The winter months are fast approaching and some of us may find it necessary to provide an additional heat source in our bird’s spaces. It is never 100% safe to bring any electrical appliance around our birds, with those big, nosy beaks investigating every little thing, but it is sometimes necessary. We must be aware of the dangers involved, and diligent in our watchfulness.
If it possible to seal window leaks to solve the problem, that would be preferable. Some houses are just drafty and this may not provide enough protection from the cold. Know that heaters tend to dry out the air, which leads to dry skin from the lack of humidity.and it might make your parrots itchy. You may find it necessary to bathe them more often.
When selecting a heater, consider the size of the room you need to accommodate. Unless you have an entirely open floor plan, a small portable device should get the job done. The outside of the box will tell you what size room this unit is intended for.
There are two types of heaters that I recommend for use around birds, each having advantages and disadvantages:
A ceramic heater works really well for large areas. If you intend to heat a large room, you might opt to go with a model that has a fan. It spreads the heat throughout the room more effectively and will save you money on your heating bill over time. For heating a smaller room, such as a bedroom, a fan-less model is suitable. Ceramic heaters are clean burning and efficient and are conveniently small. The major disadvantage is that they get hot and must be placed out of your bird’s reach at all times.
RADIATING/OIL FILLED HEATERS:
This is my choice of space heater. An oil filled heater provides a more ambient heat as it throws heat from all sides, not just the one it’s facing. It remains cooler to the touch making it a safer choice for our birds. The warming surface area of the radiator is larger than in other types of heaters and it heats a room quickly and quietly since it does not utilize a fan. They are also clean burning and very cost effective to operate. I also find the air to retain more humidity with these heaters compared to others. The major disadvantage is that they do not heat a big room as well as a ceramic unit.
What to look for in whichever heater you select:
- No teflon, or other polymer coated surfaces in the model you select! Since your unit will be heated for hours at a time, it is of the utmost importance that you be certain there will be no PTFEs in your birds air space. Call the manufacturer for assurance in this area and don’t forget to ask about the safety of the fan unit in any ceramic model. It is always wise to run whatever heater you decide upon in the garage, away from the birds and family, for a day to burn off any factory machine oils or other substances.
- Make sure your unit has a feature that maintains a constant room temperature. A small room will overheat quickly without this precaution in place.
- Your heater should have necessary safety features to prevent a fire. One such feature is an automatic shut off if the unit is tipped over.
If you use a wood burning stove or a fireplace, be sure both are well vented. Never, ever use fueled heaters around your birds, such as a kerosene heater. The fumes can be toxic and they emit large amounts of soot and carbon monoxide as fuel runs low, all of which are deadly for anyone breathing the air. (Additional information on carbon monoxide safety here).
Author Patty Jourgensen specializes in avian health, behavior and nutrition and has been working with and caring for rescue birds since 1987.