Every day clients ask me to recommend the best toys for their parrot. Choosing the best parrot toys is a challenge – especially for new parronts or those of limited means. Parrot toys can be expensive, but they don’t have to be. One of our goals at Port Orchard Parrots Plus is to help parronts reduce the cost of caring for their companions while still maintaining a happy and healthy quality of life for the birds.
The toys should fit the bird – and we’re not just talking about size (though that is very important). In addition to making sure that the toys you choose are the right size for your parrot, making sure that they enhance your parrot’s quality of life is what it’s all about. So how do you do that?
Start by watching your bird’s natural behavior. Do they like to chew things? Do they enjoy tearing up papers? Are they foragers? Are they easily bored? Know the answers to these questions before you start shopping for toys and you’ll avoid wasting money on toys that are unlikely to interest your parrot.
Know Your Parrot
Chewing toys are frequently made of wood blocks made from natural bird-safe wood, shells, and other natural materials. Birds who like to chew (and what bird doesn’t?) will be entertained for days or weeks by the colors and shapes of their chew-toys, and they look great in cages and aviaries too.
Shredding toys are most often made of natural paper, palm leaves, and other bird-safe materials that are relatively easy (compared to wood) for your bird to shred. Birds that love to tear things up should always have something you don’t mind them destroying within easy reach.
Some birds love to burrow under papers and other things in their cages looking for objects that interest them. Treats, foot toys, balls with bells in them – basically anything a beak can push around or a talon can hold – will foot the bill just fine. Make sure that your little forager never comes up empty-handed on their treasure hunts.
Avoiding boredom is essential if you want to keep your bird happy. Giving them things to do that challenge their birdie brains (as well as their merrymaking tendencies) will go a long way toward achieving this goal. Humans have come up with all sorts of ingenious toys that can help your birds learn to work a bit for their rewards. Don’t forget to include these in your bird habitats. They’ll thank you for it.
And while you’re at it, change things up occasionally. Don’t just put those toys in the cage and forget about them! Swap them out with other toys from time to time (you need to clean them anyway, so you have a good excuse in case the bird complains).
Bells and Whistles…
…well, bells and mirrors really. Parrots tend to enjoy making noise and gazing at themselves. (Admit it, if you looked like them you would too.) Don’t forget these very important ingredients when preparing your shopping list.
The Best Parrot Toys May Be Your Own
Are you the crafty sort? Why not make your own toys? Your parrot supply storekeeper will help you find all sorts of bird-safe materials which you can combine to create unique and intriguing toys for your own birds, and who knows: you might find others who want to buy them from you! Many a successful toy-maker started in their own homes, making things for their own birds.
Let Your Parrot Choose
Does your pet supply store allow you to bring your parrot shopping with you? Port Orchard Parrots Plus encourages parronts to bring their birds. Shopping with your parrot can be a rewarding experience for both of you, not to mention all the new friends you’ll make along the way. (Nothing breaks the ice with strangers better than the appearance of a parrot in their midst!)
If you and your parrot enjoy shopping together, why not let your parrot choose his/her toys? Take the time to walk around the store and pay close attention to the things that interest your parrot. This will be an important clue in choosing toys so pay attention. If your bird is fixated on that wooden block plaything, that might be just the thing to make your beaky baby happy for days!
Like everything else in life, parrot toys require a healthy dose of caution. Not all toys are made with the same care and quality, and it’s important for both you and your shopkeeper to stay on top of things that can pose a danger to your parrot. Knowing the answer to how toys are dyed (for example) is essential. Food coloring, cake icing color, and non-toxic tempera paint are bird-safe. Anything else should be avoided unless you’re certain that it’s safe for your parrot.
Inspect Toys Regularly
Toys that start out perfectly safe can become a hazard over time as your bird plays with them. Pay close attention to chipping and cracking that can result in small pieces of the toy breaking away. These can pose a choking or splintering risk and should be removed as soon as you see them. Hooks, chains, and rope can also become hazards if your bird has a leg band or a tendency to eat the things they shred. Keep your bird’s nails trimmed so that they don’t inadvertently get caught on ropes, cloth, chains and other toy parts.
All animals are sexual beings and birds are no exception. Occasionally birds become fixated and the next thing you know that cute little toy you bought to keep your baby happy is – well – making them happy in a way you didn’t intend. This might seem funny at first but it can have deadly consequences (see avian cloacal prolapse or vent prolapse for more information but be prepared for a shock). If your bird is using his/her plaything as a sex toy, remove it from their habitat at once.
Finally, don’t overcrowd your bird’s environment with too many toys. Leave plenty of open space for your bird to move around and spread their wings. Place their toys in corners and along the edges of their cages and avoid overcrowding the center with things that will prevent them from moving freely.
Knowing the hazards your bird may face is important, but try not to let caution take over your life and prevent you and your parrot from enjoying your time together. None of us gets out of here alive. Bad things happen to even the most responsible parrots and parronts. Just do the best you can and then let go of the rest. Nobody is perfect.
Best Parrot Toys Questions? Comments? Suggestions?
We hope you found this article useful and enjoyable but if we’ve missed anything please let us know about it in the comments. If we use any of your ideas to update this post we’ll reward you for your input! We’re learning all the time – just like you are. Tell us about your toy buying/making experiences. Share photos of your birds with their favorite toys in our parrot toys forum.
About Port Orchard Parrots Plus
Port Orchard Parrots Plus has been serving exotic pet owners in Western Washington since 2004, offering a huge variety of parrot toys, foods, perches, cages, and more in our Port Orchard store. Since 2016 we’ve also been offering an even larger selection of products and services online as well as a growing social network at www.poparrots.com.
Port Orchard Parrot Rescue
In addition to our retail activities, Port Orchard Parrots Plus also operates a parrot rescue. We never sell live animals in our store and we never charge a rehoming fee for the parrots we rescue (although donations to help offset the cost of caring for these homeless birdies are always welcome and encouraged).
Come See Us!
If you’re in the Western Washington area, please stop by Port Orchard Parrots Plus and say hello. We love meeting our online clients and Port Orchard is a lovely place to visit. Hope to see you soon!