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MAKE YOUR OWN TOYS !
Unless you pay about $35 or more
for a toy in a pet shop, you're wasting your money when it comes to large
cockatoos. Moluccans and Umbrellas can destroy the average toy in
a day or two. A huge store bought toy (around $50 or more) can last
a good while. But why pay that when you can make the same thing for
$5 ? It may not be as fancy as a store bought... but your
cockatoo is only interested
in two things:
How easy it is to destroy
and see results, and to a lesser extent, colors and shapes and sizes.
The average large 'Too is happy
just to have plenty of wood or (safe) cardboard to chew on and destroy.
It doesn't have to be fancy. However, they will get bored with
the same old thing day after day, so lets help them out ok? Keep
in mind that toys can take up a lot of room in the cage. So make
sure your cage is large enough to host the toys you're placing there!
||This is an easy to make toy as you can see.
Its nothing more than a metal ring with blocks of 2x2 and 2x4
very dried and untreated pine. I took some cotton swabs
and natural food coloring and "dotted" the wood. Note: After
using pure food coloring, I always wash the wood well in a large
bucket with running water to eliminate excess coloring. You don't
want a rainbow colored
cockatoo or excess coloring to get into his system. I then blot
off excess coloring with a towel or paper towels. I then allow the
wood to dry for a couple of days or more. This toy will last for quite
a while, as its big! You may add any "safe" things to the ring but never
any cotton or nylon ropes of any kind.
I have a mig welder, so I make all my own rings and things...then
I weld the ends together. You may not be able
to do this, but with some ingenuity you can accomplish the
same thing. For instance, they make thin
with threads on the ends in different lengths. Bend them to your
needs and then attach nuts and washers or whatever you need to close the
ends (for a circle) or simply make a straight line toy. Look around
places like "Goodwill" for wooden goodies also... but NEVER use anything
but natural woods that have not been painted or varnished in any way!
If in doubt, leave it out. Again... don't get carried away in making
toys. Its not that hard!
If they can destroy it eventually...they'll love it!
||There are many things you can make if you
have a drill and a hole saw to go on the drill. This is a popular
toy for all parrots because each hole holds a nut.
Get a piece of dried untreated 4x4 and drill holes for
the size of nuts you will be using. Then chisel out the holes you
have made, and fill each hole with a nut. Do this by pounding the
nut into each hole with a hammer. Of course, you want the hole just
slightly smaller than the nut. This is a puzzle toy. So even if your
'Too doesn't like the nut, he'll still spend hours trying to get them out!
Dab some food coloring on and there your are! Add a large screw-in
eyelet and you're done. For smaller birds use 2x2.
||Although this is not a home made
toy, its invaluable for making them! You can find these at
better bird stores. They are sold to hold treats like apples and
other fruits. The bottom screws off and so you can place anything you want
on it: Like cardboard tubes, wooden sewing spools, or some types
of plastic toys for spacers and color. Also wood blocks or anything
that has a hole in it or can be drilled to make a hole. They usually
cost $10 to $15 but worth it.
||I hesitate to tell you about plastic toy parts
that you can find at "Goodwill" and places like that. I shop these
places often for toy parts for my birds. The problem is the type of plastic
toy you need. There are (in a nutshell) 3 types of plastic:
Very hard plastic that can splinter and be dangerous if chewed.
Very soft plastic that tears up in minutes and I consider dangerous
also. And then there's medium hard plastic that is the type that
baby toys are made from. This is what I search for when looking
for spacers and things for my bird toys. If you don't know what you're
doing, ask someone who does. *One of the best human toys of all time
(for birds) is a Fisher-Price toy. This is the toy that looks like
a roller coaster of red plastic wire with little plastic "balls" that a
child can move across the wire, up and down etc. Remove this wire from
its base, (there's usually 2 pieces) and hang sideways thru the bars of
the cage. Your 'Toos will spend hours playing with this great toy, and
it doesn't take up a lot of room
* I don't have a photo of this toy but here's a simple drawing
(with the base removed). Most moms will know what I mean. These can
often be found at yard sales or Goodwill for almost nothing! I've
used them for years, and are very safe.
If you own a large cockatoo, by all MEANS make a swing! Cockatoos
loves swings more than anything else. Now I'm talking about
large "out of the cage" swings. NO in-cage swings! I make 2
types: One is a common square shaped "trapeze" swing. The other is
a "ring" swing. My 'Toos will hang upside down and swing themselves
by flapping their wings! This is both great fun AND exercise!
I have 2 swings mounted in my basement to the ceiling especially for wintertime
use, and an outdoor swing hanging from my patio ceiling. Your 'Too may
be afraid of his first time on a swing. So place something under it so
that he can climb up on the swing all by himself if necessary. After
a few times he will get the hang of it and will let out cockatoo screams
of joy! I'm not going into detail on the designs of my swings. Most people
can figure this out. The main thing to remember is that they need
to be big and sturdy. I use 1/2" to 3/4" sisal rope to wrap my swings.
