Termite tenting procedures are designed to safely allow all residents, including your feathered friends, back onto your property within a matter of days. However, there are a few complications associated with the pesticide gas, carpeting and birds that you do not want to overlook.
There are three different toxic chemicals used in most termite tenting. The first is chloropicrin, better known as tear gas. That's right, tear gas. This one's actually added as a test agent -- if people outside the termite tent start reacting to the tear gas, the fumigators know the tent's leaking.
The actual pesticides are vaporized methyl and sulfuryl bromides. There is very limited information regarding their specific toxicity to birds, but environmental agencies recommend assuming the treated area is toxic to everyone and everything until the gas has been completely ventilated out.
Foamy Gas Traps
The problem with your carpet is that it can't be fully ventilated. If your carpet has a foam backing or pad (and most do), all of those little air pockets in the foam fill with poisonous gas during termite tenting. The same is true of mattresses, bedding, clothes -- termite tenting companies will tell you to remove these from the house, but since you can't really remove your carpet, the threat will remain after your wood-eating enemies are annihilated.
Your safest bet is to keep your pet bird well away from your carpet post-tenting. If you have a carpet-free room, that will be the safest place to keep him. If there is no such place in your house, at the very least do not allow floor playtime in carpeted rooms, and certainly do not allow any rug-munching behavior.
Sadly, there is no easy answer for when your carpet will again be safe for your bird. A minimum of several weeks with good ventilation is the best educated guess, based on the lack of bird-specific studies with these pesticides.
List of Demands
To keep your feathered family member safe during tenting, remove all of his cages, furnishings, toys and food from the house during the procedure, as well as your pet himself.
Termite tenting companies will give you a list of items to remove or wrap in plastic during tenting. Be sure you do so, and definitely do not let your featherbaby chew on or play with items that were gas-exposed after you return from your pesticide-related exile.
Angela Libal began writing professionally in 2005. She has published several books, specializing in zoology and animal husbandry. Libal holds a degree in behavioral science: animal science from Moorpark College, a Bachelor of Arts from Sarah Lawrence College and is a graduate student in cryptozoology.