Dangers in the Home
Imagine yourself as a 2 year old child in a strangers house – the entire home is yours for the taking – to look – see – touch – taste and run around to your hearts content – now imagine that same scene with a parrot – and they WILL look – see – touch and taste whatever will fit in their beak – they are curious by nature and need to know what everything is and if it is fun to chew – shred – or eat – and a lot of things in our homes are toxic to birds – this list is compiled of some of the most common things found in our homes that are dangerous to birds and should be avoided at all times.
One of the most common toxicities in parrots is insecticides sprayed in the home. Others include ammonia, bleach, oven cleaner, glues, nail polish remover, paint, perfumes, heavy metals (e.g. lead and zinc) and some plants.
Potential sources of lead:
- Weights – curtains/fishing,diving and boat accessories, wheel balances.
- Bells with lead clappers
- Shotgun pellets
- Air rifle pellets
- Lead based paints/varnishes/lacquers
- Hardware cloth
- Galvanized wire(lead and zinc)
- Foil from champagne/wine bottles(some)
- Base of light bulbs
- Contaminated bone meal/dolomite products
- Leaded gasoline fumes
- Glazed ceramics
- Contaminate cuttlefish bone
- Stained glass – the lead seam
- Seeds for planting coated with lead arsenate
- Some lubricants(lead napthalate)
Some toxic plants:
- Black Locust
- Lily of the Valley(also toxic to cats)
- Crown Vetch
- Virginia Creeper
Non stick coatings(when overheated)
The use of these everyday items is very common and extreme care must be used if you continue to use them, there have been many sad stories of death to a companion bird due to the overheating of a teflon pan or the self clean of an oven.
When overheated, the non stick coating emits fumes that are very toxic to birds when inhaled. This coating is found on non stick cookware but also waffle irons, bread machines, irons, ironing board covers, curling irons, space heaters, blow dryers and more.
Birds LOVE to chew and cords are super fun as they get “two” pieces to play with once they have severed it – care MUST be taken when placing both the cage and the playstand in any room that has electrical cords – those tiny feet can stretch outside the bars and grab a cord to chew – this could be deadly for the bird! This also applies to your computer/laptop or any device that has a cord, when your interacting with your parrot, make sure these are out of their reach. Plastic tubing can be found at most hardware stores and can conceal the wires inside.
Have you ever gone to the bathroom with a bird on your shoulder – and than flushed? This is an incredibly dangerous thing to do, the sudden noise of the toilet could easily startle a bird and he could very well end up in there as its flushing – if possible – do not take your bird into the washroom and if you do, have a perch readily available for him to sit on, close the lid “before” you flush and leave the lid closed at all times when the bird is out – a panicked bird could land in there and easily drown.
Also be careful of dog/cat dishes with water and never leave buckets/containers full of water or any other liquid that could a bird could risk drowning in.
Potentially a very dangerous place for a free flying bird – those pots of supper cooking are a temptation and serious burns and/or death could occur from an accidental fall into a hot cooking pot.
Try to ensure your bird is not near the stove or appliances when your cooking.
Certain foods are highly toxic to parrots – avocados,chocolate and all caffeine based drinks.
Its best to avoid foods that are high in salt – sugar and fatty foods.
Ceiling fans pose a real danger to flighted birds – serious injuries have occurred when birds fly into them. Birds tend to be nervous with things above them, so its not a good idea to have their cage directly under it or to close to it.
Windows – mirrors – doors
Windows and mirrors pose a danger to flighted birds who might run into them. Some people do clip their birds for safety reasons, but this doesn’t necessarily stop them from coming into contact with them. Of course, open windows and exterior doors are an accidental escape waiting to happen. Even interior doors can be dangerous if the bird likes to sit on the top of it – the bird could be injured if the door is closed suddenly – this also is true for cupboard doors.
Birds can live effectively with other animals in the house, but diligent care must be taken to ensure they do not come into contact with each other – an infected scratch/bite from a cat or dog can lead to serious infection and death.
Ferrets have been known to chase/kill birds as well as some larger snakes – reptiles should not be kept anywhere near your bird.
Tobacco smoke is very harmful to birds and they should not be exposed to it or the tobacco products. Ingestion of small quantities of nicotine can cause respiratory disease. Birds in homes of smokers often have signs of coughing/sneezing/sinusitis and conjunctivitis due to the continuous irritation of the respiratory system. Birds should be in a well ventilated and smoke free area. Repeated residue of nicotine on a smokers hands is thought to cause local irritation. Some birds in smoke filled homes who were pluckers, resumed normal preening behavior after the exposure was removed.
Wash your hands after you smoke/clean and don’t use hand cream if your about to interact with your bird – the residue off your hands will come into contact with the bird.
There are a lot of bird safe toys that can either be purchased or made – a lot of people buy their things from craft stores and dollar stores to save a bit of money. While there ARE safe items to be found in these places, you need to be cautious on what your buying – grape vine wreaths are a favorite with birds BUT most are treated prior to being shipped out – they are sprayed with two different chemicals – one to help the wreath keep its shape and another to prevent mold from forming during transport – if your ever in doubt and the sales people cannot confirm it has NOT been treated, don’t buy it.
Cat/dog toys are also a common toy for birds – again – some are safe for them to play with but others are not – the small plastic sphere shapes with bells inside made for cats are not a good choice – the plastic breaks readily and could easily be ingested – the bell inside is also a danger as the clapper can be removed and ingested and the bell itself which has the X shape when you look at it – has seen claws/nails/beaks caught in it.
Take great care in selecting toys for your bird – remember their beaks are very strong and can break/chew apart almost anything.