Friday 18 March 2016

12. Getting a second/new budgie - QUARANTINE!!

YAY! You have decided to get a new bird, this is super exciting!! 

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?

free printable admittance to authorized personnel only osha  sign 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! 

Quarantine rules:

  • 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. 

free printable watch for forklifts osha  sign
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!

free printable no water skiing  sign
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. 

Taming Buster

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!

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
You also have an opportunity to work with the new bird and form a bond with them before they meet their new brother or sister. You can train them to step up without any distractions and a level of trust can be met. Follow the training advise I gave earlier in the blog with the new bird and hopefully by the time they meet the resident bird they will be well trained and responsive to you. You might get lucky and have a bird who is a real people person and in the 30/45/60/90 days of quarantine you and newbie really hit it off, but I'm tempted to say that the second bird will almost undoubtedly prefer your first bird to you because you just haven't had the time to bond and become their flock. If you can gain some level of trust before they meet you will at least have a reasonably obedient bird who can learn to love you from the second one. 

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! 


  1. Hi! Big fan of what you're doing, well done!
    I have a question about quarantine though; if I'm getting two budgies from the same breeder at the same time, aka budgies who've already spent time together, should I still quarantine them separately? :)

    1. Hi Billy, thanks for your comment! Quarantine is only for when you introduce a new bird or birds to your current flock, or a current member gets sick. Getting 2 from the same breeder is absolutely fine and they can be together :)

    2. I bought a budgie from a store 6 days ago, and we were so excited that we decided to buy a new one, which we will do today or tomorrow. If I ask the shopperson which budgies were there when we bought the first one, should it be fine? We will still keep them in separate cages just in case, but is this a safe option?

  2. I have had my budgie for about 3 weeks now and has settled in and is quite tame but it has been plucking :( and it has plucked most of the top part of its chest
    There are new feathers growing through at the top of her/his neck which is good
    So I think it was from stress and being left at home by her/his self all day
    And I got a new bird today cause the vets recommended getting kiwi a friend
    Anyway they are in separate cages at the moment and seem ok but I'm scared my budgie will start plucking the other budgies feathers out
    So I'm not exactly sure what to do, the place I got the second budgie said I can try it for a few days and if it's not helping my bird or if there both getting stressed to take the new one I got back but then I wok have to think what to do with kiwi and I think I've come to attached and don't want to swap her for a bird that is fine
    But I have tried mainly everything with the plucking
    Is there any other ways I could stop the plucking??
    Sorry for the long comment, just been through lots of stress these 3 weeks since I got my bird

    1. oh dear, poor birdy. Its actually quite rare (from what I've read and seen) for a budgie to be a plucker. They're quite hardy little birds and many live alone happily. Are there definitely no mites? I dont think you can stop plucking easily, its a psychological issue and even once they are happy they can revert back, just like humans with smoking or nail biting.
      Idealy you would quarantine the new one, for its safety and for the originals safety, however you might want to skip that and just let them meet and bond quickly. Are you positive you know what the sexes are? Pet shops AND vets always get it wrong. Do you have Instagram? You can send me pictures on there, or you can send me a message on facebook.

    2. Yea I do have instagram what's yours?
      I'm not exactly sure the sexes but I think the new one is boy but not too sure about my other one

  3. I wish I had read this last week. Bought eight 3day old chicks. And I have lost 3. Started making a concoction of their food in hot water with a drop of Apple cider vinegar. They are going crazy eating it and getting much bigger. I am praying I have lost my last one. It’s hard to loose them .. It’s my 1st year. thuoc ga da

  4. Hi did you loose the bond with your 1st budgie. When you introduced the 2nd budgie

  5. What signs of Illness are you looking for during the 30 days? Also is it ok if the qaurintine happens at another house and when the time is up I can take the new budgie straight to it's permenant home?