A blue-fronted Amazon parrot, possessive about its owner Joyce Greenslade, has been put on antidepressants to help it cope with its real place in the household.
The seven-year-old parrot, a pet of the family in Devon, UK was so besotted with the woman that it went into a rage whenever her husband Stephen went close to her.
AdvertisementNow the neurotic parrot has been put on the bird equivalent of Prozac and started on a behavioural course to combat her jealousy.
Experts believe Chico has taken on the dominant role within the family and needs to be retrained to accept her true place in the household.
Mrs Greenslade, aged 42, realised something was wrong when Chico started tearing out her feathers whenever her husband, 43, entered the room.
She said: "Chico started to believe we were partners and got very depressed and started plucking out her feathers.
"She screamed at me and started to fly aggressively at Stephen and eventually it all became too much.
"We were desperate to find a solution because it is awful seeing a parrot you love suffering so much."
Parrot expert Neil Forbes but the bird on Haloperido, a drug nicknamed 'parrot Prozac', and encouraged Mrs Greenslade to re-establish the correct relationship with the bird.
She said: "He has to sit on my elbow rather than my shoulder and she is now more at ease with the world.
"She has stopped screaming and plucking out her feathers. This has saved her life."
Prozac is becoming increasingly popular among pet owners and veterinarians as a way to treat depressed pets, a British veterinarian expert has told the BBC.
Romain Pizzi, a zoo and wildlife medicine specialist for the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons, told the BBC recently that pet depression is a serious problem, and many owners respond by turning to drugs.
"Contrary to some people's expectations, parrots are very intelligent and sensitive animals," Pizzi said. "Typically if people go out to work all day, their parrot will get very bored and frustrated and eventually develop depression. Symptoms often include plucking out their feathers or self-harming, which is obviously very dangerous. When cockatoos in particular are depressed, they can start to self-mutilate and peck their own legs to the bone."
An estimated 632,000 cats and dogs in the United Kingdom are also believed to suffer from depression, demonstrating symptoms including aggression, incessant scratching, loss of appetite and attacking furniture.
"A dog can't sit on the couch and discuss his worries, but he can howl the house down, chase his tail or chew everything to pieces," veterinarian Mark Johnston said.
Pharmaceutical company Eli Lilly markets Prozac for dogs as young as six months old, in the form of a beef-flavored chewable tablet. Parrots are given the drug in a liquid form.
But Pizzi warned that drugs should be a last resort. It would be better, he said, for people not to get parrots at all if they cannot provide them with the stimulating environment that the birds need to be healthy.
"Unfortunately there is a big proportion of people who buy these birds because they are pretty and they talk," he said. "They are not thinking it through in terms of their lifestyle. Parrots require a lot of care and stimulation."
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