HELP My Rhea has a Goiter!!!


7 Years
Oct 26, 2012
Yes, you heard me, a goiter. On a rhea. That's what it looks like at least:

And here's what a normal rhea looks like:

I apologize for the blurry pictures, it's hard to photograph hungry rheas.

So, I have two rhea birds, Kiki (with the goiter) and Kevin. I got them as a breeding pair, but I'm not completely sure who's the girl and who's the boy, but I've been calling Kevin a "she" because "she" is smaller than Kiki. I've had these birds since around last July, and I got them at about 2 months old (I think). They have become very sweet, gentle birds (they do peck when I hand feed them), and they also can be startled easily and are a little shy.

I feed them lettuce and special ratite pellets, and they're outside of course so they get various bugs and plant forage to eat, too.

I was keeping them in a pen with sheep until about a month ago, when the sheep started lambing. I moved them into our chicken coop temporarily. The coop is big enough for them to run around, but there isn't any plants for them to eat (although they've been eating all the flies).

Their food is separate from the rest of the coop occupants (chickens, 3 ducks, 1 goose, 3 peafowl, 4 turkeys), but the chicken food is on the ground where they can easily get it. I did see them pecking at it curiously, but I haven't seen them actively eating it, so I think they prefer their pellets instead. Although, I am sort of worried about the water. The ducks and goose foul up the water, so it's possible that any of the birds could get sick from that. Hopefully we'll be able to get another coop up to move the waterfowl into.

But, it should be noted that the rheas have been having some... unusual poop. It's sort of... blue. The rheas have always had wet plops of brownish blackish turds, but since they moved into the chicken coop their feces has a hint of blue to it. Is this normal for Rhea birds? I can't remember if it was bluish before or not. What should rhea poop look like?

The Mystery of Kiki's Goiter:

Day 1: I noticed two days ago that Kiki had a small waddle-like sag hanging from his chin. It just looked like a little loose skin, so I wasn't that worried but I knew it was definitely unusual, and decided to keep a close eye on Kiki.

Day 2: Kiki's waddle was bigger. I looked at it up close, and felt it. It seemed like there was squishy sac of liquid inside, but it was rather small still.

Day 3: The thing got even bigger, and now it really looks like a goiter. I felt it again, and it's like a ball of liquid. It's not hard at all, and there's nothing on the skin either.

So, Kiki is perfectly normal, besides this weird bump. He's eating, and he doesn't show any other signs of being sick. But, what is it? A goiter, caused by eating something he shouldn't have, or from a lack of vitamins? Is it something inflamed, like a thyroid gland? I don't know.

I haven't taken Kiki to a vet, but if it turns into something serious I definitely will.


Day 4: Kiki's goiter is gone! It vanished into thin air.

Day 5: Kiki is still goiter-less.

I think it must have been inflammation of his thyroid, or whatever is near a rhea's chin.
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6 Years
Apr 11, 2013
bee or wasp/ other similar type sting, possibly a spider bite but usually from a stinging insect worry, it'll clear up soon enough.
Curious, aren't you worried about the birds getting possibly excited one day and winding up getting hurt or caught up in that ladder or the other stuff in that pen ?
Looks like an accident waiting to happen to me.

Also, if you're doing construction inside that pen please keep up with all your nails, screws and other little tidbits they can swallow ...roller magnet is a handly tool to run over the ground just to be sure you get 'em all.
Dunno what to tell you about the bluish poop but what they eat, of course, affects the consistency and color of their poop.
Got any berries growing in/around there that they can reach ?
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7 Years
Oct 26, 2012
Thanks for the reply! :)

Kiki's goiter was gone yesterday, and he's still goiter-less today.

I don't think it was a sting, because there was no redness or any sign of inflammation on the skin, and it didn't seem to hurt him when I touched it. It felt like there was a small, ball-sized, water-balloon-like sac that was under the skin, but not attached to the skin, like a bug bite would be. But, it did clear up right away so who knows?

Yes, we have been doing some construction in the pen. Right now, as you can see in the photo, we do have some ladders, saw horses, and some temporary wood planks we used as scaffolding when we were working on the roof of the chicken house inside the chicken coop. I realize now that it is a serious hazard, and that stuff needs to come out. Luckily, the construction is complete, so we're ready to get that stuff out anyway.

The Rheas haven't had any trouble with it so far though, surprisingly. They don't really startle much anymore, and you can easily walk up to them and touch them without them trying to run or jump away. They do run in the coop sometimes, especially when it's feeding time. They even jump up in the air and do twirls, kicking their feet out of excitement. Even then, they don't trip over anything, they're pretty agile birds when they're not scared.

The nails we pick up, but when we're actually working in the pen, the rheas (and the peacock) like to come over to look at all the equipment. They try to peck some of the stuff sometimes, out of curiosity, but they don't eat the nails at all. They don't seem dumb enough to eat pointy metal bits of stuff, but I'll definitely keep that in mind, the last thing I need is any of the birds in the coop swallowing nails.

We don't have any berries at all on the property, where we live is a little too chilly for them. We do have some blackberry bushes, but nowhere near the coops. There's really nothing in the pen that they could eat, besides the small number of flies, the chicken feed, their lettuce, and their ratite pellets. Like I said before, they don't seem to like the chicken pellets as much as their ratite pellets, so I'm not sure that it's that. I wonder if it's from the lettuce, since it's green? I don't know, but they aren't sick so I won't freak out about it.

Thanks so much for the advice, I'll be sure to clean up the ladders and junk in the pen, and be very very careful with the nails. Overall, the rheas have turned out to be a great success. I know it's really hard to keep them, because they can hurt themselves easily, and if they break or sprain their legs it's really difficult to get them better. But, our rheas have grown super friendly, and they love to eat out of my hand. Like I mentioned earlier, they even jump and twirl in the air sometimes when I bring them their food.


7 Years
Nov 9, 2013
Hey, Calla and All. Just passing through:

magnificent here. Clear and sunny, and three different groups of wild emus quietly 'operating' on the east side of the clearing. If you sit under the plum, you can watch at length as they interact. And 'Number One' is off somewhere else nearby.



8 Years
Nov 6, 2012
England UK
Hi Mark, nice to see you about and enjoying all your I do..trio of Rheas have started laying in early May
24 eggs so far, Boy keeps going broody .
but keep chasing him off every few days with a bit of a teaser, bowl full of homegrown greens, he would doing anything for this .....while I raid his nest lol.
Keep well and look after yourself.

My tamed Wallabies


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