I use hot glue to hold the rope in place. This gives my birds a firm footing,
and yes it takes an hour or so to do this. But the swing will last many
years if built properly.
This is just a basic idea of where to start on a play
Ladder made from 2x2s and round dowels
rope with knots
shallow box about 18 x 18 (or any size) for snacks or toys
support bent to form a "C". Can hang toys from
swing. Can be as shown or can be made like the photo of the swings
The top main bar is simply a
2x2 that has the corners rounded off. To this may be attached
more levels, more shorter
cross perches made out of dowel rod, or anything you want to
attach. If you want a
"droppings catcher, simply add a 30x30 (or so) piece of plywood with
2x2 "edges" that forms a shallow
box about halfway up the ladder. However, to be really
safe.. place newspapers under
the entire thing. I'm not going to design the whole thing for
you. Let your imagination
go! Whatever you bird likes... put it there! This is just a
"start" to help get you going.
The main thing is to make is SAFE, and make sure the base
is large enough to support the
entire thing when weight is placed on the very ends. Use good
well dried untreated pine with
no knotholes, (which tend to hold sap)
The biggest concern when making OR buying toys is not
the toy itself, but the hardware holding the toy. When you
hang a toy in a cage, there's much to consider.....
Now... I cant tell you exactly what type of hardware to
use for your bird. Much depends on his size, activity level,
and curiosity. I CAN tell you this: Never use a clasp of any
type that is spring loaded. Its too easy to get beak or feet caught
in them. Never EVER use "split rings".... (these are similar to key
rings) for the same reason.
Never use any hardware that's coated with Zinc! These
are dangerous over the years and can kill.
How do you know if its coated with zinc? Most hardware
( claps, clamps, C Rings etc.) are zinc, and you
can tell this because they have a somewhat dull silver finish to them.
What you want is stainless steel, which most of these products are made
from also. Stainless is shiny and mirror like in appearance, not dull.
Make sure that hardware is large enough that feet or toes
cannot get trapped in it. When buying toys, its the
hardware that's more important than the toy, because large parrots can
destroy most cheap toys hardware in a matter of hours. And those
little bells on some bird toys? Most large 'Toos can remove
the clapper in minutes, so stay away from those.
Stay away from any toy that has cotton or nylon rope because
many birds have been killed or lost feet to these by entanglement.
I allow my birds to play with these items supervised
They are great fun as long as YOU are supervising!
Large cardboard tubes are great fun! I use 3" heavy
walled tubes that I cut at different lengths. Now here's the problem:
Know what came rolled on the tube (if you decide to use them) and see if
there is any signs of glue whatsoever! Never allow a parrot to play
with "paper towel" tubes that have glue on them. In the past, few did...
but now, most do have glue on them. No toilet paper tubes unless the paper
Cardboard is fun to destroy by all large parrots.
Use some common sense when choosing it however. Make sure its not
something that chemicals came packaged in or has glue on it. Always
remove destroyed cardboard soon after its been played with. You don't
want it getting soggy in the bottom of the cage and causing possible health
There are many sites on the net that will guide you in
safe toy purchasing. Please visit them for up to date information.
One last thing I'd like to say about "store" bought
Most of the toys you see in stores and by mail are brightly colored.
They are vibrant, almost fluorescent. The reason is dye. More dye gets
into your bird from the "average" toy than a years supply of colored
pellets. People don't think birds ingest this dye because they don't eat
the toy. But one look at the birds tongue will tell you different. Depending
on the dye color, it's sometimes hard to tell that the bird has a mouthful
Toy manufacturing is a multi million dollar business these days and
few will say much against them. I mean, if you owned a pet store or catalog
sales and sold thousands of dollars worth of these toys... what would
you say? Not much I'm sure.
My advice is to seek toys with the least amount of dyes...not toys
that almost fluoresce. Making your own is another good idea because you
then control the amount of dyes if any. When I make toys, I thoroughly
rinse the toys and then blot any excess dyes. You'd be amazed how much
comes off on a paper towel even after rinsing.
I sometimes think we go a little overboard with all the scare tactics
that "health" scientists throw at us every year... but I also see no reason
to not be cautious and reasonable in everything we do, and so I'm not concerned
with a little food dye. But a LOT is not something that even I, much less
my birds are going to be ingesting.
TOYS WE'D LIKE TO SEE
Cockatoos are notorious for chewing up their toys and
that's why this page is here. I often
wonder why some company doesn't make "refillable"
toys that parts can be chewed up and
then replaced. But the toy I'm talking about
should be refillable with wood that anyone could
easily shape and replace on the toy. As toy
blocks etc. are so expensive "ready made"... this
would have to be a given. Does anyone have an
idea for a toy they'd like to see made?
I will add more toy tips as I find time