Ceramic heater

by Ashley Musculus
(Atlanta, GA)

I am terribly heartbroken and devastated about the question I’m going to ask. First, let me give you a little back story. I had a 3 year old African Grey. I’ve never taken him to a vet even though I know they can hide illnesses. He’s always had an amazing appetite, has always drunk his water and hasn’t had abnormal stool samples.

I live in Atlanta and in the basement of my grandma’s house. Although she keeps her heat on, it gets cold to where he would shake. I put a ceramic space heater (non Teflon) on the same table as his cage to help keep him warm (My neighbor’s bird froze to death a few years ago and this was my biggest fear).

There are two different blowing settings with different heating adjustments. I never changed the temp, but changed the blowing settings depending on how cold it was. (Always thought 1st one was the fastest, second one slowest—although I never really could tell the difference).

Anyway, I woke up one morning, uncovered him, and he was on the bottom of the cage walking around. That day he wasn’t extremely talkative, but I did refill his water dish and continued on with my day. That afternoon, I changed his food and went about my day.

I never actually saw him eat (was out most of the day) but all other days before this, he’d always reach for his peanut first and then dip the rest into his water. That night I let him out of his cage and he just sat inside quite for a while until he finally decided to come out. (I started thinking something was wrong but then he came out so I thought all was okay).

I picked him up and played with him. He gave me kisses, talked under his breath like he does (always thought he was cursing me lol) and let him do his little hand flips (he’d hold onto my hands and turn upside down then come back up) anyway I played with him for a while and when I thought all was good, I put him to bed. He told me night night as I covered his cage.

I changed the heater blowing setting and went into my room. About an hour to an hour and a half later, he made some weird screamish noises which startled me and my cat (she ran into the room just as I did). I immediately noticed the area was hot, uncovered him and turned off the heater. Just as I uncovered him, he fell to the bottom of the cage and seemed to try to get up but I was so freaked I ran into the other room screaming for my husband.

I couldn’t go near the cage as I already knew my biggest fears came true (a few years ago I witnessed my cats death so I couldn’t bare to see another one). Needless to say, he wasn’t breathing by the time my husband got in the room (less than a minute from when I saw him). I am shaken with depression now. I fear the heater killed him. Although it’s been used at the same exact setting and has never affecting him before, this is the only thing I can think of that killed him.

Do you think that’s what did it or do you think it was something else as he wasn’t acting quite like himself that day (not talking)? If he had overheated, why didn’t it do this before? Why didn’t he squawk (or like a dog would do with his whining)? I’ve done research and it says that when birds get overheated, they vomit and have a seizure---he did neither of this. I can’t stop blaming myself. Not only did I lose my best friend but I feel as though I killed him.

Comments for Ceramic heater

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Feb 10, 2009
by: Anonymous

I am so sorry for your loss. I have an 11yr old grey. I can't even imagine how heartbroken I would be if something happened to him. It probably wasn't the heater. Was there a mold or mildew smell in the basement. Just the lack of fresh air circulating could have been a factor. Did you have a sun lamp on him. Greys need sun light or sun lamp for vit D. There are so many things that could have happened. I try and read everything I can because the information is constantly changing and I don't want to go through what happened to you. Again I am so sorry.

Feb 10, 2009
Ceramic heater - bird death?
by: The Vet

I am so sorry for your loss. I cannot give you a definitive reason your bird died. I have seen this occur in one other bird, but the heat that was on him was extreme. Your description of your heat source does not sound like it was the root cause of death.

The first symptom of a problem is that he stopped talking and was on the bottom of the cage. I personally think that something else was going on. However, I do not have enough information to say what it was.

Again I am sorry for your loss. I recommend that if it is not too late that you have a necropsy (autopsy) done to determine the cause.

Dr B

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