While all animals enjoy playing with toys to some extent, parrot toys are essential for the health and well being of these highly intelligent birds. Different types of toys serve different functions to ensure pets are adequately stimulated and challenged in a captive environment. Having a range of appropriate toys can prevent parrots from becoming bored and engaging in destructive behavior. Types of parrot toys include chewing, durable, physical exercise, sound and foraging toys.
Toys for chewing are essential for healthy parrots, because they provide entertainment and simulate a bird's behavior in the wild. Parrots really enjoy shredding, tearing and chewing, and can get a sense of satisfaction from destroying objects. Chewing also helps to maintain the bird's beak and prevent boredom, which could result in destructive chewing of the feathers. There are numerous types of chewing parrot toys including rope, soft woods, paper and soft plastics.
Durable toys are different than chewing toys in that they are very difficult, if not impossible, to destroy. They provide a constant challenge to active birds and are excellent for beak maintenance. Some durable toys may include components to manipulate, turn or pull to provide an extra sense of challenge. Materials used for these toys are typically hard plastics or even metals. It is important to check such toys periodically for damage, as birds could get injured by fragments that have become loose over time.
All parrots require exercise to remain healthy and content. In confined areas getting adequate amounts of exercise can be challenging, but there are a number of toys that can help to address this issue. Physical exercise toys allow birds to jump, swing, balance and play. Parrot swings require birds to use their bodies to create a swinging motion as well as use the muscles in their feet to maintain balance. Negotiating around and among toys helps to develop coordination and provides an intellectual challenge.
One of the strongest instincts in parrots is communicating with others. If a pet parrot is alone, it will quickly miss the social interactions it needs to feel secure and happy. Sound toys can help to fill this void by providing auditory stimulation. Bells, rattles and music boxes are all popular choices to keep birds entertained. Some require the bird to press buttons or pull ropes in order to activate, which adds an extra level of challenge.
Foraging parrot toys satisfy a bird's need to search for objects and food, just as it would in the natural environment. Such toys may have hidden compartments, be filled with newspaper, contain multiple stages, or require the bird to push and pull to retrieve treats. Once the bird has figured out how to retrieve an object quickly, it is time to alter the toy or introduce a new one to prevent boredom.