Why Is My Cockatiel Limping?

There are many ways a cockatiel’s feet and legs can be adversely affected to the point of weakness or limping. Some problems can be easily resolved, while others have a more concerning explanation. But, why is my cockatiel limping?

Why Is My Cockatiel Limping? The cockatiel is limping when its feet, toes, or legs are hurt. Injuries range from a cut or splinter to an infected abscess to a sprain or broken bone. Also, cockatiels can develop joint and limp pain from uneven perches.

However, due to congenital conditions, some cockatiels are born with a limp. For instance, your cockatiel can have one leg shorter than the other if it was the product of inbreeding.

Cockatiels have hollow bones prone to impact injuries. A cockatiel’s movement may have been significantly hampered by a fall while perching or climbing that resulted in a sprained or broken leg or foot.

Your cockatiel has bumblefoot if it develops an obvious foot swelling. Numerous factors, including foot bite wounds, sandpaper, perches, and injuries, contribute to this illness.

A limping cockatiel may also have arthritis, gout, curled toes, or neurological issues.

Why Is My Cockatiel Limping? ( 7 Common Reasons Explained)

As stated earlier, certain cockatiels have hereditary impairments that cause them to walk with a limp. If this is the case, the cockatiel will adjust to movement with a slightly unnatural gait.

However, if your cockatiel has suddenly started limping, there will be a cause. Cockatiels love human interaction, but they won’t limp to get attention.

Additionally, if your cockatiel has trouble walking, it is probably trying to hide the limp, but ineffectively, as it turns out.

The first thing to look for in a limping cockatiel is excessively long claws. The toe will be elevated off the ground if your cockatiel has overgrown nailsOpens in a new tab., resulting in an awkward walk.

To avoid future problems, trim the toenails, and offer pedicures many times per week.

So, the following are the most frequent causes of limping in cockatiels:

1. Injury

Although cockatiels are agile and light on their feet, they are prone to accidents.

Your cockatiel might have hurt itself if it attempted to scale a cage wall and fell, caught a leg on a ceiling fan, or got into a heated argument with a cagemate.

The severity and consequences of injuries to the legs and toes vary. You can probably isolate your cockatiel’s injured leg until it heals naturally if it has sprained.

Broken leg

If your cockatiel is limping, check both legs. If one leg is bent at an unusual angle, the bone could be damaged or cracked. It doesn’t take much to harm a cockatiel’s hollow legs in this way.

Because of their weak legs, cockatiels rarely have broken bones pinned or cast in plaster. Pain is typically treated with medication, and to support the limb, gauze is placed around it.

Once the leg has been stabilized, the cockatiel should start to recover. Within a week, the majority of cockatiels may resume bearing weight on a fractured leg.

Sprained leg

A muscle sprain heals naturally with rest and is less serious than a leg break.

Isolate the cockatiel and give it a chance to shift weight away from the injured leg. As soon as the swelling goes down and the limping stops, the cockatiel can resume its regular routines and cage.

A muscle sprain heals naturally with rest and is less serious than a leg break.

2. Infections (Bumblefoot)

Cockatiels may limp or have weak legs from bacterial, viral, and fungal infections. Cockatiels are vulnerable to bumblefoot.

The phrase is commonly used to indicate any swelling or inflammation in the avian feet, according to reviews in Veterinary Medicine. Naturally, these symptoms will lead to limping.

Regardless of whether a cockatiel is limping, its feet should be examined at least once every two weeks. Small lumps or inflammatory symptoms can develop into open sores that are susceptible to bacterial infection.

Likewise, pododermatitis symptoms could be an indication of a bacterial or fungal infection.

However, an avian veterinarian might provide medications to your cockatiel if it has bumblefoot to lessen the agony. In addition, anti-inflammatory drugs will lessen swelling, sometimes in conjunction with antibiotics.

It’s important to examine the underlying causes of bumblefoot and make any necessary lifestyle adjustments.

Inappropriate perch

The quality of any perches in a cockatiel cage should be examined. Plastic and Pedi perches can lead to bumblefoot, as it will feel increasingly uncomfortable under the cockatiel’s feet.

Offer a variety of expertly crafted wooden perches in different sizes and designs. Perch diversity will encourage cockatiels to shift their weight occasionally, reducing the risk of pododermatitis.

The less time a cockatiel spends in one position, the less likely it is to develop bumblefoot.

Poor diet

A poor diet could be linked to obesity, and cockatiels need a balanced meal plan.

However, according to the Journal of Animal Physiology and Animal NutritionOpens in a new tab., bumblefoot becomes likelier if your cockatiel isn’t consuming enough Vitamin E, Vitamin A, copper, or zinc.


While it can be concerning if a cockatiel loses its weight, allowing a bird to grow overweight is just as dangerous. Although cockatiels have a quick metabolism and can maintain their weight with exercise, eating too many fatty seeds can make them obese.

