outside earlier.

Any ideas? I realise it is bad :( hope he lasts the weekend.


i love Budgie
09-02-2011, 10:23 AM
Undigested food in a birds poo id definatly a sign of illness.

Undigested food indicates that the digestive system of your bird has been strongly disturbed. If this continues to happen the bird can be threatened by stravation or deficancy therefore you bird must be seen by a vet immediatly. Undigested seed in a birds poo can also indicate parasites such as worms. If your bird has just been treated for parasites then the seed may be connected to that, if not study your birds poo. If it has very SMALL worms in it it is probaly caused by that and you need to see a vet to get the medicine. Either way a vet is needed immediatly.

Green poos can indicate your bird has not eaten well (which could be caused by the digestive problems) and watery poo can indicate a kidney problem yet it is likely it is just linked to the digestive problems. A change in diet should not change your birds poo to this extreme.

Get your bird to a vet immediatly. Isolate your bird in a seperate cage and cover 3/4 of your cage with a blanket so your bird can get some rest. Put the perches and food/water bowls low down in the cage and also attached millet to the cage to speed recovery. Layer tissue on the bottom of your birds cage to make the cage more comfortable and get poo samples for the vet. I hope this helps and I hope your bird is ok.

Make sure that the seed is not just sticking to the poo when it drops to the cages bottom, check it is definatly undigested food :)

This may help you. A poo guide - http://www.birds-online.de/gesundheit/gesallgemein/indikatorkot_en.htm

09-02-2011, 10:53 AM
Thanks so much "i love budgie"

We have to take in samples of his seed, poop samples, and take him in his cage so the avian vet can check out the set up.

Thanks for all the info.

I am sue it is undigested seed, watched him actually poop whilst observing him earlier.

Feeling real blue about it at the mo.

09-02-2011, 11:07 AM
Thanks so much "i love budgie"

We have to take in samples of his seed, poop samples, and take him in his cage so the avian vet can check out the set up.

Thanks for all the info.

I am sue it is undigested seed, watched him actually poop whilst observing him earlier.

Feeling real blue about it at the mo.

Deleted no link

09-02-2011, 11:13 AM
deleted..no link

09-02-2011, 11:24 AM
Okay, get him to the VET ASAP!! He has with no doubt Mega Bacteria!!

Here is some poopology and I will post about Mega in just a minute and what you can do to help if you need to wait until Monday

