A few weeks after Orna gave birth to her first litter, there was a second litter. This was only 3 babies. We have put Mr Orn and the boy babies in one cage and kept Orna with the girl babies.
We have also hatched some more quail, including some white ones. They started off yellow but when feathers appeared, they came out white. In the photos, they have the white feathers but their heads are still yellow.
Click on the thumbnail to view the image
Not quite free range but we got the quail out for a run in the garden. It was really warm today so when we got home, we got the chairs out and sat outside. We had to keep an eye on the quail so they didn't try to escape. No-one tried to fly over the fence but Maggie tried to make a run for it and aimed for the small gap between the fence and ground.
They enjoy to peck at the dandelion leaves near their hutch. They like most leafy veg, so we gave them some of the spinach beet leaves too. Our salad veg isn't growing very well at the moment so they'll have to wait before they can sample those.
Orna's babies are proper tiny hamsters now, rather than the pink blobs in the original photograph.
We had to be very careful taking the early photos. You shouldn't disturb the nest or touch the babies because if the mother detects a 'foreign' scent, she might believe the babies are under threat from a predator, and she's likely to eat them. We have heard stories of this happening to other hamsters, and we didn't want it to happen to ours.
At about day 11, their eyes started to open and they became more active - although some had escaped from the nest and been exploring before then. Now (day 13), they are very active and leave the nest quite often.
The final photo also has a picture of one of the 3 quail chicks which have hatched so far this weekend.
Click on the thumbnail to view the image
On Friday, a couple of people from the Coventry Rabbit and Guinea Sanctuary came for the boy chicks which we were keeping outside. They have an aviary and wanted some quail to keep in it.
We've since moved some of the other birds outside to the hutch, so all the birds now have even more space each. We have a reasonable cock to hen ratio (at least 2-3 hens per cock is recommended) so that should minimize the chance of fighting while still giving us a decent supply of eggs.
Earlier in the year, Emma built a multi-storey quail house, with each shelf having a wide plastic tray where the quail can live. The trays have high sides so they can't kick too much bedding out.
There are nest boxes in the corners of some of the trays. Yesterday morning we found 'Stumpy' trapped between the tray and the wire mesh. This was in the corner where one of the nest boxes were, so we think he might have fallen off and down the side. In a couple of months of keeping the quail in there, none had managed to do this.
We rescued Stumpy and put him back, but later on to our surprise we found another bird trapped in the same way. We put her back but she obviously didn't learn from the experience because later in the day we found her trapped in the same place.
After putting her back for the 2nd time, we decided to block off the gap by filling it with rolled up newspaper. We only blocked off the one side near the nest box because we thought it was unlikely that a bird would be sitting on the edge of the tray at the other side of the cage.
This turned out to be a mistake because about an hour or so later we found the same bird trapped for the 3rd time, but now on the other side of the tray. Both ends are now blocked off. You can see the rolled up newspaper in the top photo.
The quail chicks (5 weeks old and almost full sized) were getting a bit 'overcrowded' indoors. They had plenty of space in their 1m x 0.5m cages but they occasionally stampede, which they don't do if they have more room. We put half of the birds outside, in the rabbit hutch we bought last year. There are 8 birds in the hutch, so they have a lot more room now. The birds indoors have been split between their existing cage and the newly vacated one so everyone has extra space.
We were waiting for the weather to improve, to minimise the change of freezing nights. Unfortunately we put them outside before we saw the weather forecast and the impending storm. We checked on them this morning and they were all ok. Emma put them in the top part of the hutch last night, and they had kept dry.
The rabbit hutch.
One of the quail, in the small hutch 'extension'.
Here are some recent animal photos, mainly the Quail chicks and a few hamster pics.
Click on the thumbnail to view the image
I thought I'd collect together any useful pet related web sites, mainly ones to do with pets we own (at the moment: hamsters, degus and quail). I'll add more sites to the list as and when when I find any.
- Hamster Heaven. This site has a very active forum, where a lot of experienced hamster owners discuss hamster ownership.
- Degu Rock - website about Degus, also has a forum.
- Coturnix Corner. A forum for Quail owners.
- Emma's Hamster Wiki.
Yet more Quail News. This morning, we could hear a 'peeping' sound coming from the middle room, where the quail chicks are. I went to investigate and found one chick out of the cage and running around the floor. It was surprisingly fast and when Emma came to help me catch it, we saw a 2nd chick had also escaped. We didn't think they'd be able to jump high enough to get out of the cage, so we hadn't bothered to put the lid on.
We've also had the first egg from one of the quail chicks which hatched on Christmas Eve. We're not sure which one it was from yet.
We had 20 quail chicks hatch at the beginning of the month. One of them was much smaller than the others and didn't seem to be eating properly - sadly it died after a couple of days.
We still have 19 of them. This morning we thought we might have lost a couple because we found 2 soggy half-drowned chicks in their drinking water. We knew that quail were stupid birds and had been putting marbles in the water so they could get their beaks in to drink, but not get their whole heads in to drown. The chicks shouldn't have been small enough to fit in the water trough. Somehow two of the smallest managed to get in but not climb out again. A third chick looked like it had been in the water but had managed to get out on its own.
We dried them out and kept them warm and they seem to be doing ok now. We've also put the marbles back in the water to stop it happening again.
Photos of the quail chicks taken a few minutes ago (8pm). The oldest hatched last night, making it less than 24 hours old.
We have some quail eggs in an incubator and they weren't due to hatch til tomorrow (friday). Two of them hatched yesterday evening and a third hatched overnight.
I'd forgotten how small they are when they hatch, but when you check the size of the quail eggs this shouldn't be a surprise.
Our original three hatchlings from before Christmas are all doing ok and are almost as large as their parents.
Emma recently bought an incubator so we could try to hatch some quail. They were expected to hatch on Christmas Day but last night we could see a beak starting to peck its way out of one of the eggs.
Sadly this morning there was no movement from the egg - it looks like that quail was too premature and too weak to hatch. There was another egg which looked like it was starting to hatch though.
When we came downstairs about an hour later, there were two chicks wandering around the bottom of the incubator.
Around lunchtime, a 3rd chick hatched. It looks like our first attempt at hatching quail has been reasonably successful so far.
Just a quick note about the show. I've been quite busy recently which explains the lack of posts this week.
This years Christmas show was quite well attended, and there wasn't much left over buffet food at the end. The only unclaimed item was a plate of salad.
During the show, we went out to a nearby aviary and bought another quail hen. She should improve the male:female ratio, so our current hens don't get too much 'attention' from Dan and Waylon.
Our quail have started earning their keep now. The 3 hens are giving us an egg each nearly every day. If we want to use the eggs for cooking, we need to save up for a while. It takes 5 quail eggs to replace 1 chicken's egg in a recipe.
I went upstairs to check on the quail when I noticed an egg in the bottom of the cage. This was a bit of a surprise, although our older quail are getting close to the age when they start laying.
They'll need to lay a few more before we can cook any, unless we want a very small omelette…