•In the wild Chinese Blue Breasted Quail are Monogamous and should be caged in captivity in pairs of 2
•Lighting is a very important part of their enviroment
•Cage height should be approx. 11in or very tall otherwise in mid sized cages "bonking" can occur and injure the birds
•Aquariums can be a great display cage but airflow must be considered
•Solid Floors should be used in the cage
•Bedding considerations should be edible
Chinese Blue Breasted Quail are native to the Chinese tropical climate in the riverbanks, forests, and rice patties. In the wild they live monogamously having just one mate. In captivity with the goal being to mimic their natural environment they should be kept in single pairs.
Keeping them in single pairs will detour stress among the birds. Stress can lead to feather loss, feather plucking, physical injury from fright flight, and illness. Pairs that already have feather loss and are separated out and removed from colony breeding can gain plucked feathers back in just a few weeks regaining their full beauty.
Separation into pairs also helps with identifying breeding stock. Because these quail are so small and low to the ground leg bands are very hard on them. Being close to the ground they are prone to get debris in between the band and their leg unlike birds who stay high off the ground like parakeets and finches. Debris in the band can cause infection and circulation loss which may even lead to loss of the leg. Wing bands are also a hard option for these quail. Wing bands are fairly large and heavy comparably to the quails body. The wing band can offset the birds balance enough that even breeding can be a difficult task causing many infertile eggs.
Stress and identification aren't the only concern to consider when housing your quail. Their small size is another. Their cage should be suitable to contain them. If you plan on letting the hen brood her own eggs you also need to be sure the cage is suitable to keep the chicks within it's walls. The chicks are incredibly small and fast as soon as they hatch. They have been compared to "buttons" on coat jackets, hence the name Button Quail, and even compared to bumble bees.
Another thing to consider is something many folks call "bonking".This is when the quail jumps suddenly and hits their head which can cause injury. The quail's natural defense in the wild is to jump straight up in the air and glide back down. When caged the quail can easily injure themselves if they feel threatened and do jump. Shorter cages do not allow the quail to get their momentum up and they don't hit their heads as hard. The higher cages they also can't hit their heads as hard. The medium sized cages should be avoided. The quail can gain enough momentum in a medium cage and serious injuries can be obtained. The cages we use are 11in high while others are 3 feet high and higher.
Aquariums make a beautiful cage for a pair of quail. The glass makes them visible and yet contained. In aquariums you must be careful to have proper air flow to allow the birds to breathe and the ammonia from their dropping to not build up. Also a top that helps avoid injury. Many pet stores sell screen tops for aquariums. These tops avoid injury from bonking as well as allow air to flow freely.
The flooring of the cage should be solid. Wire cages do not work well for these tiny footed birds. They can fit their feet through even the smaller types of hardware cloth. If their foot is to get stuck they can injure the foot or displace their hips. They also can not place their weight on their foot as they were intended to which can cause leg issues as well. Solid floors can be covered in pine shavings and some of the typical pet type bedding. Shelf liner material can also be used to cover cage floors. It is slip resistant and washable however it is not absorbent so you may want to consider placing newspaper underneath it. Cedar, Flat News Paper, Corn Cob, and Cat Liter should all be avoided. Cedar can be toxic when wet. Flat newspaper is very slippery and can cause the birds hips to dislocate. Corn cob can swell a lot when wet and if eaten can cause problems. Corn cob is also prone to mildew buildup if it gets wet from either water or the quail droppings. Cat liter is a clay type material and when wet can be harmful if ingested.
Lighting also place a incredibly important role in their lives. In the wild they can tell the seasons by the light. In captivity the seasons are usually indiscernible. If a hen is unable to determine the season she will continue to lay through out the year. This can decrease her life span from calcium depletion and stress of continual laying. If you have them housed in a room that the lighting can be adjusted it can be beneficial to your flock to set the lights to come on just as they do outside as the seasons change. This will allow the quail to feel more like they are going through the changing seasons. Feeling like the seasons are changing can slow laying through the winter months allowing the hen to replenish her calcium levels and lower her stress. In hens showing aggression to her mate decreasing her laying even temporarily can in some cases even stop aggressive behavior.
Once you have decided on a cage you can add decorations like bark tunnels, fake plants, clay pots, little branches, etc. to not only decorate the cage but also allow them to find hiding places and for the hen to find a spot she is comfortable enough to nest in.