Best safe toy part choices for birds:
Base parts: Manilla rope, natural paper rope, natural untreated sisal rope, nickle plated or stainless steel C-links and parrot skewers, vegetable or food dye and vegetable tanned leather.
Toy parts: Acrylic pieces (for small beaks), bamboo, birdie bagels, coconut shells, corn husks, jungle husks, natural loofah slices, natural wood (made from bird safe wood), nickle plated (for small beaks) or stainless steel bells with a closed clapper, palm leaves, parrot wicker pieces, plain cardboard, popsicle sticks, seagrass, shredded paper, untreated pine blocks and yucca
Worst unsafe toy part choices for birds:
Acrylic pieces (for large beaks), chains, cotton rope, hardware made of heavy metals (like copper, lead and zinc), parrot tents (or anything made from the same fuzzy material), pear links
What makes these dangerous to birds?
Large parrots can break apart acrylic toy pieces into sharp bits and accidentally ingest them or cut themselves on it. Little birds don’t have the strength to break apart these plastic pieces but it’s still smart to watch that they don’t ingest loose small pieces like beads
Chain, no matter what it’s made of can be very dangerous to birds because they can get their toes or beaks caught in the rings. Flailing can easily break toes or beak tips and if the chain gets wrapped around the neck, it can strangle them. I like to use stainless steel parrot skewers as the toy base to prevent the risk of strangulation that can come with any flexible rope base.
Cotton rope has been known to cause bowel obstructions if ingested and can break toes if they get caught in loose strands. Loose strands can also strangulate your bird so if you decide to use cotton rope, make sure to check and cut off loose strands to keep your feathered friend safe. Natural untreated sisal rope is a good alternative to cotton rope perches/ toy ropes if you’re looking for a flexible rope material.
Heavy metals are toxic to birds and can lead to heavy metal poisoning which can cause death. Nickle plated or stainless steel hardware is always recommended for toy building although I will always recommend stainless steel when it comes to the bigger beaks as it’s less likely to become bent and won’t rust.
Parrot tents or “happy huts” are one of the most dangerous cage accessories sold to parrot owners. They pose the same risks as cotton rope (bowel obstructions, broken toes and strangulation) plus promote hormonal behavior! These tents may cause egg laying (which can cause egg binding or chronic egg laying), aggression to people or flock mates, screaming and plucking, plus they’ve injured and killed so many parrots around the world. For parrots who are a little more nervous or shy, I recommend hanging an old tablecloth on the outside of the cage so they can have a corner or two where they feel safer and more comfortable. This works great for my birds and give them the secure feeling that happy huts can provide. Jolly balls are also a great alternative to happy huts and come in all different sizes and colours.
All toys can be dangerous to parrots so make sure to check them regularly for loose strings, sharp pieces or rust. If you think your parrot has ingested something they weren’t supposed to or starts acting sick/injured, take them to a vet immediately! It’s better to get them checked out than to loose them.