Safety is our top priority when it comes to living with pet birds and parrots. We don’t cook with Teflon-coated pans, we don’t use candles near our birds, or spray perfumes/air fresheners around them. We clean and disinfect their water dishes and bowls daily, and change the cage liner. But we often forget one very important thing to investigate daily: bird toys!
While not all pet birds are accident prone, accidents can happen. Owners often share horror stories of how they rescued their parrot when its toe got caught on a loose thread on a toy. This could have happened in any number of possible ways: the bird’s toe nails were too long; a thread became loose when the pet bird was destroying the toy, etc.
Psittacosis was once known as parrot fever.
To help prevent an unfortunate accident, inspect your bird toys as often as possible. Allot 10 minutes in your morning for a daily toy check. Select bird toys that are the appropriate size for your parrot, and follow manufacturer’s recommendations.
Avoid ring clips or spring clips; a bird’s toe can get caught. Use stainless-steel clips, which are sold at most bird-specialty stores and online. When purchasing clips and toys, avoid metal toys that can contain toxins, such as zinc. (Stainless steel is OK.) Remove clappers from bells, especially for larger birds, so they cannot remove them and swallow them.
Keep an eye on toys made of rope or twine, and cut away any loose thread or strings. Once a toy has been damaged with splinters or cracks, assess the toy and decide it if it’s time to throw it away.
Add a few long-life toys to your bird’s stash, such as acrylic toys on stainless-steel chains. These toys are less likely to be altered by your pet bird and made potentially dangerous.
I know it’s time to throw my birds’ toys away when they are a crumpled mess at the bottom of the cage. That’s my lovebirds’ way of telling me it’s time to get a new toy. But I still diligently check every toy in the cage, even the ones I’m sure my birds don’t touch ... you can never be too safe.
Bird Toy Safety Tips
Examine your bird's toys for any damage, such as frayed rope, sharp points or anything loose, like a clapper on a bell.
Supervise your bird with its new toy to make sure it is playing with it appropriately, even with toys that are designed with your bird’s size/species in mind.
Keep your bird’s nails trimmed to prevent them from getting caught in loose rope or thread.
Inspect bird toys daily and clean them as needed.
Once a bird toy is damaged beyond repair, throw it away.