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parakeet loss > In Memory of Runt

In Memory of Runt

green parakeet

Runt, my green parakeet

Runt was my second parakeet. She was green and small, and never attained the size of a regular parakeet, even with a healthy and varied diet. She was sickly from the beginning. It looked like someone had purchased her and rejected her because when the store owners went to trim her wings, they had already been clipped.

Her earlier days were traumatic. The process of stocking pet stores with parakeets must be hard on them; living creatures do not do well as cargo and parakeets especially like stability and a predictable routine. I am sure it was not much fun for her to travel wherever she was to the pet store.

The day I picked her out, she was playing happily with some twigs when suddenly a huge net reached in to grab her. She was terrified and escaped into zigzagged panicked flight. She zipped around the store for over 10 minutes but could not be caught, not even when she fell, exhausted, into a fishtank.
Runt, standing on one leg

Runt, standing on one leg because the other is paralyzed. In these common tumors, the mass often presses down on the nerves leading to the leg, paralyzing it. More info about parakeet tumors

I was horrified -- if I could have called the whole thing off to make her feel better, to give her back her peace, I would have. But it was too late. She was out and had to be captured no matter what. However she was not done fighting. She launched out of the fishtank, out of clumsy nets wielded by store employees and almost out of the store.

The ordeal eventually ended and a very terrified and exhausted parakeet was boxed for me to take home. I tried cooing softly to her but she screamed in response. Her prize at the end of a very terrible day was a gargantuan monster scarily gurgling incomprehensible foreign sounds. I took her home and released her, still screaming, out of the box. I felt absolutely terrible that I was behind such a frightening day for her. I was still learning about parakeets then and didn't completely understand what to do. It took a long time to make friends. But we did. (And I later condensed my experience into a parakeet FAQ hoping to help others with questions about parakeets.)
Runt during her last days
Runt during her last days. It was hard for her to stand so she liked balancing herself on the top of the cage. I supervised to make sure she would not fall and injure herself. She was still eating and moving around well, but was fluffed up even though the room was over 70 degrees.

The next few years passed in parakeet bliss -- Runt bonded happily to my other parakeet and they lived together happily.

Then one day I came home and noticed Runt standing on one leg. At first I thought she was resting - birds often stand on one foot. But soon I realized she was hobbling. I took her to an emergency avian vet hospital thinking she broke a bone but instead she had a tumor that was pressing down on the nerves to her leg, paralyzing it.

Cancer is more common in the parakeet than in any other domestic animal because there is little genetic diversity -- they are inbred and bad genes are easily passed down.
Runt with Homer, giving her muscles a break from balancing on one leg.
Another picture of Runt with Homer. You can see she's resting her body.

The vet gave me a painkiller and some antibiotics, on the almost zero chance that the mass detected on the radiograph was an abscess rather than a tumor, but administering the meds to her twice a day was traumatic for her. I did keep this up for about a month but eventually stopped when the trauma seemed to outweigh the potential benefits. She clearly was not getting better and the medicine was not helping. This was a terminal illness with a sad, predictable outcome.

We could have put Runt to sleep but she was not in pain (the vet said that as long as she is eating, she isn't hurting so I used that as my guide).

She lived almost 2 more months after that and was pretty active with a good appetite. She died today while I was at work. This is my memorial to her.

Runt, you were a sweet and special bird. I was glad you could eventually learn to trust me and nibble on my clothing. I gave you the best life within my control and am grateful that you shared your time here with me. I love you, my little keet. You are missed. (December 29, 2006)


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This site is dedicated to Dr. Piety, without whose kindness, wisdom, and sharing of knowledge this would not be possible. You are missed.
Holly Russo     ...when I am not playing with my keets, I design web pages.
Please note that I am not always able to respond to e-mail due to the large volume received, but I am happy to collect questions & suggestions to add to the FAQ page. Please check the FAQ first to see if your question has already been addressed before emailing. Thank you so much for stopping by!
I am not a vet; my only source of knowledge is my own experience.
For definitive advice, please consult with a veterinarian that specializes in birds.
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