Coturnix coturnix japonica
- In the summer when insects are more abundant, quail will feed on insects as well as their usual diet of seeds. They have also been known to eat grains and grasses.
- In captivity, they are fed Harrison fine pellets, mealworms, grit, and lettuce.
Notes on Enrichment & Training
Colony or Breeding Management
Notes species is housed or managed socially or for breeding purposes.
Dimorphism or practiced ways to individually mark species (such as those in colonies, like giant millipedes).
Tips on Presentation
Tips on Handling
Comments from the Rating System
Natural History Information
Range and Habitat
Japanese quail can be found throughout Europe and Asia, and its range extends down into North Africa. In a domestic setting, however, they can be found worldwide. Preferred habitat is fields of tall grass or grains.
The Japanese quail has been bred in two size varieties. One variety is the same size as wild Japanese quail, and the other is a larger variety bred specifically for meat and larger eggs. Generally, the plumage is russet brown, but various color varieties have been developed: Normal, Manchurian Gold, English Black, Barred, White, and A&M Giant White. Their bodies are round in shape and their legs and bills are rather weak. The tail are quite short.
The average Japanese quail measures about 17 centimeters (6.8 inches) in length. Quails bred for meat production are slightly heavier (150-300 grams) than the wild-type quails (100-160 grams). Males are a bit smaller than females.
Japanese quail can begin laying eggs at 6 weeks of age. Their eggs have a variety of colors and patterns, ranging from snow white to speckled brown. Usually, the eggs are tan and brown speckled or mottled brown with a chalky blue covering. The average egg from a mature female weighs about 10 grams – about 8% of her body weight (as opposed to a chicken egg, which is 3% of the hen’s body weight.) Domestic quails will not usually brood their eggs, so an incubator is required. Wild Japanese quail will incubate their eggs, however. Incubation lasts for 21 days.
In the wild, quails find mates through vocal displays. Males tend to outnumber females, so breeding is a very selective process. A clutch of between 9 and 15 eggs will generally be deposited in a scrape nest the female makes in the ground. The scrape is lined with vegetation. The eggshells are fragile and the chicks are quite delicate after hatching because they are so small.
Average lifespan for a Japanese quail is 2 to 2.5 years.
Male quails can be very aggressive, so on farms there is a ratio of one male to three females.
They communicate with one another through a variety of calls. Males attract females with their “triplet call” at breeding season.
In the wild, they are usually very hard to identify because they hide in vegetation. When threatened, these quail will usually try to run and hide instead of flying away.
Japanese quail migrate seasonally, but the migration pattern is quite complex and not well understood.
Threats and Conservation Status
Japanese quail are the most commonly found quail in domestic conditions. Many varieties of this quail have been selectively bred in order to produce more meat, more eggs, and a wide range of color variation. Although domestic and wild quail do not usually interbreed, they can reproduce with reduced fertility. In western Europe, due to escapes from quail farms, these hybrids may be more common with a detrimental effect on the wild quail’s genetic purity, as well as their fertility.
Common predators of wild quail are humans and other carnivores larger than they are.
Did you know…
- Other common names for this species are coturnix, pharoah’s quail, stubble quail, eastern quail, common quail, Asiatic quail, red-throat quail, Japanese gray quail, Japanese migratory quail, King quail, and Japanese king quail.
- This quail is the smallest member of the Order Galliformes.
- When you encounter quail eggs in a restaurant, most likely it came from a Japanese quail. The eggs are considered quite a delicacy – similar in taste to chicken eggs, but with much milder yokes, they have a creamy texture when hard-boiled.
- Egyptians used to trap large quantities of Japanese quail from their farm lands for meat — but they did not breed and domesticate them. In Japan, this species was domesticated as songbirds and pets beginning in the eleventh century By 1910, however, Japanese quail became popular in Japan for egg and meat production. They were introduced into the United States by bird fanciers around 1870.
Any Documents to attach, species spotlights, etc.
- Choice, Control, and Training in Ectotherms, By Carrie Kish
- Ambassador Animal SAG Newsletter Vol. 2, Issue 3: Temperature and Transport: Welfare Implications for Ambassador Ectotherms
- Stress Management in Reptiles and Frogs
- Reptile Lighting Information
Contributors and Citations
- The Philadelphia Zoo