Hazards in the home

   

pet budgerigar on fingerIt's said that more accidents happen in the home than elsewhere. Hopefully however, this guide will help to keep your pet bird safe in these surroundings.

1.  Glass kills.  Young birds in particular are unlikely to appreciate the barrier posed by a window, and may therefore fly into the glass at speed, fracturing their skull as a consequence of the collision. Be sure to cover all windows with net curtains or a similar visible barrier therefore, so that your bird will be safe when it is out of its quarters. Always check that the window behind is closed as well, before allowing your pet out, because otherwise, the bird may fly out of the room from behind the curtain, particularly if this is lifted by a gust of wind. 

poinsettia wreath
2.  Deadly plants.  Parrots like to nibble, and they won’t be able to distinguish between  beneficial greenstuff and a potentially harmful houseplant, such as a dumb cane, poinsettia, ivy or winter cherry. Be sure to keep houseplants out of reach. Even cut flowers may be dangerous,  and in addition, their vase could be knocked over by the bird as well. It’s probably safest to assume that all such plants are potentially poisonous,  especially since you won’t want the leaves nibbled in any case, so remove them from the room when your parrot is at liberty here. Also, avoid having cacti in the room, because if your bird lands on this type of plant,  this will be a very painful experience, and    removing the spines could prove to be very difficult and uncomfortable as well. 

3. Cooking concerns.  Don’t keep a pet bird in the kitchen, partly because this is not especially hygienic, with feather dust and seed husks likely to end up in your food. In addition, this location is also bad for birds themselves, because of  their sensitive respiratory systems, and it can even prove to be fatal if you have non-stick cookware, should this overheat. The deadly polytetrafluoroethylene fumes given off will kill birds within minutes. There is also the possibility that  your pet could be harmed in other ways as well, such as being spattered with boiling fat if it is too close to the cooker. Birds are often attracted to saucepans on a cooker, with their handles making attractive perches, so as an additional safety measure, keep the kitchen door closed if your pet is free in another part of the home while you are cooking.         

4. Sprays, carpet cleaners and smoke.  Again, the aerosol effect of many cleaning products means that they may be inhaled easily into the bird’s airways, and can then result in poisoning. Moving your pet outdoors once symptoms become apparent may not be sufficient to save its life, so do take care when using such products around the home. Remember that the particles can be wafted from room to room. Tobacco smoke can be harmful to birds over a period of time. Those living in the homes of smokers may suffer low grade respiratory infections, because of the regular irritation of their respiratory tracts with smoke. Vets are also seeing more birds affected by inhalation of cannabis smoke! 

5. Fish tanks. The inquisitive nature of parrots in particular means they may be attracted to an open fish tank.  Hyacinth macaw on fish bowlWhile there is the obvious danger that if your pet falls into the aquarium then it could drown, it is perhaps at greater risk from drinking the water, which often contains an unpleasant cocktail of bacteria and other microbes. The same also applies in the toilet, if your pet is drawn to the bowl here. In both cases, the message is clear - cover up for your pet’s health !

6. Cats. Even fluffy Persians can sometimes display the keen hunting instincts of their wild ancestors, and it is not safe to allow birds and cats to mix. It only takes a few seconds for a cat to kill, so don’t be seduced by a docile appearance. Its nature is that of a hunter.  You can keep cats and birds in the same household though, if you supervise them closely at all times. Try to exclude your cat as far as possible from the room where your bird is housed,  and always check thoroughly that the cat has not slipped into the room. Always ensure that the door is firmly closed before you let your bird out of its cage.   Also, place the cage in such a way that it will not be easy for the cat to jump up on to it and frighten the bird.

7. Wallpaper & paint. Do not  place your’s pet cage within reach of the wall. It is much better to construct a stout plastic screen as a barrier so that this area does not become soiled, let alone nibbled. In older buildings, there is a risk posed to birds’ health by the presence of lead-based paints, especially where paintwork is flaking, while modern wallpaper pastes may contain fungicides and other chemicals could also be harmful to the bird if ingested. Always keep a watch on your pet when it is out of its quarters, so that it should not be tempted to damage the room furnishings and possibly harm its health as a result.  

8. Fires. Open fires represent an obvious and serious danger to birds, and they should be totally screened off, particularly when you let your bird out of its quarters. Bear in mind that a bird can slip out accidentally at other times as well, such as when its cage is being cleaned, so that the guard should be in Fire in grateplace permanently, for safety’s sake. Double-check the door fitting as well, particularly in the case of parrots, just to ensure the bird cannot let itself out in your absence. A secure combination lock can be recommended as a precautionary measure. It is not just coal fires which are a danger - gas and electric can be equally dangerous, and need to be safely screened as well.

9. Cables. Parrots like to exercise their bills, and they will not necessarily distinguish between branches provided for this purpose and electrical cabling connecting to a light for example. Switch off and unplug all unwanted appliances  therefore, before allowing your pet out into the room, and make sure there are no loose leads which can be reached through the sides of its quarters.  Should you have the misfortune to spot your parrot with live cabling in its mouth,  then do not rush over and try to wrestle this out of the bird’s beak. This could have fatal consequences for both of you, as it is likely to cause the parrot to tighten its grip, severing the cabling accordingly and receiving a fatal shock. Instead, switch off and disconnect the cable, before taking it out of the bird’s bill. The cable itself may already have been damaged to the extent that it then needs replacing for safety’s sake.

10. Deep chairs. They may not be the most obvious danger, but  they  can be fatal for  tame budgerigars and cockatiels in particular. The bird flies down on the base of the chair, and does not move as the owner comes to sit down.  The result of  a will almost certainly be fatal for the bird and exceedingly traumatic for its owner. It may seem bizarre, but accidents of this type can and sadly do happen.  I know someone who had the misfortune to lose their greatly-cherished pet cockatiel in this way. Always be sure that your pet is not in danger, before sitting down.