Topic 13 – Microchips

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The microchip is a tiny computer chip about the size of a grain of rice a unique identification number programmed into it. 

Why Use a Microchip? 

The basic reason for chipping is for reliable identification of a bird. It is safe and unlike leg bands cannot be easily removed. Chip is permanent to prevent possible thieves. Chips can be quickly read with a scanner and traced via a registry. Some leg bands are traceable, but only to the breeder or importer, not the current owner. The breeder or importer may be able to provide further information, but the process, even if successful, will take time. DNA fingerprinting is another method, also takes time and will require a fee. 

Some breeders chip a bird in order to identify and keep records on a birds history for tracking gene pools and variety. Chips also enable them to separate among similar birds in an aviary. Many government agencies require permits to import/export, transport or keep a bird. Getting a permit involves being able to uniquely identify a bird. Currently leg bands are the accepted method. Chips are slowly coming along. 

Sometimes a leg band is removed for various reasons or because an owner fears possible injury to the bird. Veterinarians often supply certificates verifying leg band removal. If the certificate is coupled with a chip ID, this provides a continuing identification of the bird, both for legal and resale purposes 

Inserting the Microchip: 

The microchip is a tiny computer chip about the size of a grain of rice with a single identification number programmed into it. The chip is placed in a hypodermic needle and then injected under the skin, where it stays permanently. For most birds this is usually above the breast muscle. It is a simple and safe procedure, done by a veterinarian with a small fee which requires no anesthesia. It will not move in the body and cannot be lost, altered or removed. The chip, which is harmless to the animal, lasts for decades and need never be disturbed. There is neither power supply nor moving parts to worry about. Since a microchip is invisible to the naked eye. a ‘reader’ or ‘scanner is required to get back the ID number on the chip. These devices use a radio signal to read the number on the chip- The chip can also be seen, but not read, on an x- ray. Once a chip is inserted into a bird, it needs to be registered with a recovery network. For a small one-time fee, the recovery network stores the pet’s chip number and owner information in a database. If a pet with an implanted chip is found, the network is called and it will immediately contact the owner, so that the pet can be recovered. Most networks maintain a 24 hour, 7 days per week answering service. It is important to choose a brand of microchip which is MOSTLY used. This will make it more likely that someone will have the proper scanner to read the chip if the pet is found. 

Scanners (Chip Readers) 

Scanners tend to be expensive and so are usually found at veterinarians, hospitals, clinics, shelters, zoos, large breeders etc. 

Recovery Networks: 

‘There are a number of registry and recovery networks to choose from. Some services carry alternate names to contact in case you are unreachable in an emergency – a nice feature and a one-time registration fees per pet with special rates for breeders and owners of multiple pets.