Parrot Health

Top 10 Holiday Dangers for Parrots

The holiday season can be lovely, filled with good friends, family, love and light. However, it can quickly become a nightmare to anyone keeping parrots as it is fraught with dangers that may impair your pets’ health and maybe even cost them their lifes.

Please see below for the top ten dangers you need to safeguard your parrots from during the holiday season:

1. Candles

Candles are dangerous in so many ways: They may compromise our parrots’ respiratory system. Also, feathers burn really well, if parrots get close to open flames. Eating wax may cause severe health problems.

Ideally, switch to electric candles. If you must use real candles make them inaccessible to parrots by placing them in a lantern and use them only when your birds are in a different room.

2. Christmas Trees & Plants

Christmas trees and plants are often chemically treated to make leaves shinier, add color or artificial snow. Check what you are buying when you are buying and avoid bringing such plants into your home. Apart from the danger to you parrots when eating such plants, they may also give off harmful vapours.

3. Decorations

Christmas decorations are often made of harmful materials. Go back to basics whenever possible: straw stars colored with food dyes, cookies, popcorn chains and fir wreaths make nice and much safer holiday decorations. Make sure any threads and ribbons used for hanging safe decorations are too short for your parrots to catch a limb or strangulate themselves

4. Electrics

Unprotected cables from christmas lights and special equipment are a source of danger. Make them inaccessible to your birds.

5. Special Equipment

You know enough not to have anti-stick coated cookware in the house, but what about special equipment such as fondue, raclette, waffle sets, etc.? Such special equipment often contains anti-stick coating which can be lethal to your parrots.

6. Holiday Treats

Holiday treats often contain exactly those substances that are dangerous to parrots: Chocolate, alcohol and salt. Keep them properly secured so that your parrots cannot access them.

7. Human Visitors

Not-bird-smart visitors present a huge danger to our parrots. You need to inform your visitors and also to secure your home in a way that even the most ignorant person cannot do harm:

  • Can your windows and doors be locked? If not, consider removing handles. Visitors who think it is too warm or who want to go for a smoke have been known to rip open windows and outside doors, letting birds escape.
  • Do not allow visitors to feed your birds or provide safe treats that they may spoil your pets with. Do you really want to risk someone sneaking chocolate or egg punch to your bird?
  • Do not allow visitors to crowd, grope or chase your birds.
  • Do not expect people to watch their children. Yes, they should, but often they don’t.

8. Visitors with Pets

Visitors should not be allowed to bring pets. It is just too dangerous. A moment’s inattention is enough to give someone’s dog, cat or ferret the chance to injure or kill your parrot.

Visitors which also have parrots add another layer of danger from transmittable diseases. Parrots can be virus carriers with no symptoms whatsoever. They can transmit lethal diseases to your birds while appearing perfectly healthy. Therefore, you should not permit visitors to bring their birds along.

If they have birds, they should shower, wash their hair and change into fresh clothing after their last contact with their own birds just before they come to your home. This is a standard courtesy between bird people. Of course they need to repeat the procedure when they get home before their next contact with their own birds.

9. Stress

Having a lot of strangers about staring, groping or even chasing your bird is really stressful. Also lack of sleep, noise from christmas music playing endlessly, too little or too much attention, change in normal operating procedures are all stressful.

In the worst case birds can go into shock and die from stress. At best stress may weaken the immune system making your bird more susceptible to illness. He may also show sudden behavior changes like biting to prevent strangers from groping. Be sensitive and protect your birds from this by sheltering them in their bird room or placing their cages into a quiet room that is inaccessible to visitors.

10. Lack of Attention

When you have guests it is difficult to pay sufficient attention to what your birds are getting into at the same time. As you know birds can get into trouble faster than you can blink an eye. It may be safest to let them meet your guests at some point of the celebration, if you wish, but to place them in a safe and secure area for the remainder of the time.

Finally

Even when taking every conceivable precaution, accidents do happen. Unfortunately, vets celebrate holidays, too. Therefore, you need to find an avian vet who is on call during the holidays and keep the contact information on hand. 

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Photo: Miriam Kavana
Photo: Denise Swanson
Photo: Denise Swanson
Photo: Denise Swanson
Photo: Marcus Bastek
Photo: Marcus Bastek
Photo: Stefanie Nora Tse
Photo: David Vickery

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