Button Quail

Discussion in 'Quail' started by astra nautic, Oct 14, 2016.

  1. astra nautic

    astra nautic New Egg

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    Oct 14, 2016
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    I recently (Yesterday) figured out that the "little chickens" I had been seeing in my favourite pet store were most likely button quails.

    They are very intriguing. After looking at a few pages, I have found that they are somewhat similar to what I'm used to.

    Currently I own three hamsters (Rose Quartz, Cinnamon Sugar and Scrump), one cat (Poof), and one dog (Kona). I've also owned one other hamster, two other dogs, and two fish. Hamsters have been fun to keep and I love them so much, but I am looking for a bit of a change. I had initially posted these questions on a hamster forum (Sections for other animals), but I decided I probably wouldn't get a lot of great responses, so here I am.

    Not saying I'm 100% getting Buttons, because I've gone through many different animals to potentially keep after these guys. My youngest one is probably 3 months or around there, so I expect I won't be getting anything else for 1-2 years.

    For two of my hamsters, I have a DIY cage made out of two stacked IKEA LACK coffee tables. I used the shelf as the back wall, added mesh to the back as well, melamine for the sides, and plexiglass sliding doors for the fronts. They are about 5 square feet per cage. Before I got Cinnamon Sugar, Scrump had the whole thing to herself (Connected by tubes).

    If I get Buttons, I'd like to use that setup as their enclosure. I don't think that tubes would work, though, so I'd most likely make another IKEA hack out of shelves to make some sort of ramp or staircase.

    I have some questions.

    • I've only seen cages with a thin layer of hamster bedding, but could a mat of fake grass work for the bottom of the cage? It would provide traction, easily cleanable (Vacuum and weekly rinse), and I would also line the bottom of the cage with paper towel and/or puppy pee pads.
    • If I could do the fake grass thing, could I provide a smaller section with nesting material for them to sleep and/or nest if they wanted?
    • How big are these guys fully-grown? As in, would they fit through Habitrail Ovo tubes? (My DIY cage has two levels that can be connected through OVO tubes, but I could modify PVC tubes or just not connect the levels if needed. Each level is 5 square feet)
    • What's better? 1 male + 1 female, or 2 females? Could I keep 1 male and 2 females? 1 male and 3 females? Just 3 females? 4 females?
    • If I don't want chicks, do I just take the eggs out? How do I tell if they're fertilized? What if I accidentally take out eggs that aren't? What are the consequences?
    • I know that they are ground-dwellers, but would they still climb on stuff like rocks and twigs?
    • They don't.. Peck and destroy things.. Do they?
    • My diy cage isn't very high, but it isn't short, and I'm concerned about the boinking thing. I've been trying to think of a solution and I think I sort of have one, maybe? I was thinking of taking some cardboard or very thin, light wood and fabric and stuffing and creating a pillow sort of thing to screw to the ceiling of the cage. I could even get foam from Walmart to create an extra plush cushioning. I think it would work better than a screen but I need opinions.
     
  2. DK newbie

    DK newbie Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Those seem to be very good and relevant questions. I can't give you certain answers for most of them, but I can tell you what I think and what I've experienced.

    First of all, I'd opt for something bigger and in one level. My preferred size for indoor buttons is 2 ft by 4 ft. This provides you with space to enrich their environment without taking away the space they need to exercise, and it allows the birds some flight distance when you are messing around in one end of their cage or walking past it - they can be quite shy. They even go broody and hatch their own young in those cages. But professional breeders keep them on as little as one!!! square foot a pair - so it's not like you absolutely can't do it with the coffee table.
    I also build my cages 2 ft high, because they seem to like to stretch their wings sometimes - and I either pad the top with foam or suspend a layer of soft plastic mesh like tulle about an inch below the top of the cage. I have had no birds getting hurt in these cages.

    I wouldn't make the cage in 2 layers, because I'm not sure the birds would use both - quail and ramps are on debate on here sometimes and some say they'll use them under certain circumstances, some say they won't. Most of it is about coturnix quail anyway, so not necessarily relevant for buttons.
    I do put low (like 5 inches above the bedding) shelves in some of my cages though, and occasionally the hen will fly to the shelf to escape the roo if he's being pushy. Usually the roo isn't smart enough to follow her up there, so she can get some rest while he cools off. If the hen fancies going to the shelf, I'll also put her calcium supplement (she needs it for egg laying) up there, so their bedding won't get into it (and to make sure she only uses it when she needs it and not just for fun).

