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Sandra June 18, 2021

Safe Vs Unsafe Bird Toys

Toys are so important for our birds! A variety of toys are crucial not only for their mental health but their physical health as well. Many experts would say that toys are just as important as your bird’s nutrition! Toys should be available to your bird all the time and should be rotated often with new, fun, and exciting toys that are fun to destroy but safe as well. 


  • Keep their minds active
  • Keep them moving and fit
  • Satisfy the urge to chew and destroy
  • Avoid boredom and unwanted destructive behavior
  • Keep your bird healthy and happy

Interacting with a toy not only stimulates a bird's mind but also keeps them active and engaged physically. Sitting on a perch all day is unnatural and unhealthy. A bird that is not busy can feel neglected, with nothing to do, this affects a bird's state of mind. If a bird feels neglected or bored it can result in unwanted behaviour like taking out its feathers or just becoming listless, depressed, and unhealthy. 

Since we can’t always be with our birds we need to provide them with toys so that they have an outlet to keep their minds and bodies busy solving puzzles, foraging and having fun. In captivity, toys are what provide what they need to act out their natural urges to chew, toss things around, dig and search. 

Chewing actions help to keep birds' beaks trimmed and in top condition. The physical exercise they get playing with toys keeps their muscles, tendons, and bones strong and in good condition. Exercise also burns calories and keeps them fit, which is very important for their health. They need new and different types of toys that are consistently rotated in their cage often enough that they don't get bored with them.

Toys that have different shapes, colours, and textures are interesting to a bird because they are intriguing but also offer choices and a choice is a positive and enriching thing you can provide for your bird because they enjoy making choices for themselves. It boosts their confidence and keeps their minds busy. Your bird will be able to decide what toy to play with, how they want to play with it/destroy it, and when to play with it.

So, ensuring that our bird toys are safe is VERY important and keeping an eye on the condition of the toys is just as important as it is only natural that toys will get worn out with use.

Watch out for unsafe materials that can lead to frayed cords, cracked plastic, or anything else that might injure your bird, poke an eye, or collect grime. Hazardous items such as electric wiring and metal wiring should never be accessible to your bird. Purchasing toys from reputable suppliers with bird-safe products can also go a long way in assuring safety.

Keep toys clean by washing with natural, scent-free soaps and clean water.


The size of the toy should be appropriate for the size of your bird. Small bird toys are not made to withstand the beaks of a larger parrot, who may get hurt by ingesting parts of the toy. Whereas a small bird might not do well with toys for larger birds, they can be unsafe in some cases or they might not know how to play with them and feel intimidated. 


  • Certain woods: Birds love to chew on wood, therefore, the wood should be either untreated or colored with vegetable-based dyes. Chewing is an excellent exercise for their beaks and keeps them entertained. However, the wood should be non-toxic and make sure that your birds are not swallowing sharp splinters.
  • Coconut shells
  • Palm leaves
  • Bamboo 
  • Vegetable dyes or No dyes at all!
  • Safe ropes with 100% natural fibers like a hemp rope, abaca rope, sisal, etc


  • Leather 
  • Beads
  • Plastic / Acrylic Toys: any plastic can be broken and result in sharp edges that can injure your birds, they could swallow pieces as well, and other unsafe situations 
  • Metal and Wires: Metal hardware should be stainless steel or nickel-plated. The hardware pieces should not be removable or indigestible.
  • Mirrors
  • Certain woods: cedar, red cherry, plywood, and oak are not good. Don’t use any rough branch from the outside; you don’t know about its dangers. Moreover, try to avoid “flavoured” woods.
  • Fabrics / Happy Hut / Cage Coverings: Fabric items, such as Happy Huts and cage coverings, can have threads come loose and entangle toes and other body parts. They can also stimulate hormonal behaviour. The material can cause obstructions and death. Some birds chew holes into the material and get trapped.
  • Ropes, Cords, Strings, Threads: Strangulation and entanglement are common, but they are avoidable. Fraying rope and cord are also dangerous because your bird may become caught in them, resulting in injury or even death.
  • Bells: Strong beaks could remove the clapper and possibly ingest it. Please note that some clappers contain lead or zinc. Round bells are not a good idea because small birds can get their beaks trapped in the spaces where they have been folded into spheres. Spherical bells with slits for openings can trap your bird's beak. The little jingle bells are toe traps and the larger bells frequently have lead clappers, or the clappers can easily be removed and swallowed.
  • Chains: Metal or plastic chains with small gaps in the links are a risk for snaring toenails and breaking limbs. Also, watch for links that are large enough to trap your bird's feet or head.
  • Clips and Rings: Lanyard-type clips (tear-drop shaped) can trap beaks and toenails. Split rings (key chain rings) are also notorious for trapping beaks on parrots.

  • Dyes and Other Chemicals: Avoid toys that use glues, adhesives, lacquers, paints, chemical dyes, and toxic dyes
  • PVC / Soft Plastic and Vinyl Toys: This material is toxic when ingested.

If your bird is not playing with toys it could be because they…

  • Are not interested
  • Don’t know how to play with them
  • Are scared of them (perhaps try a smaller variation)
  • Feel intimidated
Make sure to choose safe and natural toys for your bird(s) to keep them busy, happy and engaged! There are many toys out there but as you can tell by now not all of them are safe or a good choice for your bird. Choosing the right toys for our birds is going to give us peace of mind and keep them healthy!

We love to get our natural, safe bird toys from Planet Pleasures, and for 15% off use discount code MANGO15. 

You can also check out the BirdTricks toy line they use renewable, non-toxic, natural materials that birds would encounter in the wild such as palm leaves, coconut, and bamboo (among others).