Bird Safe Heaters

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.

Ceramic heater photo by overstocktober.com

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:

CERAMIC HEATERS:

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.

 

Oil filled heater photo by amazon.com

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.

6 comments

Bruce T Garrick

This article complete glides past the reason anyone would need a kerosene space heater: No electricity. As energy prices inevitably rise rolling blackouts are becoming more than common in some states. So the question being avoided is; “How can I keep my parrots warm with out electricity.” Why don’t you answer that?

Bruce T Garrick
Jeff M

Hello, We just bought a Lasko-model CT 16558 to use in our kitchen to keep it warmer that 60 degrees at night. It is a Ceramic tower heater. Is this safe for our Cockatiel and green cheek conure. the cockatiel is 15yrs old and the conure is about 6. Thank you for your help Jeff Martin-San Jose, Ca

Jeff M
ROBBIN CURRAN LAPORTA

I recently found out that my red lored Amazon who I have had for 27 years and is 35 years old has mild to moderately enlarged left ventricle and Mild mitral valve regurgitation. He was put on enalapril and pe 2x day. Since he was diagnosed and put on this medication I have noticed that he appears to be cold more often then before but of course I am now so overly concerned for him and I am probably noticing things that were there all along but didn’t seem like a big thing to me. We keep the house at about 73 or 74 degrees sometimes he is shivering and at other times He Flops so I am not sure if he is cold or overheated. In any event I would like to reduce the temperature night because it is really a little too warm for comfortable sleeping but I am afraid he will then get too cold. I am currently using a small ceramic space heater that is bird safe no Teflon or PTFE. I cover his cage at night therefore the space heater mostly keeping the room warmer that it is keeping him. I have checked into all different things oil-filled heaters other ceramic heaters electric purchase little rectangular bird heater I think by k&h and to be honest none of those other things work he will not snuggle up to the k&h heater he will not stand on the electrical parts so I was thinking of using a 36-inch heating pad along the back of the cage and attaching it to the cage with clips only during the night. I read what you said when somebody asked about using an electric blanket that does make a lot of sense. The heating pad would not cover the entire back of the cage it would cover three-quarters of the West and about 1/3 of the height. He is not a very curious bird at all and he sleeps in the exact same spot every night towards the top of the cage but he does not snuggle up on any of the sides and Suites about halfway between the front and back of the cage. I also saw tell me stuff about ambient heater panels but they are extremely expensive and I have no idea which brand has any would be safe for the birth and and wondering do you think it would be safe for me to see if the heating pad would work. I am 100% certain he will not go over towards the heating pad but like I said I would do a test run for about a week first or do you think I should try the ambient heater panel and if so what brand would you recommend it would have to be able to be attached to the cage. Also, I saw a lot of heating items for chickens and I’m wondering if they are safe for parrots. Anyways, send the reason you gave for not using an electric blanket all right because it would cover the entire cage, not allow air flow because of its thickness and the potential of the bird trying to chew on it and none of those items would be occurring what do you think?

ROBBIN CURRAN LAPORTA
Lyann

Can you give me a name of a safe heater if my electric should go out? I have an African Grey. Thank You

Lyann
Eleanor

I have reverse cycle heating is that safe. What temp for Budgie.

Eleanor
Bryan Doc Jennings

Are ventless gas fireplace logs ok?

Bryan Doc Jennings

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