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The adult rheas are fed a commercial food for rheas, but they also like a large amount of green food and grains. These musculoskeletal disorders can occur despite feeding a diet with adequate levels of calcium and phosphorus. Exercise is also of considerable importance in raising rheas as well as other ratites and long-legged walking birds e. To encourage walking and running as much as possible, they are raised in long narrow pens with a shelter at one end and the food and water at the opposite end of the pen.

Another important requirement in raising baby rheas is gravel chips 0. These may be scattered on the floor of their pen, where the young birds can pick them up with their beak. These solid, heavy, wedge-shaped birds with coarse hair-like plumage are well suited to crashing through the dense forests of northern Australia and New Guinea at great speed. Cassowaries are reputed to be aggressive and bad-tempered, and have caused many deaths to humans, both in their natural habitat and in zoological gardens. Their method of causing injury is to leap feet first at their victim, slashing downward with their powerful toes and long sharp nails.

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In captivity, cassowaries need large enclosures and, because they are secretive in nature, undergrowth is required in which they can rest and hide. Fencing for cassowaries has to be far more robust than that used for rhea and emu pens. These strong birds can easily damage normal fencing with their kicking.

It is very difficult to introduce adult birds even of the opposite sex into one enclosure. For this reason birds often have to be kept singly in adjoining enclosures, and are put together only at breeding time and then separated again when the male commences incubation. The male takes on the entire responsibility of incubating the eggs, which takes 56—58 days, and raising the young. Cassowaries can be fed commercial diets for emus, and they like chopped or diced fruit of various types e.

The birds have also been observed to eat insects and rodents. The aggressive nature of these birds prohibits them from being used in mixed collections with species such as cranes. The natural habitat for this species is the open semi-arid plains of Australia, where they can run at considerable speed over short distances.

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These birds therefore need spacious enclosures where they can be maintained in groups. Caution must be exercised when introducing a strange adult into an established group unless the area of the enclosure is very large. In disposition, the emu is less placid than the rhea but not as aggressive or bad-tempered as the cassowary.

Emus can therefore be used in mixed exhibits. In captivity, emus can be fed the same diet as cassowaries. Like rheas and cassowaries, the male emu undertakes all parental responsibilities, incubating for 59—60 days and brooding the chicks. Handling and restraint are important considerations when working with adult ratites, as their nervous, fractious nature can result in injuries to both birds and handlers. This technique is not likely to work so well with cassowaries, ostriches and emus due to their more aggressive dispositions, and would probably result in severe kicks to the handlers.

For these birds, the use of permanent or portable crush pens erected in one corner of their enclosures is a safer option. These crush pens must have solid sides to the height of the hips to avoid the risk of birds kicking sideways through gaps, which may result in tibiotarsal or tarsometatarsal fractures. Although rheas can be quietly shepherded from one part of the zoological park to another along pathways, this is a risky procedure for cassowaries, emus and ostriches, which invariably panic and race headlong through gardens and fences, injuring themselves in the process.

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These birds are best moved in crates with sliding doors, which are placed at the end of the crush pen. The birds must not be given too much room in the crates, as they are less likely to injure themselves if slightly cramped. Placing a hood over the head and upper part of the neck will also help to quieten the birds when in the crush pen or crate.


Ostriches may be restrained by grasping the neck and pulling it downwards until the head is close to the ground thereby preventing the bird from kicking the handler. When total restraint is necessary e. Anaesthesia is maintained with isoflurane. Birds should be allowed to recover in a crate or a small room with the floor and lower walls well padded with straw or a sponge material. Subdued light is recommended for recovery to reduce excitement and subsequent injury. Due to the space requirements and generally aggressive dispositions of ratites, zoological institutions do not maintain many animals — generally only a pair of each species and possibly a small group of rheas.

For this reason, the veterinary problems encountered amongst ratites in zoological institutions are not necessarily the same as those found on commercial farms where large numbers of young birds are raised together and there is a far greater concentration of adults. When well managed, adult ratites are remarkably disease-free and healthy.

Young chicks may succumb to bacterial infections, mainly caused by Escherichia coli and Clostridium spp. The great majority of the problems observed in ratites are associated with trauma or foreign body ingestion. Routine treatment of the adult birds for internal parasites twice a year, more often for young birds in groups, results in healthy animals.

