Captive Psittacine Birds in Ontario, Canada: A 19-Year Retrospective Study of the Causes of Morbidity and Mortality

D. J. Gibson, N. M. Nemeth, H. Beaufrère, C. Varga, T. Eagalle, L. Susta

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Psittacines (e.g. parrots, macaws and cockatoos) are common companion animals that are also kept in zoos and private breeding collections. Despite this popularity, long-term, comprehensive studies of diagnostic data from captive psittacines are rare. This study was conducted to assess trends in disease prevalence and to describe causes of morbidity and mortality in psittacines submitted for post-mortem examination to the veterinary hospital and diagnostic laboratory at the University of Guelph, Ontario, Canada. Post-mortem reports of 1,850 psittacines from 1998 to 2017 were assessed and included 110 species from 45 genera. Birds were often diagnosed with infectious disease processes (n = 823; 44.5%), including viral (n = 428; 23.1%), bacterial (n = 284; 15.4%) and fungal (n = 161; 8.7%). Non-infectious disease processes (n = 1,076; 58.2%) were most commonly degenerative (n = 465; 25.1%), metabolic (n = 392; 21.2%) or haemodynamic (n = 270; 14.6%). Exploratory statistical analyses, used to guide further research, revealed significant correlations and associations among disease processes and genera, age categories and sex. This 19-year retrospective study is the first to be conducted in Canada for psittacine birds and provides a broad overview of disease prevalence that can be used as a baseline to inform other studies addressing common and uncommon diseases affecting these birds in the future.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)38-52
Number of pages15
JournalJournal of Comparative Pathology
StatePublished - Aug 2019
Externally publishedYes


  • disease prevalence
  • mortality
  • pathology
  • psittacine birds

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pathology and Forensic Medicine
  • veterinary(all)


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