Metals Used in Bird Toy Parts.
STEEL. Most metal bird toys and parts are made of steel. Unless the steel is stainless steel (the most expensive steel), it will rust unless it is coated with something. The least expensive coating is zinc. (Zinc is used to coat metal trash cans.) Other coatings for steel (more expensive) are nickel or chrome plating.
ALUMINUM. Toys are also made with aluminum (may be too soft for larger birds).
How to Tell What Kind of Metal is in Your Bird Toy
Magnet. Use a kitchen magnet. Aluminum and stainless steel will not stick to the magnet. Aluminum is much lighter and softer than stainless steel.
Chemical Testing. It's not possible to tell if steel is coated with zinc or another metal just by looking at it. The metal can be chemically tested. We don't recommend you do this yourself unless you have a background in chemistry and the proper safety equipment. We will test metal for you for free. (You pay shipping cost only.)
Label. If the toy maker doesn't tell you (in writing) what kind of steel is used in a toy, it's almost always because the material is zinc. No manufacturer wants to get sued for making an untrue statement. Get any promise or information in writing.
Price. Stainless steel is MUCH more expensive than zinc and more expensive than nickel or chrome plating. If a toy maker has used stainless steel (or nickel or chrome plated steel) they will tell you! It cost them more, they're going to charge you more for the toy than if they used zinc. When manufacturers use zinc it's because the bird toy industry is competitive and many customers select toys based primarily on price.
Different 'Kinds' of Zinc
Some zinc is in a form that won't hurt your bird. Metal is the harmful version. Zinc occurs naturally in plants (wood) and items made from wood, like paper and cardboard. This plant-based form doesn't harm birds.
Metal. Zinc metal can harm your bird if it flakes off a metal surface and your bird ingests some. Birds can chew a metal surface and get enough zinc to harm themselves in only a short time.
Plant-Based. Zinc is also present in small amounts plants and trees (wood and paper) but in this organic form, it isn't biologically available to your bird.
Disclaimer: Contact your avian veterinarian for all medical information.
Metals Used in Bird Toy Parts