Posted by Deb White on 10/1/2020 to Materials Safety
Bright, colorful plastic bird toy parts available in a wide array of interesting shapes can certainly add to the fun factor in our bird’s toys. A variety of questions abound on the chat boards regarding the safety and potential toxicity of plastics. For example, what if my bird accidentally ingests a piece of plastic? Will it hurt him? Is it toxic? What types of plastic are safe?
Are Plastics Toxic?
First, please know that the plastic bird toy parts that we sell on our site are primarily manufactured as children’s toy components. As such, these components have had to meet the child safety criteria set forth in the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act of 2008 (CPSIA). These regulations require that plastics undergo certification tests to ensure that they do not contain toxic levels of cadmium, lead and phthalates.
Plastic items manufactured for contact with food can also be deemed chemically safe as these items are regulated by the FDA. So, household items like plastic bottle caps, kids drinking cups, drinking straws, etc. are all chemically safe!
Classification of Plastics
There are a wide variety of plastics used in bird toys including acrylic, polyethylene (PE), polypropylene (PP) and PVC. The physical characteristics of these plastics ranging from very soft to very hard. Some plastics are pliable and others brittle. In considering the use of plastic components when making toys, bird owners should primarily consider how their bird interacts with toys and the power of their beak.
Soft plastics are a favorite texture of many birds to chew. A multitude of bird toys have been common in the market that use plastic ABC letters, hollow animal shapes, whiffle balls and more. They components are easily chewed, and powerful beaks can pry off small pieces if they are so inclined. Fortunately, these pieces do not have sharp edges and if accidentally ingested should pass harmlessly through a bird’s system. If your bird has an unnatural tendency to eat foreign objects, then soft plastics should be avoided.
Intermediate Plastics would include items that are not easily broken into pieces and would hold up to a beak well. For example, I would include things with the consistency of plastic chain and baby links in this category.
Hard Plastics are more durable and will last longer than softer plastics however, if broken, can result in sharp pieces that may pose a risk if swallowed. A hard-plastic birdie ball may be perfect for a gentle or small bird but be an unwise choice for a macaw. Again, it comes down to knowledge as to how an individual bird interacts with toys whether a hard-plastic item would be safe.
Acrylic toy parts are a type of hard plastic that offers the highest level of durability and the least potential for breakage but again, must be appropriately sized to the bird.
For additional information, please refer to our article “Is PVC Safe for My Bird?”