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Button Quail: Characteristics, Care & Health

button quail

Are you considering raising button quail but have no idea where to start?

With their small size and low maintenance requirements, button quail are perfect for those looking to get into the world of backyard poultry.

In this comprehensive guide, we’ll cover everything you need to know about raising these adorable little birds.

What Are Button Quail?

Button quails are native to East Asia and are typically found in the wild in grasslands, forests, and marshes. They are often mistaken for small partridges or doves and are about the size of a sparrow.

On average, adult button quails can grow up to 3 to 5 inches (7.6-12.7cm) long and weigh anywhere between 0.7 to 1.8 ounces (20-50 grams).

Despite their small size, they have stout and rounded body with a short, conical bill that is perfectly suited for their omnivorous diet.

One of the most fascinating differences between button quails and their larger brethren is their remarkable camouflage.

Button quail rely on their small size and mottled brown feathers to blend seamlessly into their natural surroundings, making them difficult to spot.

They are also able to use their feathers to take on different shapes to mimic twigs, leaves, or even rocks for a more effective disguise.

This helps them to avoid predators like snakes and birds of prey.

Button quails, also known as Chinese painted quails, are generally sociable, and they are often kept in pairs or small groups.

They bond well with humans and can be trained to recognize their owners. Button quail owners often remark on their birds’ amusing and unique personalities.

Some owners even report that their button quails have a dog-like quality and follow them around like a loyal pet.

If you’re considering owning a button quail, it is important to acknowledge that they require specialized care. They are not outdoor birds and cannot tolerate cold temperatures.

In fact, they thrive in environments that are kept at a temperature between 86°F to 97°F (30°C to 36°C). They also need a shallow container for a bath, food, and water, and a nesting area that provides privacy.

button quail characteristics

What Does Button Quail Look and Act Like?

Males and females have distinctly different physical characteristics.

Male button quails are more colorful than their female counterparts, with gray-blue feathers on their chests, rust-colored feathers on their abdomens, and black and white bands of feathers on their faces and necks.

In contrast, females are larger, have brown feathers all over, and don’t have the same facial markings as males.

These tiny birds are also known for their unique behavior. Male button quails are territorial, which means that they should not be kept together unless you have a very large aviary.

A male button quail that is kept without any females may constantly crow, which can be incredibly annoying if you live in a small apartment.

Button quails communicate with various relatively quiet sounds, including crowing, clicking, and chirping.

Another unique behavior of the button quail is that they are typically ground dwellers, which means they run around on the ground rather than fly.

However, when startled, button quails fly straight up and may injure themselves if a roof or tree is in the way.

So, when you keep them as pets, make sure to have enough space available to avoid such instances.

Button quails are not only beautiful but also tamed easily. Unlike many birds, button quails tend to be quiet, making them great for those who prefer a calmer environment.

They are also friendly if you tame them early on in life. With gentle and consistent handling, they can become great companion birds.

Can Button Quail Fly?

Button quail can fly, but not very well. Button Quails can only fly for short distances and usually only land on a perch or a low piece of furniture.

They are not like regular birds that can soar through the sky.

Because they are small and not great fliers, button quail are often kept indoors or in a secure outdoor enclosure to protect them from predators.

Should Button Quail Be Kept in Pairs?

Button quail are social birds that thrive in pairs or small groups, so if you’re planning to keep one as a pet, it’s best to get at least two.

However, it’s important to make sure that they are of the same sex, as Button Quails can breed very rapidly, and you don’t want to end up with more birds than you can handle (unless, of course, your goal is to breed them).

button quail side view

Are Button Quail Good Pets?

Button quails are small creatures, and this is one of the reasons why they are ideal for apartments and small homes.

They usually grow up to just a few inches tall and can live for several years.

Because of their size, they don’t require a lot of space and can comfortably fit in a small aviary or bird cage.

Button quails are low-maintenance birds that feed on finch seeds, mealworms, and freshwater. They don’t require any special diets or supplements, so feeding them is easy.

They also don’t need a lot of attention, and if you provide them with enough space, they will keep themselves entertained with their playful nature.

These animals have unique personalities that you’ll find irresistibly charming. They are active and enjoy hopping around and pecking the ground.

They also love to cuddle up with their human companions and, surprisingly, have great memory retention, making them more attached to their owners.

One of the few disadvantages of raising button quails is the noise they sometimes make, especially the males during the breeding season.

They tend to crow loudly, which can be bothersome to some people, mostly those living in close proximity.

You can, however, reduce their sound by taking proper care of them or choosing females instead.

Are Button Quail Rare?

Ultimately, the answer to this question depends on how you define rarity. In the wild, some button quail species are considered threatened or endangered due to habitat loss, hunting, or predation.

However, in captivity, button quails are relatively common and easy to breed. Many pet stores, bird shows, and online breeders offer button quails for sale at a reasonable price, usually ranging from $10 to $50 per bird, depending on age, sex, and color.

However, adopting a button quail is not just a matter of paying for it. Button quails require specific care and equipment to thrive; not everyone is prepared for it.

What Do Button Quail Eat?

The foundation of any button quail’s diet should be high-quality game bird food. It is recommended that fresh game bird food should make up 60-70% of their diet.

