If you have a female budgie, she’ll likely lay eggs during her lifecycle. Even if your budgie hasn’t mated with a male, female birds still lay unfertilized eggs as part of their reproductive cycle.
Unfortunately, some females struggle to lay eggs, becoming egg-bound because the egg is misshapen and the shell is weak, becoming trapped in the oviduct.
Budgies are prone to egg binding due to their diminutive stature. Also, stressful conditions, obesity, or an inappropriate diet, especially a lack of calcium and Vitamin D, can cause egg binding.
What Is Egg Binding?
When spring arrives, and the budgie is exposed to more natural light, her body will produce eggs. Then, she’ll seek to mate with a male to fertilize the eggs.
Fertilized or unfertilized, budgies will release the eggs from the cloaca. When the budgie is ready to lay her eggs, one egg will be laid every 2 days.
Egg binding (dystocia) occurs when a female budgie attempts to lay an egg but can’t release it from her body. So, the egg will remain trapped, causing damage in various ways.
Is Egg Binding Dangerous?
Dystocia is very serious, especially in such a small bird. The International Journal of Avian Wildlife Biology describes egg binding as a life-threatening condition.
If a budgie is egg-bound, it’ll be disinclined to eat or drink properly. In addition, the blockage caused by the egg will make it difficult for the budgie to pass fecal matter.
Egg binding can damage a budgie’s internal organs. Also, the egg may place undue pressure on the kidneys, diminishing their performance.
Egg binding can render a budgie unable to lay eggs in the future or prolapse the cloaca.
What Causes Egg Binding in Budgies?
Budgies are so small that there’s always a risk that an egg will be difficult to pass.
Here are the main reasons why budgies become egg-bound:
A budgie may have a congenital disability that has gone unnoticed until attempting to lay an egg. This is likely if the bird results from inbreeding between two siblings or other immediate family members.
Unbalanced diets are the most common reason for dystocia. If your budgie is fed an all-seed diet, it’ll lack two components vital to the healthy production of eggs, namely calcium and Vitamin D.
Calcium is essential for developing strong shells during egg production. So, budgies benefit from cuttlebone in a cage as an additional calcium source.
Vitamin D is also critical, allowing budgies to absorb calcium into their bloodstream.
Vitamin D is found in nutritionally balanced food, but your budgie should spend time in the sun to gain natural exposure to Vitamin D.
Weight gain is another side effect of a poor diet. If you offer your budgie too many fatty seeds and sugary fruit treats, it’s likely to gain weight.
If your budgie is overweight, it’s more likely to have a calcium deficiency.
The same applies if your budgie isn’t exercising. Budgies can only burn so many calories pacing, climbing, and fluttering around a cage.
A budgie needs at least two hours a day of out-of-cage exercise.
Stress can cause egg binding, so consider if you’re providing the optimum conditions for your budgie. Essentials for your budgie include:
- Cage with sufficient space
- Clean, sanitized living environment
- Plenty of food, water, and toys to keep the mind active
- Budgies need company as they hate being left alone for too long
- A reliable light-dark cycle that encourages sleep
- Absence of fear triggers, including loud noises and predatory pets
If your budgie isn’t receiving all it needs, it’s more likely to have difficulty laying eggs.
Is My Budgie Egg Bound?
An owner must learn the warning signs that a budgie is egg-bound, such as:
- Fluffing the feathers.
- Straining when attempting to lay an egg, demonstrating visible or vocal pain.
- Visible and prominent swelling around the abdomen.
- Bobbing the head and tail constantly.
- Paralysis in one or both legs, as the egg puts pressure on nerves that control the limbs.
- Trouble balancing on a perch for the same reason.
- Uncharacteristic defensiveness and aggression.
- Refusal or inability to eat or drink.
- Trouble eliminating, producing no droppings at all or considerably less than usual.
- Sitting at the bottom of the cage, showing reluctance to fly or climb.
If you observe any of these concerns, your budgie should be seen by a vet.
How Do You Treat Egg Binding in Budgies?
Don’t ignore the issue if you have reason to believe that your budgie is egg-bound.
A vet will advise on any immediate changes you can make to bolster your budgie’s comfort, including relocation, increasing ambient temperature, and calcium supplements.
Your budgie will need to see a vet. In the first instance, attempts will be made to help the budgie pass the egg naturally with medication. If necessary, a surgical procedure may be performed.
Diagnosis and First Aid
A vet will feel the budgie, seeking the outline of a shell. If necessary, this will be followed by x-rays to confirm the presence of a blocked egg.
Some egg-bound budgies are in shock, so this will initially be treated.
The budgie will also be provided with emergency first aid, which could include intravenous fluids, vitamin and calcium supplements, or increasing body temperature.
Encouraging Laying of the Egg
A vet will initially encourage the budgie to lay the egg by itself. For example, applying gel may lubricate the cloaca enough for the egg to pass.
If this occurs, the vet may prescribe painkillers and antibiotics in case the issue caused an infection.
Surgical Removal of the Egg
If the egg remains stuck, a vet will perform an ovocentesis. This involves placing a syringe into the egg through the budgie’s cloaca and using it to extract the egg’s contents.
Ovocentesis will significantly reduce the egg’s size, essentially collapsing it. This will make the egg small enough for the budgie to lay naturally.
According to the Journal of Avian Medicine and Surgery, ovocentesis has a high success rate and rarely results in complications.
How To Prevent Egg Binding in Budgies
You can take steps to minimize the risk of egg binding by:
- Feed your budgie an appropriately balanced diet, including calcium and vitamin D supplements (sun exposure).
- Avoiding interaction with male budgies, especially during the warmer months.
- Giving the budgie exercise, ensuring it maintains a healthy weight.
- Providing a stress-free life that’s defined by reliable routines.
If your budgie is happy and healthy, the chances of egg binding reduce. Your budgie will likely still lay fertilized or unfertilized eggs but without life-threatening consequences.
Egg binding is comparatively common in budgies, so there’s always a risk that a female budgie will struggle with the issue at some stage.
Be vigilant about looking for the warning signs of egg binding, being prepared to take immediate action upon noticing the symptoms.