by Shelly Lane
Placing a collar on a bird may be necessary in cases of feather plucking or mutilation. We found that a tube collar is more comfortable for the bird than an elizabethan collar and allows the bird to get around better. Below you will find instructions for making a tube collar at home for your Quaker Parrot.
Here are instructions for making the collar that Gator wore for a couple of months after he self-mutilated.
My vet made the collar that Gator wore, and it was made out of an empty cardboard tube from a roll of cloth tape – the same tape that is used to wrap the collar. She also put a couple of layers of gauze under the tape to provide a little cushion. However, a couple of people on the Quaker mailing list have used a collar made of a foam tube (plumbers pipe insulation) that I think will work just as well or better than the cardboard tube.
The plumbers pipe insulation comes in a long tube – 5 or 6 feet long – and only costs a couple of dollars per tube. I am not sure what size to tell you to get – it comes in 3 sizes at our local home improvement store. I know the smallest size is too small, but I haven’t made collars out of the 2 larger sized tubes yet. It’s cheap enough that you can afford to experiment, though. I plan to make some collars out of both sizes to see what works best, but right now I don’t have a need to and I highly doubt that one of my guys will volunteer to model them for me. 😉
The tape used to cover the pipe insulation is a cloth tape. I found it at the drug store in the section where they have the athletic tapes and stuff. I’m sorry that I don’t know what this stuff is actually called.
The collar should be 3/4″ to 1″ in height. The plumbers pipe insulation already has a slit going up one side, and that is the “opening” of the collar. Wrap several layers of the tape around the collar – first I wrap each of the ends and then wrap the entire collar, covering the tape that I used to wrap the ends. Depending on the width of the tape, you may find it easier to wrap the collar if you take a long strip of tape and cut it in half length-wise so that it is half the width that it originally was.
After you are done wrapping, you should then make a little “tab” that sticks up above the top of the collar a little (and use a couple of strips of tape to hold that tab onto the collar really well). Make sure you turn over the end of the tab so that none of the sticky side is showing. This will be the “decoy” tape. Since it sticks up a little it is easier to chew on and hopefully the bird will chew on the tab rather than on the other parts of the collar. Replace the tab as needed. 😉
After you put the collar on the bird, you need to use a couple of pieces of tape to cover the opening of the collar so that the bird can’t take it off. If you have to take the collar off (to medicate or whatever), make sure you use fresh pieces of tape to close the collar when you put it back on – otherwise the bird may be able to get the collar off as the used tape loses its “stickiness”.
Again, a tube collar can be very helpful in situations where the parrot is feather plucking or is suffering from Quaker Mutiliation Syndrome or QMS. However, it is not a substitute for vet care, and if your bird is experiencing either of these issues I strongly recommend that you seek immediate help from an experienced avian vet.