To measure baseline plasma corticosterone levels in Hispaniolan Amazon parrots (Amazona ventralis) and assess the effects of handling and restraint on corticosterone levels over 1 hour, reflective of what parrots might experience during veterinary care.
10 male and 12 female Hispaniolan Amazon parrots.
Each parrot was removed from its cage and wrapped in a towel for restraint similar to that performed in a clinical setting. An initial baseline blood sample was collected in < 3 minutes upon entrance into the parrot room, after which blood samples were taken every 15 minutes for 1 hour (a total of 5 blood samples). An enzyme-linked immunoassay was validated for Hispaniolan Amazon parrots and used to determine concentrations of plasma corticosterone.
On average, parrots showed a significant increase in corticosterone between baseline samples and all subsequent postrestraint time points (average baseline corticosterone ± SD: 0.51 ± 0.65 ng/mL). Females, on average, displayed significantly higher corticosterone levels than males after 30, 45, and 60 minutes of restraint (P = .016, P = .0099, and P = .015, respectively). Birds with feather-destructive behavior did not have significantly higher corticosterone levels than birds without the condition (P = .38).
Understanding the physiological stress response in companion psittacine birds during routine handling will allow clinicians to better evaluate how this may affect the patient’s condition and diagnostic test results. Assessing how corticosterone correlates to behavioral conditions such as feather-destructive behavior will provide clinicians with the potential to develop treatment options.