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New to Button Quail - help me make sure im caring for them well? (wall of text)

Discussion in 'Quail' started by HeatherN, Feb 19, 2013.

  1. HeatherN

    HeatherN Out Of The Brooder

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    Intro:
    First off, hello everyone! I'm new to quail (actually domestic birds in general), the only types of birds i've dealt with before are birds of prey - a little different! I'm a huge reptile person, and have my studio apartment filled with them. I am getting a degree in field bio, but i love caring for all types on interesting animals. i was actually looking for an anatomical chart for quail, as i feed frozen chicks to my tegu, and i stumbled across the subject "quail as pets". It piqued my interest, and i quickly caught the bug after weeks of research. I never did find that anatomical chart..

    About my quail:
    It was my intentions to eventually get some button quail, as they are not exactly readily available around the central coast of CA and i don't have an incubator at the moment for hatching eggs. Then, one day i was browsing a pet shop i had never been to and viola: a pair of little button quail at the bottom of a dove aviary. I got very excited, i had never seen them in person and they were so tiny!
    They were housed in typical petstore fashion; in a rather small cage with maybe 2 sq feet at the most and no shelter for them. However, they seemed healthy enough. They were reasonably plump, relaxed, clear-eyed, and active. of course the cage floor was littered with those little speckled eggs. It was a 1:1 pair, a blue faced male to a white female, whose head was pretty plucked. i attributed the plucking to their close quarters and lack of hides. They were rather expensive for buttons, but i bought them anyway.
    When they got to my house, they were understandably nervous. The female laid two to three more eggs then stopped. she hasn't laid an egg for around half a week. They've been with me for about a week and a half. The female's feathers seem to slowly be returning. When the female was still laying, the male would feed her, but now he doesn't anymore.
    Lately they have been more nervous than before. i think this may be due to the fact that i put a desk lamp pointed at their cage to try and give them a light schedule. without the lamp, they were getting maybe 8 hours of dim light, as the only lights in my apartment that are on usually are my reptile lamps. I have also been trying to switch them from a plain bowl of water to a little waterer that has only a little place to dip their beak in to drink, but i think they haven't taken to it. I am worried about the fact that they spend a lot of time pacing and pecking at the back wall (obviously stressed and trying to get out) even when i am not around their cage. It has increased as of late. :(

    Care:
    Right now, they're housed in the equivalent to a 15-20 gal tall tank (3 ft by 1 ft). Boinking hasn't been a source of injury. The glass front face opens like a hatch, the rest of the sides are wood. The bedding is a 3 inch deep layer of crumbled paper bedding mixed with timothy hay intended for rabbits. There are two huts for them to go into on either side of the tank, and a little stick tunnel to walk under. I used the tunnel and one of the huts to create a little sheltered area by draping silk plant branches over them; creating a little canopy. This arrangement leaves little open floor space, which i worry about. they do have lots of retreats though.
    I feed them out of a little deli cup. their daily food offered consists of game bird crumble, mealworms/crickets, tiny shreddings of some type of vegetable, crumbled boiled egg, and vitamin/calcium supplements. Millet, little honey seed treats, and cuttlebones are always available. As i mentioned before, i am trying to switch them to a pet-bird style waterer, but it seems to no avail. Back to easily dirtied bowls i suppose.

    Final Thoughts:
    I eventually intend to incubate their eggs once and awhile to hatch some baby button, but i don't have an incubator atm. i was thinking about getting a hovabator. Any suggestions?
    I am worried about their nervous behavior and its recent increase. Is their cage too small? Is their a less stressful lighting situation i could set up?
    They are being fed a high calcium and protein diet to stimulate egg laying as well as trying to give them a light schedule. Besides getting them more comfy, is there anything else i can do to get their natural rhythms restored?
    Any other shortcomings in my care? Advice, criticism, and suggestions welcome!

    Thanks for reading that wall of text! Have a good day!
     
  2. GrandmaBird

    GrandmaBird Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Hope this helps! and good luck!
     
  3. HeatherN

    HeatherN Out Of The Brooder

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    Thank you for the reply! i was actually thinking of building them a wire cage, though buildup of ammonia doesnt seem to be a problem. they smell fresh as daisies.

    as for the lamp, it's just a desk lamp on the shelf above with the bulb pointed down to the area in front of their cage. at night, theyre in the dark.

    Thanks again for your input!
     
  4. GrandmaBird

    GrandmaBird Chillin' With My Peeps

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    if you are using a regular light bulb it is not the same as full spectrum lighting and will not stimulate the female. You can buy full spectrum bulbs, try GE Revel 25 watt, for about $4.
     
  5. HeatherN

    HeatherN Out Of The Brooder

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    ok i will do that! how was she laying eggs in a regular store then?
     
  6. GrandmaBird

    GrandmaBird Chillin' With My Peeps

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    It could be the store windows or they might even use full spectrum lighting. They can and will lay with out it but it is a good way to get them to lay when not in season.
     
  7. HeatherN

    HeatherN Out Of The Brooder

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    update:
    the female's feathers still havent grown back in, i've witnessed the male messing with her feathers, but it looks more like grooming to me than anything. she doesnt seem to object one bit. also, it's when theyre cuddled up next to eachother, not when he's mounting her (which i've never actually seen him do). No egg production yet, but i switched them to the highest protein crumbles i could find. still havent touched the cuttlebones since she stop laying. i avoid stressing them as much as possible, but i have to walk in my apartment! as well as clean their cage of course, which is a huge stress to them. i would like to try and build them their new cage, but midterms keep me busy as a bee. i hope they will be ok in their current setup.


    i bought some full spectrum bulbs, but im afraid the thick glass door of the enclosure will block certain wavelengths or something (im a bio major, not physics). is this a valid concern?
    again, thanks so much for the advice!
     
  8. GrandmaBird

    GrandmaBird Chillin' With My Peeps

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    the glass will block some of the uv rays try to have it above shining through the screen top if you can. and I would just place a dish of oyster shell crumbs in the cage and remove the cuttlebone they usually do not peck at the cuttlebone and it is really for beak care not calcium although it does have some. they need grit to grind the food in the crop and calcium for the females egg production.
     
  9. HeatherN

    HeatherN Out Of The Brooder

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    yeah i think i definitely need to build that new cage soon, as the one theyre in doesnt have a screen top, just wood and padding. my male got a pretty serious boinking injury just not from flying out the front of the cage and into my ceiling. i cleaned it off as best i could, but he was bleeding rather profusely (out of the superficial injury, not his ears thankfully). i wiped it off with a wet paper towel with a dab of dish soap on it, then put some herbal disinfectant on it (a very dilute mixture, mostly containing garlic). he doesn't show any abnormalities that i can observe in his behavior, but with animals, that doesnt mean much. hopefully, it is just superficial and he can avoid infection.

    on a lighter note, since i switched them to 30% protein crumbles, the female's feethers have been growing back in rather quickly. theyre still kind quill-like, but there are no bald spots left. the pair also seem to really enjoy the crumble itself; always going for it when i put in a fresh bowl, even when there are other yummies such as mealworms, broccoli, or hard boiled eggs.

    definitely going to try and get that cage ready! my poor little birdies!
     
  10. GrandmaBird

    GrandmaBird Chillin' With My Peeps

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    can I ask what brand of crumbles you are using? i just bought Nature Wise again but it is only 22% and so I give them egg white almost everyday to supplement.
     

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