Faerybee has today posted a sticky here today about the dangers of synthetic ropes and tasselled toys, with a video by Dr Ross Perry.
I would like to reiterate this message and expand it further.
I need to tell you about my experience: I have been involved with textiles for over 60 years, ranging from keeping sheep, spinning, dyeing, weaving, rope making, ply splitting, knot tying, tassel making and nearly everything in between. I have taught & lectured at City & Guilds level & written / illustrated books. My house is a rope and fibre paradise, with all fibres, from my favourite sheep wools and other animal fibres to silk, cotton, hemp, sisal and synthetics.
Forgive all this stuff. I need you to know about it because, despite my literal abundance of materials of all kinds, I would not let my budgie play with or perch on anything fibrous.
In his video, Dr Perry stresses the dangers of synthetic fibres. This implies that other ("natural") fibres are not so bad... But it is now well recognised that cotton is a great danger to budgies. The dyestuffs in fibres are regarded as toxic to the humans who are involved with dyeing. Many of the mordants and chemicals used in so called "natural dying" are very poisonous. Many of the processing techniques for all fibres use toxic chemicals.
A budgie will be curious and nibble at anything around, and it follows that some of it will be swallowed. Whether a fibre is in itself toxic or not, Dr Perry warns of the resulting dangers of crop or stomach impaction, with blockage, infection and possible cancers that can follow.
With these two factors in mind-- 1) possible toxicity and / or 2) ingestion, if we are going to beware of the dangers of cotton and synthetic fibres, it would seem only logical that ALL fibres should be regarded similarly.
The one exception I would allow is the "rope" made of food grade paper. This is of course not rope in the usually accepted sense (that is, made of spun fibres in one of a variety of techniques). Paper may have started life as fibres but they are not still in that state when they end up as paper. As long as the paper is accepted as safe to be used for human food, then it is likely to be safe for budgies.
However, the paper rope itself should be used with caution. A budgie will go to great lengths to entangle itself in anything long and flexible such as rope, cord or yarn. As such, anything similarly rope-like is a possible danger in itself. All paper rope should be cut short enough not to be an entangling danger and should be an invitation to chew rather that play acrobatics.
To repeat: I would not allow my budgie to play with or perch on anything fibrous.
Originally Posted by FaeryBee
Rosenwax AC, et al. Aust Vet J. 2015.
“fibrous materials are not safe [for pet birds] to groom or ingest and should not be offered as cage accessories”
Dr. Alex Rosenwax's research and case studies over 25 years of practicing in avian health concludes that crop impaction occurs with both natural and synthetic fibres.
In conversation with a Talk Budgie’s member, Dr. Rosenwax stated that several years ago he himself believed that natural fibres such as sisal or seagrass were safe but noticed several cases where the bird only had access to natural fibres and the problem continued.
Dr. Rosenwax now recommends that owners should not use any rope materials as perches, toys or cage accessories.
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Dr. Ross Perry specifically addresses this entirely preventable potentially fatal problem in the You-Tube video linked below:
I'm greatly distressed by this news. I have a lot of the bendable cotton rope perches in my cage because Sweetie has a deformed back toe - it's twisted and wood perches cause him to have extreme pressure on his foot joints, which will result in open sores. So what am I to do? I can't use hard plastic, I can't use wood, and now apparently I can't use cotton.
I've been using the cotton ones because the avian vet said it was the best choice for his foot problem, but obviously I don't want anyone to get sick. I think I'm just going to have to ask my vet what to do
While I was aware of the dangers of rope/fringes on toys or perches, I didn't know the full extent of it. Out of a personal choice I have never given any of my birds perches made out of rope/fabric (or similarly related toys) and over the years I have had my fair share of pet birds with varying foot disabilities, some more severe than others.
I currently have one lovebird who had to have the foot amputated and when perching she mainly stands on one foot. She also uses the shortened leg as support when she wants to. I have a few platform perches made out of wood which were custom made for her.
Her only good foot is perfect, she has the platform perches when wanting to rest and has the "normal" perches of different diameters as well (including a pedi perch), none of these have padding.
This could be a good solution for your Sweetie. These pressure sores you mention can also be potentiated by weight. A bird who is more on the obese side will be more prone to having sores related to bumblefoot due to the extra weight that will be mostly supported by the feet when perching.
I hope you will be able to find a viable solution.
RIP sweet Tito (Summer 2008 - January 17th 2013).
You are missed and never will be forgotten.
Please--do wait to see if there are any other options suggested by the others here before asking your vet. There may be an alternative neither of us have thought of.
Many members use the thick, tightly spun cotton ropes outside the cage for supervised play, and provided the budgie doesn't chew on the rope, they will be safe. Inside the cage, they are more of a danger if the budgie chews them, allowing them to fray and individual fibres to loosen and invite more chewing.