You can purchase game bird food at your local pet store or online. However, make sure that the food you buy is fresh and of high quality, as stale food can cause digestive issues in your quail.

In addition to game bird food, your button quail also needs fresh vegetables and fruits. These should make up a smaller percentage of their diet, around 10-20% at most.

A well-balanced diet includes fresh vegetables like carrots, peas, broccoli, and fruits like apples, berries, and kiwis. However, avoid sugary, salty, and fatty treats, as these can do more harm than good for your Button Quail.

Button quail love live food as occasional treats. You can offer your button quail mealworms, crickets, and fly larvae. Before you give them to your quail, sprinkle multivitamin powder sparingly on the insects.

Female button quail also require a calcium supplement during egg-laying. Crushed oyster shells are a fantastic source of calcium, and you can mix these in with grit and offer it in a separate bowl.

However, make sure to avoid overfeeding grit, as it can be harmful if consumed in large amounts.

ALSO READ: What Do Quails Eat? The Ultimate Quail Feed Guide

button quail outdoors

What Kind of Shelter to Provide for Button Quail

First things first, let’s talk about the size of your button quail’s habitat

It should have at least 8 cubic feet of space. An enclosure that is large enough for them to fly short distances is ideal. The bigger, the better when it comes to quail habitats!

Once you’ve got the size figured out, it’s time to build your habitat. Button quails are pretty adaptable to changes in temperature as long as it stays below 80°F. Be cautious of extreme temperature changes, though.

Bedding is also an important factor to consider. Use pine shavings, hay, or organic soil.

Décor is also an important part of making your quail feel at home. Providing a variety of hiding places, such as upside-down cardboard boxes, can help your quail feel safe and secure.

And don’t forget about toys! Foraging toys are crucial for mental stimulation and preventing boredom in your feathered friend.

How Big Does a Button Quail Get?

The button quail’s size is quite small compared to other birds.

On average, a button quail can grow up to 4-5 inches in length, weighing between 25-35 grams. However, the size may vary.

Male button quails are slightly larger than females, but the difference is barely noticeable. So, if you are planning to adopt a button quail, be prepared to handle a tiny bird.

What Are Some Common Health Problems in Button Quail?

One of the most common health problems in button quails is diarrhea. This can be caused by several factors, such as a change in their diet or bacterial/viral infections, or gastrointestinal parasites.

Symptoms include loose, watery stools, and decreased activity. If you notice any of these signs, isolate the sick bird, clean its habitat, and ensure that it’s eating an appropriate diet.

Another common health problem in button quails is lice or feather mites infestation. This can cause restlessness, scratching, feather picking, and decreased appetite.

If you notice any of these signs, it’s important to consult your veterinarian and clean the habitat thoroughly. Ensure that the bedding is clean and dry to prevent it from becoming a breeding ground for lice and mites.

Egg-binding is a condition where a female button quail is unable to pass an egg normally. This can happen due to a number of reasons, including improper diet, lack of calcium or vitamin D, and reproductive problems.

Symptoms include straining to pass eggs, laying shell-less or thin-shelled eggs, bloody droppings, lethargy, and respiratory difficulty.

If you suspect that your quail is egg-bound, it’s essential to contact your vet immediately for treatment, as this can be a life-threatening condition.

Finally, button quails can develop respiratory problems due to several reasons, including bacterial/viral infections, dust or mold in the environment, and inadequate ventilation.

Symptoms may include wheezing, coughing, labored breathing, and nasal discharge.

common button quail

How Long Do Button Quail Live?

Button quails can live for four to five years in captivity with the proper care. Their lifespan, however, is determined by various factors such as genetics, diet, environment, and level of care.

That said, you can do several things to extend their lifespan, such as providing a balanced, well-rounded diet.

Where Can I Buy Button Quail?

One of the most convenient ways to purchase button quail is through online breeders. These breeders specialize in button quail and can provide you with healthy, hand-raised birds.

When purchasing from online breeders, make sure to read reviews and ask questions about the health and well-being of the birds.

Another great option for purchasing button quail is through local breeders. Search online or check with local bird clubs and avian veterinarians to find button quail breeders in your area.

Visiting a local breeder allows you to see the birds in person, which can help you better determine their health and overall condition. Plus, you may be able to establish a relationship with the breeder and learn more about caring for your new pets.

While not as common, some pet stores do carry button quail. However, it’s important to be cautious when buying birds from pet stores. Birds can be stored in overcrowded and unsanitary conditions which can lead to health problems. Make sure to inspect the birds for signs of illness before making a purchase.

ALSO READ: Where to Buy Quail and What To Look For: A Guide for Beginners

Button Quail: Final Thoughts

Raising button quail can be a rewarding and enjoyable experience for backyard poultry enthusiasts.

With their small size and low maintenance requirements, they are an excellent choice for those looking to get started with poultry keeping.

By providing a clean and comfortable environment, a healthy diet, and keeping an eye on their health, you’ll be on your way to raising happy and healthy button quail.

However, if you are still exploring other types of quails, you might want to check out the Bobwhite quail in the next blog!

READ NEXT: Guide to Raising Bobwhite Quail

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