Q: My bird room is unheated. Can I cover the cage with an electric blanket to keep my bird warm at night?
– Carol B., Huntington, CA
A: No! There are three real dangers to consider when using an electric blanket around a parrot:
- You never want to put anything electrical near your bird. Even though the insulated wire filaments that run through the newer electric blankets work on only 12 or 24 volts, the power cord that runs from the wall to the blanket is on 110 volts. And because that is attached to the blanket to power it, the parrot need only pull the blanket throughout the cage bars to reach the cord with the dangerous amount of electricity coursing through it. I don’t think I need to describe the possible results.
- Another danger is with the overheating that could occur inside the cage. The fabric of a blanket is a too heavy and unbreathable to be used as a cage cover especially when heat is introduced and has no means of escape. The temperature can build up to unsafe levels inside the cage.
- A third danger is with the blanket fabric alone. Not only should cage covers be light weight to allow for ventilation, but one has to assume that the parrot is going to investigate the cover. Many parrots will pull sections of it inside for a good look or chew. The thick pile of a typical blanket leaves too much opportunity for entanglement as nails get caught in the weave and the filaments.
Electric blankets have come a long way in the last 10 years as far as safety goes. The newer blankets are much less a fire hazard. However they are simply not a suitable as a heat source for a chilly parrot.
Patty Jourgensen specializes in avian health, behavior and nutrition and has been working with and caring for rescue birds since 1987.