Bird Safe Heaters

Bird Safe Heaters

 October 24th, 2010
Posted By:

Military macaw

The winter months are fast approaching and some of us may find it necessary to provide an additional heat source in our bird’s spaces.  It is never 100% safe to bring any electrical appliance around our birds, with those big, nosy beaks investigating every little thing, but it is sometimes necessary. We must be aware of the dangers involved, and diligent in our watchfulness.
If it possible to seal window leaks to solve the problem, that would be preferable.  Some houses are just drafty and this may not provide enough protection from the cold. Know that heaters tend to dry out the air, which leads to dry skin from the lack of humidity.and it might make your parrots itchy. You may find it necessary to bathe them more often.

Ceramic heater photo by

When selecting a heater, consider the size of the room you need to accommodate. Unless you have an entirely open floor plan, a small portable device should get the job done. The outside of the box will tell you what size room this unit is intended for.
There are two types of heaters that I recommend for use around birds, each having advantages and disadvantages:


A ceramic heater works really well for large areas. If you intend to heat a large room, you might opt to go with a model that has a fan. It spreads the heat throughout the room more effectively and will save you money on your heating bill over time. For heating a smaller room, such as a bedroom, a fan-less model is suitable. Ceramic heaters are clean burning and efficient and are conveniently small. The major disadvantage is that they get hot and must be placed out of your bird’s reach at all times.

Oil filled heater photo by

This is my choice of space heater. An oil filled heater provides a more ambient heat as it throws heat from all sides, not just the one it’s facing. It remains cooler to the touch making it a safer choice for our birds. The warming surface area of the radiator is larger than in other types of heaters and it heats a room quickly and quietly since it does not utilize a fan. They are also clean burning and very cost effective to operate. I also find the air to retain more humidity with these heaters compared to others. The major disadvantage is that they do not heat a big room as well as a ceramic unit.

What to look for in whichever heater you select:

  • No teflon, or other polymer coated surfaces in the model you select!  Since your unit will be heated for hours at a time, it is of the utmost importance that you be certain there will be no PTFEs in your birds air space. Call the manufacturer for assurance in this area and don’t forget to ask about the safety of the fan unit in any ceramic model.  It is always wise to run whatever heater you decide upon in the garage, away from the birds and family, for a day to burn off any factory machine oils or other substances.
  • Make sure your unit has a feature that maintains a constant room temperature.  A small room will overheat quickly without this precaution in place.
  • Your heater should have necessary safety features to prevent a fire. One such feature is an automatic shut off if the unit is tipped over.

Blue throated macaw

If you use a wood burning stove or a fireplace, be sure both are well vented. Never, ever use fueled heaters around your birds, such as a kerosene heater.  The fumes can be toxic and they emit large amounts of soot and carbon monoxide as fuel runs low, all of which are deadly for anyone breathing the air.

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23 Comments on “Bird Safe Heaters”

Joe Arbogast  10/24/2010 11:16 pm

Oil-filled radiator heaters get very hot to the touch and I would not have birds free in a room with one on.

The only heater that is safe enough for birds to be out in the room with are the quartz heaters, such as the EdenPure, which is also very efficient and doesn’t dry the air out.

Michelle Nicholson  10/24/2010 11:36 pm

Thanks for all the info on heaters! I use one of our bedrooms as the “bird room” and it houses my three birds. I was thinking about getting a space heater for this winter to keep the room warm, as my african grey is a feather picker and has only the fluffy down feathers on his body. But now that you mention the drying aspect of heaters, I will choose more carefully….that and I might put more cozies in their cages as well.

Heidi Snow  10/25/2010 8:26 am

Very Timely. I just bought a ceramic heater two weeks ago (I live in Michigan) because it was colder in the birds room (a very small bedroom with a large window) than the rest of the house, even though it’s upstairs. Pros: It heats really well, was only $20 on sale, and has a thermostat. Cons: It has a fan so it’s a little noisy. The instruction said to turn it to max heat initially and then when the room gets comfortable to turn it down until the unit goes off and then the unit would keep the room at the temperature. Sounded great. BUT: I forgot to turn it down one morning and when I went back up to the room (thankfully only an hour or so later) it was WAY too warm in the room. Scary. I think I’m going to look into the oil heater you showed. Looks safer and quieter. Thanks Chet. I love your articles and so do my 4 kids (cockatiels.) 🙂

Ruth McK  10/25/2010 8:03 pm

I have a warming perch which I purchased online that stays warm but not too warm and my baby loves it. It keeps her tootsies nice and warm and it uses very little electricity.

Lewis Allen  10/25/2010 11:42 pm

Ok, I have an African Grey and a Quaker, we just moved to Wyo. and it gets cold here. I was thinking of putting a heating pad (electric) under the bottom of their cages and let it knock the chill off for them. We do not plan on letting it get too cold in the living room, which is where they stay. Any input on using a heating pad under the bottom of the cage?

Kim Maser  10/26/2010 7:18 am

In reference to fireplaces, what do you mean by well vented? We will be spending our first winter in this house using wood for heat and I’m having difficulty finding useful information on this topic. Any suggestions ( or links) that will help us get through this season as safely as possible would be appreciated.

Patty  10/26/2010 7:37 pm

Hi Joe,
Oil filled radiators do get hot, but only uncomfortably so, not sear-the-skin-off-their-feet hot. I have seen birds land on a radiator and simply fly away uninjured, but definitely more wise. A reason I object to filament or coil heaters, such as quarts heaters, is that they glow. Since they are likely to be used through the cold of the night, the light interferes with a bird’s day/night cycles.

