can parrots play with straws?

Are Straws Safe for Parrots?

Parrots enjoy playing with toys as it provides them with the stimulation they need to be physically and mentally healthy. Therefore, straws can be considered suitable toys for parrots, as long as they’re the safe kind.

Some types of straws are safe for parrots. Paper and biodegradable straws made from organic ingredients are the healthiest kinds for parrots to chew and play with. That’s because there’s a minimal chance of them becoming stuck in the parrot’s crop. Unfortunately, plastic straws aren’t safe for parrots. If a parrot accidentally swallows one, it can become stuck. It also won’t break down in the stomach, potentially piercing the intestines or organs.

However, you can make a fun, safe toy using plastic straws that parrots can’t swallow. Stainless steel straws are another suitable option, as long as they’re too big for parrots to swallow. Whenever your parrot plays with a straw, be sure to observe it to ensure it doesn’t encounter any problems.

Can Parrots Chew on Straws?

It might surprise you to find out that parrots love chewing on straws. Parrots are curious creatures. If they’re unfamiliar with them, they’ll chew on them in an attempt to figure out what they are. Straws offer the following benefits:

Mental Enrichment

Straws are a source of fun, providing the mental enrichment and entertainment parrots need to remain healthy.

Playtime is an essential part of a parrot’s daily schedule. Without stimulation, parrots are at risk of becoming bored and stressed. This is unnatural behavior for parrots, as they fill their days in their wild by foraging for food, escaping predators, and finding shelter.

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

Beak Control

Parrots have beaks that continuously grow. That’s because they’re made from keratin – the same material as fingernails. Parrots must file them down to keep them short and comfortable. If they grow too long, they can’t eat or drink properly and find life uncomfortable.

Parrots grind their beaks down naturally by eating and rubbing, and tapping their beaks on things. So, allowing your parrot to chew on straws can help them keep their beaks in shape.

Foraging Instincts

Chewing and tearing straws enables parrots to fulfill their foraging instincts. In addition, parrots have a natural urge to tear things apart with their beaks.

Toys also fulfill their desire to forage, so chewing on straws can help keep your parrot’s instincts sharp and prevents them from becoming bored and stressed in captivity.

can parrots chew on straws?

Are Straws Dangerous for Parrots?

While straws have some benefits, there are also many things to watch out for. Some straws are more dangerous than others because of the following reasons:

Crop Impaction

According to VCA Hospitals, when foreign bodies become trapped, infections occur, making the parrot extremely sick. Small straws are particularly dangerous because they 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 bird’s intestines. Again, if left untreated, this is likely to result in death.

Nutritional Deficiencies

If a parrot swallows a straw and it makes its way to the stomach, it takes up room intended for food. This means parrots cannot eat as much, missing out on vital nutrients it needs to be strong. Until the straw is manually removed, parrots are at risk of going hungry and becoming malnourished.

Can Parrots Play with Straws?

We’ve determined that straws can provide positive benefits, but they’re not all created equal as some are more dangerous than others. This means you should be careful with what you offer your parrot. Choosing the wrong type of straw can put your bird’s life at risk.

Can Parrots Play with Plastic Straws?

Plastic straws aren’t safe for parrots to chew or play with. That’s because they’re manufactured from polypropene and toxic substances. These substances are harmful to parrots and can be poisonous.

Plastic straws can also become impacted in your parrot’s crop. Small straws are easy to swallow, but they can get stuck inside the parrot’s crop because plastic doesn’t break down. Parrots also can’t poop them out, leaving them stuck in their digestive systems. The only way to remove them is through surgery.

Can Parrots Play with Paper Straws?

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

However, one of the positives about paper straws is that they break down and digest, allowing parrots to poop out the straw if they accidentally ingest it.

There’s also no risk of the straw piercing the parrot’s intestines. Similarly, because they’re easier to chew than plastic straws, they’ll provide mental stimulation for parrots that enjoy tearing straws.

Can Parrots Play with Biodegradable Straws?

As well as paper straws, biodegradable straws are an excellent option for parrots to play with. Also known as PLA (polylactic acid), biodegradable straws are made from plant starches and oil, most commonly corn. However, some are also made from wheat, which is another material that 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, make sure they don’t contain any additional ingredients that are unsafe for parrots to consume by checking the ingredients list carefully.

Can Parrots Play with Stainless Steel Straws?

Nickel-plated metals that aren’t damaged are usually considered one of the safer bird toy materials. Stainless steel cages are the best option for birds, which means stainless steel straws are suitable, too.

However, you must only provide straws that parrots aren’t able to swallow. If they’re too small, large parrots can eat them accidentally, causing crop impaction.

You can wash stainless steel straws with hot, soapy water, removing any harmful bacteria. That said, one of the downsides is that parrots can’t chew on them or tear them like biodegradable or paper straws, removing some of the enjoyment and mental enrichment.

Can Parrots Play With Veggie Straws?

Veggie straws aren’t technically straws – they’re crisps that come in a straw shape. However, while they’re healthier than most deep-fried and baked crisps, they’re just as bad for parrots. That’s because they’re cooked in oils and contain excessive amounts of salt that can dehydrate your bird, causing health problems.

Parrots shouldn’t chew or play with them because the chances they’ll eat the straws are too high. They also won’t benefit them in the long run.

How Do You Make Parrot Toys with Straws?

Instead of giving your parrot a single straw to chew or play with, you can turn them into a fun foraging toy that your bird will enjoy using. Follow these steps to make your toy: You will need:

  • Plastic drinking straws
  • Cable ties
  • Metal quick links

Method:

  1. Get hold of a large handful of straws. Lay a cable tie in the middle of the bunch, making sure it lies in the same direction as the straws.
  2. Pick up the straws in one hand, keeping the cable tie in the middle, and pick up another tie. Wrap it around the straws and fasten it, pulling it as tight as you can.
  3. Grab the undone cable tie and fasten it, closing it off but making sure it’s not too tight.
  4. Attach the quick link to the looser cable tie and hang it on your parrot’s cage so that it can bite and chew the straws at its leisure.

Observe your bird when it plays with these straw toys. If they ingest them, they’re not a suitable toy for your parrot.

While paper, biodegradable, and stainless steel straws are safe for parrots, it’s always better to provide your bird with parrot-safe toys designed with mental stimulation and foraging in mind. That way, your parrot enhances its skills while satisfying its natural instincts.