Did you know that birds have a unique ability to hide their illnesses?
So, if you’re planning to bring in a new member into your flock, you must not skip the most important preventive measure—quarantining. But you may be wondering how to quarantine pet birds and how long this process takes.
Well, if those things are bothering your mind, you have come to the right place!
In this guide, we’ll help you gain insights into:
- How to quarantine birds, and what are the benefits of quarantining
- How long to quarantine a new bird
- And what are the things you need to look out for during this process
So, if you want to learn more about it, let’s dive right in!
Why Quarantine Pet Birds Before Introducing Them to Your Flock
The word quarantine comes from the old Italian language “quarantena” which means “forty days”. The word’s origin is not based on science but on the days Jesus spent in the desert, as narrated in the Bible.
But the concept of quarantining or separating those infected with a contagious disease like leprosy from a stable environment was already practiced during Moses’ time. And it’s importance was understood during the Middle Ages when immigrants in Venice were separated from the local population for forty days.
Their goal was to prevent the spread of the bubonic pest.
Fast forward to the twentieth century, quarantining is still practiced even in birds to prevent transmissible diseases from spreading to the existing flock.
No matter where you purchased your new bird from or how impressive the husbandry or reputation of the seller is, you must implement quarantine before introducing the new flock member.
Here are some of the reasons why it’s essential to quarantine pet birds:
New Birds May Be Carrying Contagious Diseases
Every new bird must go under quarantine because it may carry a contagious disease. Quarantining is a preventive measure to avoid spreading new infections to the existing flock.
This way, you can reduce the stress your new bird is experiencing from moving into a new home. And its immune system can have time to build immunity to different germs and will not be compromised.
This gradual transition can benefit the new bird and save the existing flock from infection.
Birds Can Hide Their Illness
Since birds are tiny prey animals that are vulnerable in the wild, they’ve developed an ability to look “normal” even when sick.
So, there’s no guarantee that the healthy-looking bird you bought from a seller or store is 100% free from diseases.
Even an experienced vet can hardly tell if a bird is truly healthy just by looking at him. That’s why you need to quarantine the newbies and let your avian vet examine your feathery avian member and perform a lab exam to determine the new bird’s health.
But truth be told, not all diseases can be seen and discovered via lab work. So, quarantining is always a must.
Furthermore, there are instances where the initial exam conducted by vets can have false negative results.
For example, some tiny birds who went through a thorough checkup and tests for psittacosis, bacterial and viral infections, and tested negative may turn out sick and infected with psittacosis.
They may not show symptoms, but some tests aren’t perfect, and some diseases can go undetected.
So, if you’ll ignore the vet’s 6-week quarantine recommendation, you’re putting the other members of the flock at a high risk of getting the disease.
And if they do contract the infection, you’ll have to get them all treated and spend more money on vets, meds, and other treatments.
How to Quarantine Pet Birds
In this section, we’ll discuss how to quarantine a bird safely.
Whether your new bird appears to be ill or not, you need to quarantine him and follow the basic quarantine protocols below.
What to Do Before You Quarantine Pet Birds
- Before the bird enters the quarantine period, you should weigh him and check his general health with the help of your avian vet.
- Then, your vet will examine the bird to see traces of mites and lice and treat him accordingly before and after the quarantine period.
- Your bird must also undergo a microscopic examination for worms, mega bacteria, and motile protozoa. If the vet discovers the presence of a worm, you may have to deworm your bird at the beginning of the quarantine season.
Other advanced tests can be done for higher-valued birds during the quarantine period. So, let’s move on to setting up the right environment for your quarantined bird first.
Setting up The Ideal Place Where You Can Quarantine Pet Birds
Here’s how to create a comfortable quarantine area for your feathery companion.
- The ideal quarantine area must be a separate building from your existing flock. But if it’s not possible, you can put the newbies in a room with a door that can be closed, and that’s away from the existing flock.
- The quarantine area must also have a separate entrance and air supply, including heating and cooling and a high-quality air filter.
- There must also be a hallway or room that separates your quarantine area from the room where your existing flock resides.
Guidelines During the Quarantine Period
Now, let’s move on to the rules you should follow to ensure your birds’ safety during the quarantine period.
- The quarantined birds should never have contact with the resident birds, so anything in the quarantine area should be kept away from other birds.
- Never share the bird cage, toys, dishes, and perches from the quarantine area with the resident birds. These accessories should be removed and cleaned separately using non-toxic, soapy water and disinfected with a disinfectant specially formulated for birds. Then, air-dry them and return them to the same cage.
