Top 10 Household Dangers to Pet Birds
by Lianne McLeod DVM
Pet birds are extremely susceptible to a wide variety of household dangers. There are numerous reasons for this, including their small size, rapid metabolism, and sensitive respiratory systems. Of course, with parrots, there is also an intense curiosity and need to explore everything with their beaks. Owners need to be vigilant about protecting their birds from dangers throughout the home.
Birds are susceptible to a wide range of toxic substances which can injure or kill birds either by ingestion (eating) or inhalation (breathing them in). One of the most common toxicities in pet birds 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). Poisonous plants are also a danger.
2. Non Stick Coatings (when overheated)
This technically falls under poisoning but warrants a special mention because use of these products is very common. 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.
3. Open Water
Toilets are the most common source of open water in the house, and it is all too easy for your pet bird to fall in and drown. Other water sources to watch for are sinks, bathtubs, buckets, and water bowls of dogs or cats. The kitchen can also be a dangerous place if there are hot pots of water on the stove.
4. Inappropriate Foods
These range from those that are just unhealthy to those that might kill pet birds. Anything high in sugar or salt is inappropriate, as are fatty foods. More serious are things such as chocolate, which is toxic to many pets. Caffeinated or alcoholic beverages are also dangerous. Avocado should also be avoided (there is some debate about how toxic avocado is - better safe than sorry).
5. Electrical Cords
Birds explore with their beaks, and exposed electrical cords pose a danger if bitten. Keep cords and appliances away from the bird cage, and conceal cords as much as possible. Covering exposed cords with corrugated plastic tubing (available at hardware stores) may help reduce the danger.
6. Poorly Made Toys
Even toys designed for parrots may not be safe for them. Make sure your parrots (especially larger ones) are not able to break off or remove any parts and swallow them. Rope toys can also be dangerous if they are long enough to get tangles up in, and there have been cases of parrots separating the strands on braided ropes, inserting their heads, and strangling as a result.
7. Ceiling Fans
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 moving above them, so may be stressed out by a ceiling fan running near their cage.
8. Windows, Doors, and Mirrors
Windows and mirrors pose a danger to birds who might fly into them. Keeping wings clipped helps to alleviate this risk, although even clipped birds can try a run at a window or mirror. Of course, open windows and exterior doors leave a chance at escape. Even interior doors can be risky if the bird likes to sit on the top of an open door - the bird could be injured if the door is closed.
9. Other Pets
While birds often live happily with other household pets, owners should always be careful when other pets are near the birds. The motion of birds can attract the prey instinct of cats and dogs, and an infected bite or scratch can quickly be fatal to a bird.
10. Air Quality
Birds are especially sensitive to contaminants in the air. Aerosol products of any kind should not be used around your bird. Cigarette smoke has been implicated in respiratory disease in pet birds. Carbon monoxide is also dangerous to birds, so use a carbon monoxide detector in the home, and be careful not to run your vehicle in an attached garage.