Margaret A. Wissman, DVM
Posted: July 25, 2013, 6:45 p.m. PDT
Birds are usually surrounded by paper, such as that used as a substrate at the bottom of their cage. Around nesting season, birds are inclined to shred that paper for nesting. Other birds have access to newspapers, cardboard paper towel rolls or other paper items that they regularly chew on. While it does not occur often, birds may sometimes ingest the paper, causing an impaction in the crop, proventriculus, ventriculus or intestines.
Baby birds are more likely to ingest paper, as weaned birds are not likely to swallow foreign objects. Your pet bird is not prone to ingesting paper because they lack the saliva mammals have that allows objects to easily slide down the throat.
Surgically correcting an impaction due to paper ingestion can be difficult; therefore, preventing impaction is ideal. While it is not a common occurrence, paper ingestion can be life threatening so observe you bird and its surrounding and if it appears to be ingesting paper when its chewing on it, remove the paper.
The cardboard rolls that come with paper towels and toilet paper are often given to pet birds as chew toys; however, it is not a recommended toy due to the adhesive that is usually on the rolls. Adhesives may contain zinc or other toxins that are hazardous for your bird if ingested.
Disclaimer: BirdChannel.com’s Bird Health section is intended for educational purposes only. It is not meant to replace the expertise and experience of a professional veterinarian. Do not use the information presented here to make decisions about your bird’s health if you suspect your pet is sick. If your pet is showing signs of illness or you notice changes in your bird’s behavior, take your pet to the nearest veterinarian or an emergency pet clinic as soon as possible.