    As for numbers and combination of sexes.. I originally got a roo and 3 hens - the guy at the petshop said the roo would mate a single hen to death. Then I kept 3 hens of their offspring and bought 2 new males to make a pair and a trio. Both were doing fine at first, but come spring, one of the hens in the trio started chasing the other. They were in a 2 ft by 5 ft cage. I considered separating them - putting one hen with the pair - but as I had no evidence that would be better, I decided to give them more room and put them in a 3½x10 ft aviary. I haven't seen any problems since. But I'd be careful about trios in small cages..

    I'm in a hurry now, maybe I'll answer the rest later ^^
     
    Last edited: Oct 15, 2016
  3. DK newbie

    DK newbie Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Continuation:

    - I wouldn't use fake grass, but I'm only assuming it wouldn't satisfy their need of scratching their bedding or be nice for them to walk on. I also have a feeling it would stress them to have their 'bedding' removed so often. For indoor buttons, I prefer plain sand. This allows them to dust bath all over the cage and I can easily clean it with a terrarium shovel without needing to change it all every time. And the buttons even tend to come out and look at the shovel once I've been at it for a few minutes - it might dig up something interesting!
    For outdoor buttons - where I live - I prefer sawdust. There seems to be such a high humidity outside in the winter, that their poops don't dry fast enough on sand - they tend to get stuck to their toes. But sawdust allows the poops to get buried until they dry and reduces the issue significantly.
    I also have a cage where I combine sand and sawdust - sawdust at both ends of the cage and sand in the middle, to let them use the sawdust in their nests. The hen in that cage is broody right now - her nest is in the sawdust part of the cage.

    - The birds you've seen at the petshop are probably nearly full size, unless they were labeled as 'chicks' or didn't have all their feathers. They'd probably be able to get into the hamster tunnels, but I doubt they'll be able to move much in there and I have even stronger doubts they'd want to enter them. Modified pvc tubes.. Hmm.. I don't think they'd use them, but I can't say I've tried. If they were relatively short, wide and laying horizontally at the bottom of the cage - then sure. But long, dark tunnels going up?

    - To play it safe, from my experience and the usual recommendation on here, I'd say get a pair. I haven't seen (nor read about, I think?) a roo breeding a hen to death, but I've seen some feathers looking a little rough and read about hens being mated nearly bald on their back or neck/head. Some say it's the roo that's the problem - he's being too aggressive and should be swapped - but I suspekt the cage size and contents might have some impact as well. I've tried keeping hens alone together for several months, but not for a full year - the spring hormones might cause issues like the ones I experienced with my trio, but I don't think two hens alone would be a problem. Though you would miss the chance of baby buttons and you don't want to miss that ^^

    - Yes, if you are really convinced you don't want the tiniest, cutest little fluff balls the world has ever seen - then remove the eggs. And make sure you take the ones in the hidden nest as well. It doesn't matter whether the eggs are fertile or not, as long as they are not being brooded on. You can eat them if that's what you mean. You can also hard boil them, crush them with their shell and feed them back to the buttons.

    - They seem to like sitting slightly elevated from the ground, yes. A brick has the approximate hight most seem to like walking up, but you could probably make brick-like stairs to something higher.

    - They are pretty nondestructive, in my experience.

    - Already elaborated on the boinking issue

    You should keep in mind their feed needs to be high in protein - I use 24% gamebird starter, but for adults as little as 20% should work - and a very small crumble size. They are tiny birds. Sometimes I get a gamebird grower or other feed that's too large and I'll use a blender to grind it. Most feeds that have enough protein, have too little calcium for egg laying, so you'll likely have to supplement with crushed oyster shell or similar, preferably in a separate bowl so the roo isn't forced to eat it and they can take what they need. The pet shop might tell you they can eat a regular budgie mix. Don't listen to them. If supplemented with meal worms or similar, it probably won't kill them within 6 months - and the birds will love it - but it's not a balanced nitrition like the game bird feed. You can add a bit of seeds to their bedding though, to entertain them.

    Let me know if you have any further questions!
     
    Last edited: Oct 15, 2016
  4. astra nautic

    astra nautic New Egg

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    Thank you so much for your replies!

    I had actually already decided that if I was to use two levels that I would put sand in one of them, and if that wasn't possible put sand in the only level. My hamster, Scrump, got aspen shavings in the top and sand in the bottom and she loved it! After watching videos of Buttons bathing in sand I thought they'd probably love it, too!