I receive many e-mails and the bigger percent are new budgie owners and loose droppings in their new budgie.In their new homes cold and wrong feeding often cause loose droppings ,this can then let other diseases in.You can keep your budgie healthy if you have proper instruction on how to keep a budgie as a companion in the home.On placing the new companion in the cage YOU want to play with it.poke and prod it and constantly shout who's a bonny bird then,wham! we now have a nervous bird suffering stress and this is the reason for the loose droppings.Do not dose the bird with unknown medicines just keep it warm and in isolation with seed , millet spray and water on the cage floor.
You can get loose, wet droppings for all sorts of reasons:-
• Too much wet, green food. (lettuce can often be a culprit if fed in large quantities). Give greenfoods every other day,just a little,give them greenfoods once a week and they will gorge themselves and then end up with loose droppings.
• Wild foods that have maybe been contaminated with weed sprays, dogs droppings etc. I would never feed them wildfoods and risk my birds becoming ill,why not grow your own on the window sills at home.
• Bacterial infection. (Salmonella etc.)
• Food poisoning can be caused by spoiled food,spoiled greens or fouled water.The bacteria causing botulism will multiply to such an extent that if ingested the toxins produced bring serious illness and often death.If the birds wings droop,it is unable to fly and the legs become paralyzed death will almost happen.In a milder case a pinch of epsom salts dissolved in two tablespoons of water and given directly into the birds beak using a medicine dropper will help the bird recover.
• Chills or colds (often during damp, wet, windy cold, weather) ,it's hot so we open the window but do not realise our budgie is sitting in a cross draught until it becomes ill,take care remember draughts kill birds.
• Digestive upsets for multiple reasons including mouldy food ,always remove any softfoods,fruit or greens within six hours of feeding them to your birds.
• Pregnant Hens (normal) Their droppings are copious, in quantity and loose. You will not believe the meaning of the word copious until you witness this.
• Egg-bound Hen .See my complaints page.
• Any toxins (irritants/poisons - inc. "poisonous" plants etc. including those that may be growing near enough to the Aviary, so that the bird has access through the mesh and they have disagreed with the birds' digestive system .If in doubt never give your birds new perches,leaves or plants until you can guarantee they are safe.
• Chewing Aviary panels that may have something on them that disagrees with the bird. Zinc poisoning- Wash all your wire down using a paint brush and vinegar,this works.
• Frosted Fruit or Veg. An easy one this do not feed it.
• WORMS,cleanliness in you birdroom will keep worms away,if you suspect worms take the bird with sample droppings to the vets and a wormer will be supplied.
• Diarrhoea is nature's way of ridding the body of something that the digestive system is not happy with.
The droppings can be lots of different colours, which can denote, in many cases, what has caused the diarrhoea. (If it's really bad and you are worried - consult an Avian Vet- Don't delay, as one days' illness in a bird is equal to 7 days in a human).
• Remember birds won't show they are ill until they are really ill. It's their way of protecting themselves in the Wild, when predators would pick off any bird that looked different to the rest and other birds would pick on them.
• The last thing you really want to use to treat diarrhoea are Anti-biotics, as the guts' natural Good Bacteria is already compromised and using Anti-B's kills off bacteria - both good and bad.
• The best thing you can do if the bird appears unwell, as well as having loose droppings, is to keep it warm
- use a hospital Cage or improvise - see Barrie's propagator.
• When a bird is off colour, for whatever reason, it feels cold, that's why it sits fluffed-up. The very act of sitting means it isn't keeping warm by flying around. It's usually off it's food too.
• Once you have it in the hospital cage, make sure the atmosphere is not too dry, (have a shallow bowl of water in the cage) as the bird has lost body fluids in the diarrhoea, and will be prone to dehydration especially if the atmosphere is too dry and it's not eating or drinking.
• On the hospital cage floor, use layers of paper which are easily rolled up and disposed of, as they get soiled or Easibed which will absorb the droppings, so that the bird is not paddling around or sitting in them.
• Offer tempting foods (depending on the bird species) - nothing sloppy - no fruit/veg at the moment. Try EMP egg food, lightly dampened with boiled, drained sweetcorn. You can add a sprinkly of Electrolyte/Pro-biotic to this. Millet Sprays are taken by most birds and are easy to digest.
• Putting a pro-biotic into the birds drinking water (check the tub for quantities). This helps replace lost body fluids and essential sugars, salts & minerals that the body needs to survive. It's like an electrolyte that athletes use after sweating a lot, to replace the body's essential fluids, that have been sweated out. It also has the effects of Actimel, which replenishes the good bacteria in the digestive system.
• The Good bacteria are necessary to digest the food that the bird eats. Bad Bacteria kill off the good bacteria and the food doesn't get digested properly and starts to ferment (then you get Hubble, bubble,boil and trouble syndrome in the guts!!) - hence the digestive upset.
• You could also add a little glucose to the water which will help encourage the bird to sample the drink and will also act as a food source.
• Encourage the bird to drink. If, and only if you are proficient in feeding a bird via a crop tube or feeding syringe, should you dissolve some pro-biotic in warm water and feed it straight into the birds' crop. If you are not proficient, please don't even try.
• You could try and tempt the bird with some of the above solution off a bent funnel spoon Don't tip it into the beak, let the bird take it very slowly, because if you force it into the beak then the bird could aspirate (i.e. choke because the fluid goes into the lungs instead of into the gullet and then down into the crop).
• There is a very fine line for error when feeding the bird via the beak, as the bird has to physically to shut off the access to it's trachea (windpipe) when it's feeding and drinking. If it's stressed becos it's ill and/or you are trying to get it to take liquids then, in it's panic, it could breathe the liquid in or the "shutting-off" process doesn't happen. Either way the fluid could go into the lungs - or come out of the bird's nostrils. Neither of which is ever a good thing and can in some instances Kill the bird!!
• If the bird has had digestive problems over a few days then squashy droppings can accumulate and clog the vent area. This can create it's own problems, as the bird then has difficulty in passing any more droppings, as the vent becomes blocked! This in itself can put a bird off eating, as it's digestive system becomes back-logged and has no outlet!This can often be the result of a kidney complaint and the special mixture for a treatment of kidney disease which is very frequent at budgies can be used.
8,0 gram sodium chloride or common salt (NaCl)
0,13 gram calcium chloride (CaCl2)
0,2 gram potassium chloride (KCl)
0,1 gram magnesium chloride (MgC2)
0,05 gram disodium hydrogen phosphate (Na2HPO4)
1,0 gram sodium hydrogen carbonate (NaHCO3)
1 gram glucose
• This powder can be mixed in one litre of distilled water.
• You must then catch the bird up and GENTLY soak the area with warm water (never hotter than your blood heat - test the temp on your wrist first - it must not feel hot or too cool). Use a wadge of cotton wool and keep irrigating the clotted mass of droppings until they are soft enough to remove - never force them off as you can rip the skin and feathers off the birds' vent area.
• Once you have removed the droppings, thoroughly dry the vent area. Then apply vaseline, olive oil or anything you would put on a baby's bottom for nappy rash. This helps prevent droppings sticking in future and also soothes the area.
• Keep the bird warm until it dries out.
It was 1959 when i realised a birds droppings and a cars spark plugs could tell us such a lot about the internal workings of car and bird,since that day 49 years ago i have always introduced dropping boards into the aviaries.I have a piece of ply under the perches that can be removed for regular cleaning,this collects the droppings and i can check daily if anything is requiring more attention.

