Syringes for medicating birds by mouth

Syringes for medicating birds by mouth

Medicating a bird by mouth with a syringe is not fun on many levels. Even if the bird is tame, there may be some degree of catching and/or towelling as well as holding the bird properly to administer the medication.

And as I’ve found, most of the syringes out there aren’t so great. It’s not surprising given that they are primarily designed to inject medications. I’ve tried many, many syringes and there are so many things that can be frustrating:

  • It can be hard to measure a very small amount of medication for small birds as the markings can be very closely spaced (e.g. 0.01cc)
  • The tip is too long/short/wide/narrow to effectively get the medication in the bird’s mouth
  • The action on the syringe is poor, which can cause problems if you want to dispense medication slowly
  • The line-markings can be hard to read
  • Sometimes they seemed designed to invite air bubbles to form

I’ve found a syringe after many years of searching and trying them out that solves these problems wholly or in part and I find it to be significantly better than others I’ve tried.

Picture of the box and two syringes after the needles were removed.
Here you can see the syringe with my finger for scale. Note the wide markings making it easier to dispense small amounts such as 0.01cc
Short video of me removing the needle from the syringe.

Unfortunately, there are so many different variations of syringes out there. Even those with very similar names can be very different. So, I’ve linked to the exact product on Amazon which can help make sure it’s the same product I’m writing about here.

BD Ultra-Fine U-100 Insulin Syringes – Short Needle – 31 Gauge 3/10 cc 5/16 inch Box of 90

Caveats

I have used this on small and medium-sized birds, but am not sure how well it would work on a macaw, for example. But it seems like it would be fine. Also, at 0.3cc in size, it’s not large enough for some cases. If you wanted to use it for hand-feeding baby birds, for example, it’s very small and the formula may be too thick to pass through the syringe.

Aside

Sometimes syringes can have a less smooth action if you re-use them. One trick I’ve used is to put a very small dab of coconut oil on the stopper, then move it up and down a few times.

The catch!

Like most syringes, these only come with built-in needles. I tried some needleless syringes but was never able to find one I liked. The good news is the needle is very easy to remove with a pair of pliers.

BE CAREFUL! Although there’s nothing dangerous about pricking yourself with a tiny sterile needle, it’s so small that it can be very hard to see! Be sure when you’re done that you’ve located and disposed of the needle.

  1. Press the pliers down on the cap near the end closest the syringe
  2. Apply some pressure (not enough to bend anything)
  3. Twist the pliers while pulling off the needle/cap
  4. Dispose of the needle/cap safely (click for instructions for the US)

Note that if you remove the needle as shown in the video, the needle will be inside the cap. You can pull it out if you want but probably best to dispose of it as one piece.