    I have attempted at making my own diet for my hamsters, and I haven't gotten the full hang of it,but I'm getting there. What is an appropriate amount of fat, fibre, calcium, etc? I have a calculator that someone made where you can calculate these things when you mix multiple foods together to get the GA, and I'd feel a lot better being able to do that and not just mix everything together all willy nilly.

    I think I would just start with a pair- male and female, and take the eggs out for a while, and I think I would consider getting an incubator and having the chicks. What would be a good, relatively cheap (Up to $200 maybe?) incubator for Buttons? I would personally like to just let the mother do everything herself, but I've seen everywhere that Buttons do not necessarily make good moms and probably won't hatch their chicks.

    I also read something here about how someone else used foam to protect from boinking so I think that's what I'm going to do! My cages are about 2 ft high as well :)

    Thanks again!

    astra xx
     
  5. DK newbie

    DK newbie Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Ouch.. Umm.. I don't have the nutritional value of the feed I use. I have some values from a different gamebird starter though. 24% protein, 4.2% fat, vitamin A 12 IU per gram, vitamin D3 1.2 IU per gram, Alpha-tochoperol 80 mg/kg. It doesn't say anything about calcium, but from the top of my head I think that's usually around 1.5% in starter feeds - not enough for egg laying, but adding the full 3.5-ish %(again, from the top of my head) that'll work for laying, will put unnecessary strain to the kidneys of the roo - so it's better to give that separately. There is some research somewhere that'll tell you the ideal nutrient values, at least for coturnix quail - and that should be valid for buttons as well. Search this forum, I remember some threads on here on the topic - someone getting their local mill to mix feed for their coturnix quail, because they couldn't get what they wanted, I'm nearly sure this 'someone' posted something about optimum nutrient distribution for quail. There are other threads with links to research too, but they might be hard to find.. And with the game bird feed being a good option for them, I wouldn't bother, but if you prefer it so, then so be it..

    I know next to nothing about incubators, as I use the natural kind. People on here do say they very rarely go broody, but the fact remains that just about every hen I have (at least 5-6/7 - they are kind of hard to tell apart, so for some I'm not certain whether it's the same one being broody all the time or different ones) has been broody at least once before turning 1½ years old. I live in Denmark, so I can't guarantee that our buttons are not more likely to go broody, but I do have one hen that originates from German eggs and where as she hasn't been able to get any chicks to adulthood yet, I think that's mainly due to low fertility caused by bad breeding - she has hatched 1 chick twice (with one more egg being fertile on both occasions but the chick being unable to hatch on its own), and where as she didn't seem good at motherhood the first time, the second time the chick lived to day 3, was growing nicely - and suddenly it was dead. I'm convinced some would have survived that time, if she'd had a proper group of chicks.
    I believe the lack of broodiness experienced by some, have more to do with the way the quail are kept than with the quail themselves.
    I got my first buttons in February last year and since then they've probably reared 40 chicks to adulthood.. I'm certainly not complaining about their abilities as parents. I just give them nice dark-ish corners for their nest, provide some nesting material and leave the eggs alone unless they have 12+ in a nest and still havn't gone broody. Lately, it seems my indoor buttons go broody every time they get a full nest of eggs.. But one has the fertility issue, the other has been quite bad at sitting on the eggs the last 2 times, but she seems to have gotten the hang of it now, so my fingers are crossed that she stays on the nest for another.. 4 days might do it :)
     
  6. Binki

    Binki Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Great info from @DK newbie, I'm not familiar with buttons and I learned some stuff [​IMG]

    I keep Coturnix quail and I have four that I hatched and raised that are really tame and sweet and are specifically pets and I really love them!! They "popcorn" dance, purr when I pet them and sometimes stick their heads in my sleeve and snuggle in xD

    I interact with them in their cage, I don't really hold them although sometimes when I cup their body with my hands for a snuggle they will stand on my fingers so I'm holding them an inch above their bedding hehe!

    As far as I know, buttons are more ornamental pets as they don't tame really? (Correct me if I'm wrong, this is my impression from what I've read :p)

    Coturnix are bigger than buttons and their eggs are bigger and you could keep a few hens without a roo if you wanted. Just mentioning Coturnix in case you wanted a pet you had better luck taming although I am interested in trying buttons too :D!
     
