Small, cheerful and fascinating birds, mandarins originated in Australia. They are sociable and, ideally, should be raised in pairs or groups. His song is a kind of twitter and the plumage can have several colors, including: original, light brown, silver, white (in albino birds) and brindle. Since their life expectancy is five years, you should think seriously about the commitment you will make in adopting a bird of this species. Never acquire such an animal on impulse. If you want to raise and breed mandarins, find out if there will be room to raise puppies that don't find a home.
Method 1 of 5: Preparing Your Home to Receive Mandarin
Step 1. See if your house is suitable for such a bird
Before raising mandarins in captivity, think carefully about all the elements involved in the equation. Having a pet is a big responsibility.
- When you need to leave the house, for example, you will need to find someone to take care of the birds in your absence. Is there anyone who can do this for you?
- If your job requires you to travel a lot, ask yourself if it would be fair to leave these birds, for whom socializing is so important, alone for so long.
- Make sure the space is safe for birds. Consider all practical issues - whether you are or live with a smoker, whether you are in the habit of burning incense and scented candles, among others. That's because mandarins are extremely sensitive to air pollutants. Cigarette smoke, for example, makes breeding birds unfeasible. And the scent of scented candles penetrates the birds' plumage, which they find irritating and makes them frantically clean their feathers in an attempt to get rid of the smell.
- Check if you and your family have any health problems. Those with weakened immune systems (ie, newborns, the elderly, chemotherapy patients, and those with immune-suppressing diseases) are more likely to get infections from living with birds. Some birds carry diseases such as salmonella and chlamydia. Although they themselves are not affected by them, they put vulnerable people around them at risk.
Step 2. Provide a specific cage for small birds
Without this precaution, there is a chance that the mandarin will escape. To contain a bird of this size, the minimum space between the bars must be 12 mm.
- Canary cages and other designs with large gaps between bars are unsuitable for mandarins.
- Visit your local pet shop and find the appropriate cage.
- Give preference to a model wide but not as tall (such as a parrot cage), as mandarins prefer to fly horizontally.
Step 3. Put some perches in the cage
Arrange them at different heights so that the birds can jump from one to the other.
- It is also important that the perches have different thicknesses. The muscle groups used by the mandarin to cling to a narrow perch are different from those used to cling to a wide one.
- Do not overcrowd the perch cage. This would encourage the bird to move by jumping from perch to perch instead of flying.
- Perch types include: branches, ropes, plastic perches, clothesline and live or artificial plants.
Step 4. Line the cage with newspaper
In addition to newspaper, you can also use leftover printer paper. The lining serves to prevent faeces, food and water residues from falling from the bottom of the cage. There are special linings available at pet stores, but they are expensive and unnecessary.
- Do not use rough materials - such as sandpaper - to line the cage, as they will damage the birds' feet.
- Also, do not line the cage with corn husks, walnut shells and cedar shavings, which would be harmful if ingested by birds.
Step 5. Decorate the cage with a swing or other toys
Keep your bird entertained with decorations and toys like swings, bells and stairs.
If you only have one mandarin, put a mirror in the cage so that he thinks he's accompanied. On the other hand, this should not be done if you have two animals or more, as male birds would feel threatened
Step 6. Do not put ropes or string inside the cage
Birds could get tangled up in the ropes, causing serious and even fatal damage. This goes for any kind of bird, not just the mandarin.
Method 2 of 5: Acquiring Mandarin
Step 1. Look for a healthy animal
Go to a pet shop or specialized breeder and choose a healthy looking, active bird with bright eyes and soft feathers. Breeders tend to sell healthier birds than pet stores.
Another clue to the animal's health is the state of the feces in the cage. Healthy animal stools are consistent and have brown and white parts. Yellow, green or completely liquid stools are abnormal. Avoid buying any animal from a cage with feces like this
Step 2. Observe how birds breathe at rest
One breath every two seconds is a healthy frequency. Sick animals breathe very quickly, and since this takes a lot of effort, their tails move up and down at the same rate.
Furthermore, they have disheveled plumage and tend to sit on the perch or bottom of the cage. All of this suggests a sick bird, which should be avoided
Step 3. Listen to the bird singing
Mandarin is very vocal and usually sings all day long. Before purchasing one, make sure the sound it produces isn't irritating to you.
Step 4. Decide between a male or a female
The plumage of each has different colors. Males have elaborate designs, an orange spot on each cheek, stripes on the neck and white dots on the sides of the body. Their beaks are bright red. Females have flat colors - gray, most of the time - and orange beaks.
- Puppies have gray feathers and black beaks. Adult coloration begins to appear at approximately 90 days of age.
- Couples of animals of the same sex form strong bonds and are very happy together.
Step 5. Provide a pair of mandarins
Because they have a strong communal nature, they thrive when they live together. You will need to buy a couple if you want them to breed. To minimize space disputes, never put more than one couple in the same cage.
If you are going to set up a small colony, each bird should have plenty of room to fly and the cage should not be overcrowded. It may be necessary to divide them into several cages or set up an aviary
Method 3 of 5: Feeding Mandarin
Step 1. Feed the bird correctly
Mandarin is vegetarian. In nature, your diet consists of grains, vegetables and seeds. Birdseed can be purchased at pet stores and must be purchased in small quantities. Buy it factory-packed in sealed boxes or containers, which preserve the food's freshness and nutrients longer. Do not buy food in bulk, which, by spending too much time exposed to the air, ends up losing its freshness and nutritional potential.
