Earlier this summer, within roughly a 10 day period, there were 3 separate incidents posted on our Facebook page that described parrots becoming entangled in their toys. I heard of another incident of entanglement from a different source just last week.
In two of the four cases, the neck was caught in a toy part, posing a serious strangulation threat. Fortunately, the owners of all of the birds were home at the time and were able to safely release their birds. The fourth incident involved frayed cage cover fabric and resulted in a toe amputation.
Because of many people’s work schedules, most birds spend the greatest portion of their days in their cages. While there, they remain mostly unsupervised and we go about our days with the assumption that they are safe while locked inside.
However, we have no grounds to expect their safety unless we have personally seen to it. We tend to assign the cage with the duty of protecting our birds from the dangers that lurk out in the big, bad world beyond the bars. The reality is that many dangers lay right within their reach. That means that the cage, and everything in it, must be safely constructed and appropriate to the size and species of our birds.
The cage itself can be a cause of injury.
Poorly constructed cages leave spaces where toes and wings can become trapped. Many inexpensive cages have been manufactured in China where powder coatings have tested positive for heavy metal toxins.
The biggest problems are often the result of human error as we select cages that are inappropriate for our bird’s size and species. Heads can become trapped in between improperly spaced cage bars.
And we sometimes underestimate our birds and discover that the cage cannot contain them: my goffins cockatoo would occassionally release herself from her cage through the feeder doors and would then go about releasing all the small birds. Another time, I watched in horror as my umbrella cockatoo snapped the welds on his new dometop cage in an effort to escape, which he did in record time.
Personally inspect everything that goes inside the cage.
Accessorizing the cage appropriately is equally as important as the cage itself. The things you put inside invite the attentions of your bird – that’s why they are there. Perches are meant to be stood on and toys are intended for play and destruction. It is terrifying to consider that the things that are meant to provide a service for your bird could kill it.
One of the biggest dangers in the cage is the “used up” toy. When we look at a toy in a photo or examine it at the store, we must learn to foresee any potential dangers it might pose after it has been in service for a while:
- Any toys or perches with rope or fabric parts must be meticulously trimmed to minimize the dangers of entanglement or hanging in frayed edges or dangling strips.
- Toys that are constructed around a length of chain link pose a danger for both hanging and toe entanglement once they have become even partially disassembled.
- Toys for large birds are sometimes strung onto heavy gauge metal wire that, once the toy is depleted, is soft and pliable enough for a large bird to create a metal noose. Toys constructed with this wire are appropriate for a smaller bird that doesn’t have the power to manipulate it into a something hazardous, but we must remove these toys from the cages of larger birds once more than a few inches of the wire is visible.
When you are hand selecting a toy for your bird, look deeply into the center and try to predict what it will look like after it has been subjected to your bird’s beak for a while. What will remain of it? Will that present danger to your bird?
It is up to you to determine at what point a toy becomes unsafe and remove it from the cage.
BUT, don’t throw them away!!
I save parts from old toys and string them onto ones that are beginning to outlive their usefulness or have become unsafe as their own pieces are destroyed and fall away from the center. Many of the leftover parts make GREAT foot toys! It’s my version of toy recycling.
These were bitten off a toy I gave Linus a few days ago and they had fallen through the grate to the bottom of the cage. I rescued them before they became soiled and…
…strung them onto this toy which had seen better days in Theo’s cage and brought it back to life.
No matter what accessories and toys you are buying for your bird’s cage, you want it to come from a source that you trust and know that they are made from materials guaranteed to be safe and non-toxic to parrots. You can rest assured that the toys from Birdtricks.com are safe by knowing that these are the very same ones we give to our own birds. Click here: Safe Parrot Toys .
Author Patty Jourgensen specializes in avian health, behavior and nutrition and has been working with and caring for rescue birds since 1987.