Pets Birds Blog: Parrots Need Bird Toys for Mental Health

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Pet parrots are like children: they need to play. Foraging and puzzle toys also allow pet birds to engage in natural behavior that promotes a parrot's mental wellbeing.

Bird toys aren’t an option if you own parrots. Parrots are intelligent, inquisitive birds that need toys to entertain and challenge them. A bored parrot stuck in a bird cage without toys will look for something to do—which can result in behavior problems such as chronic screaming or feather plucking. This is as true for small small cockatiels as it is for African greys and macaws.

Parrot Toys Get Destroyed

First things first: unless made out of acrylic, parrot toys are made to be chewed, torn, shredded, ripped and generally destroyed. There’s a common adage amongst parrot owners that says “a toy destroyed is a toy enjoyed.”

As a result, a parrot owner has to repair or replace bird toys on a regular basis. Owners who don’t buy bird toys because the parrot wrecks them have missed the whole point of parrot toys (and probably have a very unhappy bird to boot).

Wood Toys for Parrots

All parrots chew. A large macaw can reduce a wood plank (or a kitchen chair) to kindling when given the opportunity. Parrots are hardwired to chew. In the wild they chew to modify nest holes in trees. Chewing also helps keep a parrot’s beak trimmed. Hanging wood toys made of different sized pieces and shapes can provide a parrot with hours of entertainment. And when he’s chewing up his toy, he’s not chewing up your furniture.

Shredding Toys

Sometimes it seems that what a parrot doesn’t chew up, she shreds. Shredding is common behavior in the parrot world. Some parrots shred material to line nest holes, and many pet parrots find the act of shredding up paper or other material very satisfying.

Shredding toys may be made of paper, woven palm fronds, or other safe materials. Woven bamboo Chinese finger-trap party favors are a popular shredding toy, and easy to find in most novelty stores.

African Greys and Puzzle Toys

All parrots are smart. African grays, in particular, need mental stimulation for their mental health. Most parrots also enjoy taking things apart, so many bird puzzle toys include large plastic or steel nuts and bolts that the bird can unscrew.

Other puzzle toys have treats hidden in cavities. Called foraging toys, these toys encourage natural food-finding behavior in parrots. Parrots enjoy the challenge of figuring out how to get the treat as much, if not more, than the treat itself.

Grooming Toys

Feather plucking is a common behavioral problem in pet parrots. Shaggy-looking grooming toys are available that address this issue. Hopefully a plucking parrot will groom the toy rather than over groom and pluck its own feathers.

Swinging Toys

Swings serve as more than just a place for a parrot to roost. Parrots such as sun conures love to swing and climb. Swings, ropes, ladders and other climbing toys will keep acrobatic parrots entertained for hours.

Replacing Parrot Toys

Parrot toys get wrecked and replacing them can get costly. Many parrot toy companies sell bird toy parts that can be used to repair worn down toys, or, if you’re ambitious, make your own. If you do make your own parrot wood toys be sure to use nontoxic woods colored with natural food dyes. A good parrot toy is safe, the right size for your bird, and contains no dangerous plastic parts or frayed ropes that could catch a bird’s claws.
Tags: parrots
Pets and Animals