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Anybody have experience with elderly/convalescing coturnix quail?

Discussion in 'Quail' started by iamcuriositycat, Feb 10, 2013.

  1. iamcuriositycat

    iamcuriositycat Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I'm interested in the experiences of those who have kept quail to a ripe old age and watched them become elderly and eventually pass on. I've done plenty of google research and byc research. I'm not looking for more information copied & pasted, or linked, but rather first-person experience from those who have kept them as pets and seen them into their old age and beyond.

    I want to know:

    • What are the upper age limits you've seen, personally, in your quail (I've read everything from 1.5 to 14 years--not a very useful range, and not very credible).
    • What are the common ailments in elderly quail that you've seen
    • What is the usual speed to death from when ailments first start to appear
    • What you have done/do to make older, ailing quail comfortable

    I've got an old boy we hatched alone (by accident--long story) and raised in the house. He's always been attached to us, though we eventually were able to integrate him with a small flock of girls. Now he's 2.5 years old and we think he may be dying. Over the past few months, I've occasionally found him on his side in the pen, apparently unable to completely control his legs. I will pick him up, place him near the food, and let him eat his fill, after which he is able to get up and move around normally for several weeks.

    Today he was upside down on his back, well away from the food and water dishes, struggling and unable to right himself. I brought him in the house, fed him (he ate a ton), gave him water. We've been alternately carrying him around the house and leaving him in the indoor brooder all day. We've been hand feeding him and making sure he has water. He doesn't seem to be getting better this time.

    He really just wants to be held. When I put him down in the brooder, he flails about and runs himself into corners and ends up sideways or upside down on his head in the corner, looking at me like, "SEE? I can't do this alone!" When I take him out, he nuzzles up under my hair and goes to sleep.

    This is kinda sweet, and I definitely want him to be comfortable... but obviously I can't keep this up indefinitely. I do have to work tomorrow!

    So I'm curious--is he, in fact, elderly? Or is 2.5 quite young for a coturnix male? Are these normal elderly symptoms? Is there anything that can be done for him?

    What do you do to keep your elderly quail comfortable?
     
  2. MrNappy

    MrNappy Chillin' With My Peeps

    Nov 23, 2012
    Ajax, Ontario
    [​IMG]
     
  3. TwoCrows

    TwoCrows Show me the way old friend... Staff Member

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    The average age of captive Coturnix quail is 2 to 5 years, although they can live longer depending on the bird, it's genetics and the conditions it lives in. As far as how they decline, each bird will act different. Some will look more tired and sleep more during the day, others will develop internal issues and get sick and others will look completely normal and just keel over one day.

    All you can really do is treat the symptoms as they arrive. Keep several infra red heat lamps on hand as one of the first things that an aging quail is going to feel is cold. (they lose muscle tone, metabolism slows, etc...which makes them cold). So you will want to keep them warmer than normal if they start to exhibit weak or signs of sickness. If there is any other aging birds that can be kept with a particular old bird, then you might want to separate these two to live in a quieter area.

    As they age, they might not eat their dry gamebird food. (And this is generally for a old sick bird...) Their appetite is going to become less and certain foods may not taste good. So you may need to turn to human foods to keep a bird alive...soft foods such as peaches, apples, hard boiled eggs, mashed potatoes or sweet potatoes, warm oatmeal, warm grits, crackers, etc...

    Basically you want to treat any aged bird that is sick with keeping them comfortable. Feed them what they will eat, keep them warm and separated if needed. :)
     
  4. iamcuriositycat

    iamcuriositycat Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Thank you, twocrows!! The old dear is in our indoor brooder now, and perhaps I'll turn on the heat lamp. He seems to want to be held all the time, which is not really possible.


    I've brought in another older bird, a female. She seems hale and hearty right now--puffed up and shiny feathers, energetic and bright-eyed. So she may not make a good companion for him, but she's the best option I have at present.

    I'll just keep him as comfortable as we can, and hope his passing is peaceful. He's a dear old man.
     
  5. Blob Chicken

    Blob Chicken Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Perhaps he struck his head against the top of his cage really hard and suffered brain damage ??

    I have never seen or had an old bird start to die like that. Normally the legs will start to go at a slow pace, and I've never seen a bird just start flipping over and spazzing.

    Actually, after a little bit of thought, I can almost promise you that it is brain/spinal cord damage, and not simply old age alone.
     
  6. iamcuriositycat

    iamcuriositycat Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Could be that he did some damage. Their aviary is WAY too high (6 ft) for it to have happened from popping up. But who knows--maybe he got startled late at night by a predator and ran into something. So sad. :( He does seem cold--I've turned the heat lamp on for him. He moves his head around just fine, eats & drinks, just can't get that left leg to work right. It's like it's too weak to hold him but he keeps trying. He seems able to scoot around the brooder now reasonably well. Man, I hope this won't be a long drawn-out thing. I don't want to euthanize him, but I really can't baby him for the next five years either. :(

    Weird, too, that it's happened on several occasions and then cleared up... but that this time it doesn't seem to be clearing up at all. Poor, sweet guy.
     
  7. TwoCrows

    TwoCrows Show me the way old friend... Staff Member

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    He may survive. If he did whack his head on the ceiling and he has brain swelling, it may go down and he might return back to normal. Keep babying him and see how it goes. Hope he pulls thru. :)
     
  8. iamcuriositycat

    iamcuriositycat Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Cool. He seems more coordinated today, but not really walking at all. I'll give him time. At least they're calm and comfortable in the house. I'll keep you all updated. :)
     
  9. iamcuriositycat

    iamcuriositycat Chillin' With My Peeps

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    P.S. I SERIOUSLY love this forum. Where else in the world could I ever find someone with experience in elderly coturnix quail? ROFL

    You guys rock. Thank you for your help. :)
     

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