- Feed and clean your existing bird flock before attending to the new birds in the quarantine area.
- Then, wash your hands in between handling the newbies and resident birds.
- It’d be best to wear a smock or robe and cover shoes or boots to cover your clothing when you enter the quarantine area to prevent the transmission of diseases.
- Then, place a disinfectant in the door of each quarantine area and replace the disinfectant solution daily.
- Lastly, provide your new birds with clean and quality water and nutritionally-balanced bird feed and ensure your birds are living comfortably. Give them the proper size of perching materials and toys to keep them occupied.
How Long Should I Quarantine a New Bird?
Ideally, a new bird should be quarantined in a separate and isolated area for 30 to 45 days, but extending the quarantine to 60 days would be a lot better.
If the bird becomes sick during the quarantine period, you should extend it for another six weeks.
It may sound too long, but this time will enable you to check for signs of illnesses such as sneezing, diarrhea, and nasal discharge before exposing the new birds to the flock.
What to Monitor When You Quarantine Pet Birds
So what will you do aside from feeding, bathing, and caring for your new bird’s needs? Well, you need to monitor his condition, and we got some tips to do that:
- Check the bird’s droppings. The color and consistency can indicate an illness and help determine what the bird has eaten.
- Then, check the feed dishes to see if he has eaten enough. If the feed dishes remain full, that’s a sign that your new pet is not eating well. And if the water dishes are empty, that probably means your bird is drinking a lot of water or is bathing in his dish.
- Observe your bird’s general appearance. If it’s fluffed up, even if the room has a comfortable temperature, that could indicate that your bird is sick.
- Notice how your bird behaves as well, whether he’s aggressive or looking lethargic.
Medical Examinations to Conduct During Quarantine
Consult your avian vet to ensure your new feathery companion is disease-free. He can perform prophylactic procedures/examinations during the quarantine period.
- Complete blood analysis
- Chlamidophyla antigen/antibody analysis
- Cloacal swabs for culturing potentially dangerous bacteria or molds
- Direct fecal examination, flotation (at least twice)
- Ectoparasite evaluation
- Physical examination
- Viral diagnostic tests for:
– Avian influenza
– Avian polyoma virus
– Newcastle disease
– Psittacine Circovirus
– Specific Herpesvirus
If the birds test positive for one of the illnesses above, you have time to treat them before introducing them to your resident flock.
Your vet may freeze the blood samples at -70 or -20°C for further retrospective disease assessment/evaluation.
At this period, it’s crucial to keep your bird’s complete medical record.
The majority of curable diseases can be detected in the first six weeks. Even non-curable diseases can be discovered during the quarantine due to abnormal behaviors it may show.
However, some illnesses, especially viral infections with protracted incubation periods, won’t be identified or prevented.
And if the bird dies during the quarantine period, it should undergo a post-mortem or autopsy to determine the cause of death.
Frequently Asked Questions About Bird Quarantine
Here are other questions we compiled to help you gain more insight into quarantining.
Why do we need to quarantine new and returning birds?
It’s crucial to quarantine new and returning birds to reduce the chance of introducing new diseases to your existing flock. Even if the birds won’t show any signs of disease and test negative on different prophylactic examinations, you should never skip the quarantine process.
How long should you wait before handling a new bird?
It will vary whether the bird is tamed or untamed, but ideally, you should give the newbie three days to settle down.
Moving to a new environment is stressful for birds, so let them adjust to their new home first. If the bird is untamed, it’s best to give him 1 to 2 weeks to adjust before handling and playing with him.
What should you not do with a new bird?
If you purchase a new bird, you should not handle and play with him immediately because it can stress him out.
Give him time to relax, hear new sounds, and see new sights so he can become familiar with his new home and get used to it.
Final Tips When You Quarantine Pet Birds
Quarantining is a time-consuming, inconvenient, and tedious process. But it can save the lives of your existing bird flock and the newbie.
If you’ve experienced a disease outbreak in your flock before, you probably know how terrifying it is to lose your birds to viral and bacterial infections.
So, no matter how long the process is, you should never skip it before introducing your new bird to your resident flock.
And when you quarantine pet birds, follow the guidelines above carefully to minimize the risks.
If new birds come during the quarantine period, you need to restart the process again. So, it’s best to put them into a separate area or prevent introducing new animals until the quarantine is over.