Understanding your bird's droppings could save your bird's life.

It is true that when a bird becomes sick that their health can deteriorate quickly. But it's rarely true that when a bird become sick, it dies suddenly without showing symptoms of illness. The symptoms are there, we just have to learn how to recognize them.

Changes in the droppings can be a very early indicator that the bird is sick. Know what normal droppings look like so you can recognize a change in color, consistency, order, and/or amount. Use paper at the bottom of the cage so that the dropping falls flat and clean onto the paper. This will enable you to recognize any changes in color, consistency, order, and/or amount. If you are able to notice this change you could save your bird's life.
If you use wood shavings at the bottom of your cage and you miss a change in color and consistency in the droppings then you failed your bird. It is wrong to use wood shavings at the bottom of your cage so that it looks nice and you do not have to clean the bottom of your cage as often if it interferes with evaluating the droppings for signs of health problems.

There are three components to most droppings. Urine consists of a crystal urine called urates (white chalky material) and a non-crystal urine called urine (clear water). Sometimes the 2 types of urine are mixed, creating a cloudy white urine.

Important changes include color changes and amount.
Green or yellow urates = Liver Disease, Anorexia
Brown or chocolate urates = Lead Poisoning Red urine or urates
Red Urine or Urates = Internal bleeding
Increased urine = Disease, Eating food high in water, Drinking a lot

The third part of the droppings is the feces which comes from the colon and consists of digested food. The color varies depending on the types of food eaten. Red pellets and strawberries produce a red colored dropping. (This does not apply to the urine..) Seed and green vegetables produce a green dropping. (This does not apply to the urine.) Blueberries and blackberries produce black droppings. The feces should be solid and tubular like a worm. It can be coiled up or uncoiled and it is okay if it is broken into pieces.

Diarrhea is not excessive urine in the droppings. Diarrhea is the fecal material not holding its tubular shape. Instead it is the consistency of pudding. Look for blood in the feces. If the feces is fresh and black in color and there were no blueberries in the diet then this indicates melena. Melena is black droppings caused by bleeding high up in the digestive system. When the blood passes through the lower digestive system, it is digested, turning the red blood into a black tarry color, staining the feces black.

Color which cannot be explained by the diet should be investigated by your veterinarian. Don't forget to look for real worms like tapeworms and roundworms.

If you notice black droppings (indicating internal bleeding) at the bottom of your bird's cage, stop and go to your veterinarian. If you wait until the bird is weak, not eating, and fluffed up, then you have a race against the clock to save the bird's life.

Watch your bird's droppings everyday and learn what they look like normally. When you notice a change, identify what portion of the dropping has changed. If you cannot explain the change by the bird's lifestyle, then act immediately and contact your avian veterinarian.
Courtesy of Dr. David J. Kersting, D.V.M.

Abnormal Dropping:
The droppings reveal a wealth of information for the observant owner and are a good indicator as to the health of the bird. With experience, you can easily monitor the health of your bird by observing for any dropping changes. The early recognition of a dropping change allows you to implement an immediate recovery plan that protects the health of the pet bird. A Water Cleanser or Megamix is used as the first line of defense against illness and works well at the first sign of a change in the droppings.

Abnormal Bird Droppings:
1. Increased size
2. Oily, bulky
3. Discolored to a shade of green. Any color from khaki to forest green.
4. Are often wet.
5. Carry a smell.
Loose droppings (can be caused by stress, disease, or certain foods), or droppings that contain undigested seeds (i.e PDD) can be sign of diseases. Also change in color of droppings (please see below).

Healthy Bird Droppings:
1. Small with a white cap.
2. Usually have a down feather attached to it.
3. Have no sign of wetness surrounding it.
4. Have no smell.

In young birds clinical signs can include: rough plumage, low body temperature, tremor, lethargy, conjunctivitis, dyspnea, emaciation, sinusitis, yellow to greenish droppings or greyish watery droppings.
Adult birds may develop symptoms such as: tremors, lethargy, ruffled feathers, progressive weight loss, greenish diarrhea, high levels of urates in droppings and occasional conjunctivitis

The three components to most droppings.
1. Urine consisting of a crystal urine called urates The clear part and is like water. Sometimes the Urine and Urates will combine and form a cloudy liquid, don't be alarmed if you can't always tell the two areas apart.
Urates (the chalky white part)
• Green: Liver Disease or Anorexia
• Yellow: Liver Disease or Anorexia
• Brown: Lead Poisoning
• Red: Fresh Internal Bleeding (low in the digestive track) or Kidney Disease
• Black in stool: Old blood
• Increased Urates: Dehydration* and possible kidney problems (*Birds suffering from dehydration may have crinkly skin around theirs eyes. Another way to diagnose dehydration is to pinch their skin for a second. Dehydrated skin will remain tented for several seconds, rather than bouncing right back. Click here for information on hydrating a bird).

