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Choanal Papillae 4 African Grey, courtesy Jean Pattison.

Show us your Choanal Papillae!

What is Choanal Papillae?

Severly Blunted Choanal Papillae
Choanal Papillae! Sounds more personal than you think! To examine these, all you need to do is take a quick peek inside your bird’s mouth, more precisely the roof of his mouth, with a small light.

When your avian veterinarian examines your bird, one of the first things he or she will inspect is the condition of your bird’s choanal papillae, as this is a fool proof indicator of the bird’s nutritional profile and health. HARI technicians routinely inspect each HARI bird’s choanal papillae. Health monitoring of the HARI flock is an ongoing concern to as part of the research studies in our Tropican products. The HARI flock serves as our quality control testing subjects for each batch of Tropican product produced.  Is this something avian caretakers can do? YOU BET!

“The choanal slit is visible as a median “V”-shaped cleft in the palate. There is species variation in the width of the choanal borders.  In pigeons and most raptors, the choana is slit-shaped. In the parrot the borders are more widely spaced, forming a distinct “V” shape. The borders of the choanal slit are lined with sensory papillae.” “Choanal papillae”  as defined by Avian Medicine: Principles and Applications, Ritchie, B.W., Harrison, G.J. and Harrison, L.R., Winger Publishing, Inc. Lake Worth, Florida, USA, 1994, p. 344-

In laymen terms: Healthy-sharp, pointed projecting from the choanal borders are characteristic of a sufficient vitamin A assimilation.

On the contrary: The presence of “blunted” shorter, rounded or change in coloration (ex: from a normal black for certain species to a whitish blunted tip) or absence of these papillae altogether is indicative of a lack of vitamin A assimilation.

In our experience, at the HARI facility, chicks can be examined for these choanal papillae at a few weeks of age. Monitoring choanal papillae is part of every health exam performed on our breeding colony, juveniles and chicks.

Hypovitaminosis can reveal other health issues, require an evaluation of the diet offered and actually consumed… i.e caretakers are offering cafeteria style feeding and the healthy extruded granules are not eaten in sufficient amount to ensure optimum nutrient balance.

Individuals birds challenged with obesity, also in our experience, have a tendency to prevent optimum assimilation of vitamins such as Vitamin A.  Monitoring these in your companion bird can be part of your active role as a responsible & proactive caretaker. We encourage you to ask your avian veterinarian to guide you in this routine inspection. And, if you can get a photo of your bird’s choanal papillae, we challenge you to post on our facebook page! Submissions should include species, age, and diet.

Melanie Allen

About Melanie Allen

Melanie got her start with Parrots in the 1980's with her first parrot, a purchased yellow-naped amazon - who suffered from chronic health issues that stemmed from poor nutrition and inadequate care. Melanie also served as president of Florida Federation of Aviculture, Inc., as a Board Member for National Parrot Rescue & Preservation Foundation, and on the American Federation of Aviculture Nomination Committee. Today, she works closely with aviculturists, retail stores, and companion pet owners, and attends all U.S. “Avi-Industry” conventions, including the American Federation of Aviculture, Avicultural Society of America, and Parrot Festival, on behalf of The Hagen Group.

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