Cleaning Protocol for New Toys and Items

May 7, 2011 § 5 Comments

I’ve gotten this question a few times recently so I figured I would just address it here.  I would like to first recognize that this is probably not in any way the norm and that I do realize that yet again I probably seem like a bit of a nutcase here.  I’m okay with that.  I make no exceptions: I do not bring anything into my bird room unless it has been strictly cleaned and sanitized (including disinfection).  I do this to different degrees with different items; first I will explain how I determine what is necessary and then I will explain what I do, and what I use.

Generally I only purchase my bird supplies from bird-free stores that do not accept returns, which is the first and most important policy.  I do in fact ask every single store I patronize, before I place an order, about their facilities, how their items are stored, whether or not they are parrot owners, etc.  (I myself also visit bird stores, but never purchase anything, and always change clothes and try to rinse off before I step into the bird room.)  I can only think of one store for which I do make exceptions because it has an excellent reputation for extreme cleanliness and I have spoken to the owner at length and really respect his philosophies on bird care and bird store ownership.  He does not allow visiting birds nor does he sell baby birds but allows his own birds to visit the store every once in a while.  Even then, however, I limit myself to buying only those items that are non-porous and therefore able to be disinfected fully (acrylic items).

So, first is the bird-free policy, and second I take into consideration the “degree” of how bird-free a store is.  Some stores are simply separate rooms within a parrot owners house.  This, to me, is not actually “bird-free,” as there is a shared air space.  I do however make few exceptions for very trusted parrot owners– usually I have to know them personally or have spoken with them at length; they cannot have added to the flock recently, their birds must be in good health; they cannot frequent places with other parrots, etc.  I think there are probably two stores that fall under this category that I patronize.  The next “degree” of stores would be the majority of stores I support: operated out of bird-free facilities separate from the home, but owned by parrot owners.  Finally, there are those rare gems who are truly bird-free as the owners do not have parrots themselves but are still invested in their care and enrichment.

I don’t patronize Petco or Petsmart, almost any other brick and mortar pet or bird store that keeps birds, home-based businesses owned by people with lots of birds or people that add to the flock often or recently, etc.  Those are all personal choices.  I’m sure many of them have great products that would be perfectly safe, but at this time I don’t wish to take any chances.  And no, shopping from drop-ship stores only isn’t ideal for me either, simply because that means that all of the stock items are coming from a bevy of different stores that could all have different policies, and just one toy coming from a bird-filled environment spoils the entire warehouse.  So generally I prefer small businesses, but again, I make exceptions or compensate with my cleaning protocol as necessary.

Mango Pet Focus Disinfectant

F10 Biocare Disinfectant

Once an order is home, that’s when the protocol kicks in.  I have to admit, even though I do recognize that probably nobody goes as nutty as I do with the cleaning and disinfecting, I do think it is a good idea to do at least something.  I sometimes cringe when I see birds going through a newly opened box of items just arrived in the mail, or given toys straight from a bird store. It’s probably just me, but, it’s really not that much effort to spray something down once and let it dry.

I have a few indispensable items in my arsenal.  My two disinfectants of choice are Mango’s Pet Focus and F10 Biocare.  Absolutely everything is sprayed down with one of these two disinfectants.  If it is from a truly bird-free store owned by somebody with no parrots, I will usually clean first, then disinfect (two separate steps).  To clean, I will simply rinse the items to rid them of any debris (sometimes debris and organic matter can negate the effectiveness of the disinfectant), and allow them to fully dry for 24 hours or more as necessary.  To disinfect, I pick a disinfectant (either F10 or Pet Focus; I don’t really have a preference these days), spray the items down, let them fully dry for at least 24 hours, and then they’re good to go for me.  If it’s from a bird-free store owned by somebody who does have parrots, I will do the same, but usually give them a few more days to dry each time around as a sort of mini-quarantine before I give them to my parrots.  If it’s from a home-based store, I will usually actually do all that and then even bake the items in my stove if they are bake-able, and if not, I just give them a longer quarantine to compensate.  This is why, a lot of the time, I’ll get something in the mail but won’t post about it until several days later, and even then it’s usually just a photo of the products and not necessarily my parrots playing with them just yet.

