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Dear Parrots magazine,

How safe are UV lamps?

I have two parrots, an African Grey called “Beau” and a Hahns Macaw called “Argyle”, and I recently purchased a UV lamp and bulb specifically for birds and reptiles. These lamps are free standing and very flimsy and although my carpets are pretty thick, Beau accidently knocked it over, while in flight, and broke the bulb. I was in an adjoining room and assumed he’d knocked something trivial over as he sometimes does and finished what I was doing before investigating as I could see Beau was fine and happy. It was then that I realised what he had done, and before removing the broken bulb from the lamp, decided to search the internet to find out the best way of disposing of the bulb, as my local council are pretty fussy about separating refuge and recycling.

I was shocked to find out that these bulbs contain mercury and you should follow certain procedures to dispose of them. They should be handled with latex gloves, placed in a sealed (if possible) bag and taken to designated sites. Ventilate the house for 15 minutes after any breakage and do not use the vacuum cleaner to removed broken pieces. This advice is to protect humans presumably, so what can this do to our birds and how will my approximate 10 minute delay in clearing up affect my birds? Luckily the bulb wasn’t badly smashed - just a piece of it but it has made me wonder - just how safe these bulbs are.

Julie Murphy - by email




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