I heard that February is National Pet Dental Health Month so I bought a toothbrush for Kili and Truman to brush their beaks with. I knew that Kili wouldn't care but that Truman would go bonkers for it. I took Truman to the pharmacy with me and picked out the cheapest/simplest toothbrush they had. Truman was already wide eyed over the selection so you can only imagine how he felt when he could get his beak on one!
I didn't even have to open the package, Truman lost no time figuring out this toy within a toy! With exquisite dexterity, Truman eagerly chewed the package open and got his prized toothbrush out. I showed Truman how to brush his beak but he grabbed the toothbrush away from me to do it his own way. He felt the bristles with his tongue and chewed the toothbrush from all sides. This must be the greatest one dollar parrot toy he has ever played with!
While I still believe that trick training is both the best mental exercise and relationship building for parrot and owner, good foraging toys are a must for when the owner is away. Just an hour or two of trick training and interaction per day simply isn't enough to meet a parrot's intellectual needs. I would argue that a good training session (especially involving flight and complex behaviors) can make up for hours of down time, but still not a complete substitute. This is why stimulating toys are a must.
Parrot toys come in three categories: chewing, playing, and foraging. Ideally a parrot should have at least one of each category in its cage at all times. Chewing toys are usually comprised of a lot of wooden parts that are appropriate for the parrot's size and beak strength. These are the toys that you come home to see bare not long after hanging them. These are important to keep your parrot busy and beak trimmed. Better that they be chewing on that then your furniture when they are out. The play toys are often made of tougher materials and involve the parrot interacting with them in non-destructive ways such as pushing, pulling, swinging, ringing, etc.
Finally, foraging toys are the third category of parrot toys. In a way these are the ultimate toy because they involve both play and destruction. Foraging toys can best be described as toys with goodies inside. In the simplest sense they are toys with food treats inside but I'd like to talk about going beyond just treats. Since I do a lot of formal parrot training, I don't approve of food oriented toys because then the parrot won't be hungry when I get home and want to do training. So instead, I try to focus on non food based foraging toys.
Truman can spend hours trying to get a hold of the toys inside this coconut foraging toy
For a parrot that doesn't know how to play with toys but is treat oriented, hiding food in toys is a great way to get them started. However, for a naturally inquisitive/playful bird like Truman, just having more toys inside is enough. When toy shopping for my parrots, I especially look out for sophisticated toys like this.
Another thing I like to do is to hang toys near swinging perches rather than solid ones. If the parrot is perched on a solid perch, it is all too easy to shred a toy to smithereens in no time. However, if the parrot is standing on an already swinging perch and the toy moves, it really provides a challenge. Not only is it mentally challenging to move the swing and toy to reach, it is also great exercise. The parrot has to use all of its muscles to balance, hold, and play. In the video below you can see how Truman is holding onto his swinging atom with one foot and the coconut foraging toy with the other. It's both an exercise and a challenge to keep him busy while I am away.
Sometimes I buy baby (human) toys and supplies for my parrots to play with. Often these can be cheaper than the ones made for parrots as they are mass produced. If you look for baby toys on clearance or at bargain stores, you may be surprised how much stuff you can get for your parrots to play with for the same money you spend on parrot specific toys. Human grade baby toys go through higher standards and will generally be safe for parrots. However, it is the owner's responsibility to make sure that the toy is safe. Our parrots can find ways to destroy these toys in ways never conceived by the original designers.
For about $5, I got a whole bag full of baby toys for Kili and Truman at a dollar store. Truman really took to the plastic fork and proceeded to chew it up. Kili took up a greater fascination with the rubber duckies which came in a pack of three for a dollar. I wouldn't leave these toys in the birds' cages but they make for some great foot toys to keep them busy when they are out. This way they can have something different to play with than the usual wood and plastic bird toys and it doesn't cost me too much.
Kili and Truman are excited that there will final be a major feature film about parrots. They're already stocking up on their Rio memorabilia! Truman plays with a plush toy of the main character Blu, a rare macaw. Meanwhile Kili marvels at Blu's friend Jewel and wonders how she can get her feathers looking like that. Finally Kili compares her wingspan to Blu and feels quite big about herself. Don't tell her this is just a miniature and the actual character much larger.
There has been tremendous hype about the movie for months but it is finally coming to theaters on April 15th. Who is planning to see it?
I'm excited to announce two new parrot toys that I designed for St. Patrick's day: the Shamrock Parrot Toy and the Shamrock Junior. These two toys are bound to be a hit with parrots of all sizes.
The Shamrock Parrot Toy features a large 7" clover and not one, but two strands of smaller clovers below. This toy is meant for medium and larger parrots such as Cockatoos, Amazons, African Greys, and Macaws. On the other hand, the Shamrock Junior is built with the little guys in mind. Colorful paper strings, pacifiers, and wooden stars adorn the single 3" clover. This toy is best for Cockatiels, Conures, Senegal Parrots, Quakers, Lovebirds and Parakeets.
Kili and Truman fell in love with the Shamrock Junior Parrot Toy at first sight. Check out the video below to see their first ever interaction with the toy. Usually Truman is a tad cautious but playful with new toys whereas Kili doesn't care too much about toys at all. Perhaps after a few weeks in her cage, she will privately chew a toy down, but catching a glimpse of her playing is rare. Well when Kili saw the new shamrock toy, she got really excited and did her little excited bird dance.
If I didn't give Truman a bite at the toy immediately after, he would have probably pushed Kili off the perch to get to it. Two parrots that are normally adversaries eagerly shared the toy as they both preferred to put their differences aside and focus on the toy. I know these two aren't the most playful parrots out there, so if my birds like the toys so much, I'm sure if you order one, yours will too! I honestly believe these two are the best toys I've come up with so far and hope everyone gets a chance to try them out with their parrots. So go ahead and bring some spring time fun to your parrots and order one or both of these exciting toys at the Parrot Wizard store, www.ParrotWizard.com.