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Captive Birds don’t always understand the concept of safe, so it’s up to you to keep them out of harms way. For this discussion we’re going to focus on toxins that can work quickly, or take their time killing your birds.
Look under any kitchen sink or bathroom cabinet and you’ll find it filled with lots of household dangers. If the name on the can or the bottle ends in “Sol” think Pine-Sol or Lysol – don’t use it around your bird, it’s a phenol derivative. You may want to save money by cleaning your bird cage with bleach (find a suitable bird cage disinfectant here) but bleach gives off chlorine gas which can be deadly (Remember Canaries in Coal Mines?). Spray deodorant, hair spray and scented candles are bad for bird’s respiratory systems. Even hand lotions have killed birds as well. Hand sanitizer is full of alcohol. Plug-in air fresheners, Febreeze. Ammonia, rubbing alcohol or even perfume can be deadly. Treated wood and new carpet, and even the cleaner Endust can negatively impact your bird.
That’s a pretty straight forward list of the usual suspects but let’s look at some subtle items that could be mighty interesting to your bird – file under simple sugars. The discarded sweet roll Danish or donut. Anything with the glazing, even high sugar fruit cocktail. The simple sugar problem is when a bird ingests simple sugars these items ferment in the lower bowel and change from an aerobic (something with oxygen) environment to an anaerobic (something without oxygen) environment. Most birds have a certain bacteria that is in the small intestines and the bacteria tends to grow quite well under anaerobic conditions which then creates a toxin which causes an illness that can kill your bird in 24 hours unless antibiotics and fluids are administered rapidly.
Speaking of food, let’s look at foods with low pH, low pH means the food is acidic like oranges, raspberries, pineapple and tomatoes that all can produce symptoms similar to sugar toxicity. It’s thought that when these highly acidic foods are added to the bird’s crop they lower the pH which slows or stops the crops normal function as a passageway to further down the gastrointestinal tract. So what happens is, toxic food byproducts are absorbed into the system which can cause dehydration, regurgitation, depression and sometimes even death. This also explains why we are telling people with plucking parrots not to give your bird any citrus/acidic foods or fruit.
Overall birds need more calories than humans relative to their body weight but a third to half of these calories should be made up of high quality carbohydrates. Excess fat in birds gets stored in the liver cells or goes back to the bloodstream. If too many fats enter the birds body that can’t be utilized the fat gets stored in the birds liver. If a birds liver is overloaded it will gradually degenerate which can cause weakness, paralysis, seizures and even death.
And although it might be cute for your birds take a sip of beer it’s important to remember birds have the ability to ingest more volume compared to their body weight than humans which means liver failure occurs very quickly.
Squawk at you next week
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Simply Everything for Exotic Birds – Since 1993
2, Gretchen Rubin. All rights reserved.