Birds

Birds are of­ten seen as an­i­mals that do not re­turn af­fec­tion the way cats and dogs do, but while birds are un­able to sit on your lap or join you in bed, many bird own­ers will at­test to other in­ter­est­ing ways they show their love. These winged crea­tures –

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COM­MON CON­CERNS

Bit­ing and nip­ping: Birds that turn one year old usu­ally start bit­ing hard, whether out of fear when be­ing grabbed or to ex­plore the many uses of their beak. Fe­males bite when they are in heat or about to lay eggs, too. Rule out con­cerns by ob­serv­ing and weigh­ing them reg­u­larly. Feather-pluck­ing: In­door birds who are iso­lated and lack so­cial in­ter­ac­tion may turn to pluck­ing their own feath­ers, so keep your bird en­ter­tained by al­low­ing it to frolic around the home (un­der su­per­vi­sion) or giv­ing them toys such as mir­rors and lad­ders to

play with. How­ever, feather mites may also be a cause of feather bit­ing; bring your bird to a vet if it ap­pears rest­less, is sneez­ing or has lost a lot of weight.

Space to fly: Pro­vid­ing am­ple space for your bird to stretch its wings is of the high­est im­por­tance. “Your en­clo­sure should be as large as pos­si­ble, so the bird can ex­press its nat­u­ral be­hav­iour – which is to fly. If you al­low it to roam freely around the house, en­sure your win­dows are se­cured and fans will not get in its way. Birds get lead poi­son­ing eas­ily, too, so check that what they peck at is safe,” says Dr Gill from SPCA.

Liv­ing with more than one pet can be tricky, so hous­ing 14 an­i­mals and still main­tain­ing a squeaky clean home is tes­ta­ment to de­sign­ers Ben­jamin & Dilys Soh’s pa­tience and devo­tion to an­i­mals. Ben shares with us how they do it. Name some of the an­i­mals you have at home. Our grow­ing fam­ily in­cludes four pairs of love­birds, two red whiskered bul­bul birds, one Si­amese kit­ten, and a chin­chilla! Our silky ter­rier lives with my par­ents and, un­for­tu­nately, our se­nior dwarf rab­bit passed away some time ago. I’ve al­ways liked an­i­mals and started by rais­ing chicks and fight­ing fishes at a young age – you can say I’m quite the kam­pong boy! How do you in­te­grate pet cages and play ar­eas in your home stylishly? My wife and I are min­i­mal­ists, and hav­ing no clut­ter helps to avoid ac­ci­dents. The cages we chose have evolved over the years, from plain and func­tional to stylish ones that match our in­te­rior de­sign. The Vi­sion bird cage (pic­tured far left) and an igloo-like cat pee pen are some ex­am­ples. What con­cerns come with hav­ing so many an­i­mals in the house? Clean­li­ness, es­pe­cially be­cause Dilys has asthma. We change the bird cage lin­ing every two days, and clean the other cages daily to pre­vent buildup of photos BEN­JAMIN SOH fur in the house. Dyson fans and air pu­ri­fiers keep the air clean and fresh, too. We also counter the noise by cov­er­ing each bird cage with a cloth be­tween 10pm and 7.30am. What spe­cial care do you take for your birds? We adopted Mac­cha from an owner who had trou­ble do­mes­ti­cat­ing her, and took on the chal­lenge of im­prov­ing her be­hav­iour and eas­ing her bore­dom by find­ing her a mate. A for­eign and neu­tral en­vi­ron­ment, such as a date at Seran­goon North where fel­low par­rot en­thu­si­asts would meet, helped her bond with our fel­low par­rot, Kiko.

Ad­di­tion­ally, we bought a lownoise vac­uum so as not to scare the birds, and grow plants like basil and lemon­grass to ward off flies. We also don’t take chances – we don’t leave Mew, our kit­ten, and the birds un­su­per­vised; Mew fol­lows Dilys to work and we don’t buy feath­ery toys.

BEN & DILYS SOH, OWN­ERS OF 14 AN­I­MALS

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