Cloacal prolapse can occur in any bird species (as well as in reptiles and amphibians) and is evidenced by moist or dried tissue protruding from the vent. It is frequently associated with egg-laying, and may occur before, during or after the process. A calcium deficiency is usually at the root of the problem…the muscles, weakened by the lack of calcium, cannot contract as forcibly as is necessary, and the resultant straining pushes the cloaca outward. Weakness in other muscles, i.e. the sphincter, adds to the problem. Less commonly, a prolapse may be caused by an infection in the uterus or cloaca.
A prolapsed cloaca is a matter for your veterinarian, but there are some steps you can take to alleviate the situation. Most important is prevention – assure that your birds, especially breeding hens, are in good health and are receiving optimal amounts of calcium and other minerals and vitamins.
Upon noting a prolapse, you can try lubricating the tissue with a water-soluble product, such as KY Jelly. The bird should be kept warm, as its metabolism will be functioning poorly, and may have difficulty generating enough heat. Liquid calcium might be an option, especially if it will take some time to get the bird to a veterinarian. Plan ahead and ask your vet to suggest a product to keep on hand.
Your veterinarian may place a suture in the vent while the cloaca heals. Antibiotics will usually be given, as an extruded cloaca is susceptible to infection. If all else fails, or if too much time has elapsed and the tissue is beyond repair, surgery may be necessary. Such is usually successful for birds of cockatiel size or beyond, less so for smaller species.
The importance of calcium and Vitamin D in parrot metabolism is discussed in an article posted at:
I have a 6 year old African Gray parrot who has been acting strangely lately. Making little whimping sounds and pushing her rear end against my arm. I checked her backside and the cloaca seems to be protruding out. It looks healthy but I am concerned. I called my vet and he said she may have a protracted croaca and would need to be taken to San Diego, (200 miles away). Any suggestions?
Frank Indiviglio here. Thanks for your interest in our blog.
Unfortunately your parrot will need to see a veterinarian; the fact that it’s pushing and making noises is a sign that it is in distress. Its promising that the tissue looks health and has not dried out…but in its present condition it will be very susceptible to infection.
I suggest that you gently apply KY Jelly or another water soluble lubricant (not Vaseline) to that part of the tissue which is visible… but bear in mind that this is just to prevent drying and not a real treatment…for that you will need to see a veterinarian. Keep the cage very clean and the bird warm. You should arrange to have the bird seen as soon as possible, as complications are more likely the longer you wait.
Be sure to get your veterinarian’s opinion as to the probable cause of the prolapse…blood tests are usually helpful in this regard.
Good luck, please let me know if I can be of any further help.
Best regards, Frank Indiviglio.
For a bird with a Prolapsed Cloaca that is not being treated by a veterinarian, What are the complications this bird will face? Is/Will this bird be in pain?
Can the bird live a normal life in this condition?
I am doing some research on this issue and would appreciate any information you may be able to share.
Thank you in advance for your time.
Hello Anita, Frank Indiviglio here.
Thanks for your interest in our blog.
Unfortunately, cloacal prolapse is a serious matter, and can only be treated by a veterinarian. As an internal organ is now exposed to the air, the bird is indeed in pain. It will not be able to pass feces and will certainly develop an infection as well. The cloaca will also begin to dry and the tissue will become necrotic, which, along with the aforementioned complications, will lead to the bird’s death.
The longer the bird goes without medical attention, the less chance there will be for a successful recovery. Please see the article referenced for emergency measures, but please understand that, as stated there, these measures are only designed to keep the bird comfortable until it can be seen by a veterinarian.
Please let me know if you need a reference to an avian veterinarian in your area.
Good luck and please keep me posted,
Best regards, Frank Indiviglio.
Hi Frank, Today 4/27/11 I found my female Lutino cockatiel dead and yesterday she was fine. I didn’t see anything protuding she seem fine. She was a hand fed bird and I got her as a gift in 1994. She traveled with me cross country 4 times and I can’t believe she is gone. It was sudden , but in all the postings, it seems like people have enough time to take their cockatiel to the vet. Could this of happened this quickly without me knowing. She wasn’t evening crying. Iris
Hello Iris, Frank Indiviglio here.
Thanks for your interest in our blog.
Sorry to hear your sad news. While many of the more common parrot ailments do present symptoms, unfortunately there are a great many that can cause sudden death as well. Judging from the age of your bird and your close relationship with it, I am certain that it was not a case of your not noticing a problem. I have worked with birds all my life, and can recall many such deaths in a wide variety of species. Necropsies (all dead animals were examined during my years at the Bronx Zoo) usually revealed heart or other organ failure in such cases, but all sorts of conditions, including cancers that remain asymptomatic and that are undetectable, can be involved. Often, birds so afflicted were getting on in years; while cockatiels can live into their 20’s, age may have played a role in the case of your bird. I’m sure your bird had a fine life and hope that fact is of some comfort to you.
