Used toilet paper rolls can be safe for birds and have numerous practical applications for bird owners, especially as fun bird toys. Regardless of how you plan to use these toilet paper rolls for your birds, it’s best to be mindful of the fact that animals ultimately have a mind of their own.
Some toilet paper rolls contain traces of toxins like chlorine, formaldehyde, and BPA that can harm your pet bird. Choosing chemical-free rolls will help keep your bird and its neighborhood pals safe.
Bird behaviors—such as the foraging behavior that make toilet paper roll bird toys so great—are driven by curiosity. They certainly aren’t entirely aware of the potential hazards associated with toilet paper rolls.
In this article, we provide some guidance on how you can avoid getting your bird sick.
Toilet Paper Roll Bird Toys and Other Uses
Toilet paper rolls used as toys or bird feeders can provide hours of stimulation for birds while also exposing them to learning and sensory development. Most birds are curious creatures, and toilet paper rolls offer an opportunity to feed that curiosity, as it were.
A common application for a used toilet paper roll would be to turn it into a DIY toilet paper roll bird feeder—not just for your pet but also other birds in the surrounding area. You can also create a foraging toy from a used toilet paper roll for your bird to play with.
However, because of the potential toxicity of toilet paper rolls discussed in this article, it would be prudent to take some precautions before reusing rolls as bird feeders.
The standard advice would be to use an unscented and chemical-free toilet paper roll for this project. This is particularly important because the toy will be totally shredded by the time your bird is done with it.
Are Toilet Paper and Toilet Paper Rolls Toxic?
During the production process of many toilet papers, many of the chemicals used to make toilet paper rolls and the toilet paper itself react with each other, creating toxic byproducts. These byproducts aren’t only harmful to your birds but to humans in the long term, too.
Chemicals used or created in the production of toilet paper rolls include chlorine, formaldehyde, BPA, and petroleum-based mineral oils and adhesives. All of these chemicals—some of which are potential carcinogens—can harm the birds in and around your home.
When toilet paper rolls are made, for example, just one batch of the wood chips used requires more than 10,000 gallons of various chemicals to cook and break the wood down. The washed pulp, which is a byproduct of this process, then needs to endure chemical bleaching.
A major toxin associated with the production of toilet paper rolls through this bleaching process is chlorine. The first problem here is that it is exceedingly difficult to find any toilet paper on the market that has not been bleached.
Of greater concern is that the use of bleached toilet paper has been linked to significant health issues, and experts say the chlorine in that toilet paper has been largely to blame for that.
What Are Other Chemicals In Toilet Paper Rolls?
Another chemical that forms a major part of the bleaching process in the production of toilet paper is something called formaldehyde, which has attracted the scrutiny of the American Cancer Association.
Also linked to the production process are the adhesives that are used for toilet paper rolls. A common adhesive used in this process is something called creping glue.
It is now also widely acknowledged that bisphenol A (BPA) can be found in various toilet paper products across numerous United States markets. BPA is an industrial chemical used for numerous products on the markets, so it’s not too surprising to find it in industrially produced toilet paper.
The question really centers on just how significant any exposure to BPA could be to human beings and animals.
BPA has already been linked to health problems in fetuses and young children, as well as organs like the brain and prostate gland. There are also ongoing investigations on potential links between BPA and increased blood pressure.
If humans are concerned about it, pet owners should probably concern themselves with how this could affect their birds, too.
Finally, the potential impact of petroleum-based mineral oil in toilet paper that has lotion is still being investigated. However, the carcinogenic risks associated with these mineral oils, depending on how much they have been treated, cannot be ignored.
There is also an environmental component to this toilet paper discussion. While this might not affect your pet birds at home, it definitely has an impact on the lives of their friends and family still living out in the wild.
While we won’t explore it in this article, it’s something to keep in mind as you research how to care for birds, as environmental pollutants can also be toxic.
How to Safely Use Toilet Paper Rolls for Birds
Right now, you might be scratching your head, wondering how you might get around all of the potential dangers of toilet paper production and reuse rolls for the birds in your home or neighborhood.
The answer? Purchase chemical-free toilet paper, which is becoming increasingly common on the market. Chemical-free toilet paper and its rolls protect birds from industrial chemicals while allowing birds to use them as fun toys and feeders.
What else should you avoid in any rolls you reuse as bird toys and feeders? The toilet paper roll you use for your bird feeder:
- Should not contain any adhesive or glue
- Should not contain acid
- Should not have any coloring
- Should not expose your bird to any chemicals
Birds are curious, especially about food. As a general rule, most bird experts will advise you against using toilet paper rolls altogether. There are other safer, cheaper household items that are just as good at keeping birds entertained.
However, provided that the bird is unable to pick away at the adhesives and other dangerous material, you can still get a great time out of the toilet paper roll that remains.