It was one week ago, with a sense of déjà vu, that I noticed Bezukhov’s poops did not look right. They were sludgy & dark green.
I knew Bezukhov was upset by the change in routine, actually, the change in everything, as evidenced by not going into the Villa (Phinny’s domain). He would go in briefly for water or to chew on the iodine block, but not sit in there. Also, overnight sleeping has switched, at Bezukhov’s insistence, from the Villa to the Manor.
In the days leading up to the discovery, I had noticed Bezukhov was eating more pellets (in dishes on top of the Villa) but it was not until I saw the dodgy poops that I realised he was barely eating his normal seed mix. Behaviour-wise, Bezukhov became very loud. He was constantly shouting & often looking out of the window. Normally he would shout at things outside but each time I looked I could not see anything; he was just shouting for shouting’s sake. Sometimes he would go to one of the five seed pots but would only eat one seed before looking distracted & moving on.
Naturally, I immediately got the millet out & started offering seed from the little red seed pot. Alarmingly, he seemed too unfocused to even eat seed when I offered it, sometimes he even ran away. On the positive side, that day (19th September) we had an extremely welcome delivery of grass from follower rosebudgie. He would at least eat that. However, Dalai was working his way through the millet & the grass like a locust, so because the grass was in limited supply, I held some back so I could offer it only to Bezukhov.
Though Bezukhov was eating the grass & a little millet, & some pellets, the next couple of days his poops did not improve. On the 21st September, I called in Ms Exotic Hospital Vet (EHV), though she was acting as an independent, so technically was Ms Independent Vet (IV). Fortunately, Ms IV was able to do a home visit so this at least meant I did not need to get him in the travel cage where he would go on hunger strike anyway.
She weighed him & though he had probably lost a couple of grams, he was thankfully still a healthy weight (58g). His heart rate was initially very fast but as she carried on holding him, it slowed down, indicating he was just stressed. His temperature was normal. Overall she thought he looked bright & well. She took a sample of his poop to examine for bacteria in case there was anything else going on (nothing untoward was found). She agreed that the problem was highly likely to be ‘mental’, so all I could do was encourage him to eat.
To make sure Bezukhov did not lose energy, Ms IV suggested giving him honey water (1 teaspoon in 1 pint of water), which I put in the Thomas Bath. He seemed to enjoy this & slurped quite a lot.
Bezukhov was not eating from the seed pots in the Villa/Manor, so I wondered if he associated them with Phineas, because more often than not, Phineas would want to eat from the seed pot Bezukhov was eating from (that is why I gave them 5 to choose from!) Maybe Bezukhov found it strange not being interrupted?
Last year, not long after Cagney passed, I changed the Ferplast to the Silver Villa. We think that all the changes made things worse for Bezukhov. This time, I purposely did not change anything, not a perch or toy or swing or seed pot – nothing.
It occurred to me that if I put his seed mix in dishes next to the pellets on top of the Villa, he may eat them. The following day, on the 22nd, he started eating seed again, albeit not from inside either cage. After a couple of days of eating his seed mix, millet & grass (we had more deliveries to keep him going!) his poops gradually started to become better formed, they were smaller, less sludgy & the dark bit was no longer dark green.
So the point we are at now is that Bezukhov is eating a relatively normal amount again, but rarely eats seed from a seed pot in the Manor or the Villa. Most probably inspired by Bezukhov, Dalai has significantly cut down on the times he eats from the seed pots in the cages. This presents a problem if they have to be locked up for any length of time because I have to make sure there is another source of food available in the cage, like millet.
Phinny’s loss is great so it is logical we all have some major adjusting to do. Hopefully in time things will settle down.
Obligatory poop photos for reference: