Molting, known technically as ecdysis, is literally a period of growth for insects. When one organism sheds something like hair, feathers, shells, or skin to make way for new growth it is said to be moulting. In molting, the epidermis separates from the outermost cuticle. Then, the epidermis forms a protective layer around itself and secretes chemicals that break down the insides of the old cuticle. That protective layer becomes part of the new cuticle. When the epidermis has formed the new cuticle, muscular contractions and air intake cause the insect’s body to swell, thus splitting open the remains of the old cuticle. Finally, the new cuticle hardens. The bug squeezes out from the outgrown exoskeleton.
Although normal molting won’t make your parakeet sick, it can cause circumstances that could lead to an illness. Feathers are your bird’s way of insulating himself, so losing a mass of feathers can make it difficult for him to stay warm. “French molt” is a condition that causes more-than-normal feather loss and breaking of tail and wing feathers. The chick goes through one complete and three partial moults during its growth to point of lay, after which the mature bird normally undergoes one complete moult a year,
The three main factors which bring about moulting are:
- physical exhaustion and fatigue
- completion of the laying cycle. Birds only lay eggs for a certain period of time
- reduction of day length, resulting in reduced feeding time, and consequent loss of bodyweight.