Parrots are inquisitive animals that love to chew on almost anything. One of the problems we see regularly is when they accidently ingest items that they were never supposed to eat!

We see parrots eat all kinds of things ranging from material fibers from toys in their cage right through to earrings that the owner was wearing!

What types of metal can cause problems?

As a general rule all metals have the potential to cause problems if ingested, generally through their absorption into the blood stream. Lead and zinc are the two most common metals that we see ingested.

Where does the metal they eat come from?

Most commonly parrots ingest metal from chewing on their cage or items within their cage. The wire on many cages is covered in a zinc coating and many of the bell toys that are sold also contain different types of metal. We also see parrots that are free-ranging around the house chew on their owner’s jewellery as well as furniture. Lead paint ingestion is not as common as it used to be however we do still see this from time to time.

What problems can metal ingestion cause?

The toxic effects seen vary on the type and amount of metal ingested and can include: -Weakness -Ataxia -Regurgitation or vomiting -Lethargy and just being ‘off’ -Haematuria (blood present in the urine component of their droppings) -Paralysis and seizures -Crop stasis

How is heavy metal poisoning diagnosed?

There are a few different methods of diagnosing heavy metal poisoning. The two most common are radiographs and testing your parrot’s blood levels.

Is their treatment available?

Absolutely! The treatment needed will depend greatly on how severe and ill your parrot is. Common treatments
include injections to neutralize the toxic effects of the metal, fluid therapy, crop feeding and on occasion surgical or endoscopic removal of the metallic item.

What should I do if I think my bird has ingested a piece of metal?

The signs of metal poisoning can come on either gradually or very quickly, if you are suspicious of your bird ingesting any metal then we advise getting them seen as early as possible by an avian veterinarian.