||This page has been prepared for the "UK
Wildlife: First Aid and Care" Wildpro module, and is designed for the
needs of the following species: Alectoris
rufa - Red-legged partridge, Chrysolophus
pictus - Golden pheasant, Coturnix
coturnix - Common quail, Lagopus
lagopus - Willow ptarmigan, Lagopus
mutus - Rock ptarmigan, Perdix
perdix - Grey partridge, Phasianus
colchicus - Common pheasant, Tetrao
tetrix - Black grouse, Tetrao
urogallus - Western capercaillie.
These species are from the families Phasianidae.
- Some of these bird may become highly stressed on handling and may shed large number of
feathers. Firm but gentle handling, for as short a time as possible, should be used.
- Male pheasants may have substantial and sharp tarsal spurs.
- Even injured birds will try a vertical take off to escape.
- Large net with an extra-long handle is useful for catching these species.(B151)
- A padded rim and a deep bag of small) mesh is preferred.
- Once in the net, restrain the bird through the net with one or both hands around the
shoulders, holding the wings to the body. Particular care should be taken to ensure that
the bird does not escape from the net during this procedure and it may be an advantage to
have a second person present to assist.(V.w5)
- The legs should then be held with one hand, with one finger between the legs at the
hocks, before the net is removed.
- May be herded towards a "walk-towards" net (about 1 metre wide and several
metres long, similar in appearance to a tennis net). (B199)
- A large towel, coat or similar cloth may be thrown over the bird followed by rapidly,
but gently, grabbing the bird through the cloth.
- May be caught by hand in a confined space.
- Do not try to catch by grabbing or standing on the tail feathers as
these will probably come out.
- Galliformes can be unpredictable during handling and are prone to sudden explosive
movements and a vertical take off. They should be handled in a fully enclosed space
whenever possible. Extra care should be taken to avoid collision with solid objects which
may result in scalping injuries or even neck fractures.
- Hold with both hands around the wings and body, holding the leg on either side between
the third and fourth finger of each hand.
- Keep the wings held firmly against the body at all times.
- Relatively large birds may be carried with one hand holding the legs at the hocks,
keeping one finger between the legs, the other arm pinning the body of the bird to the
handler's body and controlling the head.
- Small species should be held gently but firmly in both hands, taking care not to put too
much pressure on the rib cage.
- Subdued lighting may be used if possible to calm the bird.
- Covering the bird's head with a lightweight cloth may help to calm the bird.
- Sedation with diazepam (10mg/kg, intramuscular or intravenous) has been suggested to
reduce stress during handling and facilitate examination. (B151)
- Prolonged examination and treatment may best be performed with the bird under general
General Anaesthesia (Generic
- A variety of techniques have been used for induction and maintenance of general
anaesthesia in birds including injectable anaesthetics such as ketamine, propofol, saffan,
medetomidine, etc and gaseous anaesthetics such as halothane and isoflurane. Further
information regarding the use of different anaesthetic agents is available as described
for use in waterfowl. See:
- Isoflurane is currently considered to be the anaesthetic agent of choice for induction
and maintenance of general anaesthesia in birds in most circumstances and species.
- Induction of general anaesthesia with a gaseous agent can be achieved using a face mask
or induction chamber.
- Use of an anaesthetic chamber for induction may be preferable with small birds
because it avoids the stress involved with manual restraint during mask induction.
- The walls of the anaesthetic chamber should preferably be made of a transparent or
translucent material that facilitates easy monitoring of the patient during induction and
transfer to an anaesthetic mask or intubation at the appropriate depth of general
- In the majority of cases, intubation of birds is recommended during the maintenance of
general anaesthesia. However, for very small birds and / or very short procedures
intubation may not be appropriate. Clinical judgement should be used to determine whether
intubation is appropriate for the size of species, procedure and likely duration of
general anaesthesia required.
- The majority of birds have simple solid cartilaginous rings within the trachea. As a
consequence, the use of cuffed endotracheal tubes is not generally recommended because of
the potential risk of the cuff exerting local pressure which could damage the trachea and
lead to secondary tissue necrosis. The use of a non-cuffed endotracheal tubes is generally
recommended. However in specific circumstances where the risks of gastrointestinal
contents reflux (e.g. flushing of the gizzard to remove particulate lead material in
waterfowl) may be particularly high, partial inflation of a cuffed tube may be practised
with great care.
- The need for fluid therapy by an appropriate route should be considered during general
anaesthesia, particularly in birds which may be dehydrated. Clinical judgement, based on
general principles, must be used regarding the route, volume and type of fluids required.
- Consideration should be given to prevent hypothermia. The ambient temperature of the
room should be comfortably warm (20oC - 25oC)
and external heat sources may be appropriate (e.g. heat mats etc.), particularly for
longer anaesthetics and collapsed animals. Care must be taken not to overheat the animal
or cause burns.
- There must be good ventilation in any room used for gaseous anaesthesia. In normal
circumstances an anaesthetic gas scavenging system should be in place, particularly when
masks and chambers are used. Exposure to anaesthetic gases can pose a risk to the
operating staff, either through toxic effects of the gas or inadvertent self-anaesthesia
of the veterinary and nursing staff.
- Further information, with particular reference to
waterfowl, and including emergency procedures, is available in: Treatment
and Care - Anaesthesia and Chemical Restraint.