2. A non-crystal urine called urine (clear water). Sometimes the two types of urine are mixed creating a cloudy white urine. Important changes include color changes and amount. This part will appear chalky white and has a consistency that isn't really watery or solid. The consistency could be compared to Elmer's' glue, without the stickiness.)
Urine (the clear watery part)
• Green: Liver Disease
• Yellow: Liver Disease
• Red: Internal bleeding (low in the digestive track), Lead Poisoning, Kidney Disease
• Increased Urine: Drinking a lot, Eating foods high in water or Disease (often bacterial)

3. The third part of the droppings is the feces which comes from the colon and consists of digested food and it's the only real solid part.. The feces should be solid; it can be coiled up or uncoiled and it is okay if it is broken into pieces. It may be straight, coiled, of even broken up in to smaller yet still tube shaped pieces. The color varies depending on the types of food eaten. Red pellets and strawberries produce a red colored dropping. (This does not apply to the urine.) Seed and green vegetables produce a green dropping. (This does not apply to the urine either.) Blueberries and blackberries produce black droppings.
Feces (the solid tubular part)
• Black or Tar-like: Internal bleeding (high in the digestive track) - potentially ingested something that is causing internal injury
• Pea Green: Liver Damage
• White or Clay color: Pancreas or digestive problems
• Yellow to Greenish or Greyish Watery Droppings: One possibility: Chlamydophila psittaci
• Lumpy or Undigested food: Incomplete digestion, PDD, Giardia, hypermotile intestine

Diarrhea is when the fecal material is not holding its tubular shape - instead its consistency is that of pudding. Diarrhea can be a sign of disease or stress -- as well as being caused by special food items One of the things to look for is blood in the feces. If the feces is fresh and black in color and there were no blueberries in the diet then this indicates blood in the digestive system (melena). When the blood passes through the lower digestive system, it is digested turning the red blood into a black tarry color, staining the feces black. If you notice black droppings and the color cannot be expained by the food it ate, take your pet to the vet immediately. This is serious and causes death if not treated in a timely manner. If you wait until your bird is weak and fluffed up, its chances are poor.
Any change of color that cannot be explained by the diet should be investigated by your veterinarian.
• Don’t forget to look for real worms like tapeworms and roundworms.
• Greenish diarrhea, for example, can be a sign of Chlamydophila psittaci - a disease transferrable to humans (commonly known as "Parrot Fever.")


Steatorrhoea is the formation of bulky feces. Stools may have an oily appearance or be foul smelling. There is increased fat excretion.
Seen in:
• Bacterial overgrowth
• Giardia - protozoan parasite
• Primary sclerosing cholangitis: Primary sclerosing cholangitis (PSC) is a form of cholangitis due to an autoimmune reaction. A cholangitis is an inflammation of the bile ducts of the liver. Primary sclerosing cholangitis leads to cholestasis (blockage of bile transport to the gut). Blockage of the bile duct leads to accumulation of bile, which damages the liver, leading to jaundice and eventually causes liver failure.

Anthony much of the above is from my web site , please post a link in future, thank you :)

09-02-2011, 11:45 AM
I doubt its from your site, do you have a link? From the amount of sites with the same info, there is no way to be certain who is the true author..However, I always go by the info that is provided by an Avian Vet, therefore anything else is just a copy...I'm not knocking you, but that's a pretty bold statement you posted

09-02-2011, 12:01 PM
Fritz.. Barrie is a well respected budgie breeder with a very well written and informative web site... anything posted from the web actually should have credit given to the site and a link back to the site.

09-02-2011, 02:56 PM
Thanks all for your posts. I just hope he will hold out until Monday when the bird vet is there.


09-02-2011, 03:17 PM
Fritz.. Barrie is a well respected budgie breeder with a very well written and informative web site... anything posted from the web actually should have credit given to the site and a link back to the site.

Yes I usually do, didn't have it on that post..However, I never been to her site until I just saw her link on another thread! Looks like she takes her info from Vetafarm which is a copyright!..So, just because she has the same does not mean it was her site..Again I can assure this site I never seen hers before...I don't need to be harassed here...!!

09-02-2011, 03:27 PM

Sorry, I posted what your bird has before but I got upset and did you wrong! That said, it looks to be Mega-bacteria!!! If you have to wait until Monday, then give your little fella some Garlic Powder in his wet foods or use a clove from white Garlic, pop a few pin holes in the clove (remove paper too) and put in a cup of water for an hour...Then serve as drinking water..If too strong, add more water..Garlic is known to kill Parasites, Bacteria and some Fungal which Mega is FUNGAL!! Not a bacteria..Also, the medication for this is called Flagyl, Metroiszole, Roseniadol, and there are a few others..Your Vet will give you this if they confirm..Now, be sure to ask the vet to test the bird's droppings 3-4 times, called a fecal test..Some illnesses like Giardia does not shed in every dropping and can be missed...You will pay more, but better off knowing your bird will live or die should this be missed or not found hopefully!, worth the extra few bucks ;)


Here is one article: http://www.petalk.com/megabacteria.html

This is in no way to worry you or scare you but to provide you with more knowledge and/or possibility of why your new love does not fear your approach..Even if blind, birds can sense a presence, have exceptional hearing capabilities like bionics so to speak, they are birds after all and have these senses for their survival..Again, more proof that up to 72% of all Budgies will have (be carriers) the Mega bacteria...

