How to Raise a Reeves's Pheasant

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Although not nearly so artificially abundant as the common pheasant (Phasianus colchicus), which is raised in its millions across Europe and North America, the Reeves’s pheasant (Syrmaticus reevesii) isn’t especially demanding or hard to acquire. Raising this species is not exactly the same as raising common pheasants, but it has similar requirements.

Background

Native to China, Reeves’s pheasants are struggling in the wild, where numbers are declining rapidly due to habitat destruction and fragmentation. Hunting and egg collection are also threats—the species used to be targeted for its extremely long tail feathers. Pheasant enthusiasts have raised the species in captivity for a while, although it is probably not a good choice for beginners because of space requirements. Males also tend toward the aggressive.

Housing

These pheasants require a fair amount of space, with basic housing consisting of a substantial outdoor aviary, sufficiently covered to provide protection from the elements. A thick layer of shrubby vegetation provides a more natural environment and makes the birds feel secure. Take care that the floor doesn’t become too muddy, which would ruin the long tail feathers. Because both adults and chicks can be aggressive, Reeves’s pheasants should not be kept with other species of pheasant or indeed any other birds. For the same reason, ensure you have only one male per aviary.

Diet

Reeves’s pheasants don’t have highly specific dietary requirements. Chicks should get a high-protein pheasant starter food while adults should be fine with a commercial pheasant food as the staple diet. Supplement with mealworms, worms and other invertebrates and some fresh produce. Your birds will also find a little bit of food in their enclosure, although probably not very much.

Care

Handle the birds daily from a young age if you want relatively tame birds, although bear in mind that Reeves’s pheasants, especially the males, have a reputation for being aggressive to everybody—each other, other birds and humans. This is not a species to rear if you have your heart set on pet-like tame birds. Basic maintenance is straightforward. Aside from feeding and changing the water every day, remove droppings and uneaten scraps and treat parasites per your vet’s advice when required.

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