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Biosecurity for Pet Birds

Birds are popular pets. USDA defines pets as privately-owned companion animals not intended for research or resale. However, birds are not regulated as pets. They are considered poultry due to the possibility of carrying or transmitting diseases.

USDA quarantines and tests live birds imported into the U.S. to ensure they do not have diseases such as the highly pathogenic avian influenza H5N1 virus or virulent Newcastle Disease. All imported live birds (except those from Canada) must spend 30 days at a USDA quarantine facility where they are tested for the avian influenza virus before entering the country. Returning U.S.-origin pet birds (except from Canada) are also tested and are home-quarantined. You must contact the USDA port veterinarian in advance to make a reservation at the chosen quarantine facility.

Buying Birds

When buying a pet bird, request certification from the seller that the bird was legally imported or came from U.S. stock and was healthy prior to shipment. Many sought-after exotic birds come from other parts of the world. Because of the high prices associated with some of these breeds, smuggling has into the U.S. has become a profitable but dangerous practice. Birds that are smuggled into the U.S. are not quarantined or tested and can introduce diseases such as avian influenza and virulent Newcastle Disease.

New birds should be examined by a veterinarian and kept separate from other birds for at least 30 days. Additional information about importing and exporting live animals is available at the APHIS Import and Export center.

Caring for Pet Birds

USDA recommends that owners of pet birds follow the same biosecurity guidelines as poultry owners. This ensures that everyone is working together to defend the health and safety of the nation’s birds. Basic biosecurity guidelines include:

  • Restrict access to your birds, especially people who own birds that are housed outside.
  • Keep your birds away from other birds.
  • Wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water before and after handling your birds.
  • Clean cages and change food and water every day.
  • Do not borrow or share bird supplies. If you must, clean and disinfect the items before bringing them home.
  • Clean and disinfect your clothing and shoes if you have been near other birds such as at a fair, exhibition, or other venue with live poultry.
  • Know the warning signs of infectious bird diseases.
  • If your bird is sick or dies unexpectedly, call a veterinarian, your local cooperative extension office, or state veterinarian. You can also call USDA toll-free at 1-866-536-7593

More information about how to keep your birds healthy is available in the Biosecurity section.

Commercial Poultry | Backyard/Exhibition | Wild Birds | Pet Birds

Defend the FlockBiosecurity | Outbreak/Illness | Resource Center 


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