  7. DK newbie

    DK newbie Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Yeah, some of mine will eat treats from my hand and the incubator hatched German hen is even bold enough to pretend to attack my hand when she has a chick, but that's about as 'tame' as they get, mostly - unless you've had them from they hatched and have really put an effort into holding and petting them for hours every day and such. As far as I've read, that is, as I haven't really attempted to turn mine into hands on pets.
     
  8. astra nautic

    astra nautic New Egg

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    I have some more questions!

    I know it's best to use a water bottle, either for small animals or with a poultry nipple, but what do you think about this? I know it could cause great issues if they got wet, but I wanted to check. It looks cool, and I was hoping to decorate the cage with fake plants and stuff and it would fit in well. With hamsters you aren't supposed to get them wet either, because they will get sick and die if not dried properly, but a couple owners said that they were fine if they got a little wet, and I'm wondering if it's the same for Buttons? I would add little rocks in any gaps I think could be dangerous and I would also put it in a place where it could get the least amount of waste in it possible. I would also have a regular water bottle or two just in case!

    So, considering that the fake grass wouldn't be the best for them, I'll do sand. That would be way easier to clean and I'm assuming less stressful. I would like to put some real plants in the enclosure if possible, do you have any tips on that?

    How prone are these guys to stress? What signs should I look for to tell if they are stressed, and how can I limit it?

    What are some things you wish you would have known before getting quail (Not exclusive to buttons)

    Thanks again!
     
  9. DK newbie

    DK newbie Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I have never used a bottle for my buttons - always either something like this: https://www.landogfritid.dk/Landbrug/Bowle-Vander_Grøn_1_3_L/V823655 or a small ceramic container like the ones you can use for hamster feeders or similar. If the container is big and has low edges, the birds will walk through it and get bedding into it, but in general - if the container is so low they can actually drink water from it, it's not high enough to get them really wet if they go into it - and the higher it is, the less the chance they'll try to get into it. And I very strongly doubt they'd try to enter the reptile fountain - it's not nearly big enough. This is assuming they are adult quail of course. Should they get chicks, you can put marbles in the fountain so they have to drink between the marbles and won't get wet if they jump in.
    As for sensitivity if they do get wet - still for adults - I sometimes give mine a foot bath when they have poop stuck to their feet, and this will get their belly a little wet as well. When they are done, I wipe them a little, then put them back in their cage - outside (the ones in the house never get poo balls). They've always been fine, even when it's quite cold outside.

    Real plants - I don't because they need water and I want to keep my buttons dry.

    Stress - look for pacing back and forth and listen for calling. If they boink a lot, that's likely caused by stress as well. Limit it by adding things to hide behind, giving them more space so they can get away from what scares them, keeping them with friends only and placing the cage somewhere where they can see you coming and where you (or others) won't be passing the cage all the time.
     
  10. astra nautic

    astra nautic New Egg

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    I started talking to a couple Button Quail owners on instagram, asking if their quails use the ramps in the cages, and in both cases the owners have said that their quails have loved the ramps providing that there is traction! I may have to use some wood to make a small staircase/ramp combination that stands alone, covered in wire mesh because I don't know how I would attach a ramp or small staircase to the side of the cage without damaging it.

    I have another question for levels, though- Do they get territorial? I think I will be getting a pair (Male named Bumble, female named Bee!) and I would let them have both levels if it was safe for them. In hamsters, it is a big no-no to have more than one hamster in a cage with tubes and ramps leading to different levels as they get very territorial and will fight over them. I was wondering if it would be the same, or since the space around the opening would be so large then they could get away from each other. This also goes for hideaways. I plan to use Ikea KNUFF magazine holders on their side, decorated with twigs and such as little hideaways or even nest boxes (Hopefully!), but I'm scared that the female would go in there to nest and then the male would trap her in there or something. If this is a concern with you guys, I will gladly cut a couple holes in the hides so that there are two entrances.

    So, everywhere in the main (Top) cage I will be using sand for the substrate. I want to scatter feed them seeds and treats, but I will also keep their main controlled diet in a dish somewhere where there will be minimum waste in it. Will the sand they consume while picking up the seeds and stuff be enough grit, or should I provide more grit with their main food? Also, could I put grit in the sand, or is that just like putting sand in sand?

    Last thing for now: What are all the known mutations and patterns and what are their genetic codes? Any lethal genes? Which mutations are related?

    Thank you!
     

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