I’ve had an empty tank sitting here for close to two years now. It used to hold the last of my bearded dragons, a big guy named Pancake, who finally succumbed to old age quite a ways back, after living with the family for about 12 years. I’ve never felt the need to fill it again, until recently. It’s just sat there gathering dust, it’s become a depository for random stuff that had no where else to go, but since it sits just behind my computer chair, directly behind me as I type this, I’d really like to use the space effectively.
So as I started thinking what I’d like to get in the realm of scalies, there were a few criteria that I immediately set.
- Whatever goes into the tank must be small enough to not outgrow it, at least not in short order.
- Whatever goes into the tank must eat mice. It’s a serious pain to breed your own crickets, it’s a messy, smelly operation, one that I have no interest in doing again. While I can certainly go buy crickets, most reptiles that eat them require a fresh supply every single day, which, again, is a pain in the backside. Mice are much easier to breed and I already have a mouse-munching snake in the house, adding another isn’t a big deal.
- Whatever goes into the tank must be interesting. Unfortunately, I’ve done lots of different reptiles over the years, big and small snakes, frogs, etc. To be honest, I’m really bored with most of them.
Then I started thinking, maybe I ought to get rid of the tank altogether and try something new. My menagerie over the past 25 years is pretty extensive, from reptiles and snakes to rodents to rabbits to ferrets, etc. About the only thing I’ve never done seriously is birds. Now there’s an idea!
I have experience with birds, I have friends who are breeders, I’ve dealt with a wide range of birds, both common and exotic, and while I’ve never owned one full-time, I certainly have the knowledge to do so. My immediate attraction was toward big birds, the macaws and the cockatoos. It isn’t necessarily the talking that I cared about, it was having a bird that had an affinity for attention. The $1000+ price tag wasn’t a big deal, but as I talked it over with my wife, she reminded me that I was the only one in the house with any experience with birds, it’s probably a good idea to start with something smaller, especially since some of the big birds can be potentially dangerous if not handled properly. Having a big macaw with a powerful beak and long claws getting mad at you isn’t fun.
So I started looking at “smaller” options. There were some birds which were immediately ruled out, of course. I didn’t want anything that couldn’t be handled, such as finches. I didn’t want anything that was constantly making a ton of noise, such as canaries. I didn’t want a bird that was going to immediately bond with one person and hate everyone else. I know I’m the one that it would bond with, every other animal in the house is my “special friend”, I just don’t want to have yet another animal that doesn’t want to be around anyone else.
That really left me with only a few options. Initially, I was considering a hand-raised cockatiel, they’re friendly, intelligent and hearty and I know someone who owns a few who can give me advice should I need any. Of course, I thought, that’s what I’ll get.
At least until I walked into a local breeder’s place today. I was checking to see if they had any hand-raised ‘tiels, which of course they didn’t, but what they did have was a pair of hand-raised 4-month old yellow-sided, green-cheek conures. They were both absolute attention hounds… um birds, they wanted to cuddle and play from the second I opened their cage. One of them jumped up on my shoulder and refused to leave, trying to hide under my collar. While I have no idea on the sex, they’d have to be genetically tested to know, I’m going to pretend it’s male, like all the rest of my animals. He found himself a new home, right now he’s acclimating to his new cage, but every time I walk by, he squawks to get out and play. Conures are actually better birds, more intelligent and have the ability to talk, plus they’re really not that loud, which can be a turn-off for other conures which yak up a storm. For being such a small parrot, they really are very attractive and active guys. Here’s a picture I took of the little guy at the breeder’s to convince my wife.
So now I guess the only animal I haven’t had is a horse. Let’s not go there.