The Chinese painted quail, also known as the button quail, is a species often found in aviaries and homes. These small birds tend to live for five to seven years in captivity, but may live as long as 13 years. Button quails are typically eager to breed in captivity, possibly producing clutches of eggs year-round with correct conditions and lighting.
In the wild, button quail live in the warm grasslands of India, southern China, northern Australia and other areas in Oceania. There are 10 identified subspecies in the wild, however, most of the captive birds in the United States are thought to be of the subspecies C. c. Chinensis, or Chinese painted quail, according to Gbwf.org.
Button quails are small birds, weighing in at one to two ounces. Females reach an average length of 5 inches and males reach 4 inches. They come in several colors, including blue, white, gray and silver, as well as in color combinations. Many of these color mutations were developed in captivity. Males are generally more colorful than their female counterparts, and in most colors they possess a white and black bib. Button quails have feet designed for walking, not perching, and they prefer not to fly. Although not song birds, button quail may produce a variety of quiet clicks, crows and chirps.
Because it is a ground-dwelling bird, the button quail is often used in the aviary to clean up after finches and other birds that are messy eaters. They eat the seed dropped by their aerial counterparts. These birds tend to be rather docile, as well, making them well-suited as pets for children.
The bottom of the enclosure should not be wire because their toes are not designed for perching. Instead, it should be a solid surface -- and one that can be cleaned.
Button quail do not need housing decorated as the wild, however they should have several hiding places they can escape into if wanted. A shoebox with two entrance cut outs or non-toxic foliage (orchids and spider plants, among others) is recommended by AvianWeb.com.
Button quail can be kept with other species of birds, such as finches and parrots, as long as the other species are non-aggressive. Housing should be as large as space permits, giving the quail room to fly if the bird chooses to. They also tend to "popcorn," or pop into the air, straight up, when startled. Nesting will often be done within one of their hiding places or a new "shelter" added during this time.
Button quails require animal (protein) and vegetation in their feed. Live food, such as maggots, crickets or mealworms, should be fed to button quail regularly. They can also eat other types of protein, such as hard-boiled eggs and cooked beans, according to AvianWeb.com. Button quails also feed off finch seed, millet sprays and vegetation. The majority of their diet should be in the form of game bird mash or crumbles, which supplies 20 percent protein.