Birds make wonderful pets and require minimal care. Most species of birds require a clean cage, fresh food and water, exercise, and attention from their owners. Similar to cats and dogs, birds also enjoy playing with toys. Toys provide mental stimulation and a form of entertainment. They also promote fitness by allowing the bird to shred, chew, and tear at the toys. You may find your pet bird climbing an activity wall or swinging from a hanging perch. Learn more about bird toys and why they are so important for the health and wellbeing of your feathered friend.
Types of Toys for Pet Birds
Birds are highly intelligent creatures and use toys to test their mental and physical abilities. Toys can be multi-tasking, providing birds with a variety of things to do. Bird toys do not have to be expensive and can even be made at home using materials in your houses, such as old t-shirt scraps or paper towel tubes. Consider providing toys in the following categories:
- Foraging Toys – Wild birds spend much of their day foraging for food in their environment. Many domestic birds also enjoy this activity. Create a foraging environment in their cage which can challenge them mentally and physically.
- Preening Toys – If your pet bird is a natural preener, then it is necessary to have preening toys in their cage. Preener toys are usually constructed of dozens of rope dangles that your bird can spend hours picking through and exploring.
- Wood Toys – Many birds have an urge to chew and may satisfy this urge by chewing materials in their cage. Provide your bird with a variety of chew toys or shreddable that they can safely pull apart.
- Puzzle Toys – Help grow your pet bird’s intelligence with some puzzle toys. These educational toys are sure to keep your bird busy all day as he tries to find the treat hidden in the toy.
- Plastic Toys – You’ll find a wide array of plastic bird toys on the market that make noise, spin, slide, or contain mirrors that allow your bird to see itself. Providing these types of toys in rotation can help keep your bird happy and entertained.
Why Pet Birds Need Toys
Toys and regular playtime are important for the health and development of pet birds. Caged birds can quickly become bored, and when this happens, they can start to exhibit behavioral issues. A rotation of enrichment toys helps to prevent this problem by giving your bird something to tear, shred, chew, push, climb, or play on.
Birds spend the majority of their time on their feet. They must move around and stay active to prevent obesity. Toys are also essential for your pet’s mental wellbeing. The right toys can challenge your bird, encourage thinking, and help grow their intelligence by having them complete simple tasks.
Tips for Choosing Bird Toys
Similar to toys for cats and dogs, some toys are not considered safe for pet birds. The right toys will keep your pet bird safe, happy, and free of injury. When selecting a toy for your bird, you’ll want to keep size, material, and design in mind.
First, examine the size of the toy you are interested in purchasing. Toys meant for small birds should not be given to larger birds as they may contain small pieces that pose a choking hazard. Toys that are meant for larger birds should not be given to smaller birds as they also pose certain risks, such as entrapment. Most toys will list what species of birds the toy is most appropriate for, so read all packaging.
Next, look at the construction aspects of the toy. Reputable pet product manufacturers only use safe components in the construction of their toys. Manufacturers should also know what materials are safe for different species of birds. When looking at toys made from the following materials, keep these tips in mind:
- Wood – Choose wood toys constructed from wood from ‘safe’ trees, such as pine, bamboo, birch, balsa, dogwood, hickory, Douglas fir, walnut, and apple. Examples of unsafe wood include cherry, cedar, oak, and plywood. Ensure that any colored wood has been colored with vegetable dyes or non-toxic food coloring.
- Rope – Rope is a common component in bird toys. Choose rope toys that only have 100 percent natural fiber ropes, such as hemp, cotton, sisal, or jute. Rope toys must be maintained properly, and frayed ropes should be cut back when necessary as they can pose a hazard to pet birds.
- Chain – Any chains used on bird toys should be welded and not have open links which could have sharp edges. Ensure that the chains are not too small as they could catch your bird’s toes. Also, consider the length of the chain as chains that are too long could wrap around the bird.
- Leather – Only vegetable tanned leather should be used in the construction of bird toys. Avoid leather that has been dyed or tanned using chemicals that are toxic to birds. Leather should be replaced whenever wet or soiled.
- Bells – If purchasing bird toys that contain bells, ensure that the bell is well connected and pieces cannot be removed by the bird, which poses a choking hazard. Avoid bells that use jingle-type bells as bird toes can become caught in the narrow openings.
Pets in captivity do not have the opportunities to explore their surroundings and engage in activities like wild birds would in an outdoor habitat. That is why it’s so important to provide pet birds with plenty of fun and interesting toys to keep them happy and alert.