Parrots are intelligent, inquisitive birds that need plenty of mental stimulation to engage their active minds and satisfy their curiosity. By providing toys, including easy DIY parrot toys, you can keep your pet parrot active, alert and entertained no matter what your budget for feathered fun.
Why Parrots Need Toys
Toys provide parrots with both physical and mental stimulation. Physically, parrots will manipulate toys, which will help keep their bills and talons in top shape. Playing with toys also improves foot and toe flexibility and blood circulation, and climbing toys can build strength and fitness for a physically healthy bird.
Mentally, toys encourage birds to explore textures, tastes and colors, which helps reduce their fear of the unknown. Puzzle toys improve problem-solving skills, and toys that allow a bird to pick, shred, tear and chew will satisfy natural foraging instincts. The mental stimulation toys provide can relieve anxiety and boredom, minimizing undesirable behaviors such as screeching or destruction.
Ultimately, a wide variety of toys is best to occupy a pet parrot and provide good stimulation. It can be expensive to continually purchase new toys for a pet parrot, as they naturally destroy toys. Fortunately, it's easy to make suitable toys from everyday materials to keep a parrot entertained and happy.
Best DIY Toys You Can Make for Your Parrot
Making parrot toys can save money and help you provide more diversions for your bird to explore. The toys can be simple or complex, and the options are only limited by what is safe for your bird and how creative you want to be.
Try these entertaining toys for the most fun for you and your bird.
- Cardboard Cutouts — Cardboard is a great material for parrots to shred. Thicker, multi-layered pieces provide extra resistance for stronger bills, but any cardboard can work. Layer cardboard as a kabab-style toy on a wooden skewer, or use toilet paper or paper towel rolls to create rings and tubes to stuff with treats or other entertaining materials. Cardboard egg cartons are another great choice to stuff with foraging options.
- Puff Balls — Pet parrots love anything crinkly and noisy, and different types of tissue paper are perfect for making simple ballshaped toys. Gift wrap tissue in bright colors is a fun choice, while coffee filters or cupcake liners are also great options. Stack the papers, crinkle them into a ball or stuff them into paper tubes or cones for different toy styles.
- Paper Shreds — Any shredded paper, from colorful gift crinkles to scraps from a paper shredder (without staples!), can encourage a bird to rip and tear. Whole sheets — ideally newspapers, old magazines or an outdated phone book — can be draped from the top of a cage, and the parrot will happily make its own shreds as it plays.
- Bottle Top Foragers — Bright plastic bottle lids can stand up to strong bills. Use an awl or nail to punch holes in each lid and string them together on a piece of cotton twine or sisal rope. Put bits of fruit, millet or other treats in each lid to encourage the bird to explore all the spaces, and choose lids of different sizes and colors for more foraging fun.
- Bird Braids — Use bird-friendly sisal rope, jute twine or natural cotton cord to create a toy braid the bird can unravel and shred. This mimics preening behavior, and tying treats or other bits of toys such as a wooden spool or cardboard shapes into the braid will make the toy even more complex and interesting.
- Wrapped Treats — A quick toy to make is to wrap a treat in paper, tying the tasty package up like a gift or twisting the ends of the paper like a wrapped piece of candy. The parrot will tear away the paper to get to the treat, making the most of each toy layer.
- Straw Knots — Use short pieces of plastic straws twisted and knotted together to create a chunky ball-like toy. Tucking treats or other materials, such as shredded paper, into the structure will add more texture and different sensations for the parrot to discover.
Tips for the Toys You Make
No matter which toys you make, be sure all materials are safe for birds. Items safe for babies or children are generally suitable, but avoid tiny pieces and sharp edges that could injure your bird. Any treat items should be safe parrot food as well.
Creating toys in layers increases their complexity and provides even more mental stimulation. To keep birds interested, rotate toys frequently, so your bird has new textures and sensations to explore. Similarly, position toys in different areas of the cage or attach them in different ways to provide your pet bird with even more entertainment.
DIY toys aren't hard to make, and even simple toys can bring great fun and multiple benefits to your pet parrot. The greater the variety of toys you offer, the more interesting and engaging your parrot's life will be, and the healthier your bird will be, both physically and mentally.
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