Monday, November 2, 2009
Temporary Housing for Babies
If you're hand feeding babies, you need to keep them warm. Fuchsia is in a small cardboard box, shown here. The top folds down to keep her safely inside. the bottom of the box has pine shavings, and I put a folded paper towel, napkin and/or tissue over the shavings. when I take her out to feed her, I can throw the "diaper" away and replace it with a fresh, clean one.
Baby droppings are very wet, so something absorbent helps. If moisture still soaks into the pine shavings, they can be "stirred" to help them dry while you're feeding babies. You can change shavings too anytime you want to. That's most likely necessary with multiple babies than with one.
Notice in the photo that there is an oil heater off to the side. In order to keep Fuchsia warm, we put the oil heater near her box. The rest of the house may be only 68 to 70 degrees, but her area stays much warmer. I taped her box to the table with duct tape so that it couldn't accidentally be knocked onto the floor since it sits near the edge where it's close to the heater. I often check the corner of the box nearest the heater to make sure it isn't getting too hot. As the day warms up, I turn the heater off, but turn it back on at dusk when the house starts to cool.
You don't want to "cook" or dehydrate your babies, but you do want them to stay nice and warm ... just as they would be if their mother was next to them. Once they feather, they are able to stay warm on their own, but before that they need extra warmth. I've found a portable oil heater nearby works perfectly.
Fuchsia will go into a cage as soon as she shows that she's able to fly. She will continue to be handfed after that, perhaps for another week, or even two.