Why Does My Quail Keep Falling Over? (Answered)

by Kloee Ngozi
Updated on

A lot of quail keepers have reported seeing their quail birds act strange by falling over or being unable to keep its balance.

This could be symptoms of infections such as Marek’s disease, Botulism, Ear infection or a stroke.

Quails are popular for their meat and highly proteins eggs and more people are going into quail rearing.

When you notice these symptoms it is best to immediately call your vet to diagnose the problem.

Today’s article will focus on the reasons why your bird could be falling over and some of the infections behind this behavior. 

What Does It Mean If Your Birds Keep Falling Over?

Why Does My Quail Keep Falling Over

If your birds keep falling over then there is the probability they have a stroke which means they would have to be put down.

Quails can get a stroke when they have a burst of jump and suddenly hit their head on their cage ceiling.

It causes damage to the brain which affects the quails organs.

Quail falling over can also be a sign of deadly diseases such as Botulism or Marek’s diseases.

If you notice your bird doing this, ensure you call your veterinarian immediately so they can give the bird medical attention and prevent breakout within your flock. 

Related: Here is an article I wrote on quails eating lettuce as treats

Why Can’t My Quail Stand Up?

There are a variety of reasons why a quail bird might be unable to stand on its feet.

A reason that has been given by veterinarians and experienced bird keepers is when in the excitement of flying, the bird jumps high and hits its head on the cage ceiling or roof.

This could cause brain damage or brain swelling, in which case the bird might be severely injured and will have to be put down.

Bird owners are always advised to follow the recommended rule for quail cages to avoid situations like this.

Another reason for quail being unable to stand up is Marek’s disease. It is a viral infectious disease in birds which causes paralysis of the legs and won’t allow your quail to stand up.

Once this disease infects your quail, it infects it for life as it cannot be cured in birds. It can only be managed and in most cases the infected bird has to be put down.

What Causes A Quail To Be Off Balance?

There are several reasons why your quail can be off balance and weaving while trying to walk.

  • Marek’s Disease 

Marek’s disease can cause quails to act drunk in the early stages before total paralysis sets in. The quail will try to stand up on its feet and might weave from side to side or eventually fall.

  • Botulism

Botulism which is an intoxication caused by the bacteria Clostridius botulinum. This bacteria proliferates in moldy feed and als from consumption of insects who have ingested the toxins. 

A particular symptom of Botulism is near paralysis especially at the onset of the infection. A quail off balance might have been infected with the bacteria and will need to be treated with Selenium and Vitamins. 

  • Inner Ear Infection

A quail can also be off balance if it has an infection of the inner ear, even in humans inner ear infections can cause dizziness and vertigo.

The infection usually irritates the nerves that provide balance and when this happens the bird feels dizzy and moves their head from side to side, walks drunkenly or flickers their eyes. 

These ear infections can be resolved with antimicrobials from your vet, it’ll take 2 to 4 weeks to clear up.

Also check out this article on feeding quails watermelon

How Do I Know If My Quail Is Dying?

There are various diseases that affect quail birds however Ulcerative Enteritis which is a manifestation of the bacteria Clostridium colinum is a disease that has a high fatality rate for quail birds.

It usually comes from the droppings of wild birds and ingested by flies before being transmitted to the birds.

It is known as Quails’ disease and once it takes hold can wipe out a whole flock. Warning signs and symptoms of quails disease include: 

  • Listlessness in the quail
  • Drooping wings
  • Retracted neck..
  • Partially closed eyes
  • Diarrhoea.
  • Ruffled or unsmooth feathers.
  • Anaemia.
  • Watery and white faeces 

If you observe one or all of these symptoms in one quail then you need to call the vet quickly, there is a possibility the affected bird might die within the next few days and even infect other birds.

You should endeavor to always keep your birds clean and healthy to prevent outbreak of deadly diseases.

Apart from quails disease, you can regularly check your birds  for symptoms of other illnesses or diseases. 

How Do You Keep Quails Healthy?

Prevention, they say, is better than cure. To ward off deadly diseases that can wipe out your flock overnight here are a few practices you should put in place and do regularly: 

  • Provide a properly covered cage for them using the specified measurements to avoid predators
  • Do not introduce new adult quail to your flock to reduce the incidence of diseases.
  • When checking your birds, deal first with the younger birds then the older. This way the adults cannot pass diseases to the younger. 
  • Change their water regularly and clean their waterer everyday 
  • Do not feed moldy feed to your birds, always sweep away left over feed and clean out your feeder weekly.
  • Ensure your birds are properly spaced out and not stressed from overcrowding 
  • In case of disease breakout, remove dead or sick birds immediately and disinfect the pen.
  • Do not share your poultry equipment with other poultry farmers to reduce the risk of infections.
  • If possible control flies and wild birds around your quail’s cage to ensure there is no transmission of diseases.
  • Give your quails preventive medication regularly depending on your veterinarians’ orders. 

How Do I Know If My Quail Is Cold?

The most common way to know if your quails are cold and the coop temperature is high is by huddling to one corner.

Cold quails will huddle together to one side of the brooder to stay warm. Providing a lamp heater which will heat up the cage is an ideal way to solve the issue.

Some flock keepers make the mistake of switching off the heater early on and then the quails get cold.

If it persists they might catch influenza and bronchitis. Ensure your quails are always kept warm especially during winter.

What Temperature Should Quails Be Kept At?

For quail chicks who have just been hatched it is important to get the temperature right as extreme temperature conditions can kill the chicks. 

For their first week of life, the temperature should be at 95 degrees Fahrenheit during warm months and 90 degrees during cold winter months.

As each week passes, drop the temperature by one 5 degrees until the fifth week when the right temperature should be 75 for summer periods and 70 for winter periods. 

Adult quails are quite tolerant to cold and as long as they are out of wet conditions they can handle themselves even during the winter months.

Ensure their cage is well insulated and also provide warm bedding made with shavings so the cold can pass through their feet.

Also during winter months giving them extra hours of light and heat helps them survive considerably and makes them happier.


Quails are happy little birdies who are quite hardy and can handle themselves.

However if you want to be a quail keeper there are diseases and infections you should be on the look out for so you don’t lose your quail flock like some new keepers experienced.

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About the author

Kloee Ngozi

Kloee is a backyard farmer and avid gardener who enjoys tending to her garden and plants. She is so engrossed with her plants that she has pet names for all of them. She likes to relax with a bottle of wine and read a book.


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