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can parrots play with straws?

Are Straws Safe for Parrots? (Natural vs. Synthetic Types)

(Last Updated On: May 3, 2023)

Parrots enjoy playing with straws because it’s a fun activity that provides mental stimulation. Straws are good toys for parrots when they’re made from natural and organic materials.

Paper and biodegradable straws are safe for parrots because there’s little chance of them causing crop impaction. Stainless steel straws are another good option. Unfortunately, plastic straws are unsafe for birds. If a parrot swallows some plastic, it can get lodged or damage the intestines.

Whenever the parrot plays with a straw, observe it closely to ensure it doesn’t choke. Alternatively, give a parrot more conventional things to do or old baby toys to play with.

Can Parrots Chew on Straws?

It might surprise you to discover that parrots love biting on straws. If they’re unfamiliar with straws, they’ll nip at them to explore them further. Straws have the following benefits:

Mental Enrichment

Life can be dull in a caged environment, so playtime is essential to a parrot’s daily schedule.

Without stimulation, parrots are at risk of becoming bored and stressed. This is unnatural behavior for parrots because they stay occupied by foraging for food and playing together.

According to The Open Access Journal for Life and Environment Research, chronic stress is involved in behavioral disorders of captive parrots, such as:

  • Feather plucking.
  • Self-mutilation.
  • Head bobbing.
  • Tail wagging.
  • Excessive vocalization.
  • Stress bars on the feathers.

These behaviors are exclusive to or most common among captive pet parrots. For example, no recorded cases of wild parrots feather picking exist due to a lack of environmental enrichment.

Beak Grinding

Parrots have beaks that continuously grow because they consist of keratin. So, they must file them down to keep them the right length. If beaks grow too long, parrots can’t eat or live comfortably.

Parrots grind their beaks down naturally by eating and rubbing their beaks on things. So, allowing the parrot to chew on straws can keep its beak in good shape.

Foraging Instincts

Pecking and tearing straws enable parrots to fulfill their natural foraging instincts.

In addition, parrots have the urge to tear things apart with their beaks. Toys also fulfill their desire to forage, so chewing straws can keep a parrot’s instincts sharp.

can parrots chew on straws?

Are Straws Dangerous for Parrots?

While straws have some benefits, there are also risks to consider. Some straws are more dangerous than others for the following reasons:

Crop Impaction

According to VCA Hospitals, when foreign bodies become trapped, infections occur. Small straws are particularly dangerous because they can get stuck in the crop and can’t move through the body. 

Similarly, if plastic or stainless steel straws make their way through the digestive tract, they can create holes in the intestines. Left unresolved, this can lead to sudden death.

Nutritional Deficiencies

If a parrot swallows a straw and it makes its way to the stomach, it takes up room intended for food. Parrots risk going hungry and becoming malnourished until the straw is manually removed.

Can Parrots Play with Straws?

Choosing the wrong type of straw is dangerous. So, what type of straws are right for parrots?

Can Parrots Play with Plastic Straws?

Plastic straws aren’t safe for parrots to chew or play with because they’re manufactured from polypropene and other toxic substances.

Plastic straws can impact a parrot’s crop. Small pieces of straw are easy to swallow but can get stuck inside the parrot’s crop because plastic doesn’t break down.

Parrots can’t poop, leaving them stuck. The only way to remove them is surgery.

Can Parrots Play with Paper Straws?

Paper straws are a safer option for parrots. However, some parrots may not find them fun to play with as they’re softer and less satisfying to chew.

One of the positives of paper straws is that they break down in the digestive system, allowing parrots to excrete the straw if ingested.

There’s no risk of the straw piercing the parrot’s intestines. Also, they’ll provide mental stimulation because they’re easier to bite and peck than plastic straws.

Can Parrots Play with Biodegradable Straws?

Also known as PLA (polylactic acid), biodegradable straws comprise plant starches and oil, most commonly corn. However, some are also made from wheat, which parrots can safely consume.

Because these bird-safe straws are derived from organic materials, they break down in the stomach, minimizing the impact of crop impaction or internal injuries.

When choosing a biodegradable straw, ensure they don’t contain other unsafe ingredients for parrots by checking the ingredients list.

Can Parrots Play with Stainless Steel Straws?

Nickel-plated metals that are undamaged are among the safer bird toy materials. Stainless steel cages are the best option for birds, which means stainless steel straws are also suitable.

Only provide straws that parrots aren’t able to swallow. If they’re tiny, large parrots can swallow them. To remove harmful bacteria, you can wash stainless steel straws with hot, soapy water.

Parrots can’t chew on or tear stainless steel straws like biodegradable or paper straws, removing some of the enjoyment and mental enrichment.

How Do You Make Parrot Toys with Straws?

Instead of giving the parrot a single straw to chew or play with, you can turn them into a fun foraging toy the bird will enjoy using. You’ll need the following materials to get started:

  • Plastic drinking straws.
  • Cable ties.
  • Metal quick links.


  1. Get hold of a large handful of straws. Lay a cable tie in the middle of the bunch, ensuring it lies in the same direction as the straws.
  2. Pick up the straws in one hand, keep the cable tie in the middle, and pick up another tie. Wrap it around the straws and fasten it, pulling it tightly.
  3. Grab the undone cable tie and fasten it, closing it off while ensuring it isn’t too tight.
  4. Attach the quick link to the looser cable tie and hang it on the parrot’s cage so it can bite and chew the straws at leisure.

Observe the parrot when it plays with its new straw toys in case something goes wrong.

While paper, biodegradable, and stainless steel straws are safe for parrots, it’s always better to provide a bird with parrot-safe toys designed with mental and physical stimulation in mind.