Toy Safety

Safe Toys

In recent years, bird owners have found the importance of toys and items for their birds to play with.

In the wild, birds will find many items to play with from the bark of a tree, a vine, a nut, and anything else that looks intriguing. In captivity birds will play with anything from a paper towel roll to a $50.00 exotic toy.

Toys not only give birds the exercise they need but also satisfy their destructive nature. How many owners have come home only to find their sweet, adorable bird had escaped from his cage and went on a search and destroy mission totaling numerous dollars.

When we pull our babies from the nest box to hand feed we start introducing them to toys at the age of about 6 weeks. We use wood balls, stuffed animals, plastic baby toys, plastic chain and small bird toys. For an Amazon we start with the simplest of cockatiel toys as not to intimidate them. Once a day, we place a sheet on the floor and provide peanuts, wood balls, pieces of pine, rawhide sticks and any other items we feel the babies can play with. For nutritious "toys" we include green beans, grapes and any other food that might fit the bill.

When the babies leave for their new homes, they leave with toys in various sizes. The new owners are instructed as to what age the babies should be when they receive the next size toy. By the age of 6-9 months babies should be playing with the proper size toy for that species. Babies should never receive a toy that is too big for them because it can frighten them.

When you are purchasing toys the most important factor should be SAFETY.


Can your bird get his beak or toe caught in it? Can he remove it from the cage? A large bird can easily get his beak caught in a clip type connector and will require professional care to remove it. Clip type connectors are suitable for anything smaller than a conure. Anything larger than a conure should have a quick link. These should be tightened with a pair of pliers so that the most inquisitive bird cannot unscrew them.

Welded chain is the safest chain possible. If the toy has jack chain make sure each link is securely closed and that the chain is strong enough for your bird. A macaw can easily split apart small jack chains, but will have a hard time with the large.

Rope is a safe material as long as your birds' nails are kept trimmed and the rope is kept short. Never let rope ends fray and become too long where a bird can get himself tangled within. Rope is a good tool for the birds that are feather pluckers because they have a tendency to preen the rope and not pluck themselves. ALWAYS USE A NATURAL FIBER WHEN BUYING A ROPE TOY. PLASTIC AND SYNTHETIC FIBERS CAN ONLY DO HARM TO A BIRD'S DIGESTIVE SYSTEM IF SWALLOWED AND CAN EASILY WRAP AROUND TOES CUTTING OFF CIRCULATION.

Plastic beads are fine for a small bird but anything larger than a conure should have wood or marbella. A bird could chew on the plastic and break off a piece. Sharp edges of plastic can do severe damage to their throat and inner organs.

Beads are preferable, but if they are colored be careful as to what substance is used in coloring them. A vegetable dye is the safest method used. Check the size of the bead. A good rule is one inch and under for conures and smaller. 1.25" to 1.5" for Amazon size and 1.5" and larger for cockatoos and larger. A one inch bead can easily get lodged in the throat of a cockatoo.

is used make sure it is vegetable tanned and not tanned by other methods. One method of tanning leather is formaldehyde. No one wants their bird ingesting formaldehyde.

that is used depends on your bird. Soft woods such as pine will be destroyed quickly, but on the other hand extremely hard wood such as manzanita cannot be destroyed except by the largest of macaws. A bird's instinct is to destroy. If a toy is too difficult, a bird can become bored and ignore the toy.

If there are RINGS on the toy make sure the bird cannot get his head or body stuck within it. If there is more than one ring on the toy, let it be used only under constant supervision. Birds have sandwiched their heads between the rings and choked.

come in various shapes and sizes. ALWAYS THINK SAFETY when purchasing toys with bells. Any clever and inquisitive bird can remove the clapper from 99% of available bells. Remove the clapper with a pair of pliers first if there is any chance your bird will remove it and eventually swallow it. Bell size is also important. A small bell has no business on a large toy. A macaw can crush a small bell in minutes. JINGLE BELLS SHOULD NEVER BE GIVEN TO ANY TYPE OF BIRD. Toes and beaks can get caught in these bells within minutes.

Always alternate your toys. For at least two to three weeks, give your bird a new toy and place the old toy in a safe place. Remove the new toy again after 2-3 weeks and replace it with the old. After you have removed the toy, check it for problems. Is the rope too long or frayed? Is the bell tarnished? Is it soiled? At this point either fix the problems or discard the toy.

If your bird is afraid of new things or has never had a toy, introduce it to him slowly. Hang the toy on the side of the cage or in an area close to his cage until you see him reaching for it. As soon as you feel he will be comfortable, hang it in the cage and enjoy watching him entertain himself for hours.

There are quite a few toy manufacturers at the local bird marts. INSPECT these toys carefully! You might be saving a few dollars but the heartache when your bird is injured will not be worth those few dollars. When you purchase a toy from an established manufacturer you know the toys have been assembled with years of experience.

A bored bird is a destructive bird, either to his surroundings or himself.

Sharyn & Lee Bolivar