Speaking For Parrots

Parrots need your voice

Carriers: A Parrot’s Ticket To Ride

Chevrolet Impala SS 427

Chevrolet Impala SS 427

When I was a fledgling, my parents owned a 1966 Chevy Impala convertible that was a stunning aquamarine.  I remember being in that car with my mother driving. I would be bouncing around in the back seat, going up on the backs of the seat and squeezing in next to the rear window. Being in the car was just another place to play.  I also remember my dad putting me in his lap while he drove through our development letting me “drive” the car.  Yeah, the bad old days, when people didn’t wear their lap-only seat belts, no air bags, and no laws regulating the safety of passengers.  Now, some 50-plus years later, there are all kinds of laws and regulations with regard to highway safety.  There are mandatory seat belt laws with regulation that requires they are lap and shoulder belts, and for both front and back seats.  There are also laws requiring certain equipment for children of all ages, from car seats to jumper seats, until a child is big enough to ride as an adult.  We do this because all these laws and regulations save lives.  It’s hard to imagine that adults and children die in auto accidents because they weren’t sufficiently buckled in, but they do.  And so do companion animals.

It doesn’t matter who you are, injury and death in car accidents can happen to anyone, and the numbers are pretty alarming.

According to the Centers For Disease Control, “Motor vehicle crashes are a leading cause of death for children in the US. Buckling up is the best way to save lives and reduce injuries.” It’s hard to imagine that a leading cause of death is due to something very preventable.  The CDC’s Fact Sheet states:

  • Car seat use reduces the risk for death to infants (aged <1 year) by 71%; and to toddlers (aged 1-4 years) by 54% in passenger vehicles.
  • Booster seat use reduces the risk for serious injury by 45% for children aged 4-8 years when compared to seat belt alone.
  • For older children and adults, seat belt use reduces the risk for death and serious injury by approximately half.

It follows that our companion animals should somehow be “buckled up” while in the car, as well.  So many times, I see dogs in cars with their heads out the window, in someone’s lap, or even riding on the bed of a pickup truck.  If you’re in an accident, even at just 20 miles an hour, an unrestrained animal can become a projectile and smash into the windshield.  According to AAA’s Jennifer Huebner-Davidson, manager of traffic safety programs at AAA,

“….an unrestrained 10-pound dog in a crash at 50 mph will exert 500 pounds of force on whatever it strikes; an 80-pound dog in a crash at just 30 mph will exert about 2,400 pounds, she says. Unrestrained dogs also can prove distracting by climbing onto the driver’s lap, interfering with the ability to steer or crawling onto the foot pedals.”

An animal sitting in someone’s lap is at the same risk of a child in someone’s lap, particularly in the front seat.  Whoever is in the lap will be crushed between the person and the dash, or injured by the deployment of the airbag.

There are dangers after an accident, as well. Someone may come and open a door to your car, letting a frightened animal to run out into traffic. All these scenarios aren’t anything I’m hypothesizing.  They are all events about which I  know from people involved in these kinds of accidents with unrestrained animals in the car.  No matter how “carefully” you think you can drive, it doesn’t mitigate the dangers of all the other drivers on the road, nor the distractions that can be caused by an unrestrained animal.

There are many options for car restraints for parrots, but I prefer an airline-approved pet carrier.  There’s no regulated standard, but the general rule for travel on an airline is as stated by Delta, that a carrier should, “….be constructed of rigid plastic, wood, metal or material of comparable strength with solid roofs; no cardboard kennels.”

Whichever carrier you decide on for your parrots, make sure you also get one you can easily get your bird into.  If your handling skills are weak, you might want one with a larger door opening; however, if you have a hard time getting your parrot in the carrier, you should probably work on your handling skills.  Poor handling is no excuse for not restraining your bird while in the car.  Death and injury due to car accidents is much more preventable if people and animals are in restraints.

Carrier Underseat

This hard plastic carrier is meant to fit under the seat on an airplane, and great for small birds. Even medium-sized parrots can travel in one for short rides, for example, a trip to the vet.

Carrier Wire

Wire caging isn’t as sturdy as hard plastic, but it’s better on longer trips. They also can collapse, making them easier to store when not in use.

Carrier Aluminum

This aluminum carrier is very nice, safe and roomy, but it’s heavy.

Carrier Acrylic

Acrylic seems like it might be nicer for the bird to see all around, but it also might make her feel less secure. These are popular, but heavy and pricey, like the aluminum cages.

Carrier Medium Plastic

The medium-sized hard plastic carrier is good for medium to large parrots, and larger ones are available for extra-large and/or long-tailed parrots.  A hole can be drilled into the sides so a perch can be attached, making it more comfortable for the bird.


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This entry was posted on March 16, 2015 by .