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HOME PETS.

55

HOME PETS.

Breeding in and in....................    57

Bullfinch, the.........................    56

Bullfinches, Food for.................    56

Canary Cages........................    55

Canary Food.........................    55

Carrier Pigeon, the...................    57

Common Pigeon, the.................    57

Cutting Claws ......................    56

Dove, the.............................    57

Food for Bullfinches..................    56

Food for Canaries...................    55

Food for Pigeons.....................    58

Food for Rabbits.....................    59

History of Carrier Pigeon............    57

Hutches..............................    58

Pigeon, Common, the.................    57

Pigeon Food.........................    58

Pigeon-Houses.......................    57

Pigeons prolific....... ..............    58

Points of Carrier Pigeons___........    57

Precautions, Hanging Cages.........    55

Rabbits, Food for...................     59

Rabbit-Hutches......................    58

Red Mites............................    56

Teaching Bullfinches to sing.........    56

Telegraph and Carrier Pigeons.......    57

Tortoises............................    59

Varieties of Bullfinch.................    56

Vessels should be Glass..............    55

Wild and Cultivated Canaries........    55

THE CANARY.

Wild and Cultivated.These birds came originally
from the Canary Islands ; but the wild birds are
not so beautiful as those in our cages and avia­
ries. Cultivation has improved the appearance,
as well as the voice, greatly. All, or nearly all,
of the wild canaries are gray, with a greenish
tinge; the rich golden plumage which is so fa­
miliar to us, is seldom seen among them.

Cages.—A canary should be kept in a metal
cage, as it can be most easily cleaned, and can be
made very light and pretty. The shape should be
circular, and there should be at least a foot in
height of interior space, and eight inches in
length and breadth; there should be two or three
perches, one very near the bottom, so that the
bird can stand on it and peck from the seed and
water vessels; another about half-way up, and
one yet higher, unless there is a ring suspended
on the top of the dome: these perches should
cross each other. The breeding-cage, of course,
must be more roomy, and of a different shape;
but about this we can give no directions that
would be of much service : if any of our readers
mean to go into canary-breeding, a book on that
particular subject had better be procured.

Precautions as to Hanging.Take care that your
canary-cage is not hung in a draught, or in a
place where there is a foul smell of any kind ;
the lungs of the bird are delicate, and many a
pet has languished and died without any percep­
tible cause, through breathing keen or unwhole­
some air. If in a room where gas is burned, the
cage should always be lowered or taken away
before it is lit, as the air above soon gets heated
and unfit for breathing.

Vessels should be of Glass.Seed and water ve
sels are best of glass, as they can be most easily
kept clean and bright, as everything about a bird
should be—clear as the crystal water and bright
as the sunshine in which it delights. Yet there
should be provision made for shelter, too ; it can­
not live always in a glare: naturally much of its
life is passed in the shadow of green leaves, so
let it have some green about it when in confine­

ment, leafy boughs that quiver and wave as the
breeze kisses them, and fresh flowers that give
out a pleasant perfume, or, if these are not avail­
able, draw a covering of emerald-tinted gauze, or
some other thin stuff, partly over the cage when
the sun is hot and bright.

Canaries, like all shut-up birds, are subject to
a variety of diseases, which probably do not af­
fect them in a wild state where they have plenty
of air and exercise and the food which exactly
suits them. We cannot enumerate all the ail­
ments to which they are subject, but may just
lay down two or three simple rules by which
they may be kept in health.

The Canary.

Food.First, as to suitable food, without which
no bird or other creature will keep well. Rape
and canary seed mixed in about equal propor­
tions, with now and then a little linseed added,
is best under ordinary circumstances, and green
meat, such as watercresses or groundsel, of
which canaries are especially fond; but this
should not be allowed to remain in the cage over
twenty-four hours. A little piece of sugar may
be placed between the bars for the bird to peck
now and then, but not often ; nor should sweet
cake, or rich food of any kind, be frequently
given, as it is likely to produce surfeit. Pre­


THE FRIEND OF ALL.

56

pared food is easily to be had almost every­
where, and saves a deal of trouble. When breed­
ing or moulting, hard-boiled eggs, chopped small
and mixed with crumbs of stale bread or bun,
with a little maw­seed ; fresh clear water, changed
every day, and a scrupulous attention to cleanli­
ness. Attend to these simple rules, and your
bird will be brisk and blithe, and well repay your
care and attention by his sweet song and pretty
engaging actions. If he can be let out to fly
about the room occasionally, so much the better,
and better still if he can have the range of an
aviary.

