Getting a new budgie is an exciting time, but there are things you must do in preparation for its arrival.
Quarantining a new budgie is essential to ensure that the new bird doesn’t have any parasites, illnesses, and diseases that could be transmitted to the existing birds.
You should keep the new budgie in a separate room for 30-45 days to verify that it’s healthy and not infectious to other birds.
Can I Put A New Budgie with An Old One?
You can only put a new budgie with an existing budgie once you’ve quarantined it.
If you intend to get a new budgie, isolate it for 4-6 weeks because you don’t know what diseases the new budgie could be carrying.
Even if the breeder or pet store claims that the budgie is healthy, there’s no way to know that because infected budgies can be asymptomatic.
Healthy budgies will shun sick budgies and drive them out of the flock. This behavior may seem harsh, but it’s done to protect the group from illness and disease.
Putting a new budgie in quarantine allows you to carefully monitor its health.
What Are The Benefits of Quarantining A New Budgie?
Quarantining a new budgie is essential for the following reasons:
1/ Health Conditions
New budgies can have contagious and fast-spreading health conditions they may have picked up from the other birds before reaching your home.
Scaly Face Mites
Scaly face mites (knemidokoptes) burrow into the budgie’s skin and cause feather loss and scale-like crusting around the vent, legs, eyes, and beak. If not removed, they may deform the budgie’s beak.
The affected area thickens and dries out, making the skin itchy. Parrots with scaly face mites often bite their legs or scratch themselves too much, injuring themselves in the process.
According to the Handbook of Avian Medicine, scaly face mites can be removed in about 2 weeks with ivermectin or moxidectin drops.
Candidiasis is a fungal infection that affects the digestive system. It usually affects younger budgies since the yeast organisms enter the body orally after an adult feeds a younger bird.
Budgies can also contract candidiasis through contaminated water/food and after antibiotic treatment. The antibiotics weaken protective intestinal bacteria, and after eating yeast-heavy foods, the budgie’s immune system can’t keep the yeast organisms at bay.
The yeast organisms thicken the crop or intestine lining. Long-term candidiasis causes excessive vomiting, lethargy, and an inability to eat. Common signs include fluffed feathers, mucus, yellow and white plaques around the beak, and weight loss.
Anti-fungal drugs are used to treat candidiasis in birds, and the treatment can last a week or more.
Psittacosis (Chlamydia Psittaci)
Commonly known as parrot fever, psittacosis is one of the most common avian diseases.
The organism (chlamydiosis) that causes the illness can be found in all birds and mammals, and the sub-species that affect humans cause pneumonia. In parrots, psittacosis can also cause pneumonia-like symptoms that can worsen over time and lead to death.
Psittacosis is highly contagious and can be transferred from one budgie to another via contact with mucus, feces, or the sick bird.
The incubation period varies, and experts have documented periods of 1-4 weeks, which is why it’s so important to never break quarantine with a new bird.
Antibiotics, such as Doxycycline, are the most effective treatment.
Pacheco’s disease is a deadly herpesvirus that kills the bird within a few days.
A healthy budgie can contract Pacheco’s disease after contact with an infected budgie’s fecal matter, nasal discharge, or body. It’s also airborne, so it’s recommended that you keep your budgies from breathing the same air during quarantine.
This disease mostly affects imported budgies due to hygiene standards during transportation. If your new budgie was imported or in close proximity to imported budgies, it’s at most risk.
Common signs of Pacheco’s disease include diarrhea, vomiting, lack of appetite, and lethargy.
There’s not currently a vaccine for Pacheco’s disease in birds.
Psittacine Beak And Feather Disease (Circovirus)
This virus mostly affects young budgies, usually under the age of 2.
It breaks down the feather and beak tissue, causing feather and beak disfiguration as the budgie grows. It can also cause bloody shafts in the feathers, loss of appetite, and even death.
PBFD is difficult to control because it can survive for years outside of the body.
There’s currently no cure.
French Molt (Polyomavirus)
French moult is similar to PBFD, but while circovirus causes the latter, the former is caused by the polyomavirus. French molt primarily affects budgies, and it isn’t as fatal as PBFD.
Depending on how intensely the French molt affected the budgie, it may not regrow its feathers. Budgies heavily affected by this virus are called runners because they lack the feathers to fly.
Parasites such as tapeworms and roundworms are common organisms that affect budgies’ digestive tract. Once burrowed into the bowels, the worms survive off bodily fluids and nutrients, causing malnutrition, weight loss, lack of appetite, and loose droppings.
Pet budgies become infected with worms when they come into contact with an infected budgie’s droppings or after eating an infected insect.
Worms can be treated with deworming medications, such as Albendazole.
If your budgie is sick, it won’t be shunned by other budgies.
If the old budgies fear that the bird is sick, they’ll scare it away to protect themselves. Your new budgie will face rejection, leading to stress, anxiety, and behavioral problems.
3/ Time To Bond
Separating your budgie allows you to form a bond before being introduced to other budgies.
You can train your budgie and teach it some house rules. This way, you’ll have less trouble caring for it when it’s fully integrated.
Your existing budgie will experience significant change once it meets its new mate. Also, the new budgie needs time to adjust to its living environment, diet, and owner.
How to Quarantine a Budgie
Quarantining a budgie can be achieved by following these steps:
Keeping budgies in separate cages is insufficient because many avian diseases are airborne.
Your new and old budgies shouldn’t be breathing the same air. This poses an issue, as the air in your home can transfer from one room to another due to air vents.
Before getting a budgie, consider if you have space to quarantine it. Keeping your budgie in a bathroom or unfinished basement isn’t advised.
Bathrooms that are actively used can make a healthy budgie sick. Also, if you clean the bathroom often, the residual smell of the cleaning products will harm the budgie’s lungs and air sacs.
Unfinished basements host mold that is deadly to budgies. Even a finished, clean basement can be a problem since the air in the foundation rise through air vents to the rest of the house.
Keep all birds at the same level or put the new bird on the upper floors to prevent airborne diseases from potentially reaching any healthy budgies.
Wash And Clean Everything
Wash your hands before and after handling the new budgie.
Feed and play with the old budgies before making contact with the new budgie. That way, there are fewer chances for you to transfer diseases to your existing budgies during any interactions.
Always keep toys separate. If you allow your new budgie to sit on your shoulder, change into a new shirt and wash your face/neck immediately.
Anything you use around the budgie, such as food bags, should be cleansed.
As you quarantine your budgie, monitor its health. Keep track of its beak color, cere, plumage, feces, and appetite. If anything appears out of the ordinary, seek advice from a vet.
The new budgie is going through an adjustment period. Its diet and lifestyle have changed, so its behavior and eating patterns may be abnormal, but this doesn’t mean that your budgie is sick.
How Long To Quarantine A New Budgie
Budgies should be quarantined for 30-45 days.
While budgies are good at hiding their illnesses, the illness will make itself known after 4 weeks. So, 30-45 days should be enough time to detect any health problems in a new budgie.
Never shorten the amount of time your budgie is in quarantine. The special routine you need to uphold while the budgie is in quarantine may seem excessive, but it’s necessary for the safety of existing birds.