Overall, I hope your little one can see a Doc soon and get a complete work-up..And if blind, you will be so blessed for taking care of him! :) I hope to see photo's soon yes?

Megabacteria in Budgies - A Review of the Literature
By Claire Talltree, MSW


As a breeder/exhibitor of budgerigars, I recently had several birds fluff up and begin to waste away. Some died immediately; others lingered for months. No one could diagnose the problem until, after great expense and several veterinarians later, Megabacteria was found to be the only pathological agent present in my birds. No known treatment was offered, which led me on a world-wide search of information on the disease. The Internet yielded many resources, including the Association of Avian Veterinarians -- Australian Chapter, which had addressed the problem at recent conferences. Many researchers were also located; of these the best assistance came from Dr. Tony Gestier of Vetafarm Pty. Ltd. in Australia. Following this article is a list of Web sites and articles that provided me with information.

Description of the Organism

Megabacteria originally was thought to be a bacteria -- a very large one, as the name implies. It is an enormous gram-positive, periodic acid-Schiff (PAS)-positive, rod-shaped organism. The antibiotics that have been tested against it proved useless while fungal medications seem to be more effective, which makes many suspect that its true nature is fungal. Some researchers found typical bacterial structure via transmission electronmicroscopy; others saw none. For example, some found a distinct eukaryotic nucleus, which bacteria do not have. Yet others claim that the organism must be a bacterium because of its cell width, the absence of intracellular membrane-bound organelles, and the presence of nucleoid-like areas. Still another ultrastructural study showed that there was an extensive intracellular membrane network, but the organelles had not been shown to contain DNA -- which makes it non-fungal in nature. More research is needed to discover the true nature of this pathogen and to decide whether or not it may be deserving of its own classification.


Megabacteria is thought to have been introduced into Australia with imported English budgies in 1989-1990, causing great losses in the early 1990s but have declined markedly in the last few years. It is unknown whether this is due to some natural immunity or to better knowledge and control. It has been detected in some wild populations of introduced goldfinches in Victoria, Australia, and some suspect that it has in fact been there a long time but unrecognized. Megabacteria was recorded in the United States as early as 1982. No one knows where it originated, but it seems to be an ongoing problem in the United Kingdom, Australia, United States, Germany, Japan, and probably other countries as well.

Hosts of Megabacteria

Megabacteria has been found in both psittacine and passerine species, both in captivity and in the wild. The psittacine species that have tested positive for Megabacteria include: budgerigar, African lovebirds, king parrot, red-wing parrot, sulphur-crested cockatoo, galah, white-tailed and black-tailed black cockatoos, red-crowned kakarikis, Bourke's parrot, scarlet-chested parrot, cockatiel, princess parrot, superb parrot, mulga parrot, Indian ring-necked parakeet, and rainbow lorikeet. The passerine species include: European greenfinch, painted firetail finch, Gouldian finch, pictorella finch, Bengalese finch, border fancy canary, grey singing finch, and zebra finch.

Megabacteria has also been seen in the Japanese quail, European goldfinch, and ostriches. In budgerigars, some think it seems to affect English (or exhibition) budgies more than the American (or pet) strain of the same breed. I recently have been told by Mariette Rogers, director of the Asiatic Parrot Association Intl., that she knows of a Great-billed parrot that was lost to this disease in 1997, and had friends in Oklahoma whose vet recently diagnosed Megabacteria in their Moustached Parrots. It seems that Megabacteria can infect a wide range of birds, and new reports are coming in all the time.

I have checked with veterinarians as well as human epidemiologists, and they do not believe at this time that it is transferable to humans or other animals.


Megabacteria first becomes apparent when birds in good condition suddenly become fluffed up, lethargic, and severely depressed. Early on, slimy seeds are regurgitated leaving a visible smear on the bird's mask. On occasion the birds may vomit blood. Many appear to eat frantically, but no food is actually eaten. They grind the seed or pellets into dust, but don't actually consume any food. Palpation will show the crop to be empty. Some birds stretch their necks up in the air or mouth-gag repeatedly, appearing to have trouble either swallowing or regurgitating. The droppings are dark green to brown/black, sometimes reddish-tinged, with very little white color (urates), and sometimes tarry while being small in size. Despite the kinds of food offered, affected birds invariably lose body weight with the breast muscles wasting away and the keel becoming prominent on the chest. Canaries may develop swelling of the abdomen as the intestines are invaded by the organism. In the last stages of the disease, no subcutaneous fat can be found and the muscles have atrophied and wasted away.

