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Do you own a bird? If you do, you may not be aware that there could be hazards lurking in your home that could harm your favorite avian friend. Consider these top 10 household dangers for pet birds:
Birds’ respiratory tracts are much more sensitive than mammals’ to airborne toxins. Teflon or any other nonstick coatings on pots, pans and kitchen appliances (such as stoves and toaster ovens) can be a cause of death in pet birds. When these coatings are heated to very high temperatures (particularly if burned), they release microscopic vapors that birds breathe in, causing fluid to collect in their lungs. Birds can die almost instantly. Other aerosols, such as cooking fumes, spray cleaners and perfumes, can irritate their respiratory passages and should always be avoided around birds. Candles also should be avoided, as some have petroleum in their wax or lead in their wicks. These toxic substances can be aerosolized and inhaled by birds.
While birds are meant to fly, they are not meant to fly around many of the obstacles and hidden dangers in our homes. Pet birds can fly out open windows and doors or into mirrors and ceiling fans. If they land on top of doors without their owner’s knowledge, when the door is slammed, they can be crushed. They can fly into hot foods and liquids (like coffee, tea and soup) and into the open flames of candles and fireplaces. They can also land on the floor, where they can be inadvertently stepped on, or in open toilet bowls, where they can drown. Flighted birds should be constantly supervised when they are out of their cages.
Birds are extremely sensitive to cigarette and cigar smoke. They can get sick not only if they breathe it in, but also if they perch on a hand or clothing that is covered with nicotine or preen the substance off their feathers. Nicotine can get on birds’ feet, causing irritation. Birds who get nicotine on their feet may chew on them until they are raw and bloody. Even smokers who smoke far away from their pet birds have smoke particles on their clothing and hands that can be transferred to their birds. As a result of these potential exposures, in general, birds should live in smoke-free households.
Parrots, with their sharp, strong beaks, have the natural need to chew and explore with their mouths. Wild parrots use their large pointy beaks to tear and crush food and to build nests. In our homes, however, their natural oral curiosity can get them into trouble. Birds chew electric cords, painted baseboards and window sills (which can contain lead paint or other toxins), soldered or stained glass items, galvanized wire, batteries, and other objects that contain toxic metals like lead, zinc and copper. Whenever pet birds are out of their cages, they must be watched at all times, and all potentially toxic items must be kept out of their reach.
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