I have been thinking about this subject a lot lately. As an international shopper, I don’t have the same point of view on the subject of what are safe and healthy parrot products as an USA parrot owner would. The reason is quite simple, our laws and regulations regarding safety are completely different, so some issues are not on my radar, so to speak. Also, some brands that are notorious for unsafe or unhealthy products are not available here, so it’s an easy “bear trap” . This is not a contest in which one is better or which one is worse, these are just two sides of the same coin.
On one of my favorite blogs, Coco’s flock, Coco wrote three extremely useful posts on this topic. I wanted to reply to them every time, but my replies always ended up to be too large. So, I’ll divide this post into three sections, each title will have a link to her original post, so you can read it and each section will be a sort of a reply to her post. I strongly encourage all of you to take a moment of your time to read what she wrote.
What are parrot safe materials? (An Ethical and Safe Bird Store Policy, Part One)
When on topic of parrot safe materials, first thing that comes to mind is stainless steel. Next thing after that, is – “whoa, that’s expensive”. True, but hear me out for a second.
It’s a really ungrateful task to talk about money and the ways of spending it in this era of economy, but, like many of you, I don’t have an unlimited pool of parrot budget nor do I have a money tree growing in my backyard. I’m a student working on my masters degree, so yes, I would say my budget is quite tight. That’s part of the reason I try very hard to get the very best out of it all. The second part are shipping, custom and what-not-fees I have to pay when receiving an item.
When I stared shopping for my parrots online, I found myself overwhelmed with options and left with a dilemma- what is actually safe and what just looks pretty in a picture. Personally, I do all of my parrot related shopping online from stores in North America. I’m always amazed at the amount of online stores out there and I find it quite difficult to navigate through them. I believe that such a vast market is a big downfall for parrot ownership, because I feel like it opens a space for unsafe and unhealthy produce to march into our parrot lives all under a flag of big brands. This isn’t to say that the same isn’t here, it is. Online stores here sell the same big branded items, loaded with zinc or nickel-plated chain, lots of long rope strands calling for an accident to happen. The only difference is in price-prices here are double than in America.
I really like what Coco said in her post- ” we vote with our dollars” and that is so true. I feel very angry that there are still stores that sell grit for parrots or untested seeds without a proper product declaration. If I see a store that has a lot of items that I’m not comfortable with, I will not shop there. This goes for both online and walk-in stores. I stopped shopping at my local parrot store because they sell grit, sanded perch covers and payed no attention to parrots well-being. I strongly believe in setting an example, so hopefully speaking up about this kinds of subjects makes a difference.
Sometimes safer items are more expensive, but in the end you actually gain more. If you purchase safe items, you don’t have to worry about metal poisoning or your parrot getting caught up in long strands of cotton. You can let your parrot play without the worry that something might happen. When you have to pay larger sums for shipping and other fees that come with that, you’re sure you’re getting your moneys worth. Also, sometimes safer items mean a bit more goggling and not more dollars spent, there are a lot of safe and quality products that are made by home-bases or smaller companies.
Be aware of avian diseases ( An Ethical and Safe Bird Store Policy, Part Two )
Avian diseases are a big risk when shopping online and it should definitely be something to consider when giving a toy to your parrot without disinfecting it. Disinfection is made super easy nowadays, just spray, wipe and let it dry.
Another reason I, as an international shopper, am extra cautious about disinfection is that my packages are opened at the custom office. Anyone who has ever been to a customs office at a post office, knows that the environment there is less than ideal; lots of packages are opened in the same room, the loading dock is right next to it. If you’re wondering how to make time at the customs office as safe as possible, there is a solution. I ask vendors I buy from for a possibility of wrapping my goods up in see-through plastic bags, this way the custom officer can see the items ordered but he doesn’t have to take them out of the bag. Once home, I disinfect them and after that I give them to my parrots.
I think everyone should be aware that safe products are not only those made out of safe materials, but also those made in a non-bird environment and safe stores should not accept returns. That, to me, is a basic safe bird store policy.
Copycats anonymous ( An Ethical and Safe Bird Store Policy, Part Three )
Coco beautifully explained the issues with copied original work, take a moment to read her post, just click on the link.