Are Heated Perches Safe For Parrots?

Photo of heated perch from Ebay

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.

Photo of african grey on heated perch from Ebay

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. 

6 comments

Tor Fallingen

I wish they had the UL lab do tests on this to find exactly what and how it radiates. Everything electric radiates an poor ac/ac and ac/dc transformers can cause noise in the electrical grid in your own house, which then can be causing interference in other electrical equipment. In short; EMF radiation is a possibility, but you should not disregard the possibility that the noise in the case mentioned came from noise made by the 12V transformer in the grid. Very few people have the right equipment to measure this laying around their homes. For those who understand both radio technology and electric this is obvious. Then again, I would not use this kind of perch. Open wires has to be kept to a minimum around my Senegal, and even low voltage kan cause serious injury or death if only the current is high enough.

Tor Fallingen
Lindsay

After reading this article, I measured the EMF’s emitting from Frances heated perch (there is a smartphone app) – while a lap top measured at around 5, the perch measured at around 8 compared to around 7 for a standard full spectrum CFL bulb. Frances loves his and is currently sitting on it basking under his full spectrum light. Since our house is somewhat chilly (and it is currently – 31 Celcius outside!) I have it plugged in, but always unplug it at night. Some people are more sensitive to EMF’s than others, and one could assume that it is the same for birds as well.

Lindsay
K&H Manufacturing

EMF’s are based on voltage, and since the Thermo-Perch is low voltage and low wattage the EMF emited by this product is insubstantial. The amount of EMF put out by your TV, radio, microwave, telephone and all the other electrical products normally found in your home are far higher in one day in comparison to what the Thermo-Perch could produce in a year. The Thermo-Perch has never caused the death of a bird, this is a very safe product and has been used for many years by many bird lovers.

K&H Manufacturing
Paula

I think I would be leary of heated perches. Not just because of EMF’s, but I would also worry that a surge might cause it to malfunction and it would get too hot and burn my bird.

Paula
Ryan n flock apollo(cag) thor(alex) loki(plumhead)

I think some people have watched too many gost tv reality shows. Its been proven anything with battery or electrical energy gives off emf readings. The more energy used the stronger, so I doubt a perch could give off nearly anything, more like the electric plug, if worried about it u better turn off all your electricity if the perch gives off too much. I don’t use one I believe in using only natural things for my cag, alex & plum head. So I try not to worry as much & give them direcect sunlight in our porch/aviary for some flight and personal playtime while I soke up sum rays as well when not cold& I’m in south fl so its hardly ever cold. But I’m sorry I think this is a lil over the top because it takes alot to be affected by emf or we would surly know it with the amount of time on computers, phones, tablets, & tvs. I’d be more worried of your birds are constantly in proximity to any of those electronics! Just a thought!

Ryan n flock apollo(cag) thor(alex) loki(plumhead)
Linda Rouse

I have a heated perch for my 2 cockatiels. I use it only in winter time. It gets only slightly warm which is perfect for them. They seem to like it alot. I think it’s a great idea.

Linda Rouse

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