Now you need to work out how to successfully quarantine the new bird away from your current bird/flock. Do this before you get a new bird and not the day you get him home! If you don't do it before you might be tempted to bring home your new bird and then not bother with quarantine. This really isn't a good idea!
This is the second post in a series about what to do when you get a new budgie. I've concentrated on talking about getting a second bird as that's the experience I have had but I think these posts would work for adding a new budgie to your flock. This one especially does!!
What is quarantine and why is it so important?
Quarantine means that you will house the new bird in a different cage in a different room so that there is no contact between the two. I really cannot stress enough how important it is to do this. Birds are cheeky and they can hide their diseases so that they appear strong and healthy to the rest of their flock. This means that a bird can hide an illness until it literally cannot hide it anymore, and by this time it could be too late. Your new budgie might appear perfectly healthy when you buy it, and even when you get him home, but after a few weeks you might start to notice he is not quite right. If that bird is in the cage with your original bird it might be too late for both of them!
- Depending on where you read it, you will keep the birds separated for a minimum of 30 days. 45 days is better and 60 - 90 days if you really want to make sure they are hunky dory. If I were getting a new bird from a pet shop I would absolutely go to 45 days, 60 if I could manage it.
- There should be no air flow between the new and the old birds. As you probably know, birds can make a lot of dust, sometimes it looks like a snow storm has landed on my knee when Reggie has had a good groom! Parasites can travel between your birds in this manor.
- Wash your hands before and after touching anything that is for the birds.
It is not always easy but I cannot stress how important it is. Birds are very good at hiding issues and illnesses but a change in their circumstances can cause the illness to rear its ugly head - like the stress of moving to a new home. You might have noticed when you got your first budgie home that his poo's went runny/gloopy? That's the stress of the move having its effect. Busters poo's went so weird when I got him home, looked like slime!
Ok, so my signs are obviously totally irrelevant and to the point of being extreme, but is it not better to be safe than sorry? I would have hated to see Buster and my Reggie belly up at the bottom of the cage because I hadn't attempted to isolate a problem before it appeared.
Did I think Buster would be ill? No not at all, I completely trusted my breeder to sell me a healthy bird. I honestly did not doubt his budgies at all, Reggie was perfect and I knew that he put a lot of care into his aviary. BUT I was not going to risk Reggie and I strongly encourage you to take the same course of action with any new bird you get!
You will probably try to justify why you don't need to quarantine......
Your new bird is from a breeder you trust. So what.
The pet shop said the bird was healthy. So what.
Your new bird looks healthy. So what.
A vet has said the new bird is healthy. I'm still inclined to say so what!
You really can't be sure that the new bird is healthy until it has demonstrated this!
I don't have a spare room?
Ok, so this does cause a bit of a problem, but you can still perform some level of quarantine.
Can someone else quarantine the bird for you?
Can you put the bird in the bedroom during the day and move it out under a blanket in the night time?
Do you have a separate bathroom? (bathrooms are not usually advised because they are a bit of a bacteria breeding ground)
If there really is no other choice than to put them in the same room then so be it - something is better than nothing! Put them as far away from each other as possible, wash your hands regularly, and don't let the birds out as they will obviously fly to each other completely defeating the point of the separate cages. Letting your birds climb over each others cages breaks quarantine and really you may as well just not bother.
What did I do?As soon as Buster came through my front door I whisked him off to the spare room where he was to live in the converted Hamster cage. I had his new cage ready and waiting for him, with his own toys and his own blanket. After a few days I gave him a stand that was Reggie's, this was fine because I didn't give it back to Reggie until they had met and I was confident Buster was healthy.
I've said on this blog before, Busters first month in the house was not the best for him, It was hard to juggle my spare time between 2 budgies (and boyfriend) and so he didn't get socialized as much as I would have liked. I also had an issue with the temperature in our spare room. It was cold for the first few days as the heating was playing up so I had to try to make it more comfortable for Buster. The hair dryer warmed the air a little, and a cover over his cage during the day (with the front open) helped to fend off some of the chill. On his 2nd night I put him in the hallway with a hot water bottle under the cover with him, haha mad woman!!
|Buster would happily sit at the
entrance to his cage and look out
I played music through my old phone but sometimes I would get home and it had stopped playing, so who knows how long little Buster had been sat in silence. He could hear us in the living room and he would shout through to Reggie who would shout back. And after a week of being great at stepping up and sitting on my hand outside the cage he seemed to have an aversion to the spare room and would refuse to leave his cage. He seemed happy enough, he was playing with his toys quite actively which was pleasing, but he just seemed a little bit miserable. I couldn't wait for quarantine to be over so I could bring him into the living room and let him see that there was a little family waiting to make him apart of it.
|Reggie being spoilt with attention at Christmas
I was even able to keep the boys separate over Christmas (bad timing by me but I had it in my head I wanted a second and so I got him). I went back to my families house with Reggie and Doug stayed at ours with Buster. On Boxing Day Doug drove to where I was and brought Buster with him. Reggie lived in my parents living room and Buster lived upstairs in our bedroom. It worked out OK, but because my niece and nephew have little regard for closing doors when asked, the boys would get into a real flap shouting to each other. We both drove home in separate cars, Reggie with me and Buster with Doug. Easy peasy haha.
I was tempted to break quarantine early, and in the end I only did 30 days after reading that benchmark on a few websites. I was looking for justification to let him out early. I don't know what day it was, perhaps it was day 28, and I wanted to try Buster out in the living room to see if he responded better. I put Reggie in the bedroom and moved Buster into the living room. The change in him was so big, he was like a different bird and he seemed a lot happier. I let him watch TV for a couple of hours and then I moved him back. I think I did that once more and then I decided that 30 days was enough, I hated to see him unhappy on his own.
|This is the day I broke quarantine and
let Buster into the living room.
He was like a different bird and even
showed me a little bit of affection!
(BUT THERE IS NO EXCUSE!)
TECHNICALLY I BROKE QUARANTINE! Whats the saying? Do as I say, not as I do. I am being honest with how I quarantined Buster which meant I'm actually telling you I broke the rules. In the end it is up to you what you want to do, but I'm telling you what should be done.
It's not all bad!There are other benefits to quarantine, please don't think of it as a sort of punishment and the poor birdy on his own is having a bad time. Had I lived in a busy house where one bird could live in the dining room and one in the dining room I would have gone to 45 days. In my house we live in the open plan living room/kitchen and the rest of the flat is dead space until bed time. So for us quarantining Buster was effective because he was far away from Reggie, but it was boring.
One of the worries when getting a new bird is that the bond you have with the first will be lost. Use the quarantine time to your advantage! You have an extra month + with your first bird to really cement what you have. Up the play time and treats and really try to have fun with them and show them you are their best mate. Chances are, they will be very excited to see their new friend and they could bond to them very tightly so work at proving to your little mate that you are worth remembering.
|I was able to start clicker training with
Buster when he was in quarantine
I think Buster and Reggie were having secret conversations and so Buster always knew that there was something better in the other room. He was obedient, he would step up beautifully and he would be perfectly happy with my hand in his cage. On the few occasion he left his cage and flew to the curtain he would step on to my finger without questioning it and I could get him home. I never felt a connection though. There was a brief glimmer of hope when he let me stroke his cheeks a few time and his little puffy head told me he was enjoying it, but other than that he just didn't seem to care about me at all.
30 days came around and I decided that was enough. He needed some company and I was excited to let them meet. In the next post I will write about introducing budgies and how I introduced the boys. This will be another tale of do as I say and not necessarily as I do!