Cutting Claws.The claws of canaries, like
those of other cage-birds, often get uncomforta­
bly long; wild birds keep them short by scratch­
ing. When they require cutting, it should be
done with a sharp pair of scissors : the bird to
be operated on should be taken gently, yet firm­
ly, and the toes turned up to the light, so that
you can see how far it is safe to cut. When
moulting-time is coming on, which is generally
in the autumn, the bird loses its liveliness, and
becomes silent; the cage will be strewn with
feathers, and then is the time for extra care and
nourishing food, such as chopped egg and maw­
seed, with a little saffron in the water.

Red Mites.—We need but mention one very
troublesome visitation, which one is indeed often
a legion: if you see your pet canary moping
about, moving restlessly from side to side of his
perch—which should always be of a good size
and round, so that the bird‘s claws can grasp it
tightly—and seeming generally very uncomfort­
able, take him out of the cage, blow open the
feathers beneath his wings and other under-parts,
and you will, no doubt, see a number of little
crimson dots, which are the insect pests called
red mites. It is extremely difficult to get rid of
these when once they take possession of a cage :
the best plan to rid the bird of them is to put
about ten grains of white precipitate powder
into a wine-glassful of warm water, and with this
solution wash the bird carefully wherever the
mites are likely to be, taking care that none of
the solution gets into your pet's eyes, nose or
mouth ; then wash him well with clean warm wa­
ter, wrap him in flannel and put him in a warm
place to dry. The cage should also be well
washed in precipitate-water of about three times
the above strength ; if a wooden cage, with many
holes and crevices, it had better be destroyed.
These mites, which are a small kind of bug,
often infest breeding-cages, and so torment the
sitting birds that they leave their nests, and so
render the hopes of the breeder futile. Some­
times, if a clean white cloth is placed over the
cage of the canary so infested, the vermin will
gather on the cloth and may thus be removed.

THE BULLFINCH

is another highly valued cage-bird, very hand­
some and gentle and teachable. He may be
taught all sorts of tricks, such as drawing up
a bucket from an imaginary well, etc. But we
should not care to give him much of this sort of
work to do: it is amusing and pretty to see,
but the bird never really likes it, and we should
not punish any creature for our pleasure.

How to Teach Them to Sing.This bird has a rich
and flexible voice, and may be taught to pipe
any simple tune when young. Piping bull­
finches fetch high prices. The Germans take
great pains in teaching them, and have regular
schools for their instruction, in which they are
divided into classes, with a teacher to each.
The birds are kept very much in the dark at
first, so that their attention may not be diverted
from the tune which they have to learn ; this is
sometimes whistled to them, at others played
on a hand-organ or flute. The teaching has to
be continued for about three quarters of a year,

The Bullfinch.

and as with children so it is with these feathered
pupils, some are much quicker at learning than
others. There are bullfinches that whistle or
pipe three distinct airs, and these will fetch a
large price; but generally they have but a single
simple air.

Varieties.There are curious varieties of this
species, such as white, black and speckled, and
these are highly valued on account of their
rarity; but they are nothing like so beautiful as
Bully in his natural plumage, with his black
velvet cap, and coat of soft gray, deepening at
places into blue, with a fine vermilion tinge, like
the reflection of fire, over the breast and under-
parts.

Food.In confinement he should have rape,
poppy and millet seeds, with now and then a
little sprouting wheat, barley or oats; lettuce,
watercresses, ripe fruit, and, as a great treat,
cracked nuts—which he can eat, having a strong
bill. Hemp-seed should not be given, or he will
become too fat, and liable to apoplexy. More­
over, it is apt to dull the rich colors of the
plumage.


HOME PETS.                                                               67

Young bullfinches should be reared upon rape,
bread and milk, with a little soaked hemp-seed
bruised in a mortar, or buckwheat-meal.

THE CARRIER PIGEON.

Its History.This is the most useful, celebrated
and in every way remarkable of the domesti­
cated pigeons : it has a history extending back
to a period anterior to the foundation of Rome.
The names of the victors in the Olympian games
were made known through the Roman provinces
by means of this bird. Keen of sight and strong
of wing, this bird when released always flies
straight to its home, no matter how great may
be the intervening distance; so it is taken to the
scene of the contest, and directly the result is
known it is released with a message, which is
eagerly received by those who are waiting the
arrival of the messenger. The dispatch so trans­
mitted is written on a small piece of thin paper,
which is rolled up and fastened to one of the
tail-feathers by means of a piece of fine wire,
which is wound round the shaft of the feathers to

The Carrier Pigeon.

make it secure: in this way it does not impede
the flight of the bird. Sometimes it is fastened
to the leg with worsted. The winged messenger
flies with great swiftness; often from forty to
sixty miles an hour.