Please let me know if you need any further information.
Best regards, Frank Indiviglio.
My female cockatiel has been bleeding from her cloaca. it does not seem like is a egg binding because she does not seem distress but I am concern because it looks bloody and dark under her tail. Unfortunately i cannot afford a vet. I ‘ll appreciate your help.
Hello Dahne, Frank Indiviglio here.
Thanks for your interest in our blog. Bleeding from the cloaca can indicate a wide variety of problems; unfortunately, it is not possible to diagnose or treat this problem at home. I wish I had better news for you, but it would be irresponsible of me to suggest anything other than a vet visit. Keep the bird calm and warm for now. Perhaps a local bird club or cockatiel/parrot society can direct you to a vet that cooperates with them, or a vet that is a member?…this is sometimes a less expensive option.
Please let me know if you need any further information. Good luck and please keep me posted.
Best regards, Frank Indiviglio.
Parakeets are cheap costing animals however their medical care costs are astronomical in comparison. This is abuse. Their should be laws to protect them. They should be expensive, medical care insurance should be included in the purchase price. Their should be incentives to Vetinarians, possibly tax incentives or education loan forgiveness if they use their skills and time to care for those who cannot afford a vet. These animals should only be affordable to those who can provide care for them in all fairness to the animal. Their should be breeding licences controlling the amount breeded or maybe breed some infertile breeds. I have no health insurance for myself yet I am spending $402.00 for my parakeets prolapsed uterus, calcium and pain shots this week. She passed an underdeveloped egg. This is the second underdeveloped egg passed in weeks so I believe it was partially due to a calcium deficiency. I spent another $99.00 for an eye problem in my other keet two weeks ago. I am still tortured about their past sister who suffocated to death slowly from a probable unseen tumor which closed off her lungs-it appeared. Having asthma, I know their is no hunger like hunger for air. Birds are great at masking illness so when you do not think they are in pain, they are! We are doing a dis-service to the animals selling them for $10 or $20 dollars, adios!. My keet is still at the vet and the uterus keeps prolapsing after the doctor pushes it back in. I am waiting for the doctor’s call, but the bird is OK thus far.
Hello, Frank Indiviglio here.
Thanks for your interesting post; you raise a number of very important issues. The situation you describe is even more serious with regard to pet reptiles – hatchling sliders sold (illegally) for .50 but needing set-ups costing several hundred dollars in time; green iguanas given away with purchase of a small aquarium and so on. Unfortunately, many people do not research the costs involved before purchasing pets, especially those sold cheaply or given away.
Here in NYC vet care for birds and reptiles is as expensive, or more so due to specialized doctors being in short supply, as for dogs. There are insurance policies available (for dogs, not sure about others) but premiums are quite costly.
I hope all works out well.
Good luck, and please keep me posted.
Best regards, Frank Indiviglio.
Hi Frank, I hope this reaches you, its quite some time since these were posted. I have 6.5 year old budgie, male I believe judging on the cere. I have been doing a lot of research online and believe he has a cloacal prolapse. Started sunday and has been getting worse, no thanks to him and his constant picking at it. I live in Prince Edward Island, Canada and our only avian/exotic animal vet left. I did manage to take him to one of the vets on the island but they were not able to do anything for me as they kept advising me only an avian vet can do cultures and procedures on him. To date is sore is 1cm wide by 1cm long, red and yellow, deeper red where he picks and makes it bleed. He is pooping, eating, chirping and still playing with his toys. I know birds play tricks when they are hurt but he doesn’t seem to be in too much distress. I have been giving him warm bathes to clean the area, lanacane on open sore. After reading so much about cloacal prolapse I’m starting to realize that there ma be noting that I can do from my home, and unfortunately there aren’t any avian vets on the island that can help me either. My questions to you is, if he is acting normal and bleeding from his vent, constantly picking at it, at what point should I call it quits and have him euthanized if nobody can do anything for him. Are there are serious issues that can arise if left untreated? Is there a chance for it to decrease in size and get better? I feel like i’m stuck. I don’t want to give up on him, he’s a fighter but if nothing can be done for him and its just going to get worst for him, is it that time? Please help me with some advise. Thanks Miranda
Sorry to hear of your difficulties.
Unfortunately, it will not likely heal if he keeps picking at the area, and an infection will likely set in. Once the infection takes hold, the bird will exhibit general signs of illness…puffing up, listless etc. Unfortunately I cannot give a timeline; if it is not an actual prolapse, and since the bird is not in distress, it may be worthwhile to continue as you have been doing.
