Mango’s Medical Story
Anna and Steve brought Mango to our clinic shortly after his surrender for his general assessment and to address a chronic open wound on his upper chest.
Mango had a history of feather destructive behaviour and sadly, he fell into that group, typical of male Moluccan Cockatoos, that takes feather destructive behaviour to the next level and actually self mutilates the body as well as the feathers.
The area of concern was a 1.5 cm oval scab on his left breast that penetrated all the way through the skin and that would bleed if he picked at it or if it cracked. The edges of the scab were contracted and scarred and it was obvious it had been there a while.
Once a bird gets a large scab like Mango’s, medical intervention is rarely successful. The size and depth of the lesion prevent rapid healing and like any scab, as it tries to heal, it pulls and itches causing a bird to further pick at it and although Elizabethan collars can act to mechanically prevent a bird from reaching at a scab, the best way to deal with these wounds is with surgery.
Wounds heal two ways – by primary or by secondary intention. Primary intention healing occurs when two clean edges of skin are neatly opposed and sutured together. Healing time typically is within 10 days. Secondary intention wounds heals from the inside out. Much like falling off a bike and badly scraping a knee, the healing begins deep inside the wound and after several weeks, if left alone and uninfected, the scab falls off and the skin has healed underneath. Unless the lesion is small and superficial, surgery is always the better healing option.
In Mango’s case, because the lesion was chronic, large and obviously bothering him, surgery was elected. On March 17th, Mango was brought to the clinic for his surgery. After a short period of fasting, he was pre-medicated with analgesics and sedatives and given subcutaneous fluids to help stabilize him during the anaesthetic. He was then fully anaesthetized with Isoflurane® gas and an endotracheal tube was placed into his windpipe to keep him under and help him breath. The wound was antiseptically prepped and Mango was then taken into the surgery suite where all the dead tissue was cut away and the fresh skin edges were sutured closed in a two layer pattern that hid the sutures so there were no ends for him to pick at. Mango recovered well from his anaesthetic and was given both a course of pain medications and antibiotics. He will continue to wear his collar until the wound is fully healed.
The risk in a bird like Mango, of course, is that he may mutilate the site again once the collar is off. The journey that Mango and his new family must go on is one of understanding and managing the underlying reason for his feather picking and mutilation behaviour. Mango is a gentle and interactive bird and deserving of the stability a forever home can offer.
Dr. Kerry Korber
Calgary Avian & Exotic Pet Clinic
We wish to thank with all of our hearts the following folks who made Mango’s surgery possible with their very generous donations!
Barb and Bill L. | Lori W | Lori D | Melaina | Stephanie L | Sylvia | Jamie | Jayda Annette, Liisa, Jan
(ps, if we forgot to put you on the list, remind us! This list came out of Annie’s head lol!)