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Keeping Polly Safe

PetSmart Tara Demarco

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Birds are incredibly intelligent and curious creatures. Add a toy to their cage and they'll not only amuse themselves for hours, but keep you entertained as well. Toys keep them happy and engaged which in turn keeps them healthy. Wooden toys can keep beaks trimmed and prevent your favorite dining room chairs from becoming the chew toy of choice. Some toys, however, contain hidden dangers that you need to be aware of. If a toy’s label says it’s safe and approved by bird experts, it must be safe, right? Wrong.

One of the biggest issues is picking a toy that's appropriate for the size of your bird. For example, you wouldn’t want to purchase a Macaw-sized toy for a Conure, or vice versa. Chain toys can be extremely dangerous if the links are large enough for a bird to put their head through. Loose strings on rope toys and rope perches also can trap a bird’s foot if purchased for the wrong sized bird. A trapped bird will become panicked very quickly and that can be extremely dangerous not only for the bird but for you as well. Birds will bite when panicked which makes it very difficult to rescue your bird in an emergency situation. It’s extremely important to always make sure the toys you purchase are appropriate for your bird.

Secondly, the clip used to attach a toy to your bird’s cage can potentially cause problems. Make sure these clip don't contain any zinc. It is also advisable to replace lanyard-style clips with quick link type connectors. Lanyard clips can get trapped on a small bird’s beaks and larger birds may try to loosen “S” hooks that have been pinched shut with pliers. While this might not seem that dangerous, if the bird's beak gets trapped and it panics, it could seriously injure itself and damage its beak.

The best way to gauge a toy’s level of safety is to monitor your bird with the toy for the first dew days. Remove the toy when you go out and put it back in the cage when you return. Use common sense when deciding which toys are safe for your pet, and if you have any doubts about a toy’s safety, remove it immediately.

Tara DeMarco, Pet Parent of 2 French Mastiffs, an English Bulldog and 4 well behaved and beautiful parrots, has been a part of the PetSmart team for approximately 17 months.  Initially serving as a paralegal, she found her niche and passion in Pet Safety in January 2010.  As part of her commitment as the Pet Safety Manager, she has been dedicated to educating Pet Parents and fellow associates on the importance of pet safety and awareness.

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