Extreme caution must be taken to limit the movement of ratites, whether adult or young, during capture, as stress caused by excitement due to too much chasing by handlers may lead to injury or death associated with capture myopathy. Staff must be aware that if a bird starts to show stress, it is better to abandon the mission temporarily, leave the bird in a cool environment and reassess the whole procedure.

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Signs noted in birds diagnosed with capture myopathy include panting, increased respiratory and cardiac rates, difficulty in rising and walking, lying on the side and kicking followed by morbidity and death. The use of selenium and vitamin E injections and aggressive fluid therapy is the suggested treatment option, but if severe signs are already apparent the treatment will yield limited success.

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  6. When ratites are being transported to other destinations, requiring a several-hour layover in crates, a prophylactic injection of selenium and vitamin E may have some benefit. Ulrich Wernery, These include species of Eimeria in approximately avian species belonging to 27 orders Struthioniformes , Casuariiformes, Rheiformes, Tinamiformes, Sphenisciformes, Gaviiformes, Podicipediformes, Procellariiformes, Pelecaniformes, Ciconiiformes, Phoenicopteriformes, Anseriformes, Falconiformes, Galliformes, Gruiformes, Charadriiformes, Columbiformes, Psittaciformes, Cuculiformes, Strigiformes, Caprimulgiformes, Apodiformes, Coliformes, Trogoniformes, Coraciiformes, Piciformes, and Passeriformes.

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    Toxoplasma has been reported in orders Anseriformes, Falconiformes, Galliformes, Gruiformes, Charadriiformes, Columbiformes, Psittaciformes, Strigiformes, and Passeriformes. Maya S. Tinamous are exclusively neotropical, medium-sized, plump, terrestrial but nonetheless flighted birds.


    As one of the oldest avian families in the New World, they are thought to come from the same stock as the Struthioniformes. The close relationship between ratites and tinamous is reflected in similarities in bone structures especially the palate , eggshell structure, and thermoregulatory and metabolic physiology. The subfamily Tinaminae forest tinamous includes 29 species, which are primarily found in tropical and subtropical forests and are differentiated from the second subfamily Rhynchotinae steppe tinamous, 18 grassland species by the presence of nostrils in the distal half of the bill.

    Tinamous are shy and elusive birds and good runners when startled.

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    Their diet is extremely variable and opportunistic, including plant material fruit, seeds, leaves, flowers, roots , invertebrates, and small vertebrates. Forest dwelling species generally have a larger part of fruit in their diet, whereas grassland species take a greater proportion of seeds. During breeding season, males attract several females to lay eggs in a communal nest on the ground.

    The male solely takes care of incubation and rearing of the chicks. Tinamous eggs are elliptical to spherical, shiny, and uniformly but brightly colored in varying colors, depending on the species. Clutches contain up to 16 eggs, and incubation is relatively short 16—20 days. The precocial chicks become independent from the male's care within 10 to 20 days, and sexual maturity is reached at approximately 1 year of age. Colin G. Leukocyte numbers per unit volume of blood vary.

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    Table Blood leukocyte concentrations and populations vary in birds, with a high ratio of heterophils to lymphocytes in Accipitriformes Scanes, unpublished observations. A reciprocal relationship frequently exists between heterophil and lymphocyte concentrations. The stress hormone corticosterone increases heterophils and decreases lymphocytes in young chickens see Figure Similarly, stimulation of the adrenal cortical cells with adrenocorticotropic hormone is accompanied by changes in both increases in heterophils and decreases in lymphocytes in young chickens Davison and Flack, Effect of corticosterone in diet in ppm on heterophils red , lymphocytes blue , and total leukocytes green in young chickens.

    This may reflect an effect of stress. There are also independent effects of environment on populations of different leukocytes. Circulating concentrations of leukocytes are depressed by Although the percentage of lymphocytes is increased in blue-fronted Amazon parrots A. There are physiological shifts in both the total concentrations of leukocytes and in the relative proportion of heterophils and lymphocytes.

    Blood leukocyte populations are markedly influenced by stress.