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Helping Taco build up strength in his feet?

hrafn

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Presumably because he spent over a decade with only a single (cockatiel-sized, dowel) perch in his cage, which forced his toes to constantly overlap, Taco's grip in his feet is about as powerful as the average marshmallow.

Though he does okay when it comes to traversing his cage and getting around on flat surfaces, clinging to anything that he can't dig into with his claws is a battle. Any time he wants to perch on my arm, he spends the whole time slipping and sliding and having to readjust himself or catch himself from a fall with his beak, which as you can imagine has resulted in some interesting scars.

I've been able to alleviate his struggles to a degree by wrapping his branch perches in two inches of vet wrap, but short of enveloping everything in my house, I'm at a loss for how I can protect him from his inevitable slips and falls.

Is there a way that we could get the strength back up in his feet? Some kind of physiotherapy?
 

MiniMacaw

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I am very familiar with this issue from Bowser. He had a toe bitten off as a baby and since it was not treated at the time his whole foot was infected. He never learned to perch as a baby because he was kept in a dog kennel outside with nothing inside of it.

I took him straight to the vet when I picked him up and the vet warned me he may never have full use of his one injured foot.

I started with some basic physical therapy exercises. I would let Bowser walk on the floor and put some foot toys down. We’d spend hours playing with foot toys together where I grabbed it from his good foot and would encourage him to grab it with his bad foot.

I also put up lots of thick rope swings and perches. Those really worked both of his feet daily.

The biggest thing I think that helped though was giving him the space to want to explore. His sense of excitement at new things (and strategically placed pine nuts) got his feet moving and he had to work for it.

Thick rope is still his favorite thing to use.
I personally skipped using any vet Wrap because I wanted his feet to put the effort in, but that was Bowsers starting place and each case is different. His cage was lined with comforters in the event he fell (and he did quite a bit at first), but he got the hang of it.

Also, a big sisal canopy net is great. It can have toys attached throughout and the rope isn’t as thick as a normal perch rope. It moves a little all the time so really works the feet.

It takes a really long time but I think macaws are so resilient. I’m sure your guy will get the hang of it eventually. :heart:
 

AKahle6868

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I have no personal experience with a bird with bad feet but I watch a cage set up for a GCC with no nails and the person used rope perches to help the bird get around comfortably. I would also put a flat perches in his cage and a variety of thicker branch perches to help exercise his feet. In time the muscles in his feet will naturally strengthen.
 

JLcribber

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Lots of running around and climbing. At this point it is a chronic condition with permanent damage. There's always room for improvement but it is what it is.
 

AKahle6868

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Another idea would be to lower all the perches in his cage just in case he does fall off a perch so he doesn’t get hurt. I’ve also seen people put flat perches underneath food dishes so he has something flat to perch on while eating.
 

Macawnutz

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Im with Lisa. Opportunity and drive.

The swings, nets and ropes are the best workout. Space and some swinging perch will get him hanging on and even flapping. Perch potatoes need motivation in the beginning but he will get the hang of it.
 
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