The above photo was taken by Anna Saccheri (originally posted to Flickr as Budgie Playpen!)
Budgerigars are active little critters that need plenty of things to explore and play with. In the wild they spend part of the day napping but the rest of their time is spent foraging for food, looking out for danger, and playfully interacting with flock. Your job as a bird keeper is to see that there are plenty of fun things to do in your parakeets cage. We recommend having at least two toys in your cage at all times and switching out (or rotating them) with new toys each week to keep things interesting.
Types of Parakeet Toys
There are three basic kinds of parakeet toys and each one serves a different purpose. Make sure that your pet gets regular access to toys of each type: Action toys, foraging toys, and shredding toys.
Action Toys for Parakeets
Action toys are any strange objects for your parakeet to climb, swing, or bounce on. These include things like ladders, swinging perches, bouncy ropes, dangling ropes, and hoops.
Warning: Makes sure that ropes are not shredded or stringy. Your bird can get his feet stuck in a rope thats too warn. See that any hoop toys are large enough for your bird to easily fit through without getting stuck. Don’t put any string in your cage longer than 6 inches or your bird may get tangled.
We recommend using leather strips instead of string. The thicker leather is hard to get tangled in but is still small enough tie things together in your parakeets cage.
Foraging Toys for Parakeets
Foraging is the act of searching for food. Foraging toys are any toys where you can hide seeds and treats for your parakeet to find. Some people think it’s mean to hide food from their pets but it’s actually a wonderful form of parrot enrichment for your bird to search for his food like his cousins in the wild do instead of simply eating it all from a bowl (though you should give your bird food in his bowl as well). Foraging toys stimulate the body and mind of the parakeet. It’s fun to play with your food.
You can buy foraging toys or make them your self in a number of different ways.
- You can fill a small paper bag with crumpled paper towels and seeds.
- You can place some treats inside a used toilette paper roll and then stuff the ends with wads of clean unscented toilette paper for your bird to pull out and get to the food.
- You can put a bowl or plate full of sand mixed with seeds into your parakeets cage. Your parakeet will sift through the sand for hours in search of food just like his wild cousins sift through dust in search of fallen seeds. Make sure not to put this below your parakeets favorite perch. You don’t wanting him pooping in the sand where he’ll be foraging.
- Use a leather strap to tie millet or fruit to the top of the cage so that it dangles and sways. It will be hard for your parakeet to get to but he’ll have a blast swinging around while eating.
All parakeets love to tear things apart but females seem to be in constant need something to shred! Parrot beaks grow constantly just our fingernails do so parakeets need to chew in order to keep their beaks sharp and trim. Buy toys made with wicker or soft wood parts or give your parakeet the following:
- Popsicle sticks
- cotton roaps
- leather strips
- wicker balls (unscented)
- cardboard of all types
- old phone books
- plastic straws
Some parakeets will be frightened of toys at first and may not want to play. Be patient, with time they will warm up to their toys and begin to explore. Once your bird knows that toys are fun, he’ll love getting something new play with each week and you’ll love to watch him play.