Sweet Mabel

Thursday, 12 January 2012

How good are you at providing toys that really matter to your Parrot?

I look at the video below of my sweet Emma and I smile both outwardly and inwardly. It was 2009, she was 11 months old at the time and had received the unique Alex Toy as a Christmas gift from our wonderful friend Newf. Watching Emma enjoy this toy was such an eye opener for me because she had never responded that way to any toy that I had purchased for her. I had had no idea that she enjoyed leather knots and footie sized toy parts. I felt both fascinated and intrigued by all the attention this toy was getting. I found myself wondering *how had Newf known that Emma would adore this toy so much?* The toy lasted a good 3 weeks before it looked pretty sorry. In the meantime there were oodles and oodles of toys that I had bought in the past that still looked as good as new or pretty close to it. Some of them I had purchased over 1 year ago but still refused to let them go because I hated admitting that I had purchased the wrong toy and admitting that I may have wasted my money. Their primary usage seemed to be *cage decoration*. This didn't seem right to me and I really felt that I wanted to be the one to purchase toys that my parrots were captivated by. Toys that would be destroyed. Toys that would be favourites, toys that would be used and abused sort of speak. I realized that I had been spending money on the wrong type of toys and had not offered enough variety to get to know what my parrots would genuinely enjoy.

I've been a parrot owner for almost five years and it took me almost 3 years to really *get it* when it came to purchasing parrot toys for my feathered babies. In hindsight, it really seems like I had been purchasing aimlessly with very little thoughtfulness as to whether Emma or Sachi would *truly* be interested in a particular. It was ignorance on my part. I just didn't know. I figured that a parrot toy was a parrot toy and of course they would love it. Why wouldn't they? It never occurred to me that my toy selection was the problem. Not that Sachi and Emma weren't interested in toys. I used to say to everyone. "I spend alot of money on toys BUT they aren't interested!!!" "What a waste of money!". The truth of the matter is that it does not work that way. Each parrot is an individual and each of them have unique preferences and different play habits and Beak exercise is very important. In my case, Sachi (pionus parrot) enjoys naturally soft shreddable toys, or ones that can easily be destroyed. When it comes to wood she really likes the thin variety, i.e the pine on Oliver's Garden small Chunky Monkey. She also loves undoing knots on miniature sized foot toys.
Emma my grey loves soft soft shreddables, shiny toys like those from Grey Feather Toys, any toy with leather and hemp knots because she loves to remove plastic toy parts like pony beads and plastic alphabet. These days her favourite wood chipping toy is the medium sized Fantastic Foraging Block. Mabel my severe macaw seems to appreciate any toy offered but her favourite ones are those that involve wood. She likes HARD wood and would prefer that it not be more than 3/4 inch thick because she loves making wood chips out of everything. She also ADORES mechanical toys. She is VERY good at unscrewing wing nuts and would probably spend the whole day unscrewing everything she could get her beak on if I let her. In fact every time she is out of cage, I must also take time to unscrew all the perches on everyones cages or else Mabel will do it for me. Yes, good times.
It took attentiveness, observation and a genuine interest from me to learn these things about my parrots. So take the time to get to get to know your parrot. Find out what makes them tick. Know that what they like will probably also change over time. Offer a variety of enrichment, let them choose, and don't do like me and assume that all parrots should merely enjoy wood or a certain type of toy. The Alex Toys can be purchased from TNT toys.

When you purchase this toy you also help the Alex Foundation.



  1. With my senegal it's really hard to go wrong...he'll play with anything under the sun, but it took me 3 years to see that my IRN does want to play, I just kept buying all the wrong toys. She's into shreddables and I kept buying wood and knotty toys and SS toys, until I got a shredder sample from T4W which she loved. Than I realized that I was going all wrong about the hole situation. I think it's a matter of trials and errors and eventually, we'll get one right.