The characteristic that sets birds apart from all other living creatures is the presence of feathers. Feathers provide birds with both the means to fly and help them to maintain body temperature by trapping air close to the skin. Instead of jaws with teeth like mammals and reptiles, birds have evolved bills; these are lighter and therefore aid flight.
Choosing a bird as a pet will take some careful consideration. How much space you have for a cage or aviary will need to be taken into account, limited space will mean it would be best to consider small birds such as canaries or zebra finches.
If you are considering buying a parrot, it would be advisable to seek specialist advice from a reputable breeder before going ahead as they require a long-term commitment and expert care.
Your new pet may be very nervous when you first get him home. This is due to the change of environment. The best way to deal with this is to talk to him and at first handle him as little as possible, as over handling at this stage could cause considerable stress, which could be fatal. When your bird is used to his new home, you should begin to introduce your hand into the cage, just for short periods of time each day. By doing this, he will soon learn to trust you. Keep all movements very slow and controlled, as rapid movement will frighten your new bird.
The cage should be spacious with bars that run horizontally, it should also be easy to clean. The base of the cage should be covered in sand sheets to collect waste. Perches should be covered with sand perch covers, as this will help to keep your birds nails trim. Keeping two birds together helps to prevent stress and boredom, however it is important to ensure that the cage is as large as possible or your birds could fight. A toy such as a mirror or bell will also help prevent boredom. The cage should then be placed out of draughts and direct sunlight. The sand sheets should be replaced regularly, and the cage should be wiped clean every day. The cage and cage accessories should be disinfected at least once a week, with a suitable animal and bird disinfectant.
With the exception of parrots, all seed eating and grain eating birds swallow their food (or at least the kernel) whole, therefore grit must included in the diet to allow the bird to grind down the seed in the gizzard. This can be given by either providing constant access to a bowl of grit or using sand that contains grit as a floor covering. A seed mix should be fed each day – these generally consist of seeds such as canary or millet, depending on the size of the bird. A mineral block and cuttlefish bone should be placed in the cage, to provide minerals and calcium, which are vital for your bird’s health and growth. Seed bells, millet sprays and fruit or egg treats can be given in moderation. Fresh water must be available at all times. Food should be kept in sealed containers if kept out doors to avoid contamination by mice.
All our animals at Just for Pets are given a health check before being put on sale. Providing that your bird is properly fed and his cage and accessories are kept clean, he should remain healthy for many years to come.
Bird diseases are notoriously difficult to diagnose, it is therefore vital that a vet is consulted if you bird shows any signs of being unwell for more than 24 hours.
General signs to look out for are;
Lethargy or puffed up appearance
Sleeping with both feet on the perch