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Temminck's Tragopan

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Scientific name: Tragopan temminckii

Other common names: Crimson-bellied Tragopan; Chinese Crimson Pheasant; Temminck's Horned Pheasant

The basics:
The wild Temminck's Tragopan is widely distributed in various high mountain forests across a broad area within Asia. In times gone by, traditional Chinese kept the species in cages to bring longevity and luck because of a mark on the throat wattle that suggested the character for long life. In the late 1800s, Europeans discovered that this species made a fine aviary bird, since it is one of the most beautiful of the pheasants yet possesses a pleasing rather than a diva-like personality. Today, it is by far the most popular tragopan, as well as one of the most popular ornamental pheasants of any kind, in both Europe and North America.

The tragopan genus, including the Temminck's Tragopan, is noteworthy for two reasons. First, they are an arboreal group that builds a twig nest in a tree, unlike most pheasants. Second, the male possesses inflatable horns and bib, which you usually can't see, until he goes into his courtship dance.

Appearance:
Widely considered the most beautiful of the tragopans, the adult male Temminck's Tragopan is a truly impressive specimen with a rich orange-red plumage beautifully scaled with pale teardrops on the breast and underparts, and pale circles outlined in black on the upperparts. The face is a brilliant bright blue which shows very well in contrast to the black head. The center of the crest is black, backed up by an under-crest of bright red-orange. To avoid confusion with Satyr's Tragopan, check the back. Temminck's has an orange nape collar and a red-orange back. Satyr lacks the collar and has a brown back. The female is also heavily scaled, but in shades of brown and buff, so that she's nowhere near as gaudy as her mate. Temminck's and Satyr Tragopan females are easily confused and have probably been inadvertently hybridized in the past, so get your birds from a knowledgeable breeder.

Average weight:
1 - 2 kilograms (2.2 - 4.4 lbs.)

Lifespan:
15 - 20 years

Health:
Temminck's Tragopans are considered generally hardy birds if kept in a large, well-drained aviary that gives them plenty of room to play and to forage for fresh greenery. However, you will want a good veterinarian to advise you on the proper de-worming schedule, vaccinations, and other medical treatments needed to keep them in the very best of health.

Behavior / temperament:
There are a few reports of male Temminck's Tragopans who became aggressive toward their mates, but most owners seem delighted with this special species. The males are among the most beautiful of pheasants, with one of the most interesting courtship displays, yet the birds do not become obnoxious and territorial. Many people describe their Temminck's as being friendly birds who fly to their hand or even perch on their arm or shoulder, and they can be easily trained to come to you to eat from your hand. They truly seem to enjoy their humans and to look forward to spending time with them.

Housing:
Temminck's Tragopan enjoys living in monogamous pairs in a huge, well-planted aviary of at least 400 square feet, with a breeding platform and night roosting perches placed high off the ground. Include plenty of edible greens like chickweed in the planted vegetation, as well as shrubs or small trees for flying, climbing, and playing. Be sure they have adequate cover to protect against direct sunlight as well as extremes of weather. They are cold tolerant but must be protected against extreme heat and humidity.

Diet:
In the wild, Temminck's Tragopans would forage for a rather omnivorous diet of grass, sprouts, and other vegetable matter, as well as whatever likely insects or bugs they could catch. The backbone of the captive diet is usually a high quality waterfowl or pheasant pellet, supplemented with seeds and grains; romaine and spinach; chopped fruits like apples and grapes; milky seeding heads of grasses and other greens; and the usual commercially available live foods like mealworms, waxworms, and crickets. Make sure they always have a source of clean water.

Written by Elaine Radford

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