Ask the Swan Specialist

Re: Cygnet Rehab: Suggestions for swan enrichment toys/activities?
By:The Regal Swan
Date: 27 September 2016

Hi Rebecca:

Thank you for taking the swan in and rehabbing him. There are a couple of suggestions.

First, get a large plastic swimming pool and sink it in the ground or dig a small lined pond so that there is a zero entry. You need to keep the water level high so it becomes a zero entry pool otherwise he could injure his feet and legs. The pool should be approximately 8 feet wide (if plastic pool) or make a trench (lined pond) 10 feet long, 4 feet wide. No matter what water feature you use, it should be at last 2-3 feet in depth. The water feature will allow the cygnet to enter and exit the pond at will once he gets stronger and will become a great rehab tool for his leg. The water will allow resistance and mobility and will rehab the leg much quicker and will provide the swan with the necessary water feature for a normal life. Swans spend most of their time in water, so he can be fed in the water and he will learn to dip his head, bathe and other normal swan behavior.

If he is still injured or too young to enter/exit the water by himself, you will need to stand by and let him swim for 15-20 minutes at a time until he is physically strong enough to get himself in and out of the water. He needs time to learn how to preen himself so even if you dry him, do not dry him completely so that he will preen and oil himself.

You will need to have some way of removing and refilling the water on a daily basis to keep it clean as the cygnet can create a lot of poop at the end of the day and you don't want to have a bacteria filled reservoir.

The water feature should be surrounded by a non-slick, non-abrasive substrate such as grass (although he will eat and trample the grass until it becomes patchy or dirt), dirt or sand, straw (which will not mold as quickly has hay-but will still need to be mucked on a bi-weekly basis). You do not want any slick or abrasive substrate at it can injure the swan's legs and feet. Additionally, the swan can get a condition known as bumblefoot which is basically a staph infection that can be highly contagious.

Enclose the water feature in a pen so that predators cannot crawl over or dig under the area. Place his food near the edge of the water feature so that he can eat at will and dip it in the water. You can also add it to the water feature, but again this will dirty the water quicker, but it will allow him to feed normally. Add lettuce on top of the water so that he will swim to the lettuce and have some vegetation to supplement his diet. To save you money, you can buy a 50 lb bag or cracked corn and a 50 lb bag of poultry layer pellet and mix it for his food. This mixture will save money and provide the swan with its much need nutritional requirements. The cracked corn acts a filler and also supplies us with necessary Vitamin A. The poultry layer pellets will provide him with vitamins, minerals and other micro-nutrients. Again, this will be a money saver as you should not have to go through this much food for approximately 2-3 weeks even after providing him with enough food to feed at will on a daily basis. The food should be changed on a daily basis and kept free from pests such as ants and mice. The feature close to or in the water feature may help with the ant problem.

We hope this information is of benefit. The swan will provide you with many many hours and years of enjoyment. The Regal Swan

Messages In This Thread

Cygnet Rehab: Suggestions for swan enrichment toys/activities? -- Rebecca -- 27 September 2016
Re: Cygnet Rehab: Suggestions for swan enrichment toys/activities? -- The Regal Swan -- 27 September 2016