Friday, March 9, 2012

Pet Chukar Partridges

There are several species, and subspecies, of partridges, of which the Chukar is the most common to be kept as a pet, and considered to be the easiest.

Selection and Purchase of a Chukar Partridge

Chukar Partridges, as in the photograph, are generally considered one of the easiest partridges to start with, although no partridge is considered terribly difficult when compared to tougher game birds such as some of the pheasants. You may find them at breeders, if you are unsure of one in your area, the local feed store might know of somebody.  We often see them for sale at exotic livestock and bird auctions.

Male Chukars tend to be slightly larger, and have a slightly larger knob on the back of their legs. I suggest you purchase a “mated pair”, or trio. If space allows, you can have more birds, as they do get along in smaller groups except at mating season when males can be feisty.

Look for healthy, active birds. If their legs are scaly this may indicate old age. Look for bright eyes. Also check the facilities, if they are neat, chances are their birds are healthy, if their place is a mess, chances are their birds are stressed or unhealthy, do not reward sloppy breeders by purchasing their animals. The cost will vary depending on availability and demand in your area. Plan on transporting them home in a pet carrier or cardboard box.

My daughter raised this pair of Chukars a few years ago.
Feeding of Chukar Partridges

Partridges eat seeds, greens, and insects. You should feed them a “game bird” diet, but chicken feed is fine if you cannot get a game bird ration, as long as they also have access to grass, and can forage for bugs. Additionally they should have smaller grit, and even oyster shell if you are breeding. A shallow bowl should be used for water, or a proper chicken waterer.

Housing and Care

Partridges require a minimum of four square feet per bird, although more is certainly ideal. I recommend at least 28 square feet for a pair. They prefer dry ground so a higher elevation is good, as well, the addition of some rocks or tree stumps is important. 

Like all outdoor pets they must have some shelter from poor weather. This can even be a dog house, or old shed, anything that provides shade, protection from rain, snow, and wind. I suggest putting cardboard on the floor and covering it with straw. If possible provide a “upper level”, this will not be used as much but actually increases the room within the shelter should they need it.

Although I have referred to keeping chukars as pets, they are not normally a pet you would pick up and hold to play with, they will tolerate handling, but are not an animal that appreciates it like a cat or dog would.

Chukar partridges are compatible with other small or gentle birds, and are sometimes kept with doves, or even bantam hens. It is best to keep them with other gentle birds around the same size, if you are going to keep them with any other bird.

Should you get fertile eggs, you may want to remove them and have a broody hen raise them or should put them in an incubator. Partridges may lay 40 eggs in a summer, but getting them to sit on their eggs to hatch them is a tricky matter.    You can incubate the eggs which takes 23 to 25 days.

Why does my Hamster Chew the Bars of its Cage?

Is your hamster keeping you awake all night while chewing on the bars of its cage?  One of the most common complaints people have about their pet hamster is that the animal is chewing on its cage bars all night long.

Chewing on the cage's bars is a common hamster behavior, it is not a particularly good one, or any indication of happiness in the pet. A hamster who chews on the bars of its cage is bored. It is not necessarily trying to chew its way out, but it is passing time by engaging in a bad, somewhat compulsive, habit.

Hamsters are rodents and rodents need to chew, but even with ample chew toys many start chewing on the bars of their cage.  This is a vice, a bad habit, it is not done to wear down their teeth, or for any purpose other than to keep busy.

Chewing on the bars is really an indication of boredom and mental frustration. It is difficult for some pet owners to think that a hamster would be mentally frustrated, but this is very common.  A wild hamster would have much more space than a cage provides, they would spend their night looking for food, gathering some here, some there, making trips back and forth from sources of food to their den. In most cages the hamster does not need to go further than a few inches to find its food and water.

Some hamster owners do exercise their hamster by putting it in a ball, or by giving it a wheel to run on in the cage. Both are better than nothing, but neither are as interesting as the habitat for a hamster.  Both are exercise but they are not every interesting. 

Anyone who is considering getting a hamster, or who has one and wants to make their pet's life better, needs to invest in a huge cage system, one that offers tunnels and variety, and can be changed around regularly.

While small cages with bars are sold for hamsters they are really not suitable for containing these pets. This is much the same as when we look at old style zoos where the animals use to be kept in small, boring cages, compared with some modern zoos, where the animals are given more room and more variety within their enclosure.

You should also provide tunnels for your pet hamster by giving it empty toilet paper, or paper towel rolls, or by letting it out in a large room to explore.

Other Reading

Tips on Selecting a Pet Hamster for a Child