Heavy metal poisoning in parrots

Heavy Metal Poisoning

I have received many calls over the years from people whose parrot died suddenly and for no apparent reason, leaving the owners baffled and distraught. After questioning them about the symptoms and the events leading up to the parrot’s death, it’s often clear that the most likely cause of death was heavy metal poisoning (HMP). Sadly, many people don’t know or understand the very real dangers that heavy metal poisoning (or heavy metal toxicity) poses to parrots.

HMP occurs when a parrot ingests a particle of heavy metal.  Once ingested it begins to poison the parrot, affecting the kidneys, blood cells, intestines and nervous system. This makes the parrot very ill and can cause rapid death. Continue reading

Heavy metal poisoning in parrots

 

Heavy Metal Poisoning

Heavy Metal Poisoning is a silent killer, over the years I have received many calls from people whose parrot has mysteriously passed away leaving the owner (and sometimes even the vet) baffled. Upon questioning the owner about their parrots symptoms, I have discovered that their baby actually died from heavy metal poisoning.

One owner had recently purchased a new toy for their parrot, believing that the toys sold at pet stores are safe, they didn’t give it a second thought when hanging it in their parrots cage. That night their beloved male eccy passed away shocking and devastating the owners when they went to get him out of his cage in morning.

Usually what happens is our ever inquisitive parrots investigated their new toy, chewing and exploring them only to accidentally ingest a small particle of heavy metal. It only takes the smallest flake of metal to cause serious issues with our birds and unless medical advice is sought immediately, the consequences can be devastating.

Sadly, so many people have no idea that the toys they hang in their parrots cage have the potential to poison them fatally. Bells, metal housings surrounding some toys, metal parts, chains and even cage latches can all be made from heavy metal and when chewed can kill our parrots in a matter of hours.

Be wary of rope toys, the rope can be chewed by our kids exposing the metal underneath and this can rust or oxidise if exposed to the elements. The particles from this can make their way onto the rope or be chewed directly off the metal potentially leading to heavy metal poisoning.

The following metals are the killers:

  • Brass
  • Zinc
  • Copper
  • Lead
  • Aluminum
  • Rust from oxidised metals

Heavy Metal Poisoning must always be taken very seriously. It only takes the smallest amount of metal to poison your parrot, symptoms may occur quickly and if left untreated, death is assured.

The main symptoms of Heavy Metal Poisoning or H.M.P are:

  • Abnormal Droppings – bright green or blood colour
  • Lethargy
  • Shallow respiration – their tail will bob up and down with each breath
  • Regurgitation
  • Weakness
  • Falling of perch
  • Dizziness, unable to stand up, can’t walk, stand or fly
  • Diarrhoea
  • Sudden feather picking, irritated behaviour
  • Fluffing up their feathers to retain body heat.
  • Head tilting abnormally
  • Increased thirst
  • Increased defecating

If your bird starts exhibiting any of the above symptoms, you need to get it to a vet as quickly as possible. It’s not worth waiting to “see how everything goes” as many birds die needlessly because their owners were hesitant to take their baby to the vet.

Playing it safe

We can help keep our kids heavy metal free by adding the following chelating agents to their diet:

  • Cilantro (fresh)
  • Coriander (fresh)
  • Chinese Parsley (fresh)
  • Brazil nuts
  • Pumpkin seeds or Pipitas – helps remove zinc and magnesium
  • Sunflower seeds – not too many

Adding these foods on a regular basis can help flush out any toxins that may have built up in our kids systems and it also helps to keep their liver and kidneys in tip top shape.

Prevention is the key, as caring parrot slaves we need to religiously check our birds environment and our own home for any signs of dangerous metals that may harm our precious kids. Heavy metal poisoning kills yet is so easily preventable, be pro active, double check everything and in doing so you are saving yourself from the potential loss of your precious parrot.