We recently purchased a new home, and our family (including our cockatiel and budgie) couldn’t be happier. But we’re noticed that the house seems to be full of static electricity. We are constantly receiving shocks when touching metal, light switches and each other. Although we desperately try to avoid this, our birds occasionally receive shocks. When this happens, they yell and attempt to fly away (both birds have trimmed wing feathers). They seem fine afterward but are leery to Step-up again once this happens. Is this dangerous to our birds?
While static electricity is quite shocking — literally — to both you and your birds, the shock itself is not harmful, physically, to either of you. However it is apparently causing some damage to your relationships with your birds, as they are becoming suspicious about stepping up. They don’t know that you aren’t intentionally shocking them.
The good news is that there are several things you can do to minimize the chance of causing a static electricity shock when touching objects and pets in your new home. The inciting factors for creating static electricity are dry air and materials that rub against each other to build up static electricity.
Certain materials, including dry human skin, are more likely to build up charges. The best way to reduce the problem of static electricity is to get more humidity in the air, to try to change the materials or modify their surfaces and to ground yourself before touching your birds, whenever possible.
Static electricity occurs most often in the winter months, when the air in most homes is very dry, due to heating the home. One easy thing you can do is run a humidifier to raise the amount of water vapor in the house. That is good advice for bird owners, in general, as our parrots are almost all from tropical, humid rain forests, and their respiratory systems will benefit greatly from added humidity in their environment.
Make sure the humidifier is clean and safe, and that no mold or fungus is allowed to grow in the water chamber. Houseplants can also increase the ambient humidity in the home, but be sure to pick safe, nontoxic houseplants.
In the winter, people often develop dry skin, which can cause the buildup of static electricity. Moisturizers and lotions can help, so you can experiment with different moisturizing soaps for bathing, and apply bird-safe lotions on your skin (being careful to rub in all the lotion on your hands so that your birds will not directly contact hand-lotions).
Know What To Avoid
Certain materials build up static electricity when they rub together. The most common items are clothes rubbing against skin, pajamas rubbing against skin and bedclothes, clothes rubbing against furniture and car seats, and the soles of shoes rubbing against the floor or carpeting when you walk.
Some types of clothing tend to generate more static electricity than others. Clothes that cling together when taken out of the dryer are often culprits. Try to avoid static-clingy clothes. There are sprays that decrease static cling, however, their safety around birds has not been proven, so I would not generally recommend them.
Pajamas and bed sheets can also generate static electricity. Experiment with different materials and fibers, keeping in mind that cotton seems to be a better choice in not producing static electricity. Also, using a moisturizing body lotion at night should help.
People often get a shock after walking on carpeting. Certain synthetic rubber soles on shoes create a lot of static electricity when they come in contact with carpeting. Experiment with different shoes to minimize shocks.
Before handling your birds, anticipate the sparks. Touch some non-conducting material, such as wood, prior to picking up your bird. This should dissipate some of the electrical charges. Another idea is to carry a metal object like a key with you, and then touch other metal things first with the key, which will cause the spark to fly from the key and not your finger. A thimble or ring will do the same thing. Also remember that increasing the humidity in your home will also help prevent the generation of static electricity. I hope these ideas help you with your electrifying problem!
Stats On Static Electricity Causes:
- dry air
- materials that rub against each other like: clothes against skin, clothes against furniture, soles of shoes on carpet
- clingy clothes
- contact with carpet
- occurs more often during winter months, when homes are heated
- dry skin
Ways To Avoid Static Electricity
1. Run a humidifier in your home.
2. Add houseplants to increase air moisture in the home.
3. Keep skin moisturized.
4. Touch a non-conducting material, such as wood, before picking up your bird.