How to Care for & Raise Chinese Button Quail

Updated February 21, 2017

Because of their small size and pleasant nature, Chinese button quail, known interchangeably as Chinese painted quail, are a popular choice as pets. An adult Chinese button quail has blue-grey or brown feathers and is approximately the size of a baby chicken. If properly fed and watered and protected from harsh elements, Chinese button quail can live for four or five years.

Purchase Chinese button quail from a quail breeder or a reputable pet store.

Keep quail in a rabbit hutch with a screened front. Make sure the screen is made from a tight mesh, as baby quail are tiny and can escape through small gaps. Partition off a section of the hutch to provide a sheltered area for the quail to keep warm while sleeping. Pad the ceiling of the hutch with soft foam; button quail fly straight up when startled.

Spread wood shavings on the floor of the hutch. Replace the shavings as often as necessary to maintain a clean, sanitary living environment for your quail.

Supply plenty of fresh, clean water in a heavy shallow bowl with marbles at the bottom to ensure that baby quail won't fall in and drown. Change the water daily.

For the first five weeks after birth, feed baby quail a high-protein diet of feed specifically designed for young poultry, which is sold commercially as chick feed or chick crumb. Feed older quail dried sprigs of millet, known as millet spray, plus grit and an assortment of sliced fruits and vegetables like apples and cucumbers. Scatter food on the floor of the hutch, and keep it available at all times.

Keep breeding pairs in breeding cages separate from the other birds. Either allow the mother hen to hatch her eggs in a nest, or keep eggs in an incubator to aid the hatching process.


Some Chinese button quail owners like to let birds run free in an outdoor aviary or in the house. Quail can be messy, so protect indoor surfaces from droppings with sheets or tarps. Agreeable in nature, Chinese button quail may be housed with other caged birds such as finches. Quail sometimes fight amongst themselves, however, so separate quarrelsome birds to prevent them from attacking and injuring each other. Keep tubs of grass in the hutches. Quail eat the grass stalks and seeds and enjoy pecking at the soil.


Avocado is poisonous to Chinese button quail. If birds are kept in an outdoor aviary, take care when walking across the grass. Quail hens keep their tiny babies in ground nests, which are hard to see and thus easy to trample.

Things You'll Need

  • Screened hutch
  • Wood shavings
  • Water bowl
  • Marbles
  • Chick feed
  • Millet spray
  • Grit
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About the Author

Morgan Richter has a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in screenwriting from the University of Southern California's School of Cinema-Television. Since 1999, she's written reviews and essays on pop culture topics for her personal website, "Preppies of the Apocalypse." Her novel, "Charlotte Dent", was a 2008 Semifinalist in the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Awards.