Step 2. Keep the pan always filled
Birds of this species instinctively regulate the food they eat according to their needs and therefore will never overeat. Therefore, keep the bird feeder full at all times.
The only exception to this rule is sunflower seeds - delicious but high in fat. When they are available, the mandarin cannot control himself, running the risk of becoming obese. Make sunflower seed an occasional treat
Step 3. Vary the menu from time to time
These birds also feed on some homemade foods, such as vegetables and bread crumbs, but avoid meat and spicy or sweet foods.
Remove perishable food rejected by the bird daily
Step 4. The cage should be filled with clean water daily
Divide it into two containers: an open one (like the one that comes from the factory with the cage) and a water dispenser, attached to the side bars of the cage and at the base of which there is a beak or opening through which the bird drinks.
- Thus, the bird gets used to drinking water in many different ways, which is important if it needs to be donated to someone else in the future. If water is offered only one way and the next owner does it a different way, the bird will not know how to drink water, which could lead to dehydration.
- Put clean, fresh water in the cage every day.
Step 5. Offer snacks such as cuttlefish bone
The inner shell of cuttlefish, a marine animal similar to squid, is a supplement of minerals such as iron and calcium. The bird pecks the soft part of the shell, which helps to replenish calcium levels and sharpen the beak.
Method 4 of 5: Taking Care of Your Mandarins
Step 1. Let them fly freely in a room
Even though they live in a large cage, birds need to exercise daily in a larger space. Only open the cage when your pets are used to the cage and the room in which they live. Close all doors and windows before releasing the birds.
An alternative would be to raise them in a large outdoor aviary sheltered under some cover. Inside the aviary there should be boxes and shelters where they can curl up and spend the night. Do not leave the nursery exposed to rain or wind. If you live in a region with intense climate, raising the birds indoors is the best option
Step 2. Don't make any sudden movements or noises near the mandarins
Because they overreact to any stimulus, mandarins are disturbed by sudden movements and noises. Although they are very hardy birds, they need to live in a peaceful environment.
Step 3. Be careful when handling the mandarin
Being very delicate, he needs time to get used to human touch. Hold it for a short time at first and gradually increase this period. Handle it with care and delicacy.
Step 4. Look for symptoms of illness and abnormal behavior
When the animal is injured or sick, place the cage in a warmer environment and call the veterinarian immediately.
Withdrawal, disheveled plumage, longer-than-normal rest periods, rapid breathing, a quivering tail, silence, weight loss, watery stools and poor appetite are some of the signs that something is wrong
Method 5 of 5: Crossing Mandarins
Step 1. Provide nest material only if you want the birds to mate
Mandarin reach sexual maturity at three months of age, however it is recommended to wait for them to reach six months before mating.
- If you have room to raise lots of birds, it's okay to have more females than males. But if you use small cages, it would be ideal to leave just one couple in each one.
- When satisfied, the male sings a special song for the female and shakes himself on his perch to impress her.
Step 2. The cage must be big enough
The mother lays approximately eight eggs, which means there will be ten birds sharing the same space when the eggs hatch. If space is tight, all the animals will get nervous, which can result in illness and even death in some of them.
Step 3. Install the nests
Provide several clean and new nests, and the couple will choose one of them to house their new family.
- Mandarin prefer box-shaped nests with a single entry pass.
- Wicker is the ideal material for the box. However, this material cannot be disinfected, so the box can only be used once. Discard it after each litter and use a new one the next time the female lays eggs.
- Buying ready-made nests at a pet shop is a good alternative.
- Line the nest with a warm, comfortable substrate. Grass hay is a good material. Be wary of industrialized cotton-based substrates (such as hamster cage liners), which contain fibers that can wrap around the neck and feet of birds.
Step 4. Place the box as high as you can
Birds of this species want to feel safe in their own nest. Secure the box as close to the cage liner as possible (not near the base).
Step 5. Leave the cage in a quiet environment
Find the calmest and quietest place in your home and leave the cage there. Any noises, especially those emitted by pets such as dogs and cats, could lead the mandarin to imagine that there is a predator nearby.
Step 6. Monitor eggs
Without disturbing the nest, record the number of eggs the female has laid. She is likely to lay approximately eight eggs, one a day.
Once the eggs are laid, the female will start to incubate them. Later, the eggs will be hatched by both parents in alternate shifts, and will hatch after approximately two weeks
Step 7. Remove unfertilized eggs
If three weeks have passed without any of the eggs hatching, get them out of the nest quickly. Once the old eggs are removed, the mother will lay new ones.
- Differentiating new from unfertilized eggs is impossible, so try to keep them separate.
- Separate the couple among the litters. Thus, the birds will be able to rest before mating again.
Step 8. Observe the development of the chicks
After 21 days, they will leave the nest to explore the rest of the cage. By four weeks of age, they will be able to feed on their own.
- By six weeks, they will develop the plumage and color they will have as adults.
- Mandarins make great parents and rarely need human help to care for their young.
Step 9. Separate the chicks from the parents after six weeks
When the pups' plumage reaches maturity, place them in another cage.
Discuss chick sales with your local bird shop. You can also try trading them for birdseed and supplies with a pet shop
Step 10. Place a band on each chick's paw to identify them
If you plan to breed mandarins regularly, identify the puppies with permanent colored bands. Develop a color system to know who the parents of each of them are, which will allow you to know the degree of kinship between them and avoid inbreeding in the future.
- Place the band on the chick's right paw at approximately eight days of age.
- Bird identification kits can be purchased at specialized bird breeding stores or via the internet.