Parrots enjoy a variety of toys from chewable and shreddable to foraging. Each kind of toy fulfills a specific need and is vital to a pet bird’s wellbeing.
But what exactly are foraging toys for parrots?
Foraging toys help simulate an environment that parrots would naturally experience in the wild. Usually, they involve a small challenge that the bird needs to solve to access a food reward. You can either buy a foraging toy (like a wheel or ball) or create one at home.
What Is a Foraging Toy?
A foraging toy is one that stores food and creates a fun challenge for the parrot to access.
These come in many different sizes, materials, and kinds, and the right one to use depends mainly on the size of parrot you have. They can be homemade, or you can purchase them from a toy supplier.
Choosing the Right Foraging Toy for Your Parrot
Large parrots do well with bigger toys because small toys can become a choking hazard.
Their toys should also be made from something firm, like wood, because their beaks are strong and could break through weaker materials like plastic.
This breakage becomes a serious concern since a broken toy could be ingested and cause significant health problems.
Small parrots do well with smaller toys because they’re less intimidating.
They can handle ones made from either wood or plastic, although it’s best to check them for damage regularly to ensure no hazards are present due to destruction.
Whether you have a small or large parrot, provide it new challenges to learn and develop foraging skills.
You can gradually increase the difficulty of homemade foraging toys or provide new ones that they haven’t figured out yet.
Even placing toys in a different part of the cage can produce a new and exciting challenge.
Parrots also need to chew regularly. That said, choosing foraging toys that also serve as chewable is an excellent way to make sure that your parrot has everything it needs.
Types of Foraging Toys for Parrots
There are many good foraging toys on the market, and ultimately, you want to provide your parrot with a variety of toys to keep it engaged and interested.
Each of the following kinds of foraging toys has something different to offer your parrot, and you can swap them in periodically to present diverse challenges.
Foraging towers like the Featherland Paradise Hanging Pet Feeder offer a multipart challenge. They require your parrot to balance while figuring out a challenge, in this case, a pulling drawer.
This toy forces them to work for their food similarly to how they would in the wild.
Foraging toys like the Super Bird Creations Foraging Wall Toy hang on the wall or side of a cage and give your parrot pods and cups to search through for food.
This particular toy is made from seagrass and has plastic parts designed for smaller birds. For larger birds, try the Wontee Bird Climbing Net, which has more durable wooden toy parts.
Foraging wheels hang on the side of the cage and dispense treats or food when turned.
The Featherland Paradise Foraging Wheel is made of transparent polycarbonate, suitable for all sizes of birds and see-through so that the bird can tell which treats are where.
These toys are ideal for parrots of all sizes.
Pineapple Foraging Toys
Pineapple foraging toys are pineapple-shaped toys that you can hide treats inside of or just let your parrot peck at for the sake of pecking.
The Planet Pleasures Pineapple Foraging Toy includes palm leaves, a fantastic bird-safe choice for toy material, whether you have a small or a large parrot.
Foraging balls come in many varieties. The Bonka Bird Toys Foraging Star is made from vine, stuffed with shredding paper, and suspended in the air.
You can put a treat inside a ball toy like this, or you can let your parrot play with the shredded paper inside. This toy is appropriate for small or large parrots.
Why Do Parrots Need To Forage?
The primary reason why parrots need foraging toys is so that they can exercise their intelligence.
In the wild, parrots spend a lot of their time seeking out food sources, and they can miss out on the enrichment of this activity when they live in captivity.
Foraging toys provide a way for parrots to use their instincts and remain mentally stimulated.
Foraging toys can also decrease the risk of obesity in pet parrots by creating extra steps necessary to access food and creating the opportunity for physical activity.
What Do Parrots Forage for in the Wild?
Parrots forage for seeds, insects, and fruit in the wild, all of which require some searching, pecking, and chewing to access.
Typically, wild parrots spend several hours of every day eating or seeking out food.
By contrast, a pet parrot might spend only a few minutes eating if the owner doesn’t intentionally encourage foraging behavior.
How To Encourage Foraging in Parrots
Although foraging is a natural behavior for parrots, companion parrots may need a little guidance and encouragement when they’re learning how to forage.
You’ll likely need to start slowly and gradually introduce more of a challenge.
There are several ways that you can encourage foraging behavior in your pet parrot beyond supplying foraging toys.
For example, you can create several different food stations in the cage, each with different food.
Each of these dishes should have a little bit of food so that the parrot must visit multiple feeding stations rather than eating everything in one sitting.
Another way to encourage foraging is to hide food. You can try placing cardboard or paper on top of the food bowls, at first with holes in them so that your parrot knows that there’s food underneath.
Eventually, you can use pieces without holes and even use masking tape to secure the cardboard or paper to the bowls for an extra challenge.
You can also hide food by putting it inside a crumpled paper cup, PVC piping with holes in it, or a corn husk. Wrapping food in coffee filters will also work.
Like with the cardboard strategy, you can start with a simple challenge, making it more difficult to access the food as your parrot learns where to find the food.
Lastly, you can encourage foraging by creating a foraging tree made from large tree branches. Simply arrange the branches within your aviary and place dishes or platforms at various levels.
What Happens When a Parrot Doesn’t Forage Enough?
A parrot that doesn’t forage enough will lack necessary mental and physical stimulation and may turn to excessive preening as a way of coping with all the extra downtime.
This habit can destroy the feathers, as well as overall stress and boredom.
Parrots that don’t spend enough time foraging can also become overweight because their food is so readily available or they’re not spending as much time being physically active.
Foraging toys provide a fun challenge for parrots seeking food, like a tower with pulling drawers that you can hide treats inside.
They create an eating experience more similar to what a parrot would experience in the wild and provide healthy enrichment and the opportunity for physical activity.