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Date Posted: 18:06:14 05/18/12 Fri
Author: Julie
Author Host/IP:
Subject: Egg bound death

Today my sweet button quail passed away. Her name was Egg, and that's precisely what killed her. She was egg bound, with what looked like a soft shell stuck inside her that she couldn't pass. She was tougher than more birds; we traveled from Wisconsin to Colorado by car and it didn't seem to phase her or her man, our male button, at all. Additionally, her man Mordecai took advantage of her willingness to breed a little too often, but she put up with it. When I would put my hand in their cage Mordecai would hide in the corner, while she would walk right up to it and look up at me. When my cat would bat at their cage with her paw, Egg would walk up to the glass and peck where her paw was, while Mordecai would hide in the corner.

This morning I uncovered their cage to find her puffed up and panting with her beak open. Obviously, something was wrong, but I couldn't be sure what because it was rather hot last night so I suspected she might have over heated. With more research I discovered she was egg bound, so I blended up some broccoli and spinach with some oyster shells and put that in her cage for extra supplement. Then I got a warm dish of water going that I encouraged her to sit in. This seemed to feel good to her for a while, as the pain, it seemed, went in waves. She would hop out of her water, peck at her feet and wings a bit, look around, and then go back to panting. I watched her for hours, carefully monitoring the heat in the cage and trying to encourage her to eat a little. I hard boiled an egg and crushed it up, and she even picked at that a little bit. When I put a new dish of warm water in the cage, she drank a considerable amount in between pants. She even stopped panting with her beak open. Every once and a while she would walk around a bit more, going back and fourth from looking horrible to looking normal. I thought she would get better and pass it with time.

I looked up more information about egg binding (unfortunately the majority of the information was about other birds), and it all seemed much more serious. Other forums said if she is acting this way for longer than an hour, especially in a small bird, then death is inevitable. But other button quail owners seemed to get their buttons to push through it, so I thought maybe it would be okay. As time went on, and since it's Friday and clinics will be closed over the weekend, I called the nearest aviary vet (whom I had never been to before, but came highly rated) and they suggested that I bring her in immediately. I debated, since driving her a half hour and having her be handled by strangers in a strange environment I thought would stress her out too much and it could end up being worse. But they said they could give her pain meds and a stimulant for her to pass the egg like it wouldn't be a problem. Also because of the cross country drive we've already done I thought she could handle it.

We got to the vet, and he admitted he knew very little about quail. They had never heard of Button Quail. He explained to me that most birds only lay about 8-10 eggs a year, and the fact that my Egg had been laying eggs nearly every day was unusual. I tried telling him that for button quail it's not, but he didn't listen. He had me pick her up so he could inspect her vent, and then he pushed on the sides of it, and some liquids came oozing out, but no egg. We put her down and she immediately started panting harder than ever with her beak open, this time arching her head back, and he rushed out of the room with her to get her oxygen. Three or four minutes go by, and he came back to tell me she had passed away.

So what do you do if your button becomes egg bound? I don't know. Perhaps taking her to a vet that knows nothing about button quail isn't the right thing to do. Or maybe I should have taken her in hours beforehand, when she would have been less weak. But ultimately, I don't know.

What I do know now is to take calcium supplements for your female button very seriously. Egg had been laying eggs like a champ for almost two years, and I was too self-absorbed worrying about finding a new apartment or job to remember that I should have been giving them more vegetables and oyster shells. I can't imagine how much pain she must have been in for such a long time, and I will always feel guilty for letting it get that way. I will also always feel bad that she wasn't able to die in her home, with her man whom she cared about, but instead in the hands of some guy with oxygen blowing at her.

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