Whether you are bringing home a new bird to a home that has no other pets, or you have a whole menagerie at home, there are reasons to consider quarantine for your new pet. Quarantine protects both your new pet and your existing ones, especially any other birds you may have.
When most people think of quarantine, they think of preventing the spread of outside disease. That is the basic thought behind it, and why you should always quarantine new animals coming into a home where others are present. However, there are some additional reasons beyond illness that quarantine is helpful in solving.
The Fear Factor
When you bring a new bird into your home, chances are pretty good you have been anticipating the event and are excited, as are other family members. New homes, surroundings and people are scary for your new pet, however. It is a much smaller problem if you are bringing your new bird into a home with only one person in it, and no other animals, but even then, new routines and places may cause undue stress to the bird until he can get used to them.
When bringing a new bird into a home that is generally quiet and has no other animals, pick a room that you can place his cage in where he can be out of the line of traffic and away from loud noises such as televisions or stereos. Introduce him to the main area of the home, and eventually where you would like to place his cage slowly over the course of a few days to make the transition easier.
This is much the same practice for introducing a new bird into a big household with lots of people and excitement going on, as long as there are no other pets or birds in the house. Doing this is important because stress can manifest itself in many forms, including allowing illnesses to manifest even if they weren’t present initially and it can also cause feather pulling, screaming and other nervous reactions in the bird that may be difficult to overcome.
Protecting the New Bird and the Old Pets
When pets are present quarantine is especially important. You do not know what illnesses your new bird may be carrying, and while most are not transferable to humans or other species, other birds are highly susceptible to several serious illnesses. Do not be fooled into thinking that just because your new bird looks healthy he is.
Birds, being a prey species, are genetically geared to hide illnesses until they can’t anymore. So by the time an illness is visually detectable it is extremely advanced. The length of the quarantine period should be six weeks at the absolute minimum IF separation is the only method of disease prevention being practiced. However, simply quarantining until you can take your new pet to the vet and have a blood sample drawn and tested is the best way to go.
Some people have a hard time waiting an entire six weeks, and argue that even that length of time may not be enough for the more stubborn diseases. They either refuse to isolate the new bird at all, which is dangerous, or they only keep them in isolation for a week. If you are determined to only isolate for a week (or any period less than six weeks) make sure the bird does not have any visual symptoms, is free of lice and other parasites and has at least had a basic veterinary examination.
If your new bird came from a place where you know its origin, that may be enough. However, if you are not sure, if the bird comes from a pet store, or you have any reason to suspect it has been wild caught, or come into contact with outdoor soil please resist the temptation to cut isolation short. This is also true if you know the bird has ever eaten live food of any kind.
Using Isolation to Slowly Introduce New Pets
If there are no other birds in the home, but you do have dogs, cats or even fish tanks, take the time necessary to slowly introduce your new bird to the existing animals, and never leave them unsupervised together. Even the calmest dog or cat can cause a great deal of harm to a bird if it gets excited or scared. A large parrot can also inflict severe damage to other animals with its powerful beak and talons.
Human Procedures During Quarantine
Isolating the new bird is only part of the quarantine process. Since most of the infectious diseases birds can carry are transmitted through fecal matter or even dander it is easily carried from room to room by an unsuspecting human. Always wear protective clothing that can be removed after caring for the new bird, and wash hands completely before handling existing birds.
Always care for the new bird last. Take care of all cleaning and feeding chores for the existing birds in the home and then feed the new bird and clean its cage.
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