One of the technological advances that have impacted pet owners is the introduction of microchipping as a method of permanent identification for animal family members. Microchips are not easily removed as are collars or other external means of identification, making them a viable option for a variety of different types of pets. Pet birds are no exception and more owners are choosing to have their exotic pet birds microchipped. Let’s take a look at what microchipping entails, what protection it offers, and whether it is a good choice for your particular bird.
What Is Microchipping?
The practice of microchipping involves implanting a small biocompatible, non-powered device that contains an integrated circuit. The chip holds a unique, 10-digit alphanumeric code for identification purposes. A scanner is used at animal shelters or veterinarian’s offices that displays the code and the microchip manufacturer. If the bird was properly registered after being microchipped, then the registration records can result in the safe return of the bird to its owner.
Microchipping vs Leg Banding as a Means of Identification
Leg bands have traditionally been the most popular method used to identify captive birds. According to thebirdclinic.com, there are a number of potential problems with leg bands. They are:
- Bands can get caught on toys, perches or cage accessories. This can cause your bird to panic and struggle, potentially leading to injuries. If the owner does not notice the problem in a timely manner, a bird can die from this type of injury.
- Tendonitis and problems with the bird’s flexor muscle can be the result of the band pounding on the bird’s leg.
- Your bird may object to a foreign object on its leg and chew at it or exhibit other behavioral problems.
- Over time the numbers can get worn down making identification difficult or impossible.
- In the event of a theft, the leg band can be removed by the thief making it impossible to prove ownership of the bird.
Microchips do not pose these problems as there is no external sign that the bird has undergone the procedure. There is nothing that can contribute to other injuries to your avian friend. Scanning the microchip to identify the bird causes less stress on the animal that restraining it while inspecting its leg band.
What Protection Does Microchipping Offer a Pet Owner?
Pet birds can be expensive and thefts can occur. If the bird is microchipped there is a good chance that this will come to light at some point as the thief attempts to sell the bird, introducing the possibility of its return.
Despite their owner’s best efforts, pet birds may escape from the home and need to be recovered. A well-socialized parrot will often try to find a human caretaker when it gets hungry. Ideally, that person will bring the parrot to a facility where it can be scanned to determine it has been microchipped. At this point, there is a good chance that the bird will be returned to its home.
There is a misconception that having your bird microchipped will allow you to determine its location if it escapes from its home. This is untrue, as the current generation of microchips is not equipped with a GPS to enable remote detection of the bird’s location. This may be changed in future models of microchips but would entail using a powered device which may introduce other problems when microchipping your bird.
Breeders can benefit from having their breeding stock microchipped as they can readily identify their birds without the restraint required to read bands. This can also be helpful if you own a number of birds of a very similar appearance.
How Are Birds Microchipped?
Birds are microchipped in a different manner than that used on other animals such as dogs and cats. The vast majority of animals are microchipped by injecting the microchip under their skin. Birds do not have any areas where this kind of microchip would not cause a bump on the skin that may cause the bird to attempt to remove the device.
According to greencrossvet.com.au, microchips are placed in the bird’s left breast muscle. The injection is performed with a needle that is slightly larger than one that would be used for a regular injection of medication but does not cause undue stress to the bird.
Larger birds go through the procedure without anesthetic and are simply restrained while the chip is implanted. Smaller birds, especially those that weigh under 100 grams, may be given a local anesthetic to minimize stress and pain. Below is a video that shows the procedure used when microchipping a smaller bird.
Can Microchipping be Dangerous for my Pet Bird?
There is some minimal blood loss that may be associated with the microchipping process. This can be problematic for small birds that do not have much blood in their systems and cannot afford to lose any blood. Sterile needles are used so infection is not an issue. Microchipping does not pose any long-term health issues and should not cause your bird any discomfort after the initial implantation of the device.
How Much Does it Cost to Microchip my Bird?
It should cost you under $100 dollars to have your bird microchipped and registered. Since the cost of some exotic birds runs into the thousands of dollars, this is a small price to pay for the peace of mind that comes with a lifetime means of identification.
What Do I Do If My Bird Goes Missing?
If you lose a microchipped bird you should immediately contact the registration company, local pet stores, and vets in your area and alert them that your bird is lost. If your bird is scanned, your information will be returned to the scanner and hopefully, you will be reunited with your wandering avian family member. In the event that you find a lost parrot, please bring it to a vet and see if it has a chip. In this way you can be instrumental in reuniting the bird with its family.