Its Points.—The twelve points which, accord­
ing to the recognized rules, a thoroughbred car­
rier should possess, are these: The head, straight,
long and flat. The beak, straight, long and
thick. The wattle, broad at the base, short
from the head to the bill, and leaning forward.
The eye, large, round and uniform. A bird with
these qualifications, and being of one color, dark
blue, will be likely to take a prize at a pigeon­
show. “ Cinnamon birds.” as those of a dun-
color are called, are not so much valued, although
they may possess all the above-named good
points, and have as much sagacity and power of
wing as the others. A long, lithe body, and a
firm strong wing, a proud bold look, and great
activity, are the characteristics of the carrier

in the prime of his life; as he grows old, he be­
comes stout and inactive, his wattle increases in
bulk, his eye loses its brightness, and his feathers
their beautiful gloss; he is then only fit for
breeding purposes.

The Telegraph Supersedes Them.—Since the intro­
duction of the electric telegraph, pigeon expresses
have not been so much used as they formerly
were, consequently the breeding and training of
the birds is comparatively little practiced. Still,
the carriers hold a high place among the fancy
kinds. They are not prolific breeders, nor atten­
tive and affectionate parents: frequently they
destroy their eggs and neglect their “squabs,” as
young pigeons before they are fledged are called
—after that they are “ squeakers.”

Avoid Breeding in and in.With carriers, as with
other pigeons, breeding “ in and in,” as it is called
—that is, getting a stock from the offspring of a
single pair of birds—is bad : they will generally
be small and weakly. Any breeder will exchange
eggs with another whose stock is good. The
best and steadiest sitters are the common Dove-
house, the Runt and the Dragon, to one or other
of which is generally deputed the task of hatch­
ing and bringing up the young carriers.

THE DOVE

is the commonest of all, and with us, as with
most persons, a great favorite. It is very close
to the original type, if it be not the same species
as that from which all our domestic pigeons
come. It so closely resembles the wild pigeons
of this and other countries as to leae little
doubt of its being the same species, and, although
the peculiarities of many of the fancy kinds are
so very marked and distinctive, yet such asto­
nishing changes and diversities are produced by
cross-breeding and cultivation that we may well
believe it possible for all these to have come
from one common stock.

The Common Pigeon.—A very beautiful bird is
the common pigeon, of a soft, silky slate-color,
relieved with white, and barred and mottled
with black, with green and purple reflections
playing about the neck; a beautiful, a gentle and
a very useful bird; and most prolific—a single
pair will sometimes produce eight or ten pairs in
the year.

Their Houses.—The best kind of a pigeon-house
is an old loft over a stable or outhouse, or a dis­
used attic of a house may be made available for
the purpose; it only requires compartments fitted
up for the different pairs of pigeons, which, if
they have not separate resting-places, will be
constantly quarreling and fighting, breaking
their eggs and killing their squabs and squeakers.
The window on the roof should not open to the
east, and should be made so as to form a plat-


58

THE FRIEND OF ALL.

form for the birds to alight on when open, and
to admit light and air when closed. We cannot
here enter into very minute particulars of treat­
ment, but would enforce the necessity of fre­
quent cleaning, and fresh sand or coarse gravel
on the floor, with a little chalk or old mortar,
and a sprinkling of salt, for the birds to go to
when they please: lime in some shape is essen­
tial to the formation of their egg-shells, and they
will pick the mortar from between the bricks all
around if they have not a supply provided for
them. Rats, mice and cats must be guarded
against; the first are very destructive of both
eggs and young, and the last of old birds as well.
Near to the entrance of the pigeon-house should
be a chimney or other conspicuous object,
painted or washed with white, as a landmark for
the birds when flying home.

A good and safe kind of pigeon-house is one
made of wood, and fixed well up against the side
of a building, with a separate entrance for each
compartment, or it may be a round structure like
a barrel, fixed on the top of a post or pole, and,
by an arrangement of ropes and pulleys, made to
draw up or down, or it may be made easy of ac­
cess by a rope or other ladder. But whatever or
wherever the house may be, it should always have
an elevated position.

They are Prolific—A. pair of runts, or pigeons,
if allowed to breed, will soon stock the house,
and keep up a good supply of eggs and squeakers.
If new birds are introduced, they should be
young ones, as those fully grown, who have been
used to another house, will be pretty sure to re­
turn to it. A barbarous practice prevails of
plucking out the larger wing-feathers to prevent
the flight of such birds; but this should never be
done: the mutilated birds frequently become
diseased and die, besides which, as soon as they
recover their powers of flight, they will be the
more likely to leave a place where they have
been so cruelly treated.

Pigeon Food.Gray peas, with an occasional
change of wheat, oats or barley, and the small
beans known as pigeons’ beans, which should be
at least a year old, are the best food. Rape and
hemp seed are sometimes given as a stimulant;
but the last is of too heating a nature, and should
be given very sparingly, if at all. Both grain
and seed should be clean and sound; if decayed,
they will be full of mites, which are mischievous
to the birds. A little green food is desirable:
mustard and cress, lettuce or cabbage, if grown
within reach, will be taken by pigeons if they
are at large; if not, something of the kind must
be put into their house or inclosure, taking care
that the refuse is not left to decay.

