could it be duckling seizures? Please help

Discussion in 'Ducks' started by Parrotchick, May 26, 2010.

  1. Parrotchick

    Parrotchick Chillin' With My Peeps

    Nov 13, 2009
    Boonsboro MD
    My fawn and white Indian Runner duckling named Rose is 24 days old today, purchased with two other runners and two Crested Pekins from Ideal. They are all females. Shipping went smoothly, and everybody ate, drank, and generally frolicked well from the beginning. But Rose just had a third episode (that I've seen anyway) in two weeks, that looked like a seizure. She went completely limp and her head arched back at a funny angle. Her eyes were open but she had a vacant look. Today her legs stretched out straight behind her. The first time she was just sitting in the brooder when I noticed; the last two times it happened when I was transferring the duckies in a Rubbermaid tub to take them outside (making me wonder if she got stepped on by a big Pekin). Each episode seemed to last less than 30 seconds, then she would be groggy looking for a few minutes, then completely back to normal. Today I picked her up while this was happening and maybe it was a coincidence, but she seemed to get alert faster.

    I have been feeding them Tractor's Supplies non-medicated chick starter. I have been putting niacin in the water since about the 2nd day, about 100 mg per gallon. Rose is just a tad smaller than the others-barely noticeable and not as assertive when it comes to eating out of my hand, though she certainly seems to be getting plenty to eat. She is an avid smimmer and loves to do the torpedo dive. She eats peas as fondly as anyone else- this is about the only treat I've given them thus far. The last few afternoons, I have let them hang out in the grass in a covered puppy pen, rooting around for anything of duckie interest. No chemicals are used in my yard and there is nothing funky she would have gotten hold of.

    Is there anything more I can do? Her relations with the other ducks are fine; they don't seem to care. I know sometimes people have seizures while swimming and drown. Is this a far-fetched concern with a duckling? Might she grow out of it? When I was searching BYC for more info, it seemed like others' ducklings that had seizures had them much more frequently and there wasn't a lot on long term outcomes.

    Another detail that may or may not be significant: My runners are not crested, but Rose has a tiny little tuft coming out the back of her head, maybe 1/3 an inch in diameter. I have read that crested birds are more prone to neurological issues-though my Pekins with their enormous puff-balls are fine so far, touch wood.
  2. SDChef

    SDChef Chillin' With My Peeps

    Feb 6, 2010
    I hate to say it but it sounds to me as if F & W runners have this problem quite often. it happened to mine a couple weeks ago and unfortunately came on so fast and got so bad that I had to put her down. I have heard it could be a thiamine deficiency, as well as a bacterial infection. If you search topics you will find lots of explanations on the symptoms, there is even a video, unfortunately it also is a F & W runner. I wish you luck and hope that you can fix the issue quickly, I didn't have enough time. RIP Tweak, I miss ya!
  3. fancbrd4me02

    fancbrd4me02 Chillin' With My Peeps

    I have noticed that seizures seem to be more common in waterfowl, and more common when the waterfowl are young. Sometimes the birds just have an episode or two, other times it seems to happen more an more until the bird dies or suffers terribly from it. There are a lot of potential causes for it, I found a parrot site that had some information about seizures in parrots, but a lot of the info was applicable to waterfowl seizures. One interesting thing I found out is that they prescribe anti-seizure medication for parrots with seizure disorders, so depending on your finances and the role the duck played in your life, you can keep that in mind.

    Here is the link to the parrot site on siezures:
    Last edited: May 26, 2010
  4. blissdragon

    blissdragon Chillin' With My Peeps

    Apr 5, 2010
    Viroqua, WI
    Could be:
    Thiamine Deficiency (Vitamin B-1 Deficiency)--Weight loss and 'star gazing' (opisthotonus), also anorexia, digestive upsets, ataxia and convulsions. Weight loss may be noted after as little as four days in ducklings.