In the acute form, birds usually die within a few days. In the chronic form, the birds become progressively more emaciated and debilitated over a number of weeks or months and then either die, or appear to recover but then relapse weeks or months later.


Megabacteria primarily lives in the proventriculus, the glandular stomach before the gizzard. There are three basic ways for a vet to diagnose it. In some cases Megabacteria can be found in a crop wash. The second, and easiest, way to diagnose it is through a fecal test. To perform this test, take a fresh fecal sample, do a thin uniform wet mount on a slide, perform a gram-stain test, cover it with a 22 x 22 mm. coverslip, and scan at 100 x magnification. The Megabacteria should look like large blue rods. Viewed at 1000 x magnification, the Megabacteria can be more easily seen. Be warned that a fecal test is indicative only about 80% of the time; some birds have it but tests doesn't show it. The third, and most accurate, way to diagnose Megabacteria is to present the bird for necropsy to an avian veterinarian. Megabacteria is found by examining a scraping of the gut lining; the proventriculus will be distended, containing a large colony of these organisms lined up along the wall of the stomach. Unfortunately, diagnosing this way means either waiting until the bird dies or is sacrificed, but in many cases it is the only sure way to diagnose the disease.

Disease or Disease Process?

It is thought that the mere presence of Megabacteria in a bird won't tell you much. Research has found twenty-seven to sixty-four percent of all budgerigars are carriers but exhibit no symptoms. Because of this, it is unknown if Megabacteria is simply part of the common gut flora of birds that opportunistically waits for some other disease or problem to occur for it to strike, or if it is pathogenic (a causative agent in disease) and should be classified as a disease itself. It is unclear at this time whether it is its own disease or part of a larger disease process.

Because of these uncertainties, there has been some vagueness in naming the disease. Some call it "going light", budgie wasting disease, bacteria giganticus, Megabacteria Associated Disease (MAD), or Proventricular/Ventricular Disease (PVD). It may even play a part in Proventricular Dilation Disease (PDD), which has found to be viral in nature by Dr. Branson Richie of Georgia University.

More research in this area is now being done to resolve these issues. See one reference to this in the article entitled "Megabacteria in Diseased and Healthy Budgerigars" by Dr. John R. Baker at the Web site: http://www.budgerigars.co.uk/diseases/mega.html. It is his conclusion that Proventricular disease is almost always due to megabacteria infection. He further concludes that Megabacteria does NOT appear to be a normal inhabitant of the proventriculus of Budgerigars.

In any event, there should be no harm in commencing treatment for Megabacteria until another cause presents itself.

Oftentimes, diagnosis of Megabacteria is compounded by diagnosis of other diseases at the same time. Janet Levy provides one such example, in late 1997. She decided to treat for both diseases. Although I am not a veterinarian, I think this was a wise decision.

Treatment: Types of Drugs

As previously mentioned, researchers have tried several antibiotics against Megabacteria to no avail. Of all the microbicides and antiseptics tried, only Chlorhexidine Gluconate (Nolvasan) in the drinking water seemed to help. One vet recommended 20 cc. Chlorhexidine Gluconate mixed into a gallon of water with 8 teaspoons of sugar to improve the taste, and providing it in the drinkers for 3 weeks. Unfortunately, the literature suggests that Chlorhexidine only stops the spread of the disease, but doesn't cure it. There may also be some question about the long-range toxic effects of Chlorhexidine taken internally over a long period of time.

One researcher suggested that, since birds that are having trouble with Megabacteria have raised pH levels, acidifying the upper GI tract might help to control outbreaks. This, however, would not cure the disease but only help treat the symptoms.

Several fungicides have been tried: Nystatin B (Nilstat), Ketoconazole (Nizoral), and Amphotericin B (Fungilin). These all have worked against Megabacteria, however it soon built up a resistance to the first two. Amphotericin B is the only drug so far that has proven effective against the disease.

Treatment: Administration Methods

Several methods of administration have been tried: intramuscular injection, intravenous injection, crop injection (gavage), crop feeding tube, and addition to the drinking water. Neither intramuscular or intravenous injection worked in any drugs tests; in fact, one researcher mentioned severe tissue damage from both methods. Most of the water methods proved useless as the birds didn't like the taste of the medication and refused to drink. As it was oil-based, it also didn't mix well with water. The only method that proved effective was twice-daily crop injection of Amphotericin B.

Obviously, this method of introducing Amphotericin B is not practical in an aviary setting. It is quite stressful to the bird to be caught, physically restrained, injected into the crop, and then released. It is also very time-consuming for the owner to do this for every bird twice a day. Researchers began to re-think water-based treatment, for lessening the stress on the birds and ease of administration. However, as budgies have been known to survive happily up to 45 days on dry seed without any water, a method had to be found to improve the taste. There was also the problem that Amphotericin B was non-water soluble.

