First aid

My Canary's Leg is Swollen Because of the Leg Band: What Should I Do?

Josie F. Turner
By Josie F. Turner, Journalist specialized in Animal Welfare. Updated: May 22, 2018
My Canary's Leg is Swollen Because of the Leg Band: What Should I Do?

All birds bred in captivity must wear a ring or band around their ankle. In fact, you should stay away from birds without a leg band, as it acts as an identity document for the bird and it includes lots of encrypted information such as its date of birth, origin and information about the breeder. The leg band ensures that the bird has not been captured.

Leg rings or bands can be split or closed, and they can be made from different materials such as plastic or aluminium. Experts recommend closed aluminium rings 5 mm (0.2 in) tall. Breeders ring the birds around 8 days after birth, because at this time the animal's joints are still elastic enough to pass through the leg band without hurting the legs. After attaching the leg band it should be monitored to ensure that it doesn't fall off and that it isn't too tight on the bird's leg.

The calibre should be adapted to each type of bird; for canaries, the most common leg band diameters are:

  • 2.4 to 2.5 mm (0.1 in)
  • 2.9 mm (0.12 in)
  • 3.3 to 3.4 mm (0.13 in)

As there are different types and breeds of canaries, with different singing abilities, colors and postures, so are there different sizes and ring calibres. If the choice or attachment of the leg band is not correct it can tighten around your canary's leg. This can end up causing serious damage, such as necrosis (gangrene) of the tissue.

If your canary's leg is swollen because of its leg band and you're wondering what should you do, stay with us at AnimalWised. We'll share all the information you need so you can quickly solve the problem at home.

However, remember that it is strongly recommended to go to the vet as soon as possible, as the alternatives found here should only be considered in emergencies or if it is not possible to go to the vets for whatever reason.

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Steps to follow:


It is important to observe your canary to determine the state of its health. If the leg band is squeezing the leg excessively, you'll be able to see swelling and inflammation around the affected area, and, if there are circulatory problems, even discoloration.

The damage might be so bad that your canary can't stand on the affected leg. As mentioned above, this situation can be very dangerous for the canary. You'll even be able to see the bird picking at the leg with its beak, even hurting itself, in an attempt to reduce the discomfort.

My Canary's Leg is Swollen Because of the Leg Band: What Should I Do? - Step 1

You should carefully try to move the leg band upwards. If you don't squeeze the leg too tightly, you'll manage to move the leg band to a part of the leg where it isn't in as much contact with the skin. To do this, you can apply a small amount of Vaseline.

If you manage to move the leg band high enough until there is a sufficient gap between the skin, you should use a specific type of plier-like scissors which are sold to cut leg bands.

Hold the bird with your whole hand to immobilize it, taking particular care to prevent the affected leg from moving. Then, with the other hand, take the scissors to cut the leg band. Of course, if the leg band is too tight around the leg, you shouldn't use scissors.

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My Canary's Leg is Swollen Because of the Leg Band: What Should I Do? - Step 2

If the leg band can't be moved at all, it indicates that there is excessive pressure on your canary's leg. Not acting on time can cause irreparable tissue damage. In these cases, you should cut the leg band using small nail clippers.

Remember that you should have some sort of experience with this if you're intending on cutting the leg band off your canary yourself. It is highly recommended to go to an experienced professional, as this is a big factor in ensuring the successful removal of the leg band.

In any case, if you can't go to the veterinary for whatever reason, you'll have to fully immobilise your canary, with the help of someone else if necessary. Then, being extremely careful not to damage your canary's leg, slowly cut off the leg band piece-by-piece until you are able to open it up and free the affected leg.

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My Canary's Leg is Swollen Because of the Leg Band: What Should I Do? - Step 3

Due to changes in circulation, it is normal for your canary to keep pecking at its leg after removal of the leg band. It is also possible to have caused a small wound while removing the leg band, or for there to be necrosis if you acted too late.

Once your canary has calmed down, you should apply a povidone-iodine based solution on the leg in order to disinfect the skin and avoid any complications.

In more serious or complex cases you should go to a bird or exotic veterinary immediately, as they are specialists that can better help you resolve the situation. Do not skimp on your canary's health, as this could lead to a bigger problem.

My Canary's Leg is Swollen Because of the Leg Band: What Should I Do? - Step 4

This article is purely informative. AnimalWised does not have the authority to prescribe any veterinary treatment or create a diagnosis. We invite you to take your pet to the veterinarian if they are suffering from any condition or pain.

If you want to read similar articles to My Canary's Leg is Swollen Because of the Leg Band: What Should I Do?, we recommend you visit our First aid category.

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Jasmine Vee
My canary was standing on one leg and noticed his leg was a purplish color. He grew into his band and was cutting off his circulation! I cut it off very carefully with a small blade. Poor little guy, the band was so tight it embedded into his skin. When I removed it some skin came off too and now he has an open wound. I feel bad I didn't notice sooner. I hope the swelling goes down and gets better soon.
Administrador AnimalWised
Hi Jasmine
This can sometimes happen. What you should do now is try and make sure the wound does not become infected. You can apply antibiotic ointment on the area and make sure that it is always loosely bandaged.
Tina Fieldhouse
How do I take the swollen down on my bird elbow

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My Canary's Leg is Swollen Because of the Leg Band: What Should I Do?