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 Bird Toy Tips | About Pet Bird Toys | Choosing Safe Toys for Your Pet Bird

Bird Toy Selection Guide

A parrot's extraordinary intelligence requires the ability for it to entertain itself.  Providing safe, creative toys is not only an excellent way to prevent a life of boredom and bad behavior from developing (such as screaming, biting and feather picking), but you'll enjoy many amusing hours of watching your parrot at play.  Toys are necessary for a bird to live an active and well-adjusted life.

Thanks to creative bird toy manufacturers there are many styles, sizes and shapes to choose from.  Birds love to chew and natural, safely colored wood toys meet that basic need and provide good entertainment value.  Beyond that the choices of style and material are almost endless.  Many birds love preening toys made of natural materials like sisal, straw, dried grass, palm frond, hemp and jute rope, as well as cloth.  There are also toys that include leather, grape vine, bamboo, paper, dried cactus and pinecones and more.  Toys that are designed to be reused are usually made of  acrylic, PVC, stainless steel or durable plastic materials.  The choices are endless and many will be appropriate for your bird.

Always select toys appropriate to your bird's size, strength and personality.  Watch for potential hazards like loose strings, frayed material or chewed parts and remove them.  A bird should be monitored when given any object to play with to be sure they interact with it safely. 

 We offer the following Toy Tips to help you make safe and appropriate choices for your bird.

 

  Bird Cage Portal's
Toy Tips

Are Bird Toys a Luxury or a Necessity?

In the wild, birds are continually active foraging for food, socializing, flying, guarding against predators, and so forth.  To confine a domestic-raised or wild-caught bird in an unstimulating environment that's counter-productive to their instincts is cruel.  These active and intelligent creatures deserve the best we can give them.  Bird toys provide stimulation, challenge, exercise and fun and in their best natural sense, something to chew on.  Providing bird toys and stimulating activities for your parrot is a necessity.

Why Are Toys Good For My Bird? 

  • Bird Toys are excellent entertainment and help prevent boredom and discourage development of unwelcome behavior.
  • They help beak and nails wear down.  A bird's beak and nails are made of keratin like our fingernails, so they continually grow.  If nails and beaks are worn down naturally it may lessen trips to the vet for trimming.
  • Toys are often used to socialize and even train your bird, such as naming the toy or repeating the color as you play with your bird.

Bird Toy Safety is a Priority 

When choosing a toy for your bird think about safety first.  While toys are necessary they also have the potential for injury.  Because of a parrot's extreme intelligence, dexterity and inquisitive nature they can find ways to interact with their toys that we might not intend.  So it is important to choose toys made from materials that have a good track record for being safe and monitor your bird to make sure that it plays with the toy in a safe manner.  Here are some tips to keep in mind:

Choose toys that are the appropriate size for your bird.  It is important to choose toys appropriately sized for our bird. Toy manufactures often provide size guidelines and this is a good place to start when choosing your toys.    However, use your judgement according to how your bird interacts with its toys regarding chewing, desire to preen, agility and acrobatic ability.   Although some small birds like large toys and vice versa, be aware that large parrots can easily dismantle small toys and be at risk from the parts that can be broken easily and accidentally swallowed.  If your bird is destructive larger-sized toys may last longer and give more value for the dollar.

Wood toys should only be made from safe woods, i.e.  apple, ash, aspen, beech, birch, cactus, cottonwood, crabapple, dogwood, elm, fir, hawthorn, larch, manzanita, maple, kiln dried pine, poplar and willow.   Notice that this list DOES NOT include oak ... it is unsafe for birds.

Attach your toys with Quick Link Fasteners (often called C-links).  Be sure to tighten the screw-nut with pliers.  I use 2 pliers ... one to hold the link while I tighten the nut with the other.  This will prevent the bird from opening the link.  The best and safest material for Quick Links is stainless steel.  Other types of attaching devices can be undone which could lead to beaks and nails becoming hooked in the device.  While I've never encountered a problem with toys hung by solid welded, smooth link chain, DO NOT purchase toys hung with jack-chain which is a 3-ply, non-welded, twisted chain.  Make sure that toys don't hang from a long tether no matter whether it is chain, rope, leather or some other material.     

 

Toys with metal parts.  There is something about the tinkling of a bell that is irresistible to parrots.  While there are several bell designs available, I feel the cowbell provides the heaviest, most durable and safest construction.  Be sure that any metal in your toy such as bells and rings do not contain lead or zinc.  Be cautious with bells as birds can remove the clapper and it might accidentally be swallowed.  Round metal rings on toys should be the appropriate size for your bird so that they do not entrap heads, beak or toes.  Split key rings should be removed from toys to prevent entrapment of toes and beaks.

Leather is often used in toys and it is considered safe as long as it is vegetable tanned and has NOT been dyed.  Vegetable tanning is the only process that does not use chemicals that are toxic to birds.  Rawhide parts should be unbleached.

Long pieces of Cotton rope in toys have the potential to fray which can entangle feet. Cotton rope toys should be used when you can provide supervision.

Brightly colored, high-impact Marbella Beads and acylic are plastic parts often used in toys.  They are safe as long as they of sufficient size so they cannot be broken apart by your bird and ingested.

Bird Toys need to be inspected regularly to make sure they remain safe.  They also need to be washed and disinfected.  Use a solution of 10% bleach to disinfect toys and be very sure they are rinsed well.  To avoid bacterial contamination discard toy parts that cannot be satisfactorily cleaned.  Offending material can be cut away from soft toy parts and leather can be cleaned by scraping off light soil.  Leather that is heavily soiled or water-soaked should be discarded. 

Introducing New Toys 

While most birds are immediately curious about a new toy, others may show fear initially.  If you have a bird that is anxious about new things try hanging the toy on a low perch, out of the way of potential contamination.  When your bird becomes curious and begins to interact with it place it in a more accessible spot.  If your bird is extremely nervous hang the new on the outside of the cage or or place it near the cage so they have time to relax and get used to it.  Sometimes very timid birds become more comfortable with toys if they start with handheld or "foot" toys.  Place these toys in a food cup or other holder and let your parrot discover them.

How Many Toys Does My Bird Need?

Birds should have toys in their cage and on their playgym.  As far as cages are concerned, the number of toys will depend on the cage size.  If you've read much of the information here at Bird Cage Portal you know that I recommend providing your bird as large a cage as your budget allows, as long as the cage bar dimensions are appropriate for your bird.  One of the reasons for this is to have sufficient room for toys and accessories.  You want to have enough room in the cage for your bird to move freely and get exercise.  Three to four toys in a cage is my recommendation ... three, if you provide an accessory such as a swing, which I think is a great addition.  It is best to have extra toys so that you can rotate them to prevent your bird from becoming bored with the same old thing.  Boredom can set in easily with these intelligent creatures.  If you select some indestructible toys, like refillable toys they can be adapted to many uses.  Two to three toys on a playgym is most likely sufficient, especially if you include a Boing! or other climbing activity, too.  These recommendations are rules of thumb and should be altered depending on the personality and individual needs of your bird.

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