Many birds and small animals are not native to Australia and not naturally equipped to deal with the blistering summer heatwaves. At the height of summer, the best option, especially for small animals is to offer them sanctuary inside under controlled temperatures. For birds in an aviary, this may not be an option, so here are some tips to help you get your pets through those sweltering summer days.
Temperatures over 28°c may cause heat stress. Preferred or safe temperatures for small animals are roughly 16-24°c
DANGER ZONE: PETS IN DISTRESS!
Animals stressed by the heat will often behave differently than normal. They may lose their balance, collapse or appear lethargic and stressed. Below are some tell tale signs that your pet will display when it is distressed. It’s essential for you be able to identify these signs, and to know what to do if you see them, but the main thing to remember is that heat stress can set in quickly and you must seek veterinary attention immediately.
During summer, if inside the house is not an option for pets then access to full shade, cool water and electrolytes is essential.
You may have to move your pet’s cage during the day to ensure they have access to shade all day long. Even a few minutes in full sun can be enough to kill on hot days!
Shade cloth is a simple and effective means of reducing temperatures.
If using metal cages keep in mind they retain the heat and your pet will not be able to keep cool.
A misting system can be a tremendous help, and on average will reduce the temperature by about 10 degrees. Make sure you place it somewhere your pet can get cool, but still leaving enough dry area to get away from the mist if they want to.
Cool clean water is essential. Cool being the operative word. Adding a block of ice to water containers and freezing water bottles can help. If using bowls for water, then try to use deeper bowls rather than wide shallow bowls as water will stay cooler for longer. Adding a little bit of Spark Liquid to the water ensures your pet stays hydrated and recharged.
HEAT STRESS AND LIFESAVING ELECTRO – WHATS??
Cooling your pet down is only half the battle. The other half is trying to keep their body chemistry normal. Without getting really complicated, when animals or people get hot, changes begin taking place within the body that can lead to heat stress. These changes are centered around electrolytes and the loss of these all important components of the body due to dehydration.
All animals have electrolytes including humans. They are essential for cells and organs to function normally.
So making electrolytes available to our pets becomes a really important and lifesaving factor. You can use Spark Liquid for this job. Simply add it to your animal’s clean cool water, and you will support your pets with the final piece of equipment they need to deal with the burning inferno that is our beloved Australian summer.
If you rescue an animal suffering from heat stress and dehydration, wrap it loosely in a towel, place in a cardboard box and offer water to drink. Spraying with a fine mist of water can help to cool it down. Leave it in a dark, cool and quiet place and contact your local wildlife organisation. Be sure to record the location of where the animal was found so that it can be returned to the area if it recovers.
A wild lorikeet has to work for its food, flying from tree to tree and foraging for a large portion of their day. Our pet lorikeets on the other hand, only have to hop over to their feed bowl. In addition, while wild diets do contain sugar, they do not contain sugars that humans have chemically refined – so why are we feeding our pet birds that do comparatively little exercise, a diet brimming with refined sugar? Because our birds love the taste and refined sugar is cheap!
BETTER FOOD NATURALLY!
When formulating a new lorikeet diet, Vetafarm’s nutritionists took a different approach. By avoiding processed foods, by-products and refined sugars, we developed Forest Fusion. A far cry from the traditional refined sugar and breadcrumb mixes of the past, Forest Fusion contains wholesome low GI ingredients as a base, along with Australian bee pollen, real fruits, vitamins, minerals and organic acids.
Forest Fusion does NOT contain refined sugars, instead it is flavoured with the natural sweetness of real dates and blueberry extract.
WILL MY LORIKEET LIKE FOREST FUSION?
Vetafarm have used real dates, Eucalyptus bee pollen and blueberry extract to achieve a sweet food without the need for refined sugar. However, some lorikeets have developed what can only be considered an addiction to refined sugar. These birds may need to be converted onto Forest Fusion gradually – but it is certainly achievable!
Converting your Lorikeet onto a low sugar diet
Converting a Lorikeet from a food high in refined sugar, to a formula that contains much less, or no refined sugar is simple. However some birds may need some time and patience on your behalf. Vetafarm has a number of great foods and while we are focused specifically on Forest Fusion in this article, this technique will work for any of our Lorikeet diets.
WHERE TO START?
First offer Forest Fusion in a separate bowl along with your bird’s regular formula and simply observe their response. Most Lorikeets will investigate a new food and try it first. Many will readily consume Forest Fusion without delay. If this is the case with your Lorikeet, simply change to the new formula and your job is done!
If you observe some head flicking, this usually translates to “what is that taste in my mouth!”. It doesn’t mean the conversion has failed, just that the taste and texture is very different to your birds previous high sugar diet. Give them a day with the formula to give it a decent try.
After tasting Forest Fusion, if your bird decides that they’re sticking to their old high sugar diet we need to take the next step in the conversion process.
Conversion tip! Try offering some wet Forest Fusion from your hand or on a favourite treat.
Mix 75% of the old diet with 25% new diet and place the mix in the bird’s regular food bowl. You can do this wet or dry, depending on how you usually feed your bird. Over the next 5 days, when preparing food gradually decrease the old formula and increase the amount of Forest Fusion by about 10% each day.
By day 5, 75% of the mix should be Forest Fusion. If your bird is eating this mix happily, then try straight Forest Fusion the following day. Be sure you still make fruit and vegetables available throughout the conversion process.
Conversion tip! New foods can be easier to introduce as a wet mix, rather than a dry powder.
Remember to monitor your bird throughout the process until you are confident they are happily eating your new Vetafarm formula.
With a little patience and perseverance, even the fussiest sugar addict can be swayed to a low sugar Vetafarm diet. Then it’s just a matter of sitting back and enjoying the good times with your feathered friend.
Watch our videos below for more information!