So, that’s what I do, and yes, I am well aware that I am a nut.  🙂  Unfortunately I have suffered and witnessed so many terrible, terrible things happen, from freak accidents to unexplained sickness to unexplained death that I don’t take my chances anymore.  I can’t tell you how many times I have heard parrot owners say that they have no idea how their parrot got sick or how he/she would’ve been exposed to a disease.  I would guess that the number of home-based businesses sprouting up as well as the pervasiveness of toys and perches and products being sold in facilities with other parrots, combined with the fact that so many people buy online now and can’t see for themselves nor think to ask, is allowing disease to spread much further and perhaps more rapidly than it would have in the past.

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Meet Sabrina!

April 22, 2011 § 1 Comment

The birds and I made a trip up to my mother’s house in mid-March, and she surprised all of us with a beautiful, new budgie friend!  Although her original name was Sebastian, as we thought she was a he, we have renamed her Sabrina as we are fairly certain that she’s a little girl.  She is an absolutely precious violet budgie– for those of you more mutation-inclined, a single factor violet over cobalt opaline spangle.  She has the most unusual and beautiful markings– all either pale lilac or white, with no black at all.  I am just in love!  My mother quarantined her and even took her to the vet and had all of the necessary tests done during her new bird exam.  Sabrina is 100% healthy!

Sabrina is so, so beautiful and very feisty!  She is also a serious chewer.  She’s been going to town on all of her toys and perches, and now all of Charles as well.  Unfortunately, her wings are clipped right now but I am letting them grow out.  She was hatched on January 13, 2011, so she should hit her big six month molt in June.  She probably won’t regrow all of her flight feathers then, but hopefully enough that she can at least get some lift.

Charles and Sabrina's first meeting

She and Charles finally met on March 22.  It was definitely not love at first sight like it was with Theodore, but they were civil and getting along okay under close supervision.  Although Sabrina would chase Charles around and follow him from perch to perch, when Charles would finally give in and go up to her to try and chat, she would lunge at him.  He’d run away, and she’d begin the chase all over again.  Thus, they were kept in separate cages as this game became quite exhausting for poor Charles.

Sabrina and Charles sharing some out of cage time together

Keeping them in separate cages was a great idea.  This gave them time to get used to each other’s presence without being able to harass each other or fight over food.  They had daily out of cage time together, however, to get to know each other, and I found that they were much more civil when they were together out of cage, if they had spend the rest of the day in separate cages apart.  In the photo above, you’ll see that Charles has even been nice enough to share his Oliver’s Garden Crawler and Oddball with Sabrina.  I absolutely love all of Oliver’s Garden’s products– they are so beautiful, and so well-made!  The company was nice enough to custom tweak these two products and the budgies could not be happier with them.

Sabrina and Charles

Although it has only been a month since the two have met, their relationship drastically improves everyday.  Today, I allow them to share the same cage at night when they roost as well as on the weekends when I am home.  They are much more civil and loving towards each other, and Sabrina no longer chases Charles.  The only thing that causes minor squabbles between the two of them is sharing food.  Thus I have set up many stations around the cage with multiple bowls, so that they do not have to push and shove, but can eat side by side in peace without actually having to share.

Charles and Sabrina eating some Avian Organics Quick Serve

As you can see above, they are much happier when they each have their own food bowl.  They are chowing down on their delicious nightly dinner of a cooked meal.  That night, it was the Avian Organics Quick Serve.  I was ready for them to reject it, at first, like they do every meal that they have for the first three times before they are willing to give it a try, but they dove right in!  In fact, it was difficult to keep myself from diving right in.  This cooked meal smells so incredibly delicious that I don’t think any parrot could resist it.  It is a must-try in my opinion and as you can see, both Charles and Sabrina give it two tails up!  We love Avian Organics for making excellent, high quality, and 100% organic meals with no synthetic vitamins or ingredients, without compromising on taste.

I love my little budgies and I am so happy that they are getting along better now.  I am a strong believer that budgies (and most birds, really, but especially budgies) do much better with same-species companionship.  Since Charles is often a very hands-off bird, I cannot help him out with certain things like preening his itchy pin feathers.  Sabrina has made a world of difference in his life.  I’ll leave you with this one last video of Sabrina preening Charles’s lovely spotted collar, and him returning the favor.

[This entry has been imported, with major updates added, from my previous blog.]

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