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Bird Toy Safety


There are amny toys available for pet birds, and picking out safe toys for your pet bird is vitally important. Severe injuries and even death can result if you are not aware of common dangers assoiciated with some bird toys. In addition to avoiding dangerous toys, it is very important to pick out the right size of toy for your particular bird.

Potential Dangers
Basically, there are three main problems that can make toys dangerous:

* Toxicity - poisoning from chemicals or heavy metals in toys
* Entanglement - getting body parts stuck in toys
* Ingestion - parts can be chewed off toys and swallowed

Obviously, any toy that contains a potential toxin should be avoided. The other risks are more diffiecult to define and assess, as they are dependent on the size of your bird, the toy's design, and ther personality of your bird (a bird that is very active or a determined chewer may not be able to have toys that another bird can handle). A new toy should only be tried under close supervision to make sure the bird is not destroying and/or eating it, and if in doubt remove the toy. Favorite toys that may cause problems (for example, rope toys) are best used under supervision only.

Chosing the proper size can be tricky but is also very important. A toy that is too small may be easily destroyed (and may then cause problems if your parrot ingests the parts or if the loose parts can trap body parts). A toy that is too large may pose a risk of the bird getting a foot or its head caught. As you get to know your bird and its personality, you will get a better feel for which kinds of toys your bird likes and which kinds of toys your bird can handle safely. Some of the most common dangers associated with bird toys are dicussed below, with bird-safe alternatives listed where applicable.

Toxins in Toys

* Zinc and Lead: some metal toys or parts may still contain these heavy metals. Zinc can sometimes be found in quick links and chains used to attach toys to the cage, as well as part and connectors in toys. Lead has been found in some bell clappers and the weights from some "bounce back" plastic toys. Look for manufacuturers that label their toys as lead and zinc free. Stainless steel products are pricey but safe.
* Dyes and Other Chemicals: possible sources of chemicals to avoid are toys that use glues, adhesives, lacquers, paints, some dyes, and chemically tanned leather products. Stick with untreated wood toys or use only those colored with vegetable based dyes. Similarly, only use vegetable-tanned leather products.
* Poly Vinyl Chloride: there is a potential risk from PVC used to make soft plastic and vinyl toys (including many products marketed for children such as teethers).

Tips for Picking out Safe Toys for Your Pet Bird
From Lianne McLeod, DVM

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