A major part of keeping a pet parrot healthy and happy is keeping them engaged and occupied both physically and mentally. This is achieved through interaction with the owner and their family but also through toys. Parrots need their toys changed around frequently to avoid repetitiveness and boredom and also because many times the toys themselves will end broken through the parrot chewing, gnawing and playing with them. This is totally natural and actually encouraged, so it is a good idea to always have some reinforcements on hand. If you always turn to the local pet store this can soon start to add up to a not inconsiderable expense, so the alternative is homemade parrot toys.
The primary concern when making homemade toys is the safety of your parrot. Not only must you ensure that the toy is the correct size for your parrot, if it is too small your parrot may end up swallowing part of the toy or injuring their foot or claws on it and if it is too large there is the danger that they may end up getting their beak, head of foot actually caught in the toy. You also need to make sure that the materials you are using to make the toys are parrot friendly, which means that they haven’t been treated with any chemicals which would harm your parrot.
It may be a good idea to buy one or two machine made parrot toys from the local pet store to find out what style of toy your parrot actually likes as this can differ from bird to bird. Generally however most parrots like to have toys that will challenge them mentally but also physically, so the ability to chew and gnaw them should be incorporated into your homemade parrot toy. This can be achieved with materials like rope, cardboard, untreated wood and chain. If you use wood cut from trees, it easier just to avoid pine as unless you safely dry the wood the sap from fresh pine is toxic. For every other wood you need to make sure that you soak the wood in a diluted bleach solution, roughly 1 part bleach to 10 parts water and allow it to dry naturally and this should take care of any bacteria or fungus then proceed to heat it in your oven to thoroughly dry it out and this will not only kill most parasites but also prevent it from growing mold. Once the wood starts to split then it is ready for you to use for your homemade parrot toy. If you are going to use chain then ideally you should use stainless steel however because this may be a little expensive for your homemade toy then at least use nickel plated chain as long as you keep it dry as most other chain will be made up of some amount of zinc which is toxic.
Another suggestion that is very popular is rather than making the toy yourself or going to the local pet store is to actually visit the local baby store and pick up a variety of colorful bells and rings and other derivative toys such as plastic keyrings as they will most certainly be cheaper than buying specific parrot toys at the pet store and as they have been designed for babies they are guaranteed to be safe for your parrot.
So the important thing is to keep your parrot engaged and entertained with a variety of toys that you rotate around every few weeks as to keep up their interest and fight off boredom. Making your own toys is an easy alternative to pet shop toys as long as you follow the above safety guidelines and for your effort you will be rewarded with a happy, well behaved and thoroughly entertaining pet for years to come.