Vetafarm in Australia was the first to develop a water-based formulation of Amphotericin B. They named it Megabac-S. Due to their manufacturing technology, it is not only water soluble but also potentiated, and subsequently there is far more efficacy in clearing Megabacteria. The manufacturing process incorporates the molecule in a sugar ring. This has a two-fold action of creating solubility in an otherwise insoluble chemical and protecting the chemical. When the sugar ring is denatured in the gut, the chemical is released. This formulation is safe up to a tenfold increase in concentration. The suggested dosage, which is 1 gram per 200 milliliters of drinking water, is administered for ten days.

Using this formulation, known infected trial birds under controlled conditions have shown complete eradication of the Megabacteria when retested three months later. However, there is always an exception, and there have been a few sporadic failures when field testing the drug. Why these failures occur is not known at this time, but it is guessed that the organism escaped the gut and became systemic. One researcher found a bird that had Megabacteria in its liver! Sometimes, too, the bird may have been treated too late in the disease process to recover from damage caused to the proventriculus, and although it no longer has Megabacteria in its system it may never fully recover.

All in all, though, good results are now being seen with this treatment method. One such success is detailed by breeder Bob Wilson, an American Budgerigar Society member, on a Web page at: http://www.iwc.net/~budgielady/BwilsonMega.html.

Prevention of Transmission

It is believed that Megabacteria is spread fecally, although there have been no studies at this time on possible methods of transmission. It makes sense, though, that since Megabacteria appears in the feces that it would be prudent to maintain good housecleaning, ie. daily removal of all droppings. It is also thought that transmission may occur through communal use of waterers; again, this can be prevented by good and regular housecleaning. It has been suspected that the normal habits of the birds feeding each other, as in courtship, might also be a factor in transmission.

Studies have attempted to transmit the disease from known carriers to other birds. In one instance, two pairs of adult birds whose fecal tests were negative were housed with two pairs of known positive birds for 14 months and the Megabacteria negative birds remained consistently negative. There has also been little success with culturing successive generations of Megabacteria in the laboratory.

Next Steps
I see several things that need to be done in regards to Megabacteria. These are:

Educate the public about the disease.

Educate veterinarians about the disease, including diagnosis and treatment, particularly its seriousness and prevalence.

Develop consistent diagnostic procedures, including steps to rule out other diseases. It is important to also evaluate the efficacy of treatment.

Fund more research into the nature of Megabacteria, to aid efforts in developing better treatments and in the creation of a vaccine.

Promote the use of sound quarantine systems, stress reduction (which may be an important factor in its development), and preventative health programs.

Develop better access to drugs through licensing. Megabac S is not licensed as a drug in the United States, but may be purchased and legally imported as a "nutritional supplement". The FDA allows bird breeders to legally import it into the United States for their own use and not for resale. Other countries may be denied access altogether due to licensing.

