Pet Talk
Columns, Pet Talk

Pet Talk

By Maneka Gandhi

In this week’s Pet Talk, Maneka speaks about elephant tourism, diet for a baby mynah & what to do if a bull charges

Can ducks be incorporated in paddy field to prevent insects? Can they replace pesticides?

Use of ducks in rice paddy fields is an age-old practice that is now being revived. It is a natural and efficient way for ensuring healthy growth of crops. Ducks feed on insects and weeds, without touching the plants. Their wading oxygenates the water and stirs up the soil. Their droppings are a natural fertiliser.

My cat ate a bee! Should I be worried?

If the bee is swallowed, then there’s nothing to worry about because the bee couldn’t have injected its sting before reaching the stomach. Once, in the stomach the gastric juices will act on the bee. However, if your cat is bitten inside the mouth, this could be a serious situation. This would cause pain and possibly an urticarial reaction with swelling and puffiness around the face. If this is severe you should get her to the vet, for an anti allergy medicine soon, as it may cause swelling around the throat.

Is elephant tourism ethical?

No. Using elephants to see monuments, as in Amer Fort, Rajasthan, or riding on them to feel good in Zoos, or seeing them in those dreadful tourist trap festivals in Kerala, or having them bow to you in temples — this is vulgar and cruel. Elephants are highly-intelligent wild animals — who have close family ties, show empathy and are among the few animals which exhibit signs of self-awareness. They are taken from the jungles, beaten every day to obey, kept tied up on short chains, isolated from other elephants and without access to the proper food or veterinary care they need. Baby elephants are also separated from their mothers, starved and placed in a cage. They are often kept in inadequate conditions and are subject to extremely cruel training practices involving beatings and stabbings with bull-hooks, removal of eyes, burning of their soles. Their mahouts are usually vicious, sadistic alcoholics. These elephants are much more likely to display chronic repetitive behaviour that are a visible sign of stress.

So, what is responsible elephant tourism? You could experience the feeling of being with elephants in their natural environment by visiting a National Park. You could also volunteer with organisations that work towards elephant rehabilitation. Go and see the elephant rehabilitation centre in Mathura run by Wildlife SOS. It is a place where abused elephants are rescued and sent

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What should I do if a bull charges me?

Why would you put yourself in the path of a bull? Normally a bull avoids people and is quite docile. So you must have done something provocative to the extreme for him to feel threatened.

Before a bull charges, he will perform a broadside threat; standing or walking sideways to you, pawing the dirt, growling etc. is his way of showing you how big and powerful he is. At this point you should be directly facing the bull returning his threat as this sometimes gets the bull to back off. Start backing away slowly but do not run or turn your back to it as this will provoke him to chase you. Look for an escape route immediately. Preferably a shorter one because a bull can easily outrun you.

Don’t lie down. While this may work with a horse, you will likely be trampled by a bull. Make a commotion. Take off an article of clothing, such as a hat or even your shirt if necessary. As the bull nears, throw the object as hard as you can to the right or the left in a horizontal fashion. The bull should follow the target away from you. Jump out of the way if you have to. If this doesn’t work, and you think you do not have an escape route, find a stick and hit the bull across it’s muzzle. This will deter him. While this might seem inhuman, it is the only way to save yourself under life-threatening circumstances.

What is the diet for a baby mynah?

Mynah birds are omnivorous. They are not seedeaters. Mynahs do not chew/ bite their food into pieces, therefore, it is important that food be presented in small, easy to swallow, bite size pieces.

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Baby mynahs need a soft diet that is high in protein, but not so high in iron. Mynahs have an iron-storage condition that will express itself if they get too much iron in their diet. As they age past the fledgling stage, they need to be switched over to a predominantly fruit and veggie diet.

Feed the baby every 30 minutes from sunrise until about 10 pm. The bird does not need to be fed during the night but should be fed promptly at dawn. If your baby bird has begun to fledge, it needs to be fed roughly every two hours.

You can also find mynah pellets in the market. Moisten them and feed them to the baby. Do not give liquids — the bird can aspirate them — and there is enough liquid in the moistened food anyway. Don’t force food, but don’t stop until the baby indicates he’s had enough.

I rescued a bird lying on the road from being eaten by dogs. It is not drinking water on its own. What do I do?

Most likely, the bird is injured and distressed. Look for any external injuries. If there is bleeding, try to stop the bleeding  using wet cotton and then rush it to the bird vet. If you see it struggling to breathe, it is possibly an internal injury. Immediately, rush to the vet. If it is nothing serious, and the bird is just in shock, keep it in a box. The box should have dampened cotton, forming the bed.. If you can identify the bird, you could give it some grains that it eats. Do not try to feed it anything if it is incapacitated. Water can be provided to the bird using a clean dropper, or using wet cotton, if it is not drinking water on its own. Let the bird fly away as soon as it starts showing movement.

January 9, 2019

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