Bells, ribbons, and mirrors are all seen dangling from the cages of birds, but are they important? Today our Baltimore vets discuss toys for birds and why they need them and what makes a good toy.
Why Birds Need Toys
Birds are a lot smarter than most people give them credit for and this means that they can become bored. Lack of mental stimulation can have several negative effects on your bird from destructive behavior like plucking out all their feathers to obsessive rocking. Birds need to be mentally challenged and have a way to act out instinctual behavior. Toys can also help give them something to chew on that helps keep their beaks healthy.
How Many Toys Do Birds Need?
Birds need to be constantly mentally stimulated since birds can get bored. They will need an array of toys. We are not suggesting that you need to excessively clutter your feathered friend's cage with shiny tassels, but we are recommending that you have a selection of toys that can be rotated out.
Give your bird one or two toys. When they seem to get bored or just on regular intervals switch them out for a new toy to keep them entertained. You can even switch back to older ones they haven’t seen for a while to let them explore them all over again. The number of toys and rate of rotation will depend on the type of bird and the level of intelligence they have.
The array of toys for birds is truly staggering but the main objective with toys is mental stimulation and a chance to use instinctual behavior. Qualities that the toys should have for your bird are:
Pick size-appropriate toys for your bird. This means avoiding things such as tiny bells and beads that can and will eventually come off the toy and can pose a choking hazard to bigger birds.
Made of bird-safe materials. Since your bird will be exploring their toy with their beak we the humans have to make sure that the toys we give them are safe. Things that your bird should not be exposed to are Teflon, lead-based paints, and even certain woods. When you are picking toys be aware of what they are made of and remember that pet toys aren’t necessarily as well regulated as human children's toys.
Pose a challenge for your bird. Birds' intelligence can vary between species. The more intelligent your bird, the more challenging its toys need to be. With birds like parrots and crows, complicated puzzle boxes with treats are a great way to keep them entertained. Just make sure the puzzle isn’t too similar to the latch on their cage.
Colorful can be fun. Birds can see color. In fact, most birds see more color than humans can. Don’t be afraid to add intrigue to toys by choosing ones with multiple colors.
Mirrors can be fun but not always. Mirrors are a bit of a controversial topic for birds. Traditionally mirrors were given to amuse the birds. Later it was considered a bad idea due to birds becoming too attached to the bird in the mirror. Mirrors can give the illusion of companionship to your bird but you should remove them if your bird starts becoming obsessive over them.
The best toys can be whatever stimulates your feathered friend, just make sure you research your specific bird to see what is appealing to them and appropriate. Ask your vet for recommendations on toys that would be best for your specific bird.
Note: The advice provided in this post is intended for informational purposes and does not constitute medical advice regarding pets. For an accurate diagnosis of your pet's condition, please make an appointment with your vet.