Patty  10/26/2010 7:47 pm

Hi Kim,
I mean that there should be ample ventilation , such as an open flue in the chimney when a fire is burning. There shouldn’t be any smoke drifting back into the room. One way to check for this is to turn off the house lights and turn on a flashlight. Any smoke will become visible in that beam of light. Same with a wood burning stove. Birds have highly developed respiratory systems and succumb to smoke and fumes much more quickly than we do. Just be observant and you should be fine.

Patty  10/26/2010 7:49 pm

Hi Lewis,
I don’t recommend using a heating pad under the cage, especially if you use a cage cover. In either case, however, there is no temperature regulation with heating pads and your bird will have no way to escape an overheated cage. Just not the best plan.

Eric  10/29/2010 1:03 pm

I have a gas heater in my apartment. I’m worried that running it this winter could be harmful to my birds’ respiratory system. There is no gas smell when I run it, and it seems to be very clean, but I’m paranoid.

Could you offer some input? Thank you!

Patty  10/29/2010 7:51 pm

Hi Eric,
Most gas heaters are going to be pretty safe. Think of the law suits that would result if they weren’t. The bigger problem is the possible emission of carbon monoxide which they all release to a small degree, but not enough to be hazardous. I would install a carbon monoxide detector near the heater just to feel more secure.

Eric  10/30/2010 1:45 pm

Thank you so much for the info! This blog is indispensable 🙂

joann murnane  11/02/2010 12:53 am

thanks for the info. also I would like your advise too . I live in Isreal in the mountians were it gets bloody cold/the past 2-3 years I used a quarts heaters . This year I purchasered an air conditioner of LG art cool. but haven`t used it yet . But the need is starting to arise what are your thougth and advise in that.

Patty  11/03/2010 12:15 am

Hi Joann,
I keep the birds in a/c here in Florida for most of the year. As long as your unit regulates a constant temperature, which the brand you selected should, I think it will make everyone comfortable and more happy!

Joann murnane  11/03/2010 12:39 pm

Patty, Thankes for your quick responce.

Kirk  11/09/2010 11:04 pm

I want to get a heater for my birds too. However, it is my understanding is that just about anything that gets hot these days contains Teflon (or other (fluorinated polymers marketed under different names), and it freaks me out a bit. The problem is finding someone in the heater manufacturer’s company that is honest, forthright and knowledgeable (follow the PTFE link above).

I’ve had similar sagas with other products and their associated safety issues. Finding someone who knows anything is nigh impossible. Your contact person asks around the best he/she can before having to move on to his regular duties. You hear back, “I can’t find anyone who knows. We think so, but we’re not sure” or “it should be safe” or “I asked [so and so] and he thinks so”. Man!!! How vague and non-authoritative!!!

To feel totally safe, I would want to find that one authority who I can ask, “So, are you completely sure that your product has no fluorinated polymers and will be unsafe for my $2,000 bird(s). Are you certain enough that you would take responsibility for that?”

Kirk  11/09/2010 11:16 pm

BTW–I forgot to mention that it’s not how hot something gets as much as what kind of chemicals it emits.

I have a couple of suggestions regarding the chemical emissions concern (the polymers).

One. If our research turns up guaranteed 100% bird-safe heaters, we ought to start a forum thread where we can post the results of our research and build up a little data base–benefiting from each other’s research.

Two. Perhaps someone among us has the means to design a bird-safe heater. Alternately,maybe as a group we could work with an existing heater manufacturer to create a few products specifically designed with birds in mind.

Belinda  11/07/2011 5:30 pm

Here in the uk we have wall mounted radiators (similar to oil filled I guess) I keep the air moist by wetting a hand towel and laying it over a portion of the radiator while it is on, this helps moisture get into the air as well as the heat. My Quaker never lands on it as it is too close to the wall and it is quite low. For free standing oil filled radiators could you not place them under a table or build a wood surround for it almost like a mantle piece and place the radiator underit (obviously with a gap so it doesn’t touch the heater) so the bird would land on nice warm wood rather than the heater?? And lay a damp towel or face cloth over the radiator for moisture?? Just a thought

Jan Oquin  11/07/2011 9:38 pm

My birds love it outside. They stay outside as long as the temperature is above 50 degrees and not too windy. (Their cages are on my back porch, in a corner that is not as drafty, but where they can get a little sunlight in the am.) If the temp is below 50 (or too windy), we bring them in, and take them out in the am as it gets warmer. Same is done in the summer….over 95 degrees for a long period of time, and we bring them in until it cools down (usually below 90 degrees) . This usually works out great, if you don’t mind moving cages, or if you have extra cages to put them in for short periods of time.

plumbing  03/13/2013 10:19 am

We all keep different types of critters as well that have widely ranging requirements for temperature, humidity and light cycle.

ac heating systems  03/27/2014 3:52 am

Wow all kinds of useful information.

Lori  02/20/2015 12:36 pm

I am concerned about a power outage. Are there any safe non-electric Heat sources?

lorrie paige  10/24/2016 1:00 pm

i’m freaking out!!!! i live in a building with 100 year old radiators. please advise. it will be more than sufficient as far as comfort and warmth, however the age of the radiators will be my main concern.