Parrots are clever animals that need enrichment, so toys are a non-negotiable part of their care. Traditional parrot toys can be surprisingly expensive, so baby toys are a cheaper alternative.
For parrots, wooden baby toys like blocks or beads are recommended because they keep the beak worn down, polished, and sharp. Young parrots also enjoy sharing their cage with stuffed animals.
Parrots enjoy reflections and noise, so consider baby mirrors, rattles, and other noisy toys like bells or xylophones. A parrot will enjoy vocalizing along with the music it creates on an instrument.
Parrots love to shed paper, so they’ll enjoy shredding children’s books.
Plastic and rubber baby toys shouldn’t be put in a parrot’s cage because they’re usually made from cheap and flimsy materials that can be toxic or be a choking hazard.
Baby toys should be immediately removed from a parrot’s cage when they show wear and tear.
Do Parrots Need Toys?
As intelligent birds, parrots need near-constant stimulation while in their cage.
This means that toys are essential to a parrot’s living environment. Without entertainment, parrots will grow increasingly bored, withdrawn, and depressed.
Companion Animal stated that toys that provide visual and aural stimulation and the opportunity to forage are the best entertainment sources for pet birds.
You can also consider baby toys for a parrot as a low-cost alternative that provides stimulation and entertainment. Not all baby toys are safe for parrots, so you must choose carefully.
Can Parrots Play with Baby Toys?
Choosing appropriate baby toys for a parrot’s cage can add significantly to a bird’s habitat. The ideal baby toys for parrots have the following characteristics:
- Colorful – Parrots are drawn to bright colors and interesting shapes.
- Tough – Parrots will chew and knock toys around, so they must be sturdy.
- Stimulating – Any toy must occupy a parrot intellectually.
Safety precautions must also be taken under advisement, like ensuring the parrot won’t choke on broken-off fragments or otherwise hurt itself playing with the toy.
What are the Best Baby Toys for Parrots?
If you want to introduce baby toys into a parrot’s life, ensure you choose the best options.
Here are 5 different types of baby toys for parrots:
Wooden Blocks And Beads
Parrots will enjoy chewing on wooden toys, where they can wear down their beaks to an appropriate length. The wood should be sturdy enough to withstand such attention.
Wooden toys tend to be larger, which is beneficial. For example, blocks are at least the size of a parrot’s head, if not larger. Even beads on a sturdy string are large enough to avoid choking.
Even though a parrot is unlikely to swallow a wooden toy whole, be mindful of toxic materials for birds. That involves avoiding cedar, pine, or synthetic fibers on strings that host beads.
As explained by the American Federation of Aviculture, parrots love soft toys. They’re an alternative to the parrot’s mother for young birds because they can be cuddled for warmth and comfort.
Adult parrots enjoy having stuffed toys in their cage. It’ll grow curious and explore, potentially befriending or playfighting with the stuffed animal. Just be aware of parrots’ destructive tendencies.
When a parrot is left alone with a stuffed animal, it’ll likely tear the toy apart. When the toy’s innards are exposed, remove it from a cage and throw it away.
If a parrot is social, it’ll love having a mirror-based toy. Parrots don’t recognize their reflection (none have passed the mirror test, including African greys), so they assume another bird is in the cage.
For some parrots, this will be exciting and a source of companionship. However, other parrots (like budgies) can grow territorial or aggressive. If this happens, the mirror should be removed.
Baby mirrors (like those positioned above a cot or crib) are ideal for parrots. The glass is much tougher than normal, ensuring the parrot remains safe if it pecks at and plays with the mirror.
Bells and Rattles
Noisy toys will always be a favorite of parrots. A baby toy with a bell that can be rattled or shaken to produce sounds will capture a bird’s imagination.
If a parrot’s cage is big enough, add a small instrument, like a baby xylophone. Pecking at the keys will create a range of unique noises that a pet parrot will find captivating.
Crinkle Books and Paper
A parrot will play with crinkly toys, growing fascinated by the interesting sounds they make. Crinkly books are also quite sturdy and can withstand the attention of a parrot’s strong beak.
Put a traditional children’s book in the cage because parrots love to shred cardboard and paper. A children’s book will be thin and printed using non-toxic ink (unless very old).
What Baby Toys Should Parrots Avoid?
The low cost is among the selling points of baby toys over traditional bird toys. However, cheap toys purchased from a dollar store, or used toys, can be dangerous.
Here are some baby toys parrots should avoid:
Threadbare or Damaged Used Toys
Used baby toys aren’t necessarily a problem. Just clean them thoroughly before giving them to a parrot. Use a vinegar solution to clean them or put them through the dishwasher.
Only consider used baby toys for a parrot if they’re in excellent condition.
Rubber toys will be soft and bouncy, appealing to a parrot’s fun-loving nature. Rubber is also soft, so if a parrot starts tearing these toys apart, they’ll soon become a choking hazard.
Cheap Plastic Toys
Plastic baby toys are often made from cheap, disposable materials, which may contain toxic materials. Unless you’re certain a plastic toy is made from acrylic, keep it out of a parrot’s cage.
The flimsy plastic in baby toys will easily chip away when a bird chews at it. If a parrot swallows a shard of plastic without choking, it’ll struggle to digest it.
How To Introduce Baby Toys To Parrots
Once you have some safe baby toys for a parrot, you’ll be keen to let the fun begin.
This is inadvisable because parrots are neophobic (dislike new and unfamiliar things). Putting lots of new toys in a cage unexpectedly will result in fear, not excitement. Make changes gradually.
Put one toy on a nearby table. You’ll likely find the parrot watches the toy intently, showing an evident distrust. When the parrot finally starts to relax, bring the toy closer.
Eventually, the parrot will want to interact with the toy. Once the parrot has shown that it has overcome its fear of the toy, you can leave it in the cage.
Baby toys can be a good addition to a parrot’s cage. They’re a cheap alternative to official parrot toys, and most pet birds will enjoy playing with them.