But for you with Sweetie's particular toe problem, if you kept a frequent, very strict eye on the state of the rope perches, and at the slightest sign of wear, chewing or fraying, replaced them, then I consider that would be an acceptable compromise.
Member of the Year 2016//Exceptional Service Award August 2016//MOTM May 2013
Life is full of gray areas. For me I have several special needs budgies, The bendable rope is necessary. I do not allow loose strings and replace any perches with issues. Life has taught me to stop and weigh the potential results We examine all perches and toys every time we clean the cage. I do not allow preening of loose cloth which my FIDS love and miss. Our main toys are original kabobs, Spinach grass rings, Millet spray, Manu roses, Bell with plastic cutlery tiki huts with no nest bottom, but umbrella top coconut shell, Jelly fish made of braided banana leaves hanging from upside down coconut shell. The jelly fish is a great group activity with 8 long tentacles several budgies can have a party all at once. These toys have alternative characteristics that can replace the cotton/cloth fiber in all but Apollo's sore tootsies. So in all but one case cloth fibers are replaced by more easily biodegradable textures. We have many different perch component textures Cactus skeleton/grape/ willow, crape myrtle apple/ pear/ ironwood and several commonly sold wood perches. Including flat or slightly curved and wide perches to rest on . The only one that healed Apollo 's feet were the bendable rope. So the back upper area has a long bendable rope perch to rest feet. We have found a synthetic plastic perch that has sand sprayed on the sides but not on the top and underneath the perch is smooth This is great for nails. Lava rock is very rough surface and yet all of our birds choose to roost on it for nail,beak , and solo head scratches and occasionally they will break a tiny piece off and ingest it. So yes here is another area to be watch full about.
Do budgies need constant source of grit? NO, but they will on occasion both in the wild and in captivity ingest a tiny piece of grit. As with all things we give our birds I try to provide something similar to forage as in the wild. We feed alfalfa and Herb salad, both of which are favorites. Lady Gouldian Finch also carries a fine clay powder with an amazing number of micronutrients. We feed this in place of grit, either in a separate cup or a pinch sprinkled on soft food with vitamins and probiotics. So my take on this is do the research weigh the pros and cons and be willing make guarded choices do not let data intimidate your sense of what your bird needs. I brake rules all the time where common sense is indicated. Like with pellets, yes I see a valid use in our birds diet, but not to go overboard. Be sure a well rounded source of vitamins and micronutrient minerals and probiotics are available and let your bird participate in making choices. Fresh foods and sprouts and pellets are included in a balanced avian diet. No need to go OCD to favor one or the other. It really is good to consult your birds on their preferences. Just not to the extreme one way or the other. Soap box done. Blessings Everybirdy!!!! Jo Ann
Some budgies like to chew on rope perches and others never do.
I have a cotton rope boing in three of my birds' cages and I check them daily. I have never seen any of my birds chew on the cotton rope nor do any of the ropes show signs of being worn.
If your Sweetie does not chew on his perches then I would personally not be overly concerned about using them.
Please keep a close eye on Sweetie (and the rope perches) to ensure he isn't chewing them and everything should be fine.
It is important for the forum to provide the most up-to-date information for our members that we can.
The main point of the sticky is that Dr. Alex Rosenwax maintains that in addition to cotton and or synthetic fiber rope perches and toys, those made of hemp, palm leaves, seagrass,etc. may also pose a danger when chewed and ingested.
My budgies have a "flying trapeze" toy made with woven seagrass.
They love to chew on it and and throw the pieces on the floor.
I have no plan to take it away from them at this time.
Like JoAnn, I believe in the wild budgies will chew on various plant materials and may ingest small amounts at that time.
It is necessary for each individual to take into consideration the behavior of their particular budgie(s) and use the information available when determining what that person feels is "safe" to use with their birds.
greetings and thanks everyone for sharing all these very important information on the dangers of rope and fiber materials.it can be hard at times to find the safest perches, etc for our fellow friends.
I try to be careful myself even more so these days.
Blessings and greatly appreciated for the advice here
princess Gracie Barber welcomes you all and blessings
Thank you all for your comments on my diatribe.
The last thing I wanted to do was frighten folks.
Rather, my intention was to alert to the dangers.
The textiler that I am impels me to pass on my personal feelings about the dangers involved.
But I am also very conscious of the vast grey areas that JoAnn has referred to. Especially where individual birds are concerned. As Deb has said, some birds will chew, some won't, and only the caring owner will know which bird is most likely to.
There is always going to be toxic stuff around ingested, however careful we try to be. We as humans can't guard against that either, in our chemical-rich world.
And so we are forced to make compromises, use care and watchfulness and after we have done the best we can, trust that all will be well.
To "do the best we can" has to mean becoming aware and as informed as possible of the pros and cons and then to make the best individual choice possible at the time-- exactly what this great forum is all about!
I hope this will help reassure any who might have been overly worried by my post to return to enjoying life with their beautiful budgies