Not too long ago, I did a post on the safety dangers of parrot huts/tents and in the comments section, heated perches were recommended as a possible alternative when warmth at night was a concern. Just shortly after, someone emailed our customer service questioning the safety of heated perches.
He has a senegal parrot who has enjoyed a heated perch for several years. He was boarding his bird at the home of a ham radio operator who discovered this:
“ [he] noticed that his ham radio setup started having a lot of electrical noise. He traced it down to the heated perch and its 12 VAC power supply. The perch is on the third floor of the house, the radio is on the first floor, and the antenna is out in the backyard about 75 feet away from the house. If the radio frequency noise is strong enough to peg his meter at 75 feet, what has it been doing to my Isabella who has spent much of each day and all of each night sitting on it?”
His concern was with the electromagnetic field that is generated from the perch. I was aware that heaters and, in fact, all electrical appliances have an electromagnetic field, but as I have never been comfortable with the idea of putting an electrical device in my bird’s cage, I have never used the heated perches. Electromagnetic fields had never crossed my mind as being the potential danger with these products.
What Is An ElectroMagnetic Field (EMF)?
An EMF is an area of energy that surrounds an electrical device. There are two types of energy fields that come off electrical wiring and appliances: an electrical field and a magnetic field. The electrical field is produced by voltage, the magnetic field is produce by the flow of current. Together they produce an electromagnetic field.
There is a great deal of technical information related to this subject, but the short version, the one that concerns us, is this: electrical field does not easily penetrate materials and barriers, like walls, diminish its strength. The magnetic field, however, DOES penetrate most objects, including human beings and animals. This fact is what makes EMFs worrisome.
Are EMFs Harmful?
The information surrounding the potential dangers of EMFs are all over the internet and, as usual, are conflicting and controversial. Of course, the manufacturers of appliances deny any dangers and when money is at stake it usually takes our government a long time to acknowledge scientific research and relay the truth about the products we have in our homes.
However, many reports claim that EMFs are a biological hazard and there are several articles claiming that EMFs alter DNA. The EPA considers the dangers to be valid. The conclusions in this study from the California EFM Program are most concerning.
Everyone generally agrees that one’s susceptibility and reactiveness to an electromagnetic field varies with each individual, and that proximity to the field is a big consideration – the further away, the better.
If a heated perch has a powerful enough EMF to disrupt a ham radio signal from 75 feet, it is something to think twice about. A parrot cannot get much closer to an EMF than the one he stands directly on.
Are heated perches dangerous? I can’t say with absolute certainty but with the amount of research being done on the possible dangers of EMFs, I have to assume that the concern is justified.
Author Patty Jourgensen specializes in avian health, behavior and nutrition and has been working with and caring for rescue birds since 1987.