    Pyridoxine Deficiency(Vitamin B-6 Deficiency)--symptoms include: retarded growth, decreased appetite, aimless running and leg paddling, convulsions, twisted neck, bowed legs


    Diet is probably more of a factor in situations like this than people tend to guess, I think.
    What are they eating?

    Sorry you're having troubles...its the kind of thing that can be so tormenting to go through!.
  5. Parrotchick

    Parrotchick Chillin' With My Peeps

    Nov 13, 2009
    Boonsboro MD
    Thanks for the replies. Rose had a seizure again last night that lasted a little longer. I checked everything online I could find, so at wit's end today I called Holderreads, even though I didn't get my birds from them. I'm not sure if it was Dave Holderread I spoke to, but he was very kind and helpful, even though I caught him at lunchtime in the middle of a hectic day he said was just one of those days where everything goes wrong. You know somebody cares about animals when they take time out to help a total stranger like that, someone who's not even a customer.

    He began by telling me some of the more common causes of seizures. One is an injury, which may be caused by something as simple as one of those thrashing ducky frights in the middle of the night where they bump their heads on a feeder or something. Toxins from an infinite number of possibilities could be a cause as well. And just because only one duckling is showing symptoms doesn't necessarilymean that the others don't have the problem; like humans , health issues manifest themselves differently in different people.

    But then I mentioned Rose's little tuft. I didn't order Crested Runners, but he was sure that even the little 1/4 inch tuft of feathers meant that she carries the genes for the crested duck, and thus all the neurological problems that can so often accompany this cute feature. (He told me that he stopped breeding crested ducks years ago because of all the problems they had that just couldn't be bred out.) So I guess it's possible that her "sister" Runners may carry the gene, even though they show no crest at all. And unfortunately he said there's not a darn thing I can do, and it's not too likely that she'll "outgrow" it.

    Here's a picture of the gang a couple of days ago, on their first "free-range" foray, ie outside their ducky pen with me close by. Rose is second from the left and you can see the little cowlick she has. I haven't seen any problems with the other ducklings. They all have good appetites and sure know how to have fun. I'm thrilled that they actually ate stink bug, that nobody else will touch. As for Rose, so long as she seems comfortable and happy with a good quality of life, I will keep her and do everything I can for her. People with seizures lead full lives though extra precautions may need to be taken. I won't let her drive my car LOL. And I was told she could seize while swimming and drown, so I'll have to figure that out. Worst case scenario is that I may have a diapered house duck. If that's the case, should I have another ducky partner for her inside or keep her alone and let her run with the other ducks when I'm around to monitor?

  6. blissdragon

    blissdragon Chillin' With My Peeps

    Apr 5, 2010
    Viroqua, WI
    Thank You for that update! Sound like you are on top of it, mama.
  7. Kim65

    Kim65 Chillin' With My Peeps

    May 29, 2009
    Washington state
    I have a Rouen duckling about 8 weeks old that began having seizures a week ago, but she appeared to be quite ill as well, and the seizures were similar to what you describe. Neck back, wings spread but Bella's feet paddled like mad. Very violent, too. I took her to a vet and they did the routine xray and blood work, and she appeared to be perfectly healthy. The vet prescribed Diazepam (valium) in a banana flavored syrup, and so far this has controlled the seizures. She'll have gone two whole days now without seizures in a couple of hours [​IMG]

    I am keeping her in the house until I can start weaning back the Diazepam and see if her seizures come back, because a seizing duck will drown if in a very shallow bit of water.

    The vet said it probably was a head injury, esp because she is recovering and responding to the Diazepam. It could still be permanent, but gosh I hope not, I already have two adult geese in my bedroom at night.

    If you can get some Diazepam from a vet . . . Bella is not sedated at all, it's hard to overdose them on it per the vet. They crushed ten 10mg tablets in 50 ml of syrup and I give her 0.2 ml squirted in her bill every 8 hours or so.
  8. IridescentPals

    IridescentPals Out Of The Brooder

    Nov 4, 2013
    I'm wondering what the long term outcome was for Bella? Did she outgrow the seizures?

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