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Safety Tips For Parrots And Their Toys

Parrots need a variety of toys for both mental and physical stimulation. Here are some guidelines to follow to keep your parrot happy, healthy and safe.

Hopefully, we all know that parrots both need and enjoy a variety of toys for mental and physical stimulation.  There are, however, certain pitfalls that need to be avoided.  I trust that the following guidelines will help you to keep your bird both safe and happy.

Rope, Cloth & Leather

Most birds absolutely LOVE rope!  They can swing from it, hang upside down from it, and, it is easy to grip.  However, if it becomes frayed and long, birds can become entangled and strangled in it.  The bird can lose a toe or foot because of rope or thread wrapped around it.  Some birds have even been known to panic when this happens and have chewed off the toe or foot to become free of it.  It is best to keep rope cut short, and cloth neatly trimmed.  Some birds love the softness and brightness of cloth and have been known to ingest it, so watch how your bird plays with these items!  Make sure that rope and leather do not become a noose around the birds neck.

Plastic, Chains & Bells

Plastic chains, toys and bells are another favorite of birds.  Make sure that plastic is not hard or brittle — if it shatters or splinters it can cause cuts and scrapes on a bird.  On the other hand, soft plastic can be ingested, so watch how your bird plays with these toys.  Make sure chains are the right size for your bird, as they can get their feet or beaks stuck in them.  As for bells — birds love them!  Just make sure that they cannot / do not swallow the clapper in them.  My solution is to remove the clapper, or get a bell where the bird cannot reach the clapper.  Again, get the proper size bell for your bird.

Whiffle Balls & Slotted Bells

It is fun to see a bird toss a ball around — especially the ones with bells in them!  Be careful though — birds can get their foot stuck in the holes in the ball — YES, this has happened!  So be sure that the whiffle ball is small enough so that your bird cannot do this.  After they play with the ball and toss it around, they usually break it open, and therein lies another danger — the slotted bells inside of the ball.  These slotted bells can become stuck on their beaks.  (Yes, I know it sounds crazy — but my Yellow Collar Macaw managed it!)  I went into the birdroom one evening, and there he was, with his ball broken open and the slotted bell embedded onto his lower beak — I had to pry it off, and thankfully, he was just fine!

Metals, Quick-Links, Screws, Nuts & Bolts

Some birds would rather play with the Quick-Link than the toy.  (Just ask any Cockatoo, and they will tell you it is so!)  Metals that are made with zinc can oxidize and become toxic, so make sure that all Quick-Links and other metals are made with stainless steel, and are bright and shiny.

Flavored Toys

This might sound exciting and exotic, but I do not believe that it is good for the birds.  Some birds, especially young ones, would think that the wood was edible, and ingest it causing crop impaction.  Believe me, you do NOT want this to happen!  Flavored items should be OK to eat, so I would suggest a mineral block, hanging carrots or broccoli.  Folks, toys are toys, and food is food!  Your bird should not be confused between the two.

Baby Birds & Just Weaned Birds

Acrylic toys are an excellent choice for these birds.  Anything that can be chewed, swallowed or ingested should be avoided.  Baby birds still have their pumping reflex at this age, and can easily (and in the blink of an eye) pump a piece of thread or rope down.  I well remember a 9 week old Eclectus that gave me quite a scare.  I was just about to hand feed him when I noticed something blue sticking out of the side of his beak — “What is this?”  I thought.  When I went to pull it out — of course he started to pump right away — zook, zook, zookie! — it turned out to be a very looooong piece of thread!  He had been playing with his stuffed animal, and had decided that it might taste good!  Find acrylic toys that are colorful, move and make noise — your bird will love them.

In summary, do the following:


Keep rope, string & leather cut short.

Keep cloth neatly trimmed.

Plastic — not too hard or soft — supervise!

Make sure chains are the right size for your bird.

Take the clapper out of bells — be safe!

Whiffle Balls & Slotted Bells — supervise, get the proper size!

Use stainless steel metals & Quick-Links.


Baby birds & just weaned birds — acrylic toys are best.

Know how your bird plays.

Replace old, frayed, worn out toys.





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