Pests and Vermin
The aviary is constructed for your parakeets, but you will get other animals who will want to share the accommodations or get at your birds. Your main problems are likely to be mice and cats, but you may also have trouble with such animals as moles, rats, weasels, owls, and other birds of prey. In addition, we have the less obvious residents, such as bird lice and other insects. Mice can be a major problem. They seem to get into every aviary at some stage or another. Young mice can easily get through your normal 1/2 inch square mesh and through the tiniest holes in your night shelter. Build an aviary with mice in mind. Make everything as mouseproof as possible and do not leave any dark comers for them to hide. Be sure that all cavity walls and insulated areas (the proof, for example) are completely sealed because once inside, the mice will be difficult to eradicate and can severely damage your insulation. Styrofoam, for example, is hopeless; mice seem to love to chew it up and, if you have a mouse infestation, you will find bits of styrofoam all through the aviaries. Mice can be combated with various traps or poisons. However, mice can become immune to certain poisons if they are used continually, so the material should be changed from time to time. If the poison is left in open dishes, it should be placed outside the aviary. If used within the flight or night shelter, the poisons should be placed inside a bait box, with a tiny opening, large enough for the mice to enter but small enough to keep birds out. A heavy brick placed on the box will render it more secure from disturbance by the birds. Be sure to keep an eye on this in case the mice drag the poison pellets out. Mice tend to use the same runs. and, if you can find these, a trap placed across the runs often will catch a mouse even without the use of bait. Another possibility is to place dark boxes with just a small entrance hole. Because there is nowhere else to go, the mice may nest in these. It is then easy to shut them in and then to dispose of them. Sonic devices that emit high frequency sounds that rodents (as well as cats and dogs) can't tolerate provide a more humane alternative. There is not much to say about cats. The best method is to install an electric shock wire. There are special apparatus designed for aviculture on the market. Agricultural electric fence apparatus or sonic devices also can be used and sometimes you may get these second-hand for a good price. The use of double mesh on the aviary will stop the cats getting at the birds but the shock element is still there. Cats can get used to the idea that they cannot get the parakeets and eventually will give up and take little or no further notice of them. In turn, birds can get used to seeing cats in the area regularly. However, if a strange cat suddenly should come near to the aviary, all hell may break loose. Moles, rats, and weasels can gain entry if the foundations of the aviary are not deep enough, if the mesh is of too big a gauge, or if you have not taken enough care in vermin proofing. Though moles pose no threat, if weasels get in, you can say good-bye to your birds. Of course prevention is better than cure here and if a mishap occurs it is most likely because you have not taken the necessary precautions. Sonic devices have also been used effectively. Birds of prey can sit on the roof of the aviary or dive at it. The greatest danger is that the parakeets will panic and injure themselves. Shock and related stress are also to be taken into consideration. Owls end to avoid aviaries that have glossy, glazed white balls on the roof at night. Bird lice and other parasites can be avoided by good hygiene and treatment with insecticides.

E-Mail: berniehansen@sympatico.ca



Hamilton & District Budgerigar Society Inc.