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 –
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