Pigeons are said to be fond of strong odors;
and to sprinkle the floor of their house with

lavender, or asafetida, or anything that smells
powerfully, is thought to be a good means of in­
ducing new-comers to remain. To fatten squabs,
give maize steeped in water, and keep them
under an inverted hamper, or where they can
have air without much light.

Doves may be fed and treated like pigeons
generally.

RABBITS.

We have now got into a different division of the
animal kingdom, and jumped from feathered to
furred, from two­ to four­ footed pets, creatures
that live wholly upon the earth, and, being desti­
tute of the organs of flight, cannot escape, as
birds often can, from man and other enemies.
Many of them are very useful to us : they yield
us food and clothing, and in other ways minister
to our numerous wants, and for this reason alone,
but more for the higher motive of humanity, they
demand our tender care and consideration.

Hutches.—It is a common notion that anybody

The Rabbit.

can make a rabbit-hutch out of anything, but
this is a popular fallacy. True, an old tea-chest,
or any kind of box, will do for the purpose, and
rabbits will live and thrive in very incommodi­
ous places; but they will do best in a comforta­
ble habitation, into which neither the wet nor
the cold wind can penetrate. Unless the stock
is very large, a portable hutch is better than a
fixed one, in shape like the common dog-kennel,
with the shelving roof on both sides overlapping
considerably, so that small gimlet-holes for ven­
tilation can be made along the top, protected
by the lap of the roof. It should be high enough
for a division into an upper and lower story, the
breeding-places being above. The floor should
be of beech or some other hard wood, that will
not absorb urine and soft matter, which make
such places often smell so bad, and it should
be frequently cleaned.

The lower floor should be raised by legs or
some other contrivance several inches from the
ground, and in this holes should be bored for


THE AQUARIUM.

59

drainage. Each doe in the breeding-room above
should have a separate compartment, which can
be got at without interfering with the others.
The whole should have a latticed front, but, if in
an exposed situation, there should be a shutter
also, which can be put up in bad weather.

Food.Rabbits will eat almost anything that is
green, or, indeed, any vegetable food, and thrive
upon it: they are voracious eaters, and are par­
ticularly fond of sow-thistle, carrots with the
tops, cabbage and lettuce leaves ; they should
also have oat and barley meal, corn and hay.
In the wild state they are animals that feed in
the twilight, so the morning and evening are the
best times for their supply of food. It is a dis­
puted point whether they require water, and with
plenty of green food, perhaps they may do well
without; but when the food is mostly dry, they
should be supplied with this great requisite of
animal existence. The habit some does have of
eating their young has been ascribed to a sort of
frenzy, produced by excessive thirst: one cause
of this is undoubtedly having more than the doe
can well suckle, and her powers of sustenance
should not be too highly taxed. If there are
more than eight young ones in a brood, some of
them should be destroyed. A doe will not un-
frequently bring up as many as twelve, and even
fourteen, but this should not be permitted.
While she is suckling she should be well fed on
barley-meal and milk, with a little green food.
The young may be taken from her when they
are eight weeks old ; they will then be able to
feed themselves.

Let no reader fancy that he is going to make a
fortune by rabbit-breeding: it may be pleasant,
but, as a rule, it is not profitable—the animals
eat too much, and skins and flesh fetch too little.

Yet it is well to have pets, and rabbits are about
as easily managed as any.

TORTOISES.

If you buy a tortoise, or have one given to you,
leave it alone as much as possible; let it have
the run of the garden, or any place where there is
plenty of juicy vegetation, and it will take care
of itself. You need not be afraid of treading on
it, for its beautifully constructed shell so strongly
protects this most curious animal, that a wagon
might almost pass over without crushing it.
This is Mr. Slow-and-sure, who, you know, beat
the hare in a race because he kept steadily on at
an even pace, while she ran a little way and then
slept, thinking she could easily make up for lost
time. Although no great traveler, the tortoise
often disappears for a while as though he had
gone on a long journey, but he is all the time
close at hand down in the earth, or under a heap
of dead leaves or rubbish, lying in a torpid state,
as do lizards, snakes and other cold-blooded ani­
mals, as they are called, for this creature belongs
to the class of reptiles, which are wonderfully
tenacious of life: some of them have lived and
moved with their brains taken out, and even
with their heads off; as to the loss of a limb
that seems a mere trifle to them. If you have
strawberry-beds, keep the tortoise away from
them, or you will never have a strawberry for
your own table. Although the shell is so thick
and strong, yet it is very sensitive: the slightest
tap on it, or even the pattering of a few drops of
rain, will make the creature draw in its snake-
like head and scaly legs. It will go an immense
time without food, and live to an extraordinary
age, some say hundreds of years.

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