Pet Canaries

Pet Canaries
Canaries (Serinus Canarius) are originally from the Canary Islands off the coast of Africa. Most people think of the canary as a yellow bird but the canary also comes in other variations of color. The canary requires less attention and space than parrots. A canary is a songbird that is sure to delight your family.

The male canary is the singer in the family, but the female canary is more social than the male. It is very difficult to tell the difference between the male and female canary. If you are only interested in purchasing a male that you know will sing, purchase after a year old and make sure you’ve heard the bird sing before you purchase him. Hopefully you will enjoy and love your canary if it sings or not. Purchase a canary while they are still young.

Canaries are not overly social birds and can be kept as a single. In fact male birds are very territorial.

Purchasing a Canary
Prices of canaries vary a great deal. If you purchase from a pet store they will likely be more expensive than purchasing from a private breeder. The fancier the variety of canary the more expensive the canary will be. Males are usually more expensive than females.

Make sure you pick out a healthy bird from a reputable breeder. I wouldn’t recommend purchasing a canary from an outdoor aviary. Mosquitoes carry canary pox and easily transmit the canary pox to canaries. This is good reason to make sure your screens are in good condition and are secure.

Make sure you find out what the canary has been eating, and continue to feed the same food, changing over to a different diet gradually; if you feel the need.

Cages and Accessories
Canaries don’t climb for exercise as parrots do. They need to fly. A good-sized rectangular cage is needed to give them an opportunity for optimal exercise. They enjoy hopping from branch to branch. Never put your canary in a round cage. The minimum sized cage should be 24" long, 16" deep, and 18" tall. The bigger the cage is the better. The bar spacing should be no bigger than one half inch.

You should give the canary perches of different diameters from one quarter inch to one half inch in diameter for optimal foot health. Do not use the sandpaper perches you find in pet stores.
Natural branches are wonderful for optimal foot health but make sure they are not off a poisonous tree or have chemicals such as pesticides on them. Wash and dry the branch thoroughly before using. Sun drying is the best drying method.

The cage and accessories should be cleaned and sanitized on a weekly basis. The cage floor covering and food dishes need to be cleaned daily. Newspaper that doesn’t contain colored ink works great for a cage floor covering. You can also purchase cage floor coverings from a pet supply store. The branches need to be washed in hot soapy water, rinsed well and allowed to completely dry.

Canaries enjoy toys. Most any toy suitable for a parakeet is fine for a canary. Keep in mind that the male canary may not sing if he has a mirror. The canary enjoys a swing in its cage.

A canary needs fresh water available twenty four hours a day. If they go without water for as long as sixteen hours they can die. Clean the water bottle or water dish daily and disinfect it.

A canary should have a cuttlebone and mineral block to meet their calcium and mineral needs Canaries do not need grit. They should also have a vitamin supplement. I prefer the type that goes on their fresh food (fruits, veggies, and greens). You can also purchase vitamins that go into the canary’s drinking water. Using too much can make the bird very sick so read the instructions and follow the instructions carefully.

You will need to provide a good canary seed mix. Supplement this seed diet with pellets and fresh foods each day. You can feed cooked egg, green leafy vegetables, fruits and other vegetables. Iceberg lettuce is not good for the bird, nor is chocolate, avocado, caffeine, or sugar.

Use good common sense in feeding your canary. Throw the remainder of the fresh food away, after the bird is done eating, so that the food doesn’t spoil. Feed watery soft fruits sparingly so not to give the bird diarrhea. Freshly sprouted seeds are very good for your canary and he or she will enjoy the sprouts. Stay away from fatty seeds it can cause liver damage.

The canary can live for ten years and even more if properly cared for. Canaries as well as other birds are very sensitive to toxins. Don’t spray perfumes, insecticides, air freshener, or anything of that nature around your bird. Teflon that is over heated emits toxins and can kill the bird. Other items such as heat lamps have the same Teflon coating – beware.

The bird should be kept out of direct sunlight. If you place the cage in the sun make sure he or she has a shady place to retreat Keep the cage away from cold windows and drafts. Canaries need to have dark at nighttime. Use a cage cover if the bird is not in a room with near total darkness (a nightlight is fine). It can be quite stressful on the bird to have it around a lot of activity and light at night.

The wings of a canary should not be trimmed. Parrots can climb to get exercise but a canary must fly to get exercise. The toenails will need to be trimmed.

Canaries molt once a year usually in midsummer. It takes a couple of months for the new feathers to grow back The canary should have extra protein during the molt to aid in growing new feathers. Stress can cause a bird to go into molt so you should keep the bird away from stressful situations.

The exotic pet canary will need to bathe and they enjoy bathing. Get a shallow bowl and put about a quarter inch of lukewarm water in the bowl. It is best to let the canary bathe earlier in the day to give it plenty of opportunity to dry off. Keep the bird from any drafts while bathing and drying.

Canaries do get ill and they also can get several varieties of mites. Contact an avian veterinarian for treatment.

Always research the exotic pet you are interested in thoroughly before bringing one home. This article gives you a brief overview of the canary. It is a good idea to have a resource book at your finger tips when you have an exotic pet. The pet canary makes for an outstanding pet especially when you have limited living space. They don’t require as much attention as parrots do. The canary will live for ten years or more if you properly manage his or her care. Always provide a good-sized rectangle cage for the canary because he or she needs to fly to exercise. Above all enjoy your pet canary!

The New Canary Handbook: Everything About Purchase, Care, Diet, Disease, and Behavior : With a Special Chapter on Understanding Canaries (New Pet Handbooks)

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