Written by Erin, Erin CG
Whenever you are making toys for your bird, the first thing to remember is: "Safety first!" No matter how 'neat' or 'fun' a certain toy or toy part may look, if it is not safe, it is not worth the risk to your bird's health and well-being. Toys for birds are different than toys for other pets. Never let your bird share toys with other pets you may have.
When making a toy, do your research first. It is very similar when it comes to Kids toys and playsets wherein safety should be a major concern. Is any part of the toy made out of a potentially toxic material? Is there any part of the toy that your bird could injure himself on? Is this toy both safe and practical? Let's go over a few pointers about some toy parts:
- Twisted paper: you can find this in a craft store. Make sure it is all-natural, without any added dyes, etc. It should say on the label whether it is natural, or dyed.
- Twine and sisal rope: you can also find twine and sissel in a craft store. Make sure the twine or sissal is all-natural and not dyed or coated in any way. Read the label.
- Cotton rope: make sure to buy only 100% all-natural cotton rope. Keep the ends of the rope trimmed, you wouldn't want your bird getting caught in a frayed end. Make sure there are no dangerous string or loops that the bird could get caught on.
- Plastic beads: you can find plastic beads, also called 'pony beads', in the store. As with all toy-making parts, make sure the beads are large enough so that your bird cannot choke on them, and not brittle so they won't crack or break. Marbella beads are also good to use.
- Quick links: quick links can be purchased from many online bird-toy stores. Never buy zinc-plated or galvanized quick-links. Many quick-links you find in stores like hardware stores are made from zinc, and therefore very harmful. Stainless steel quick-links are best to use. Stainless steel quick-links may be a bit more expensive, but they won't rust, and should last a very long time.
- Vegetable-tanned leather: When using leather for bird toys, do not buy any unnatural/treated/processed/coated leather. You should be able to find plain, vegetable-tanned leather in many craft stores: that is safe to use. It should say right on the package, 'vegetable-tanned'.
- Wooden beads: pine wood beads are fine.
- Bells: cow or liberty bells are most commenly used in bird toys. The jingle bells with the little balls in the center are a no-no! Never use jingle bells. Many birds have gotten their toes stuck inside the metal centers and been seriously injured. When buying bells, you need to make sure they are not zinc-plated or galvanized.
- Rawhide: 100% natural rawhide. Avoid the colored rawhide. If rawhide gets wet and/or mooshy, it should be thrown away.
- Popsicle sticks: buy plain, not colored. To add color to the sticks yourself at home, soak them in a mixture of food coloring and water.
- Bamboo: buy plain, untreated bamboo sticks. A good place to get bamboo is an online bird toy part store.
- Fabric flowers: 100% silk or cotton flowers. Please check and make sure there are no plastic parts on the flowers that your bird could get ahold of.
Many bird-toy making parts can be purchased from online bird toy stores. If the stores are reputable, they will list for you all the materials used in the toy or toy parts, so you can be assured the parts are non-toxic. If you choose to buy bird toy parts from a craft store, you are responsible for doing your own research. If you find a supply that does not have a label telling what it is made of, you can call the company or manufacturer and ask for complete information regarding the specific supply. If a company or manufacturer refuses to tell you what the supply part is made of, don't take the risk: don't use it for a toy.
Birds are inquisitive and intelligent, and deserve to have plenty of fun toys available for them to help stimulate their minds. Birds love to have fun! If you do your research when making toys for them, you will be rewarded with a happier and busier bird. Making bird toys is a lot of fun. If you remember the rule of "safety first!", you'll be good to go.
Have fun, be safe, create...play!
*More toy parts to be added as this section grows.