Toys that parrots love to death! Gasp!
All parrots just love to have toys – toys they can destroy, toys they can preen, toys they can yell at, toys they can dirty dance with, and, toys that can maim or kill them.
We have seen and heard of many instances of birds doing things that are, well, stupid. For instance, just last week we had a Moluccan Cockatoo stick his head out though a feeding door which was too small for his head. What happened? He got stuck, of course, ripping out most of the feathers on his neck, and he won an all-expense one night vacation to the incubator at the Vets office. BTW, in the eleven years I have worked with birds and cages, I have never seen this happen.
The point is, at some point, everything is potentially dangerous for your parrot, some things more than others. We have found that the older, wild-caught birds are much more intelligent and do not get themselves in strange, dangerous situations nearly as often as hand raised parrots. I am not saying this so you can get a wild caught parrot, because you can not – since July 1, 1975, CITES ( Convention on International Trade in Exotic Species of Wild Flora and Fauna), makes purchasing a wild caught parrot illegal, and if caught, you will go to jail. What I am saying is that hand raised babies seem to lacking the common sense that seems to be a part of wild caught parrots, and we, as bird owners, need to recognize that fact and be more diligent when it comes to purchasing toys for our parrots.
There are very few toys are completely and unequivocally safe. Toys such as a simple block of wood would fall into this category, but such simple toys do little to engage our parrots. There are, however, certain things you can watch out for, some toys that, due to their material, are dangerous, and I will attempt to give you a braod list of do’s and don’ts below:
1. Rope toys – Potentially the most dangerous, but are also the most fun. We always recommend that the rope toy have loose ends that measure 2 inches or less. If the toys gets destroyed so that the rope is longer, then either cut the rope, or tie it (in a fashion that does not create a noose) and knot it so that each section is 2 inches or less. As well, there is a very safe, albeit expensive form of rope made from Supreme Cotton that are safe. The reason they are safe is that when there is any weight pulling down on the supreme cotton, it releases from the source. This is potentially how birds get injured – they get the rope wrapped around their toes or neck, loose their balance, and then either loose their toe or their life. 2. Continuous-loop keychain rings – These are only appropriate for finches and canaries, and possibly cockatiels. The danger is that the parrot gets his or her beak on the ring, slides it under, and twists it so that it is caught on their beak, making eating food an impossibility. Only buy toys with C-clamps or quality fasteners. As well, watch out for open-loop rings - all rings on the toy, especially at the top and bottom holding the toy together, should be welded. 3. Metal toys and metal parts – For the most part, metal is OK on toys, but some metal is a low quality galvanized metal that easily peels or flakes, and these flakes can result in metal poisoning of your parrot. So, if your parrot is the kind of parrot that loves to always scrape at metal, then you should only buy natural materials (wood, sisal, palm leaves, coconut, cardboard, etc.), get all stainless steel C-clamps, and invest in a stainless steel bird cage. 4. Toys with loops – be aware of the size of your bird’s head ( more specifically, the distance between its eyes) and compare to the diameter of the ring you are looking at. Their should be ample room for your parrot to be able get its head out of the loop, and not get caught in the loop.
These are very basic rules – common sense rules better. Watch your bird play, and be aware of which hazards may apply to your parrot based upon its movements and method of toy destruction. If you have a cotton toy your parrot loves, but you know that the toy can become potentially dangerous after a few hours of play, then remove the toy when you leave your abode. All safe toys are only safe with proper human supervision.
So go out and buy some safe toys today, and remember, all parrots should have at least three toys in their cage – does yours?
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