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Parrot Proofing

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Getting the Home ready for a Pet Parrot

The Caique Site

After you buy any parrot, you must parrot proof your home. This
is a bit like baby proofing, except for birds. Please take this
very seriously, your bird’s life may be at stake. The most
important things that you must do are:

1. Remove all items made of lead. Lead is extremely toxic for
both humans and birds. Parrots, however, like to chew on this
soft metal just like we chew gum. Birds also like the "sweet"
flavor of old lead paint. Pay particular attention to removing
the lead weights from your curtains and drapes. These often
become one of your bird's favorite play areas. Other things made
of lead are fishing weights, leaded windows, glazes on antique
and imported pottery, bell clappers, and old window putty. Even
brass house and auto keys contain a bit of lead.

2. Eliminate or limit your use of polytetrafluoroethylene (PTFE)
coated cooking utensils, especially the drip pans under your
range burners. PTFE is sold under a number of brand names
including Teflon®, Hostaflon, and CuFlon. PTFE is also used to
manufacture many other products such as clothing irons, space
heaters and even heat lamps. When a PTFE product overheats, it
emits a gas that is extremely poisonous for birds. Only a few
minutes’ exposure to this gas can kill. This is also a reason you
should not keep your bird caged in the kitchen.

3. Stop smoking. Birds are generally more sensitive to air
pollutants than humans. This was why miners took canaries with
them into the mine. Pulmonary disease in birds is frequently
associated with secondary smoke. Not only is the smoke dangerous,
but parrots pick up the nicotine and tars off one's fingers on
their feet. This can be so noxious that the bird may chew on its
feet and mutilate itself.

4. Remove plants to another room or altogether. Not all are
poisonous, but why take chances. If your bird happens to chew on
a plant and you are uncertain if it is harmful, you should first
call the local poison control center listed in the front of your
phone directory. They will tell you if it is poisonous for
humans, if it is, it is probably poisonous for birds too. If the
poison center is uncertain about a particular plant, phone the
National Animal Poison Control Center Hotline at (800) 548-2423
($30/call) or (900) 680-0000 ($2.95/minute).

5. Put the toilet seat down. This is not an edict from Miss
Manners, but sound advice to prevent accidental drowning of your

6. You need to do additional parrot proofing if you insist on
leaving your bird's wings unclipped. You need to remove or
discontinue using ceiling fans. Remove your large mirrors. Use a
shear or other curtain on your windows. Birds can seriously
injure themselves when they fly into mirrors and windows at full
speed. And while on windows, keep them closed. One of the most
common reasons for the loss of pet birds is escape.

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