Are Toys Made Of Leather Dangerous For My Birds?


A parrot owner recently asked me an intriguing question. She has been crafting her own bird toys for many years and has lately started utilising discarded leather and leather shoe laces. They were a big hit with the bird! They wouldn’t be destroyed as quickly as the wood blocks she had previously used.

However, she had heard that leather was harmful to birds. Was it correct? If that was the case, why were all of the bird toy makers utilising them?

Yes…and no. The majority of leather is produced via a tanning process that employs very hazardous chemicals. There are many of different ways for producing various colour and texture effects. Chrome tanning and vegetable tanning are the two most prevalent processes.

Chrome tanning is most typically employed in the production of leather for footwear, clothing, leather bags, and upholstery. The leather is “washed” for around eight hours in revolving drums loaded with trivalent chromium. Following a thorough cleaning, it is immersed in an alkaline chemical bath. The kind varies on the use of the leather, although bicarbonate or sodium carbonate are the most popular.

During the production process, there are generally scraps of leather left behind, which end up in various bird or animal toys.

These are certainly not things you want your bird to eat or play with!

There are no hazardous chemicals used in the tanning process. Belt leather, luggage, shoe bottoms, and saddlery are all examples of how this leather is utilised. Tannic acid is used in place of harsh, hazardous tanning chemicals. This chemical is derived from tree bark. The downside of this method of tanning is that it takes much longer to process the leather.

The majority of vegetable-tanned leather produced in the United States is suitable for use with birds. Many factories outside of the United States, however, would employ formaldehyde to further preserve the leather for export. This is plainly hazardous to animals (and humans). As a result, it is advised that you double-check the provenance of your leather.

A fast search on the Internet will provide results for vegetable tanned leather. I was able to find various sources in the United States and Europe. Many are included in inexpensive do-it-yourself bird toy kits. It creates excellent toys and is much safer than rope since it does not shred or form strands that may get wrapped around little toes.

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