FEATHER plucking is one of the most common presentations in avian practice and also one of the most frustrating. 'Feather plucking' should correctly be described as a syndrome, not a diagnosis. The veterinary surgeon should aim to diagnose the cause of the plucking so as to allow appropriate therapeutic management. For the purposes of this article, feather chewing is included within the definition of 'plucking' even though there may be some differences in aetiology, presentation and approach. However, self-mutilation, where there is actual physical damage to the skin, is not discussed except when considering dermatopathies, as plucking and mutilation are rarely seen together and it is unusual to see a 'plucker' progress to self-mutilation. This article describes an approach to the medical investigation of feather plucking in psittacine birds. An article in the next issue will consider the investigation of social/environmental and behavioural problems which might also cause feather plucking/chewing.
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