Web Sites, Resources, and Articles

Anderson N.
Candida/megabacteria proventriculitis in a lesser sulphur crested cockatoo (Cactua sulphurea sulphurea). Journal of the Association of Avian Veterinarians 1993;7(4):197.
Baker, JR.
Megabacteria in diseased and healthy budgerigars, 1997. Found on a Web page at http://www.budgerigars.co.uk/diseases/mega.html
Baker JR.
Megabacteriosis in exhibition budgerigars. Veterinary Record 1992;131:12-14.
Beck P.
My experience with megabacteria. The magazine Budgerigar World, April 1996, 23.
Bradhauer MG.
Megabacteria and proventricular/ventricular disease in Australian birds. Australian Association of Avian Veterinarians Annual Conference, 1996 Main Conference Proceedings.
Brewster M.
Tacoma, Washington. A vet who has done research on treatment with Chlorhexidine Gluconate for Megabacteria.
Davis RW, Kenzy S, Stauber EH.
A preliminary study of thin bird disease. Electronmicroscopy Soc. Amer. 1981;602-603.
Dorrestein GM, Zwart P, Buitelaar MN.
Problems arising from disease during the periods of breeding and rearing canaries and other aviary birds. Tijdschrift voor Diergeneeskunde 1980;105:535-543.
Duran, Cerise.
Megabacteria. 5/29/99. On a Web page at http://www.shadypines.com/megabact.htm
Filippich LJ.
Megabacteria and proventricular disease in birds. Australian Association of Avian Veterinarians Annual Conference, 1992 Main Conference Proceedings;1-12.
Filippich LJ, O'Boyle DA, et al.
Megabacteria in birds in Australia. Australian Veterinary Practitioner 1993;23(2):71-76.
Filippich LJ, Parker MG.
Megabacteria and proventricular/ventricular disease in psittacines and passerines. Australian Association of Avian Veterinarians Annual Conference, 1994 Main Conference Proceedings, Session #1045.
Filippich LJ, Parker MG.
Megabacteria and proventricular/ventricular disease in psittacines and passerines. Association of Avian Veterinarians Annual Conference;1994 in Reno Nevada USA.
Filippich LJ, Parker MG.
Megabacteria in wild birds in Australia. Australian Veterinary Practitioner 1994(2);24.
Filippich LJ, Perry RA.
Drug trials against megabacteria in budgerigars (Melopsittacus undulatus). Australian Veterinary Practitioner 1993;23:184-189.
George H.
Megabacteria -- the time bomb. The magazine Budgerigar World, August 1995, 27-28.
Gerlach H.
Resistance of megabacteria to treatment. Journal of Associated Avian Veterinarians 1990;4:205.
Gerlach H.
Going light in budgerigars. Associated Avian Veterinarians Annual Conference, 1986 Main Conference Proceedings;247-249.
Gestier T.
Vetafarm Pty. Ltd. in Australia. Megabacteria and Megabac-S information on a Web page at http://www.vetafarm.com.au.
Hargreaves RC.
A fungus commonly found in the proventriculus of small pet birds. Proceedings 30th West Poultry Disease Conference and 15th Poultry Health Symposium, University of California-Davis 1981;75.
Henderson GM, Gulland FMD, Hawkey CM.
Hematological findings in budgerigars with megabacterium and trichomonas infections associated with "going light". Veterinary Record 1988;123:492-494.
Huchzermeyer FW.
Gastric stasis in ostriches. Ostrich Discussion Group Extraordinary Meeting, Kenilworth, England, 1994.
Huchzermeyer FW, Henton MM, Keffen RH.
High mortality associated with megabacteriosis of proventriculus and gizzard in ostrich chicks. Veterinary Record 1993;133:143-144.
Levy, J.
My experience with megabacteria, 1998. Found on a Web page at http://www.iwc.net/~budgielady/JlevyMega.html
Macwhirter P.
Megabacteria in birds. Control & Therapy 1995;183:760.
Miller R, Sullivan N.
A retrospective analysis of ostrich diseases in Queensland and New South Wales (1992-1994). Ostrich Odyssey 1994.
Perry, RA.
Megabacteria associated disease. In Avian Diagnostics Refresher Course for Veterinarians, Post Graduate Committee University of Sydney, Proceedings 221, 25-26 September 1993, pp. 13-19.
Richie B, University of Georgia.
He has information on Proventricular Dilation Disease and Polyoma on a Web page at http://www.mecca.org/~rporter/PARROTS/no_pds.html.
Scanlan CM, Graham DL.
Characterization of a gram-positive bacterium from the proventriculus of budgerigars (Melopsittacus undulatus). Avian Diseases 1990;34:779-786.
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Megabacteriosis in exhibition budgerigars. Veterinary Record 1992;131:203-204.
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La proventricolite del canarino (Micosi 1980). Italia Ornitologica 1985;11(1):17-19.
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Una nuova forma di micosi del canario (Micosi 1980). Italia Ornitologica 1981;7(3):17.
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Megabacteriosis in exhibition budgerigars. Veterinary Record 1993;132:492.
Tsai SS, Park JH, Hirai K, Itakura C.
Catarrhal proventriculitis associated with a filamentous organism in pet birds. Japanese Journal of Veterinary Research 1992;40:143-148.
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Radiographic signs of proventricular infection with megabacteria. Journal of Associated Avian Veterinarians 1990;4:203.
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A bacterial proventriculitis in canaries (Serinus canaria). Avian Pathology 1984;13:561-572.

In closing, my Felix never was fluffed up at first, just dropped weight..Then his feathers looked awful, like a never ending molt with no pin feathers, I would also find a lot of his feathers in the under tray of the cage, his outter feathers around his eyes looked bald as if he had mites in that area, his droppings were fine, but I did see a few with seed. However, sharing a cage with 3 others, I could not identify the culprit..Others like Noah had and still has from time to time the gag..Strethced neck trying to either vomit or reguratate, nothing ever comes out...All birds seemed to be itchy, and others in a nother cage close by had conjunctiveities where I had to use warm compressions to open the eye, 2 had wing shiver like vibration of their wings in a closed position, some had green droppings and some had all water dropping, not close to a defined dropping, looked like a little splat of water and I did rule out their wet foods because they all been eating this for over a Year..Bottom line, the symptoms I desctribe could be Clymedia, Trechamosis, Going Light=Mega bacteria, and all have been treated with Metroiazole except Clymedia which was Doxy, and again has Felix looking brand new!

09-02-2011, 04:03 PM
Fritz I was NOT trying to harass you .. nor was Barrie.. I'm a bit confused to your reaction... all he did was ask you to link your material... very friendly and you came back at him rudely... not sure what part of my post you took offense to .. but as this is some one who is looking for help's post I will not comment on this further.

09-03-2011, 01:41 PM
Hi everyone,

Khan is very active today, and noisy. Came out for some loving:D:D:D
His poop is just the same though, so Monday can not come quick enough!
Been putting pro biotic in his water.


09-20-2011, 02:56 AM
Hi everyone,

Khan is very active today, and noisy. Came out for some loving:D:D:D
His poop is just the same though, so Monday can not come quick enough!
Been putting pro biotic in his water.


Any update Khan? Hope to hear from you..