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Using Microchips to Identify Pet Birds

Microchips are tiny computer chips that, when inserted below the skin of an animal, provide a means of permanent identification.  In my work as a zoologist, I have long used them with a wide variety of birds, reptiles and mammals.  Early models were large and tended to move about, but those in use today are barely the size of a rice grain, and hold their position quite well.

Why Use Microchips?
In addition to offering a means of positively identifying lost or stolen pet birds, microchips enable hobbyists to differentiate similar individuals in large collections, and to keep track of parentage and genetics.  This last point is important to all breeders, but especially those who deal with rare birds that might be seriously impacted by inbreeding.

Placement and Practical Considerations
Microchips are inserted below a bird’s skin by a veterinarian utilizing a hypodermic needle, and without anesthesia.  The process takes but a few seconds, and the results last a lifetime.  Once inserted, the chip’s unique identification code is registered with a recovery network so that a permanent record may be maintained.  The network is contacted in the event of the recovery of a lost or stolen bird.

Unfortunately, the chips can only be read by a scanner that understands the manufacturer’s code. Scanners are expensive and therefore veterinarian’s offices and recovery agencies usually stock only one type.  Be sure to choose a well-known make of chip.  AVID and Trovan are favored by many zoos and used by the ASPCA, while the American Kennel Club relies upon Home Again.


An interesting article detailing a unique use of microchips in a field study of hummingbirds is posted at:

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About Frank Indiviglio

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I believe that I was born with an intense interest in animals, as neither I nor any of my family can recall a time when I was not fascinated by creatures large and small. One might imagine this to be an unfortunate set of circumstances for a person born and raised in the Bronx, but, in actuality, quite the opposite was true. Most importantly, my family encouraged both my interest and the extensive menagerie that sprung from it. My mother and grandmother somehow found ways to cope with the skunks, flying squirrels, octopus, caimans and countless other odd creatures that routinely arrived un-announced at our front door. Assisting in hand-feeding hatchling praying mantises and in eradicating hoards of mosquitoes (I once thought I had discovered “fresh-water brine shrimp” and stocked my tanks with thousands of mosquito larvae!) became second nature to them. My mother went on to become a serious naturalist, and has helped thousands learn about wildlife in her 16 years as a volunteer at the Bronx Zoo. My grandfather actively conspired in my zoo-buildings efforts, regularly appearing with chipmunks, boa constrictors, turtles rescued from the Fulton Fish Market and, especially, unusual marine creatures. It was his passion for seahorses that led me to write a book about them years later. Thank you very much, for a complete biography of my experience click here.
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