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Recommended Substrates

Discussion in 'Private Collections & Pets' started by Teddscau, 27 May 2018.

  1. Teddscau

    Teddscau New Member

    Joined:
    27 May 2018
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    2
    Location:
    Ontario, Canada
    Hi everyone, I've spent weeks searching for the perfect substrate for our indoor parrot enclosure. It contains nine budgerigars and a red-fronted kākāriki. Most of our birds were rescued from cases of neglect. Most of the birds are immune compromised (cancer, neurological and psychological disorders, prolonged malnutrition), so the substrate needs to be fairly resistant to mold and bacteria.

    One of the budgies is unable to fly due to neurological problems, so the bedding would have to be somewhat soft to prevent injuries from falls. The kākāriki, on the other hand, suffered from years of severe emaciation, malnutrition, muscle atrophy, and various untreated infections. His lungs and air sacs are filled with scar tissue, and as such he has difficulty breathing. Unfortunately, he has a granuloma which can't be removed, and as such he is constantly battling bacterial infections. Furthermore, his legs are extremely weak, and they constantly splay as he walks. In the past we used shavings, and while it did help to provide him with better traction, his legs would splay to the side when the shavings slipped. He actually has callouses on his "ankles" from walking on them so much. He was actually unable to walk in an upright position until a month ago, despite being under our care for over a year.

    Additionally, I'd like the substrate to be good for foraging in. As part of their daily enrichment seed and insect larvae are scattered on the floor of their enclosure to promote natural foraging behaviours.

    Anyways, I appreciate your help in choosing substrate. I'm not a part of any zoo association as I'm a private guardian, so I don't have access to the same resources as many of you do.
     
  2. Hyak_II

    Hyak_II Well-Known Member

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    19 Jan 2014
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    Location:
    Canada
    Don't worry, you are not alone, I would be extremely surprised if even one in twenty people on this website have any form of legitimate experience professionally in a zoological career.

    Regardless of that though, you're in a bit of a though situation, so you'll be hard pressed to find a substrate that suitably meets all of your requirements. If I were you I would move the flight restricted budgie to a smaller cage with a companion, and line the bottom of the aviary with a fine pea gravel. It's easy to keep clean due to its good drainage, it's just as good for foraging for anything else (I mean budgies just peck along the surface, and if the Kakariki is strong enough he will scratch, and pea gravel should be light enough for that), and it is incredibly resistant to mold and bacteria.

    I wouldn't go with mulch as aside from being soft, it is worse in virtually all regards (molds easily when wet or soiled, is very dusty when dry, does not drain well) and sand would be ok, however it requires a bit more initial setup to make sure it drains well, and it also needs a bit more upkeep than pea gravel, especially in small aviaries.
     
  3. Teddscau

    Teddscau New Member

    Joined:
    27 May 2018
    Posts:
    2
    Location:
    Ontario, Canada
    Thanks so much! I never even thought of pea gravel! Unfortunately, we didn't think of putting a floor drain in, so we'd have to scoop up a bucket of the gravel every week or so, and soak it in hot water before putting it back in in order to "clean" it. Well, there's specific areas where they tend to poop, so we could always just scoop those areas up to clean the gravel. Man, it's such a pain cleaning up bird poop -_-.

    I think Tiki (my kākāriki) would love the pea gravel. Man, it's perfect! With the shaving, the stuff would end up being tracked all over the house, not to mention Tiki got a shaving stuck in his eye the one day. He just loves using his weak little legs to push the substrate aside while searching for food. Man, and the pea gravel would actually provide his legs with proper support, allowing him to actually walk (somewhat) normally. His poor mate, Ria, actually died back in January when her leg slipped through the grate on the bottom of the cage during the night when they were quarantined due to avian gastric yeast. When we found her in the morning, she'd torn all of the muscles in her leg trying to escape and she had a severe pneumonia from being trapped for over eight hours. I heard her on the bottom of the cage during the night, but I was an idiot and didn't check on her. We rushed her to the vet but the only thing we could do to help her was to have her euthanized. I'm still blaming myself for her death. If her legs had been even a bit stronger, she could've easily pulled her leg out.

    A while back, I actually tried keeping my flightless budgie in a double flight cage with her mate, but even after a month or so she was going out of her mind, desperate to get back in the aviary. Needless to say, I caved and put her back in the aviary. After two years, she's finally quit trying to fly.

    Well, turns out the pea gravel won't work. I have Marmoleum flooring in there, so it would probably end up getting scratched up.
     
    Last edited: 27 May 2018
  4. FunkyGibbon

    FunkyGibbon Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    11 Jan 2015
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    Location:
    Birmingham, UK
    I've moved this thread to the Private Collections and Pets forum, as it seems better placed here.