Thursday, April 28, 2011

Parrot Toy Safety

Apparently whenever a weird sound comes from my yellow naped Amazon parrot’s cage I say “Are you all right?” Because now my bird, Delbert offers an “Are you all right?” whenever he falls off a perch or plays so rough with a toy it drops to the floor of the cage. He has also learned to say “Is that scary?” at what always seems to be the appropriate moment. Gotta love a talking parrot!

However the other day instead of “Are you all right” I heard a very bizarre half growl, half screech. My bird was very distressed. It turned out he had loosened one of the clips that is used to hang toys in his cage. And now he managed to get it stuck on his beak! He was definitely not happy. Fortunately he was able to remove the offensive clip on his own. However it was a good reminder that even the most innocuous, every day item can sometimes be a hazard.

I am very careful about what toys go into my parrot’s cages. I pay attention to the length of exposed chain, loose threads, breakable parts, types of metal, where manufactured, what types of colorings and more go into each toy my parrots might be exposed to. This is all in an effort to allow my birds to have as much fun as possible with minimal risk. But the truth is there is always some risk that goes unforeseen. I never would have thought the typical clip used for parrot toys might get stuck on my bird’s beak. Now I make sure each clip is screwed down tightly daily.

Another risk I did not foresee has to do with foraging toys. Foraging for enrichment is an awesome way to enhance your parrot’s life. I use a variety of foraging toys with my parrots including the foraging green from The Leather Elves seen here with one of my cockatiels. Cockatiels being grass seed eaters love to forage on flat surfaces.

I also make it a point to rotate toys every day. This is to keep going back into the cage a very rewarding experience for my birds. One day I went to put a foraging toy in the cage that had not been used in a while. I opened it up to refill it only to find a plethora of mold! I had inadvertently left some old pellets in the toy. Thanks goodness I checked before putting it in my parrot’s cage.

Does this mean I will no longer use foraging toys or use clips to hang toys? No. Their benefits far outweigh the risks. (The number of parrot behavior problems that can be circumvented with the help of enrichment is enormeous!) It does mean however that I will be more diligent about checking toys for leftover food and screwing down clips. Having a parrot or any pet for that matter comes with risks and responsibility. In trying to give your pets great quality of life you will no doubt come up against situations that will require you to decide if the benefit outweighs the risk and are there things you can do to reduce risk. Some will decide never to use a certain toy, or keep their bird flighted or allow their bird near other parrots. And others will find ways to make those same situations work in their household. It is important to evaluate what works in your home. And what works for you, may not work for someone else.

In any case I am happy to report that today every parrot in this house is safely and happily enjoying their toys.

Barbara Heidenreich
Copyright 2011 Good Bird Inc


Stewie and the gang said...

What a GREAT post. Thanks for reminding us to be vigilant about checking the quick links. I had resolved a while back to only hang toys with bird-safe leather laces, but admit that I got lazy: the quick links are just so much easier and more convenient when rotating and moving toys around.

heidi said...

One to *always* look out for: the good old jingle bell. For some reason, some toys still occasionally use them, and small ones, when bitten down upon just right, will get wedged into the bird's beak. Not good!

Anonymous said...

Great text, once again. But why are cockatiels wings clipped on the video? :(

Barbara Heidenreich said...

She arrived at my house already clipped. I let her flight feathers grow out and she has been flighted for years now. She and her partner have an entire bed room to fly around in : ) That video is a few years old.

Anonymous said...

Can you do a video tour of your setup for your birds? Like there cage, room(if they have one), storage, playstand, etc.. I am looking for ideas for my macaw

Barbara Heidenreich said...

Cool idea! I will see what I can do.