Birds are very messy creatures who manage to track their meals throughout every square inch of their cage. Many can throw their food with the distance and accuracy that would qualify them for a Cy Young award. That means that we find ourselves cleaning A LOT, and sometimes in strange places.
Hopefully, everyone understands the importance of a clean environment for their bird. Where there is leftover food and fecal matter, there is bacteria and yeast which can inundate a bird and make him very ill. Cleaning thoroughly, and often, comes with bird ownership. What we often don’t usually think about is the condition of the tools with which we clean or the cleanliness of the areas we clean in.
There are an alarming number of bacteria in the kitchen. I recently read a report which stated that the average kitchen sink is dirtier that the average toilet. It makes sense – think about the stack of dirty dishes and the dropped food that sits in the sink for hours collecting bacteria. The sponge or cloth you use in the kitchen scrubs away food matter, and is then placed on the back of the sink. How often do you wash your sink? Your kitchen sponge?
Without really thinking about it, we put our bird’s dishes in a dirty sink, wash them with a dirty sponge and wipe them dry with a towel that we have wiped our not-so-clean hands on for a period of days. It’s no wonder that many birds develop bacterial infections, which most readily attack the smallest members of the household – our birds.
When we clean the cages, we might take the perches to the kitchen sink and scrub them down with the brush that is designated for that job. What do you do with that brush when you are through? When I asked this question of a number of bird friends, most responded that they rinse it and leave it by the sink to dry.
The cleaning tools we use for bird chores (brushes, sponges, cloths and buckets) should be kept separately from regular cleaning supplies and thoroughly washed with an antibacterial soap after every use. Otherwise, you are simply spreading germs from one item to another.
Every corner of our world is filled with germs of some sort which healthy bodies are able to fight without much trouble. But when there are too many germs in the environment, the immune system becomes overwhelmed, succumbing to the germs or allowing illness to sneak in while it’s tied up fighting them.
Do your bird (and yourself) a favor and be meticulous with your duties. It doesn’t make any sense to clean things with something, or in something, that is, itself, unclean.
Patty Jourgensen specializes in avian health, behavior and nutrition and has been working with and caring for rescue birds since 1987.