Thursday, October 1, 2009

A Beginner's Puteh Experience

It’s been 1 ½ months since I got my Putehs (Oriental White-eyes). During this time, my knowledgeable friends have tried to teach me the ropes of Puteh care. I think I have learnt something and I thought I should pass it on as a possible help to other beginners who might benefit from the learning process of another beginner. Of course, each of you will still need to decide if you should adopt what I am doing or if some other method is more suitable for you.

In this post, I just want to talk about Puteh sh…

I know from keeping shamas that the state of a bird’s excreta should be observed daily as it provides a good indication of the bird’s health and the suitability of the food that the bird is getting. It’s the same with Putehs. Additionally, I am told that the state of a Puteh’s excreta may also indicate its form.

Those of you who have read my posts on shamas will know that ‘good’ faeces for the shama is a patch of white that looks like chalk with some darker matter in the centre. The white is urea, which is a by-product of a high protein diet which the shama requires while the darker matter is the actual excreta.

Unlike the shama, whose main diet is insects, the Puteh is a fruiteater. It does not need (nor will it thrive on) a high protein diet. Instead, what the Puteh needs is plenty of calories to provide the energy it requires for its very active lifestyle. To get the calories, the Puteh must process a great deal of calorie rich food through its digestive system. This in turn, results in a large amount of excreta comparative to the size of the bird.


A Puteh that has been deprived of water for a large part of the day will thereafter tend to suffer from a condition of having watery faeces. The faeces seems very much like diarrhoea. For want of a better word, I will refer to this form of excreta as watery faeces. The excreta can get so wet that it may even dribble off the cage floor if the cage is tilted. The cause of watery faeces is oversight in not providing the Puteh with sufficient water for the day.

When water is eventually provided, the Puteh tends to drink much more than what a healthy Puteh would consume. I do not know if the condition is medical or psychological but a Puteh suffering from watery faeces seems to always have an incurable thirst.

I am reliably told that there is no permanent cure for watery faeces though it is possible to mitigate the problem. One proven method is to offer a light unsweetened tea instead of water. The Puteh will drink less of the tea as it will not like the flavour and its excreta will be less watery. However, if water instead of tea is subsequently provided, the problem of watery faeces will immediately return.

One thing that should not be done in an attempt to treat the problem of watery faeces is to reduce the amount of water that is available to the Puteh. There was a bird forum not long ago that had a newly “resident” vet to offer advice on medical problems. One of the first questions he was asked was how to cure a Puteh that had a drinking habit? His advice was to limit the water daily available to the bird as it would then be forced to drink less and would eventually get used to drinking less water. Now, as any experienced Puteh hobbyist knows, withholding water from a Puteh with a drinking problem will only worsen the situation.

[to be continued]


  1. Hi David,

    You mentioned that puteh needs plenty of calories to provide energy it requires for its very active lifestyle, what type of calorie rich food or supplement would you recommend?


  2. I am just a beginner in Putehs so it might not be appropriate to obtain advice from me. I am presently feeding Ah Har dry bird food with a fruit or vegetable such as papaya, orange, apple, lufa, cucumber etc. Two to 3 times a week, I smear a vitamin liquid on the fruit or vegetable. The vitamin is sweetish as it is intended for children. My Putehs seem to be doing well on this diet though it has only been about 2 months since I got them so it is still too early to be sure that the food and care is correct.

    It is typical for Puteh dry food to contain sugar to provide the energy that the Puteh needs. Although the Puteh is a fraction of the size of a shama, a healthy and active Puteh will surprise with the large amount of excreta from it per day.

  3. Hi David,

    In your next post, can you provide some guide to cure puteh that "lost voice" or with a "raspy voice"?


  4. Hi Chan,

    My understanding is that there are 2 main causes for a Puteh losing its voice or having a raspy voice.

    The likely cause is that the bird has air-sac mites. These mites may be safely killed by using the product known as "Scatt" in accordance with the instrutions. This is an over-the-counter medication and a shop such as Goodwill in Singapore may carry the product.

    A stronger medication for the treatment of air-sac mites is Ivermectin but this needs to be prescribed by a vet.

    If the above medication does not remedy the problem, it is likely that the bird is suffering from respiratory tract infection. You will need to bring the bird to a vet for this.


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