A colleague from my zoo days, Dr. Kevin Wright, was offering email consultations at one point. I’m not sure if he does so currently, but perhaps you can ask. He would be able to provide more detail than I. Contact form.
Sorry I could not offer a more positive response, Please keep me posted, Frank
Hey Frank, my 8 year old Umbrella Cockatoo had a cloacal prolapse last year. We took him to the Vet and they put in stitches to prevent the cloaca from coming out. We were very pleased seeing as our bird was back to being healthy but just recently we noticed him straining and it will come out. It comes out every time he needs to poop and there will be like a “string” of feces just hanging from his bottom. The cloaca does go back in but I’m still worried he might get sick or is in pain. The vet bills were really expensive and I’m not sure we could afford another surgery. Do you think we should take him back to the vet or just leave him since it seems to go back? I would really appreciate your advice on this subject seeing as I am very worried about him. Thank you very much!
Unfortunately, it will probably worsen if left untreated….no way to be sure, but w/o rest it will not likely be able to heal. As with most such things, it will be more expensive and difficult to treat something eventually does need to be done. Sorry I could not be of more help, I hope all goes well, Frank
Hello, my parakeet I believe has oviduct prolapse– she tried to lay an egg but its stuck and the vent is dried up. Also, she’s broken the exposed tip of the egg, but it still hasn’t collapsed and passed through. She survived the night but I dont know what to do next–is it too late for a vet? Its only been 12ish hours that this problem occurred.
Vet attention is necessary…no way to predict outcome, unfortunately, but the bird will not survive w/o professional care, I hope all goes well, Frank
Our son has a a parakeet that is approximately 6-7 years old. It is to our knowledge a male bird. We believe it has a cloacal prolapse. We are having a hard time finding a Vet to treat the bird. The condition has been going on for approximately 2 days. We have also been advised that surgery will be necessary and at the bird’s age, he may not be able to be sedated successfully. We are not sure what to do at this point. Our son is autistic and loves his birds.
Unfortunately there’s no way to treat an advanced prolapse without veterinary attention. There are risks involved, but the bird will not survive long without treatment. You can search members of the Ass. of Avian Veterinarians by state or country here. If none are convenient, try calling the nearest and asking for a referral.
Sorry I could not offer a brighter outlook.
Best regards, Frank
I really hope I can get an answer,
I have an orange fronted parakeet that is now 17 years old, she is a female and its always been with us since a little baby, she is female and she often lays unfertilized eggs. She has never been sick or had any other problem until now.
Since yesterday I saw that she was not acting normal, she was a bit slow, and puffy. But didn’t see anything else. This morning she was worst, I saw she had an inflammed stomach and something that came out of where they poop. Took her to the vet immediately and told us it was a prolapsed. They put her under anestesia and put some stiches on, gave her some antibiotics and other medicines and told us to bring her again tomorrow.
I am currently now taking care of her but I am worried because she seems asleep, but is breathing. If I poke her or move she wakes up and moves but I am worried if this is normal. I dont know if she is still under the anestecia or if there is something wrong.
What else should I do to take care of her? Should I let her sleep for a while without taking my eyes of her or what else is there for me to do?
She’s been with us for so long and is a member of the family, Im really really worried.
Sorry for the delay; you have taken the right steps..anesthesia and the procedure in general are quite traumatic; no way to avoid the operation, but there are risks and recovery can take long’ There’s nothing that you can do at this point, other than to let the bird rest and hopefully recover. Report in to the vet as well, as he/she will be familiar with bird; Please keep me posted, i hope all goes well, Frank
My son has two parakeets about 6 yrs old. The female bird was trying to pass an egg sat evening…and we noted she was egg bound. The big egg was fully out (poor bird) but full off red tissue and just stuck. We took her to the ER and they were able to remove/retrieve the egg. Dr told us we needed to take her to an avian specialist because her cloaca was prolapse. We started her on antibiotics also. It is Monday night tonight and could not get in to see a bird specialist today (no avail appts). We have an appt tomorrow noonish. Our bird is eating and moving around a bit. They both Normally fly outside their cage but she’s been pretty quiet. My big concern is about the possibility of necrosis…she keeps picking at her vent with her beak. What does that mean? Her vent looks red and pretty dried up.
The antibiotic should hopefully hold the bird until seen by a specialist…it’s difficult to prevent them from picking at the area…hard to say if this is doing harm or not. Perhaps if you call and explain that the bird may be re-opening the area, you might get in to see a vet? This situation is usually treated as an emergency, given how quickly birds decline once an infection sets in. I hope all goes well, please keep me posted, frank