Budgies are covered in feathers, making it difficult to assess their health at a glance. A big chest can merely indicate that your budgie has puffed up its feathers.
However, it can also mean that your budgie has developed swelling in its chest. There may even be lumps and growths that make your budgie’s silhouette look odd.
If your budgie suddenly developed a big chest, it may have ruptured one of its air sacs. This happens due to an injury, fight with another budgie, or health defect.
Tumors can lead to lumps in your budgie’s chest. Lipoma growths are harmless but can impede movement. Although less common, some tumors are malignant.
Most of the time, a big chest indicates that your budgie has puffed up its feathers.
What a Budgie Puffing its Chest Out Means
If your budgie has a puffed-out chest, it may be doing this voluntarily or instinctively.
That’s the most benign explanation, but the underlying cause usually needs to be corrected. The reasons for a puffed-out chest will be social or physical in nature.
Stress or Aggression
Budgerigars communicate through the movement and position of their chest feathers.
For example, if your budgie has a rigid posture with raised or flapping wings, it may be angry. Likewise, if it’s screeching or hissing while fluffing its feathers, it’s probably agitated. Such chest-puffing should be temporary.
You’re likely to see this behavior if your budgie is:
- Having issues with its cage mate
- Living in an unsuitable cage
As such, the behavior and chest-puffing should be resolvable. Check for possible triggers in the environment and see if your budgie displays other body language with the chest-puffing.
Your budgie might be puffing its chest feathers in order to keep warm.
Puffing feathers traps air between them and warm the air against the budgie’s skin. The feathers then work as insulation to keep out the cold and trap heat near the budgie.
If your home is on the cooler side, raise the heat and make your budgie more comfortable.
Look out for a rigid posture, open-mouthed breathing, shuddering, and puffed chest feathers.
These are all signs of illness and pain in a budgerigar. The puffed feathers are likely to help the budgie stay warm, feel secure, and brace itself against discomfort.
Extreme puffing of the feathers can be a reaction to boredom.
According to Biological Sciences, ruffling or puffing feathers burns a lot of energy. A budgie may do this when it is unable to get enough exercise.
A budgie may puff its feathers because its cage is too small. It may also lack a proper array of toys and perches to provide physical and mental stimulation.
Why Is My Budgie’s Chest Big?
Your budgie may have swelling to the flesh of its chest.
In this case, you should contact a vet. Even temporary, topical swelling caused by irritation and injury could be dangerous for a bird as small as a budgerigar.
Any minor injury could cause a certain level of swelling. However, certain issues are more likely to cause severe swelling around the chest.
These include the following:
- Ruptured air sacs
Ruptured Air Sacs
The rupturing of a budgie’s air sac will present itself as an oversized balloon on the front of its chest.
This is a serious issue that can be quickly fatal. This has to do with the unique physiology of birds and how they breathe.
Budgies don’t have a diaphragm that moves air in and out in the same way that humans do. Instead, they have air sacs that fill and empty in two cycles.
When one of these air sacs experiences damage in the form of a small tear or hole, air will become trapped under the skin. This will look like a balloon under the feathers and will usually appear quickly. The balloon will be soft and spongy when prodded, and the skin will look transparent.
While an injury can cause air sac rupture, some budgies are far more prone to air sac rupture than others. Budgies may experience multiple ruptures through life.
This can be life-threatening, but taking action should ensure that an affected budgie pulls through. Once the rupture has been repaired and the balloon of air under the skin has been deflated, budgies should recover.
Causes of a Ruptured Air Sac
The most likely causes of a ruptured air sac in a budgie of any breed or size are:
- Injury due to fighting
- Small tears or punctures due to health defects
- Trauma to the air sacs due to illness or injury
According to the Journal of Exotic Pet Medicine, there’s little certainty around whether or not illness alone can cause air sac rupture or a predisposition to it. Nonetheless, it’s a possibility.
What is certain is that trauma can cause the delicate air sacs that enable your budgie to breathe to rupture. When they do, its chest will swell and it will start to suffocate.
If you’re wondering, “why does my budgie have a lump on its chest?” it may be a tumor. A budgie with a suddenly big chest may have a lipoma or ganglion under the skin of its chest.
Not every lump or growth is a sign of serious or lethal illness. However, investigate all possibilities. Budgies are notorious for hiding signs of sickness and pain’, and that’s why many owners feel that previous budgies have died suddenly or unexpectedly.
The most benign kind of tumor is a lipoma, a form of tumor composed of fat. It’s common in budgerigar, galahs, and sulfur crested cockatoos. Lipoma can look bad, but it’s non-cancerous. Nonetheless, it will impede movement once it reaches a certain size.
That means that quick treatment is important. Lipomas are most often found on the sternum or abdomen and are a common cause of chest swelling or deformation in budgies.
Lipoma formation is most often caused by poor nutrition, obesity, genetic issues, and hypothyroidism. Thankfully, many lipomas can be treated without invasive surgery.
The speed of diagnosis and treatment impacts the effectiveness of nutritional treatments. If the swelling isn’t a lipoma, it may be a more serious tumor.
Signs of a Tumor in Budgerigar
If your budgie’s big chest is caused by a tumor other than benign lipoma, there is a high chance that it is cancerous or otherwise malignant.
Most malignant tumors and lymphomas occur inside the body in the liver, spleen, or kidneys. They’re likely to show as bulges and lumps when they grow sufficiently.
Cancer in pet birds, especially small ones like budgies, is hard to treat. The treatments are often experimental, with little testing directly on birds, and thus have been extrapolated from other species.
If you suspect that the lump on your budgie’s chest is a tumor, you should check for other signs of sickness.
Ratty feathers; nasal, oral, and ophthalmological discharge and swelling; lethargy; and the inability to perch or fly are all signs of sickness. Likewise, a budgie that is sick because of a malignant tumor is likely to lose its appetite and desire to drink.
Why is My Budgie’s Chest Swollen?
Localized swelling of the flesh will present itself in a less dramatic fashion than air sac rupture or more serious health problems, like tumors.
It may look like a section of feathers that’s irregularly puffed or presents itself as an irregularity in the budgie’s silhouette. You should check your budgie for small wounds and injuries like this regularly.
The cause of this swelling is usually due to minor, localized injuries or irritations. According to Small Animal Dermatology, these could be from:
- Fighting with other budgies
- Pulling feathers as a result of stress
- A skin condition
The exception to this rule of subtlety is if your budgie’s swollen chest is being caused by irritation as a result of a cut or the pulling of feathers. Budgies may pull out feathers as a reaction to stress.
Unlike molting, this will cause trauma to the skin, and the bald spots may be swollen and tender. If your budgie does this, take them to the vet for assessment. Prolonged or repeated feather pulling can cause permanent baldness.