Parrot: Toys and Tips for Keeping the Crafty Birds Occupied

Parrots and parakeets, whether large species or small birds have one thing in common: their impressive intelligence and a pronounced play instinct. Parrots are one of the few animal species known to play for apparent amusement in adulthood and in the wild. In doing so, they incorporate their environment, for example by turning wind turbines into carousels for purposes other than those intended or by hopping into wind vortices close to the ground.

Scientists believe that the intelligence of some parrots can be compared to that of young children. Very clear: The clever birds must also be employed as pets in order not to wither intellectually, develop delusions of destruction, or behavioral problems.

Planned Devastation: Consumable Toys

The simplest form of parrot game is to examine all kinds of objects with your beak. If such an object proves to be easy to gnaw or dismantle, parrots and parakeets prefer to chop it up. So that the gnawing fun is not focused on furniture or houseplants, you should always offer your birds material that can be shredded. Fresh natural wood nibbling twigs are suitable, the bark and tasty buds of which are also eaten. The cores of kitchen and toilet paper rolls and old cardboard boxes are available for free and are just as popular – but make sure that they do not contain any remains of adhesive tape, glue, or staples.

Tested Safety: the Right Toy for the Bird

Not every toy is suitable for all birds.

When shopping for toys in a pet shop, keep a few points in mind:

  • Format: The play equipment must match the size and beak strength of the birds. Toys for a budgie will not survive long in the cockatoo aviary and can even be swallowed. Likewise, a parrot can do little with the fiddling toy for a macaw.
  • Material: Prefer toys made from natural materials such as cork, leather, or wood. Glass and plastic or small bells should be avoided, especially in animals with strong bills – something can easily split off and swallow.
  • Colors: Diurnal birds have excellent color vision. Parrot toys can therefore be as colorful as possible. With wooden toys, so-called “saliva-proof” paint should be used – important to know if you want to make your own toys for your feathered ones.

Some things are not toys. Of course, the parrot cannot easily distinguish between toys and other possibly dangerous or poisonous things. Always keep a close eye on your crooks and move anything potentially dangerous out of their reach.

Seesaws, Rings, Ropes, Swings, Bath Bowls – Movement Toys for Parrots

Parrots and parakeets are climbing birds and are just as skillful as they are fast-paced fliers. It depends a little on the particular bird species which “action toys” and sports equipment are suitable: Tree-top dwellers prefer a variety of vertical climbing and hanging accessories, while small, nimble aerobatics shouldn’t hang too many obstacles on the runway. They love swings that can accommodate as many swarm members as possible. Most parrots and parakeets are also passionate “water birds”. The bath is used for plumage care and cleanliness – and pure pleasure. You should therefore always offer at least one appropriately sized “bathtub” in the form of a flat bowl.

Keeping Parrots Busy: Where’s the Food?

In the wild, parrots spend a large part of the day foraging. In order to employ them appropriately, hide parts of the daily food ration in the bird room in such a way that the animals either look for them first or have to make some effort to get their beloved treats. Smaller birds love baskets filled with fresh herbs or pine cones filled with treats – but make sure that the bird cannot get its claws caught. For large parakeets and parrots, you can put popular fruit in a small can in their presence and then hide it. The birds will surely come up with something to find the treasure.

Warning: Actually only host this game with treats. The actual feeding should always take place in the birdhouse or in the aviary. This is the only way to easily lure the bird into its home if necessary.

Digging, Hauling, Throwing – the PlayBox for Parakeets and Parrots

Some parrots such as goat and Bourke’s parakeets are increasingly on the ground looking for food. A flat box on the floor, filled with sufficiently large, non-swallowable stones and play objects, accommodates the natural movements of the animals: pecking, digging, and “rearranging” objects. Other large parakeets and parrots like the New Zealand keas also love to pick up mobile objects with their beak and carry them around. The play box becomes particularly interesting if you fill it with a changing combination of objects every day: balls, sand molds, pieces of wood, or – especially exciting – litter from the forest floor.

Intelligence Toys – Tinkering Fun for Clever Pilots

Parrots, as well as cats and dogs, are enthusiastic about “fiddling toys”. You can also offer your bird toys that have lids that have to be lifted or moved to get a treat; provided that it is big enough to be able to “operate” the device.

Playmate Human: Games for Two

Balanced parrots, who accept their humans as part of the flock in addition to their partner birds, like to include them in their own games or are encouraged to play games that are only possible with humans. A catch game is particularly popular: the bird throws something onto the ground from a great height and expects a person to pick it up and give it back. A game that we know, curiously, in exactly the same form from children. Other games that work with humans are “tug of war”, rolling balls, small scuffles about objects, and even games of hiding and seek.

Unsuitable Toys in the Parrot House

Fortunately, unsuitable toys for parrots and parakeets have largely disappeared from pet stores. Since the animals increasingly occupied themselves with certain objects, it was incorrectly interpreted as having fun playing, which actually resulted in behavioral disorders.

Taboo toys include:

  • Mirror: On the one hand there is a risk of injury, on the other hand, the mirror leads the bird to believe that it has a partner. Interest in the phantom bird can have health consequences – such as goiter infection if the confused parakeet tries hard to feed its reflection.
  • Plastic birds: The same applies to the plastic comrade pushed onto the perch according to the stand-up principle, which also harbors the risk of injury.
  • Raffia and sisal: Toys made from raffia or sisal, from which longer threads could loosen, are also dangerous traps that, under tragic circumstances, can lead to strangulations, goiter inflammation, or lacing.
Mary Allen

Written by Mary Allen

Hello, I'm Mary! I've cared for many pet species including dogs, cats, guinea pigs, fish, and bearded dragons. I also have ten pets of my own currently. I've written many topics in this space including how-tos, informational articles, care guides, breed guides, and more.

Leave a Reply


Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *