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Jessi shows you how to make free and cheap homemade parrot toys! Parrots need toys to live a healthy and happy life, and it doesn't have to cost you a fortune. Here's some Behavioral Enrichment to stimulate foraging and chewing in parrots.


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Birds are amazing, they're social, dynamic, inquisitive, and complicated.  Many people have fallen in love with the multifaceted personalities of our more colorful feathered friends: parrots.  Caring for a parrot takes dedication, patience, money, and understanding to live a harmonious life with a bird companion, providing behavioral enrichment, what I call BE for short, is key for a happy and healthy parrot.  I want to share some easy and cheap ways to enrich a parrot.


There's just no way of getting around giving your parrot toys.  They need them.  In the wild, they'll be spending all their time foraging for food, avoiding predators, getting, keeping, and protecting their mate, building a nest, and at any spare moment, they'll be grooming their feathers, ensuring that they stay warm, dry, and pretty.  Captive parrots who are considered pets, they don't need to worry about predators, mates, or tending to a nest, so they spend most of their time sitting, eating, and making sure their feathers are perfect.  This can lead to boredom, obesity, stress, and neurotic behaviors, which isn't fun for anyone.  So let's prevent that and give them a happy and healthy life by giving them behavioral enrichment.

Our goal is to stimulate a natural behavior.  Foraging for food is an easy one to think about.  But how can we get them to forage?  You can use a piece of paper.  Simply put the piece of paper over their food dish and let them figure out how to get to the food.  It can be scary for them at first, so if they are scared by the piece of paper, then just make it smaller.  You can slowly increase the size and difficulty as they get better at finding the food.  Eventually, you can use a rope to tie the paper around the bowl so they have to chew through it to get to the food.  You could also add several different food dishes and vary the types and amounts of food.  Have fun and get creative.

You can take the same idea and hide food in hanging toys, too.  You can make your own hanging feeders by drilling holes in pieces of wood.  There you go, you've created behavioral enrichment!  Foraging BE.

Another natural behavior that's easy to elicit is the urge to chew.  Parrots in the wild will chew on branches and leaves, they'll manipulate hard nuts and large pieces of fruit, and they'll carve out nests in tree trunks with their beak.  We can replicate this behavior by providing toys that they can destroy by chewing.  Here are some toys that I love giving our parrots.  Look at them!  They're just begging to be ripped apart.  Toys like this can get pretty expensive, that's why we're so thankful to Jennifer, Daniel, Josie, Kelly, and Nicholas for donating these to the parrots.  You can absolutely purchase your own from your local pet store or online, but with a little bit of time and creativity, you can make your own for cheap or even free. 

So let's make some chewing BE.  Things you'll need: jute or sisal rope, raffia, and cardboard.  This is super simple BE.  Take a toilet paper roll and poke a hole in the middle and around the edges.  Tie bunches of raffia around the outsides and use the rope to hang it.  You can use this chewing toy as a hanging feeder by simply covering the ends with paper.  

Here's another one.  Take a cereal box and cut it into pieces.  Poke a hole through the middle of each piece and string them together with jute or sisal rope.  Make a few knots or add raffia for flair.  Adding a small chunk of wood will increase the difficulty level.  You can use untreated wood from pine, aspen, or fruit trees.  I like to combine homemade toys with store-bought toys, by taking the leftovers and repurposing them to make a new toy.  Like this one!  

So providing BE for a parrot is essential for their mental and physical well-being.  But you don't have to spend a fortune doing it.  You just have to know your goal and get creative.  So have fun, because spending time enriching your bird is also enriching to you, and if you would like some more human BE, you can join us on an adventure every week by subscribing.  If you have any questions or comments about behavioral enrichment in general, you can find me on Twitter, Tumblr, and Facebook or just leave 'em in the comments below.  Thanks guys.


We were having so much fun with the bird, Chopsticks wanted to join in.  So if you would like to join us in a little bonus video, click here.