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The Dangers of Cotton.

by Jami Galindo

Our main mission is to help parrot owners be aware and informed so they can be the best "parront" possible. As you can imagine we see hundreds of pictures on our FaceBook group on daily basis; some we all say "hey that is clever!" and some just make us cringe.

Many of these "cringe worthy" pictures include things with cotton ... be it perches, boings, or cuddle/snuggle huts these products continue to be a major health risk that we caution about on a daily basis. Why? Well, because birds love to preen, it's instinctual. They preen themselves and their flock-mates; it's a bonding/flock behavior. Their cage is where they are much of the time and as they play with or "preen" these cotton-covered or fabric toys, the strands become frayed and break away and end up in the bird's crop. Cotton fibers do not break down or pass through, they impact the crop and cause serious medical issues.

Crop impaction affects the bird's ability to digest food or, in drastic cases, its ability to even eat.  Left untreated the bird will eventually starve to death. or even eat and eventually death. Now here are just a few examples of the dangers, and please just know we trying to help avoid a potentially serious health issues.

Here is a picture of a Cockatiel in mid surgery to remove an impaction from cotton fibers as shown in the photo after removal. This tiel lived and is thriving. [Photos Courtesy of Brisbane Bird Vet]

Some great options for alternatives to cotton wrapping is Jute, hemp, or sisal ropes. Jute and Sissal rope is safe because the fibers, if ingested, will break down and move through the birds digestivesystem. Make sure any rope you buy has had NO treatment; some have mineral oil and insecticides added for export purposes.

Seagrass and hemp rope are also safe, so a replacement for the very popular "cuddle huts" can be easily fabricated from a sea grass mat or a covered flat perch. You can also use leather but make sure it's vegetable-oil tanned. 


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