Toys for Medium to Large Parrots
By Louise Bally
Toys are an important accessory, necessary for the enrichment of all pet parrots. Different breeds of parrot will have varied toy preferences and the size of parrot toys should be carefully chosen to suit the beak size and destructiveness of each breed. It is important to bear in mind that certain commercially produced bird toys can be dangerous for large parrots, due to their ability to break off pieces and digest them. For this reason toys for large parrots need to be carefully selected and the avoidance of breakable plastic pieces is imperative. Toys made form organic materials such as wood; leather and jute are generally safer for large breeds of parrot. Bear in mind that large parrots are naturally destructive in nature and the fact that they destroy their toys, is a perfectly natural pastime and one which they need for entertainment and enrichment purposes. Parrots are naturally inquisitive and love exploring and investigating new things. Parrots are less likely to be overly destructive if they have a variety of different toys to explore.
Boredom is a common problem with young parrots, especially large parrots as they are quite intelligent and need to have regular stimulation. Rotating your bird’s toys is a good way to prevent boredom and wanton destructiveness of the cage contents. Socializing with your parrot regularly is also important to prevent boredom so you should play with your parrot each day, giving them varied environments and activities. Play gyms are a good way for your parrot to get exercise and stimulation but again they should be always used under strict supervision.
There is a wide selection of hanging toys available for large parrots, some designed for shredding and others designed to make a noise and entertain the parrot when it is alone in its cage. Often large parrots will become quite attached to its toys and care should be taken when moving them around the cage as this could upset the parrot and cause it to become agitated and possessive towards its favorites. Many hanging parrot toys are designed for shredding and are generally safe but care needs to be taken to ensure that partly shredded toys do not become a hazard for the bird. Parrots can easily get tangled in dangling pieces of fabric, string or leather causing them to strangle themselves or get their feet or beaks caught up. Always remove toys that are likely to become a hazard to the parrot especially when they are left alone for a prolonged time.
Foraging hanging bird toys that have refillable compartments where you can put seeds and other treats are popular, giving the parrot a challenge. Generally when a parrot works out how to get treats from a compartment they will remember the sequence and enjoy repeating the exercise regularly.
TOWERS AND TREAT DISPENSERS
Perspex towers specifically designed for large parrots, which require a sequence of actions to extract the seed or treat can be very popular and are great for training your parrot. They are available in a variety of difficulty levels and can be quite a challenge to the young parrot. Learning to train and teach your parrot to use these towers will take some time and dedication, but the exercise is an excellent bonding technique and also teaches the parrot to use and prove its intelligence. There are different treat dispensers available that off a variety of challenges for parrots and their trainers.
Daily food treats like pieces of fruit should not be placed in the same bowl or location in the cage each day; rather they should be placed in a challenging location like inside bird-friendly toys so that they encourage the parrot to develop its natural foraging instinct. The more you engage in this practice the more inquisitive your parrot will become, searching for its treats and the more enjoyable the pastime will be for the parrot.
Large parrots enjoy throwing things around with their feet and beaks and can spread their food around the cage in this way. Providing a selection of small foot toys in a bowl is a great solution and these toys can be collected up and replaced in the bowl at the end of the day. Common foot toys can be large wooden beads, pine cone pieces, durable plastic rings designed for large parrots and small bells.
Care needs to be taken when choosing toys for your parrot and some toys need supervision especially when the toy is made from a material which shreds easily. Some rope toys can be hazardous if they are shredded and the bird gets tangled or hangs itself. Fabric hammocks have been known to cause this type of disaster when the bird is left unsupervised for long periods of time. If you leave your parrot alone every day while you are at work, it is vital to ensure there are no partly shredded toys in the cage which could cause harm to your bird while you are away. Always check your bird toys every day for broken off pieces, cracks in plastic and dangling threads from shredding. Always remove these from the cage when the parrot is not under supervision.
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