Plasma butyrylcholinesterase concentrations in psittacine birds: Reference values, factors of variation, and association with feather-damaging behavior

Claire Grosset, Christian Bougerol, Philip H Kass, David Guzman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

4 Scopus citations


Butyrylcholinesterase is a glycoprotein enzyme used in the diagnosis of toxicosis by cholinesterase-inhibitor agents like organophosphates and carbamates. In animals, butyrylcholinesterase concentrations have been shown to vary depending on numerous factors such as age, sex, diet, and season of sampling. To establish reference values of plasma butyrylcholinesterase concentrations in common psittacine species, plasma butyrylcholinesterase concentrations were measured in 1942 companion psittacine birds. The birds were classified by age, sex, season, health status, and the presence of feather-damaging behavior. A significant difference was observed among species, with eclectus parrots (Eclectus roratus) having the lowest and African grey parrots (Psittacus erithacus) having the highest reference values. Plasma butyrylcholinesterase concentrations varied by age, health status, and season but not by sex. Concentrations were significantly higher during autumn and spring than during winter and summer, and significantly lower in healthy birds than in sick birds. No significant association between butyrylcholinesterase concentrations and feather-damaging behavior could be established except in lovebirds (Agapornis species). Further research is needed to better understand the effect of nutritional and hormonal factors on butyrylcholinesterase concentrations in psittacine birds and its possible effect on bird cognition.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)6-15
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Avian Medicine and Surgery
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2014



  • avian
  • butyrylcholinesterase
  • carbamate
  • featherdestructive behavior
  • organophosphate
  • psittacine bird

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Small Animals

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