Why Do Lovebirds Die Suddenly?

Today, more and more people are keeping lovebirds as pets. Easily one of the most common domesticated bird breeds, lovebirds are an affectionate species that will provide you with companionship and friendship for many years as long as you take care of them. Unfortunately, not every lovebird gets to live a long life. 

So, why do lovebirds die suddenly? Based on research, the most common cause of lovebirds dying all of a sudden is poisoning, either through dangerous foods and plants, heavy metals, or household products producing toxic fumes. Additionally, lovebirds can also die from disease or organ failure, usually caused by parasites, bacteria, viruses, or simply old age. 

While it’s very unfortunate to see your pet lovebird lifeless, you won’t always know what caused it unless you take its body to a veterinarian for a necropsy. This way, you can determine the cause of death and prevent such instances from ever happening again. 

How to Tell How a Lovebird Died

There’s absolutely no doubt that finding your pet lovebird stiff and lifeless in the morning is heartbreaking. However, it’s not always easy to find out the reason behind its sudden death. That said, there are a couple of things you can check. 

First, is your lovebird already old? While lovebirds live long lives, their lifespan ranges between 10-15 years, so it might just be their time if they’re already ten and up. If this happens, you can take comfort in the fact that they didn’t suffer long, and they probably lived a healthy life with you. 

However, if your pet is relatively young and healthy, it may have had an undiagnosed illness or suffered from poisoning. In such cases, you can arrange for a necropsy with your local vet to determine the exact cause of death. In the meantime, wrap your pet’s body in paper or plastic, seal it, and refrigerate it to make sure it’s still in good shape when it reaches the vet. 

More reading: How do Lovebirds Sleep? Everything You Need to Know

Lovebird Common Causes of Death 

In most cases of healthy and young lovebirds, the deaths aren’t always so sudden. More often than not, the bird is already fighting off some form of the disease, and we didn’t know how to observe for any signs or symptoms. 

Nevertheless, a bird who is sick or close to death will always look unwell. This includes dull coloration on its feathering, having pasted feces or discharge, redness (also known as erythema) around the nostrils, and a generally “weak” stance on its perch. 

Here are some of the most common causes of sudden death in lovebirds: 

Toxic Foods and Plants 

Just because a food is plant-based doesn’t mean that it’s always safe for a lovebird. Unfortunately, many pet owners don’t realize this and often feed the lovebird foods that they can’t digest. 

The most toxic lovebird foods include: 

  • Avocado 
  • Caffeine
  • Chocolate
  • Rhubarb 
  • Salt
  • Fruit pits and apple seeds
  • Xylitol
  • Onion and Garlic 

Often, your lovebird only needs to eat a small amount of this to be poisoned fatally. After, your pet may start showing food poisoning symptoms, including vomiting, convulsions, diarrhea, and tremors. 

Additionally, some household plants like sweet pea, pothos, and lily-of-the-valley are also poisonous. As such, make sure they don’t nibble on such plants if they’re out of the cage.

Heavy Metal Toxicosis 

Another common reason for sudden lovebird death is heavy metal toxicosis, which happens after the bird ingests heavy metal, usually in the form of zinc or lead. 

Commonly, this gets ingested through contaminated drinking water, as well as chewing on household objects. Other objects that may contain dangerous heavy metals are: 

  • Leaded windows
  • Wire
  • Jewelry
  • Toys
  • Walls with lead-based paint 
  • Coins
  • Metallic food and water bowls
  • Metal clips
  • Keys

If a lovebird suffers from toxicosis, common symptoms include weakness, anorexia, polyuria, polydipsia, and diarrhea. If your bird is exhibiting these symptoms, take it to a vet immediately. However, if your bird ingests a large amount, it can just die suddenly. 

Toxic Fumes 

Additionally, lovebirds can also inhale toxic fumes and end up dying as a result. This is because their respiratory systems are far too sensitive compared to humans, making otherwise harmless fumes fatal. This includes: 

  • Ammonia
  • Bleach, disinfectants, and detergents 
  • Polish, paint, glue, paint thinner, and wax
  • Perfumes, body sprays, deodorants, and other items with fragrances
  • Bug repellents and bug sprays
  • Acetone (usually found in nail polish remover)
  • Fuel from lighter fluid, kerosene, or gasoline
  • Caustic fumes provided by Teflon usually found in non-stick kitchenware 

Unfortunately, inhaling any of these fumes, especially in large amounts, can instantly suffocate your bird and kill them. You may also see them struggling to breathe or convulsing before dying. 

Night Fright 

While technically not a disease, night fright can easily cause a bird to become frightened and start panicking. The problem is, this can be any loud noise that can suddenly disturb them at night, such as barking dogs or crying babies. 

This is more common in younger birds and usually results in injury from trashing around the cage because of fright. When this happens, your bird may suffer from an injury that can prove to be fatal. 

Organ Disease 

Unfortunately, even lovebirds and other bird species can suffer from organ failure. Usually, this is caused by various reasons, including poor diet, bacteria, or even a viral infection. Furthermore, most of the symptoms of these diseases aren’t always obvious, especially to the untrained eye. 

This is why when a lovebird dies from organ failure; it may look as if your bird died for no reason. Luckily, this can be prevented by keeping your bird healthy, their living conditions optimal, and bringing them to the vet for regular checkups. 

More reading: Are Lovebirds Good Pets for Beginners?

Conclusion 

Lovebird or not, it’s very heartbreaking to see a beloved pet pass away, especially if we don’t know what caused it in the first place. Luckily, we can do much to make sure our lovebirds can live long, healthy, and happy lives. 

This includes regular vet checkups, feeding them a varied and healthy diet, keeping their cage safe and functional, and ultimately, spending time with them every day. Unfortunately, most bird diseases don’t show obvious symptoms. In contrast, paying close attention to them while bonding and familiarizing yourself with your bird’s habits can help you identify whether something is wrong or not. Remember that prevention is always better than cute. 

Until then, happy and safe bird-keeping! 

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