Help with a Bully Quail

Madara

Hatching
Nov 1, 2017
7
1
9
Hello :) I'm new to this forum and have a serious issue with one of my quails.

I am a new quail owner (I actually found most of my information here) and I keep my quails indoors in a bunny hutch.

I've have my three female Chinese dwarf quails (Luci, Fern, and Tina) for about 2 months with no problems. Luci was feather picking while at the store but stopped a few weeks after I brought her home. From a few websites, I was told to do a fresh clean of the cage whenever it "looked dirty" and spot cleaning wouldn't help. I had a successful clean once before about a month ago, but last week I cleaned it again and Luci hasn't been the same since. In just a few days, she plucked all the feathers along the butt and back of the other two quails (she is the leader it seems) and no one was fighting back. Whenever she would pluck them, they would jump a bit and go on with their business. However, just last night she plucked Tina a bit too hard. She was bleeding a lot from her butt. It was very thick and got stuck along the back of the cage and to her poop. At this point, the two others seemed to be afraid of Luci. They wouldn't just move out of her way but would run whenever she would get close. Before she would just pluck whenever they were nearby but now she actually chases back.

I didn't have a second cage at the time so I added more bedding, a blanket, and more food to the original cage before going to bed. As soon as they all woke up though, she was attacking the wound on Tina again. The scab came off and she started bleeding all over. Since it's a bunny hutch, I put Luci in the house with a small food and water bowl and blocked the door so the other two could rest. I'm getting a second cage after work today but I don't really know where to go from here. I think I've already stressed her more with all the moving but she was always the super anxious one, always pacing back and forth all day long. How long should I keep her alone and if the pecking doesn't stop, what should I do then?
 

Kusanar

Crowing
5 Years
Apr 30, 2014
2,143
4,204
336
Roanoke area, Va.
Welcome to BYC, sorry you joined because of a bad situation but hopefully we get it fixed.

I don't have quail, but I have researched them a good bit (I want to get some Coturnix soon). I would separate her, let the hurt one heal up, and they make something called a quail bit that you put on their beaks and they can't bite or feather pluck but they can still eat. I would put a bit on her when/if you put them back together. In the mean time, I would put the cages up against each other if possible so that she can still see but not touch the others and put the feeders at opposite ends (so feeders are as far apart as possible) so that takes away any food aggression issues.

Hopefully someone else will respond.
 

Madara

Hatching
Nov 1, 2017
7
1
9
Wow :) Thanks so much for the quick reply. I will definitely consider the quail bit. I couldn't really find any information on it or where to buy them. I did find a video about how to apply it but my quails don't let me touch them or make much noise so I'm not sure how I'll be able to get it in her mouth. Unfortunately Tina is the one with a bit of food aggression :'D but only with treats and not the feeder.

I did see someone in a video wrap a wire loosely around the beak instead of a bit. It looks like a better option for me (their mouths stay less open and I don't have to try to shove a metal bar into her nose...) but I can't find that method used anywhere other than that one video. There is a farm nearby so maybe I'll be able to get some advice from them ^^
 

Kusanar

Crowing
5 Years
Apr 30, 2014
2,143
4,204
336
Roanoke area, Va.
Wow :) Thanks so much for the quick reply. I will definitely consider the quail bit. I couldn't really find any information on it or where to buy them. I did find a video about how to apply it but my quails don't let me touch them or make much noise so I'm not sure how I'll be able to get it in her mouth. Unfortunately Tina is the one with a bit of food aggression :'D but only with treats and not the feeder.

I did see someone in a video wrap a wire loosely around the beak instead of a bit. It looks like a better option for me (their mouths stay less open and I don't have to try to shove a metal bar into her nose...) but I can't find that method used anywhere other than that one video. There is a farm nearby so maybe I'll be able to get some advice from them ^^
I wouldn't do the wire around the beak as you don't want to do it wrong and have a starving bird since they really need to open their beaks to eat and drink.

If you just google "quail bit" you will find several links to places that sell the bits.

If the hurt one heals and the aggressive one is separated for a while where they can get near each other but not touch, there is a chance that the bullying will stop.
 

Madara

Hatching
Nov 1, 2017
7
1
9
Well...I got back to find Luci was out and fern was also being aggressive. They've gotten a taste for Tina I guess... Part of her tail is completely gone and the rest is so raw.. I don't think feathers will ever grow on it again... I'll try to get a picture but I'm going to let her rest for a bit. I can only take her to a vet on Saturday.
 

DK newbie

Songster
Apr 20, 2015
1,759
1,044
231
Feather picking quickly becomes a bad habit. To stand a chance of fixing it, you need to keep her away from the others so she has nothing to pick at. I'd do this for as long as it takes for the others to regrow their feathers (a few weeks).
With regards to the second one becoming aggressive as well - they just can't resist the sight of blood. Keep her separated from the victim until the wound has healed.
You can easily make a temporary quail cage from a cardboard box, some wire mesh and gaffer tape to be able to keep all 3 separated for now. They don't like to be alone, so keeping them right beside each other, where they can see each other helps.

With regards to the original feather picker, you may find that she doesn't pick for a while after reintroduction, then starts again. In that case you'll need to separate her again. I had a roo that did that to his mate. The third time he picked her, I gave him away as snake feed, so I don't know if I could have cured him by doing it again and again and again - but I don't think so.
Perhaps it would help if you got her a boyfriend instead of the girls, but there is no guarantee.

As for the quail bits - I'd be surprised if you can get them for button quail (aka king quail aka chinese painted quail - they've got many names). The coturnix quail are much larger.
I've considered doing what they do to chickens that feather pick - something about burning away the tip of the upper beak so they can't hold on to the feathers. But it requires some special equipment and I'm not sure I consider it humane..

You'll be surprised at how well quail can heal. If she's eating, drinking and moving as normal, I'm 99% sure she'll get over it completely. If she seems very sleepy, she might not make it.
 

Madara

Hatching
Nov 1, 2017
7
1
9
Thank you so much everyone! Tina was very still and very tired yesterday (probably from all the running she was doing from the other birds) and didn't eat at all. But just before bed, Luci started calling for her and Fern was singing I guess (I've never heard the sound before) and she called back.

She is much much better today, eating, drinking, peeping, and running around by herself in the new cage. She does often pace around the side closest to the others and gets tired faster but she still ate from my hand so I think she's going to be okay :)

Luci is also picking less. She must have just been spooked from the cleaning and then before she could get over it, got infatuated with the sight of blood. She's still very jumpy and anxious but I bought her a dangly toy which keeps her pretty occupied. I will probably keep her separated next though so the feathers can grow back on the others once Tina is healed. Not sure how good it will be for her anxiety but it can't be helped..
 
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