Diabetes and heart disease are risks in overweight cockatielsOpens in a new tab.. In the immediate term, a cockatiel’s legs and feet will struggle to maintain the pressure caused by excess weight.

3. Overgrown nails/claws

Overgrown nails/claws cause cockatiels to hold their feet awkwardly or shift from foot to foot. Claws that aren’t properly trimmer affect your cockatiel’s ability to support its weight.

This creates pressure on the feet, toes, and ankles.

However, this can become painful and will eventually cause limping. The toes and nails may also become malformed. The cockatiel’s stance will even be harmed, forcing it to perch at an angle or be unable to perch at all.

Clear signs of overgrown nails/claws in cockatiels include:

  • Long nails that begin to curl under the foot
  • An inability to lay their feet flat
  • Limping or an unwillingness to perch on certain surfaces

4. Curled toes

When your cockatiel is perched on a perch, observe it. Is one foot curled up, seemingly to excess?

Curled toes start to arise in older cockatiels. Their arthritic bones make it difficult for their toes to untangle themselves after they clench around perches.

Although you can straighten a cockatiel’s toes by hand, think about purchasing a variety of perches in various sizes. This way, your cockatiel’s feet are less likely to mold themselves into one position.

5. Osteoarthritis

Like all older animals, cockatiels can be prone to arthritis in their senior years.

If you visit an exotic pet store, you will find supplements for arthritic birds that reduce inflammation. Everything that contains glucosamine should slow down cartilage degeneration and ease the pain.

Speak to a veterinarian if your cockatiel is clearly in discomfort and is always limping. NSAIDs may be necessary, but they are almost always only a temporary fix.

Ensure your cockatiel has sufficient comfort within its cage so that it’s not placing undue weight and pressure on its legs. Keep your cockatiel’s weight down; the lighter the cockatiel, the less arthritis will be felt.

6. Gout

Gout is a uric acid disorder that is quite commonplace in older cockatiels.

When uric acid accumulates in the joints, it crystallizes and makes movement challenging. A diet high in protein or ineffective renal function may be the cause of gout.

Avian Diseases explains that a healthy uric acid level in cockatiels is 5.6ml of blood plasma per deciliter. You can’t be expected to measure this, but a bird veterinarian will take a reading and determine if gout is present.

Treatment depends upon these underlying causes. You will likely need to promote more exercise and change your cockatiel’s diet.

If there are concerns regarding renal performance, medication may be given. Once a cockatiel’s kidneys fail, the trajectory is irreversible and only moves in one direction.

7. Leg paralysis

If your cockatiel can’t use one or both legs or feet, one of the following explanations may apply:


Have you exposed your cockatiel to toxic fumes, such as fly spray, fresh wall paint, or scented candles? Cockatiels have a delicate respiratory system and may have inhaled a toxin, leading to paralysis.

Calcium deficiency

Is your cockatiel getting enough calcium in its diet? If not, the bones will deteriorate, making it harder to walk normally.

Add a cuttlebone to your cockatiel’s cage to encourage more calcium intake. Your cockatiel will also need Vitamin D to absorb the calcium into its body, so direct sunlight is essential

Abdominal tumor

Sometimes a cockatiel can experience abdominal tumors that put pressure on nerve endings. This concern is rare and will only be uncovered by extensive testing by a vet.

Do not ignore a liming cockatiel. They may have wings, but they still need to walk, climb, and hop, while limping suggests a soreness in the food that will make roosting difficult.

What Should I Do If My Cockatiel Is Limping?

If your cockatiel is limping, you must wait for them to calm down before you take any action or try to access their leg.

When your cockatiel has had some time to calm down after suddenly starting to limp, assess its toe carefully by running your fingers down the site for any sensitive areas.

Keep your eye out for any potential causes of their limping.

This may include drooping limbs, edema, redness, and open sores. Start at their toe and work your way up their leg.

Further, if it is something such as a thorn or nails that are too long just gently pull the thorn out with tweezers or cut their nails as usual (or have it done by your vet).

If you are unable to figure out the cause of the limp and your beloved cockatiel is still limping after 24 hours make an appointment with your vet.

Also, it may be difficult to tell if your cockatiel’s leg is broken because its symptoms could mirror other injuries or a sprain ( this includes a limp or swelling). Because of this, if you suspect a broken limp or any further injury, contact your vet as soon as possible.

While waiting for your veterinary appointment, you have to limit your cockatiel’s movements to keep them from causing further injury or making it worse. Do this by providing them comfy cage to sleep in and keeping them warm.

Cockatiel Enthusiast

My name is Bojan. I have been around Cockatiels for the past 7 years. I love writing about Cockatiels and helping people understand how these beautiful birds live, what they like, and how to provide them the best possible care.

Recent Posts