When people hear about adopting pets from a shelter, they naturally think of dogs and cats. However, exotic pets of all kinds can be found at shelters, too. From parrots to rabbits, guinea pigs to iguanas, even potbellied pigs — there is a shelter for nearly every species. Exotic pet shelters and rescues can be found worldwide. A likely place to start looking for one in your area is to search the Internet or, better yet, ask your veterinarian for some suggestions on where to look. If you’re considering bringing an exotic pet — feathered, furry or scaly — into your home, it’s a great idea to consider adopting one from a shelter. Remember, though, that many animals in shelters are dropped off with very little background history. Also, not all shelters are created equal. Just as if you were adopting a dog or cat, it is critical for you to look for a well-run, clean, organized shelter in which the pets look happy and well cared for. Get as much information about the pet as possible, such as its age, previous home, dietary preferences and past illnesses. Here are a few other tips to keep in mind:
Archives for Birds
Birds can be like toddlers: They are both very oral and like to check things out by putting them in their mouths. Just like children, when pet birds are out unsupervised, this habit of tasting things can get them into trouble. As an avian veterinarian, I treat birds every week for getting into toxic substances. Though some foods and objects are clearly potentially toxic to birds, there are others that might not be so obvious. Also, what may be toxic to one bird species may not be to another. Despite some variability in species susceptibility to certain toxins, as well as a lack of scientific studies proving the toxicity of certain substances in birds that are definitely toxic to mammals, there are some items to which birds should never have access. Here are perhaps the top 10 toxins for which I treat bird patients in my veterinary practice.
1. Heavy Metals, Especially Lead, Zinc and Copper
Metals are everywhere in our environments and are an often overlooked source of toxicity in pet birds. Metals can be found in paint, linoleum, soldering, wire, zippers, twist ties and many other objects on which birds love to chew. Even some older bird toys, especially the clappers on metal bells, have been found to contain lead. Birds who may chip away over time at a lead-painted windowsill, lick a metal bell toy, nibble on the soldering of a stained glass Tiffany lamp or chew on a metal zipper are constantly ingesting heavy metals and can potentially become intoxicated. When ingested in large enough quantities, these metals can damage nerves and cause vomiting, maldigestion, neurologic signs, such as imbalance and clenched toes and evenseizures. Most cases of heavy metal toxicity in birds are treatable if they are diagnosed early enough before permanent nerve damage has occurred. However, these metals are not routinely tested for in birds unless the owner indicates that his or her bird has been exposed. So, if you think your bird may have ingested any of these substances, speak up to your veterinarian immediately, as it could be the difference between life and death.
Do you own a bird? If you do, you may not be aware that there could be hazards lurking in your home that could harm your favorite avian friend. Consider these top 10 household dangers for pet birds:
Birds’ respiratory tracts are much more sensitive than mammals’ to airborne toxins. Teflon or any other nonstick coatings on pots, pans and kitchen appliances (such as stoves and toaster ovens) can be a cause of death in pet birds. When these coatings are heated to very high temperatures (particularly if burned), they release microscopic vapors that birds breathe in, causing fluid to collect in their lungs. Birds can die almost instantly. Other aerosols, such as cooking fumes, spray cleaners and perfumes, can irritate their respiratory passages and should always be avoided around birds. Candles also should be avoided, as some have petroleum in their wax or lead in their wicks. These toxic substances can be aerosolized and inhaled by birds.