We want to make sure our home is a safe place for our family members. Our bird family members have additional risks in our homes as they can fly and inherently chew and use their beak at their hands. Let’s review the hazards to our feathered family that exist in our home.
Windows, Doors, Fans, Etc.
Pet birds can be adept flyers but face hazards in our homes that wild birds could never understand. Pet birds that can fly free can fly out windows and escape if a window screen isn’t present and can smack into mirrors and ceiling fans even. They can perch on top of doorjambs and risk getting injured that way as well. Pet birds that can fly free in the home can even wind up looking at the colorful contents in the fridge or explore the laundry room appliances. The risk to a free flying pet bird are many and whenever your pet bird is free, it should be supervised so the bird does not risk accidentally flying onto a hot burner and the like. If it sometimes worth considering limiting your birds ability to fly with a veterinarian’s wing clipping. Your pet bird can still glide and sail but not get the lift needed to fly into a ceiling fan not knowing any better. A temporary clipping will grow out in a few months if you do decide to let your pet bird fly free at home.
Inappropriate Chew Toys
Parrots are just like small children like to put everything in their mouths. Parrots sharp hook bills let them manipulate, pick up and find things to chew on. Choosing an object to chew on that is not safe can cause a parrot problems. A pet parrot will not understand to not chew on windowsills or stained glass windows with lead or not use their beak to play with the copper wires or zinc plated serving wear. Those always clever and curious beaks are another reason to always supervise your parrot when it’s not in its cage so your bird does not have a snack that can cause it harm.
Pet birds have a respiratory system that is unlike other domestic pets and makes aerosolized toxins a real risk of inhaling. The Teflon non-stick coating that is on many cookware sets and even on some appliances produce colorless and odorless vapors that can cause a parrot to have fluid accumulate in their lungs causing their demise. Lead free candles are necessity in a home with a parrot as the lead in some wicks becomes aerosolized when burned. Airborne toxins such as perfumes, incense and even cooking fumes can irritate the respiratory tract of a pet parrot.
Birds are also cutely sensitive to cigarette and cigar smoke. Smoke inhalation by birds can lead to recurrent respiratory tract infections, difficulty breathing and even death. Bird can also ingest toxic nicotine from a smokers hands or clothing. Nicotine irritates the skin of parrots. Smokers are recommended to not have parrots as a pet as when a pet perches on you, you should not be toxic to your pet.
Well-Intentioned But Predatory Playmates
If you have a bird along with other pets in your house, you need to remember even the most gentle and well-meaning dogs and cats wanting to play with a parrot can injure it. Cats and dogs have sharp nails that can easily puncture a bird thin skin and may accidentally use their mouth to nip at the bird. Wounds inflicted by dogs and cats can introduce bacteria into the bird and can sometimes cause a dire health crisis. Your other pets may like the bird and the bird may want to play with them but it is unsafe for a parrot to play with larger animals and other species. Just as another pet may not understand their own strength, the same must sadly be mentioned about small children. They may drop the bird or restrain it too tightly. Playtime must always be closely supervised and in a controlled environment.
Pest Traps Dangers
Flighted birds can land on glue or snap traps and get stuck in them, plus birds can ingest poison bait from traps and die. If using pest traps of any sort, you need to not use them anywhere around your pet bird. Even using gentle solvents commonly used to remove a bird from a glue trap can tear skin; cause abrasions and can rip out feathers painfully. A bird that was gotten trapped in a pest trap should be taken to an emergency vet hospital that can treat exotic pets immediately. Do not attempt to rescue your bird from the trap yourself.
Foods containing chocolate, caffeine and alcohol are toxic to birds and should never be offered to them in any portion size. However, not all parrot owners realize that avocadoes, garlic, onions and the other members of the allium plant family can make a pet bird ill. Salty treats like pretzels, chips, popcorn and salted crackers can also cause serious illness in birds. Avocadoes are like edible aerosols for a bird and cause birds’ lungs to fill with fluid, while garlic and onions can cause a bird to develop potentially fatal anemia. Ingestion of large quantities of salt can upset a bird’s electrolytes and causes fluid imbalance that can cause cardiac problems.
Humans have bacteria, yeast, and other organisms in their mouths that are not found in birds. These can cause serious, potentially fatal infections. Parrot owners should never mimic the feeding rituals on birds with their beloved pet even. Likewise, never share food from their mouths with their birds or share food on your plate if any used utensils, even disposable have been near your mouth and then touched the plate.
Birds like to chew on everything around them, including plants. In the wild, birds naturally gnaw on plants to survive. However, our yards and homes are not the natural habitat. Some plants will make a bird have an upset stomach whereas others can be lethal poison. Houseplants unsafe for birds include Calla lilies, mistletoe, philodendron, rhododendron, poinsettias and yew. Parrot owners should check with their veterinarians or a pet poison control hotline before allowing their pet exposure to a plant so they do not let their pet get ill or worse.
Birds are hopelessly attracted to smooth small colorful objects like pills and love to put them in their mouths, often accidentally ingesting them. Once eaten, birds rapidly metabolize the ingredients of the pills. Their accidental ingestion of human medications at doses designed for a human can lead to serious illness and death. Always be careful to never allow a pill to sit anywhere your bird can find it and properly store and dispose of all medication properly and keep all your medication in a childhood and bird proof pharmacy bottle or pill case a beak cannot open.
Bird owners should bird-proof their homes to make sure you and your parrot have a long, happy and healthy life and relationship together.