What to know about owning a bird

Birds are a favourite pet for babies and kids. Find out the health risks of keeping a pet bird around your family.

  • Pet birds can transmit an illness called psittacosis to humans. Symptoms of psittacosis include flu-like symptoms – chills, fever, loss of appetite, headache and cough.
  • Psittacosis is caught by breathing in dust that contains bird droppings or from a bite. It can last several weeks, and can occasionally be very serious.
  • While it can be caught from contact with any birds, the most common transmitters are the parrot family, which includes budgerigars.
  • If you have a fever or cough that persists, ensure that your doctor is aware that you own a bird or have come into contact with one, so that he can check you out for psittacosis.

What can I do to make owning a pet bird safe?

  • Always keep your pet bird cage clean.
  • When you do clean your bird cage, always wear gloves and a mask; it’s also best to use a wet cleaning method.
  • Ensure that you are very careful when disposing of bird droppings from the cage – bag them carefully and put them straight into the bin.
  • Never kiss – or allow your children to kiss – your bird.
  • It is better for your household environment if your bird is kept outside.

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