When it comes to transporting pets, birds seem to generate more questions than almost any other pet. We all know that a cat can be placed into a basket or a dog into a crate but what about flighty, nervous, fragile cage birds like budgies, canaries and cockatiels? How should one transport such animals to ensure that they reach their destination is perfect health?
Two Rules for Transporting Cage Birds
Transporting birds is never easy. For one, birds tend to be quite highly strung animals. Of all the commonly kept pets, birds are the most likely to get overly stressed. Their rapidly-beating heart and fast metabolism means that birds can suffer from stress quite easily. Transporting a pet over a distance is a perfect example of the sort of stressful environment that can upset a bird.
As well as this generally easily-stressed temperament, birds are also rather flighty. A sudden noise or movement can be enough to cause them to leap off their perch, attempting to fly away. Once in a blue moon this behaviour is unlikely to cause a problem, but repeated attempts at flying while being transported can cause physical damage to the bird or their plumage.
Finding ways to avoid both these problems is therefore key when transporting cage birds from one location to another.
Cages or Boxes?
Many pet owners ask whether a bird should be transported in their cage or in some kind of box. To this there is no easy question as it will all depend on the individual circumstances. Birds are of course experts at balancing in trees, so just because your pet is in a moving vehicle doesn’t necessarily mean that you will find them falling off their perch due to the movement of the vehicle.
In this way, keeping your bird in its cage can minimize the stress of having to catch your pet and place it into another carrying device. In addition transporting your pet in its cage also makes for easy access should you want to clear up a mess or carry out a basic health check etc.
Boxes, most typically made of wood or plastic, can be handy for transporting birds in some situations, such as when they are being moved to another country. In the belly of an aeroplane a cage would not only take up unnecessary space but would also risk being damaged itself. A study box designed for the purpose of transporting pets is therefore advisable in such situations.
If you relocating with your pets it is a good idea to speak to a pet transport expert who will advise you on the best method of shipping your bird overseas.
Remove Water and Food
Food and water can be a particularly troublesome aspect of transporting birds. Having a fast metabolism many birds have a regular need for sustenance. On the other hand food and water in a moving vehicle can slop and spill, creating a mess for both you and your pet, while robbing it of the water it desires.
What to do? In many cases experts recommend providing some form of moisture-rich food to your pet bird with the aim of ticking both boxes. Fresh fruit, for example, is an excellent source of both nutrition and moisture, as is sliced carrot.
In situations where your journey stops – such as stopping for a comfort break when transporting your bird in the car – you may wish to temporarily provide a bowl of fresh water and some of your pet’s standard food as a little treat.
This can be removed before you re-commence your journey to avoid unnecessary spillage.
Darkness Is Your Friend
Most birds are diurnal; that is to say they’re awake during the day and asleep at night. Normally as the sun goes down the birds you’ve seen in your garden will fluff up to roost during the night. Your pet bird is really no different.
One odd biological nuance of birds is that most once it gets dark, most birds calm down, relax and fall asleep. That means are artificially making your bird’s cage can help to reduce the stress your pet bird feels during transportation.
Possibly the best way to do this is to place a cover made of fabric over your birds cage. In this way you’ll not only help to darken the cage and so keep your pet calm but you will also reduce visibility.
This reduction in visibility is important in that it will reduce the chances of your bird getting scared when there is movement around the cage. A bird looking out of a car window as vehicles and trees race past is generally far more stressed than one in a darkened cage.
Peace and Quiet
If sudden motion stresses your pet out then sudden noises are just as likely to cause problems. Any way in which you can reduce the noises around your pet will be appreciated. In reality you can’t exactly put headphones on your pet but you can try to consciously remain quiet throughout the journey. Try to avoid sudden loud noises like coughs, sneezes, car horns or music and your cage bird will arrive at its destination in a far better frame of mind.