This toy combines many textures for chewing and shredding, and treats or pellets can be hidden inside the peat pot, in the loofah slice, and in the finger traps for foraging. Although it may look like a complex toy, the tools and skills needed to assemble it are simple. Remember you will find it easier and quicker to use the assembly line method for construction, making multiple toys at once, repeating each step for all toys before going on to the next step.
Tools: Scissors, Tweezers or Needle Nose Pliers, optional screwdriver or skewer
Ingredients & Preparation:
Peat Pot – I used the 3” round pots- one per toy
I first heard about using peat pots in bird toys from Kris Porter. New (unused) peat pots are sterile and made from nontoxic peat. They are easily shreddable for birds who are new to foraging. They are very inexpensive; I bought a package of 14 for $3, so that’s less than 22 cents per pot. (If you are uncomfortable using peat pots, or they are seasonally unavailable, you could substitute a small unwaxed paper cup.)
Hemp String, fine – cut into approximately 7 to 8” lengths– 5 per toy
Hemp is a nontoxic natural fiber, which is strong and does not fray. It can be found in many craft stores, usually near the beading section. You could substitute a fine cotton string or sisal twine, or curled raffia. You need a string fine enough to pass through the openings in the “waffle squares”
Poly Rope – 1 piece per toy approximately 14” long
Superior Poly Rope is 100% polyethylene plastic cordage. Polyethylene is a nontoxic plastic in its solid state so it is deemed safe for use in the manufacture of bird toys. It is also washable. The unique twist of this Superior Poly Rope prevents unsafe lengths of fray. Also, polyethylene fibers do not have a “memory” like other rope; this prevents entrapment and limb strangulation caused by fibers such as nylon rope. I strongly recommend that you consider buying a whole roll (or several) as it is MUCH less expensive than buying it by the foot.
Plastic drinking straws- 11 total per toy; 5 per toy cut in half yielding 10 halves; and 6 per toy cut into straw beads, + 1” long, approximately 30 straw beads needed per toy.
Pony beads- approximately 50 per toy, any color, you could even use the novelty beads, hearts, flowers, stars, etc.., if you like.
Plastic Needle Point Canvas- cut into approximately 1” squares (will be referred to as “waffle squares”), approximately 60 per toy.
Plastic needle point canvas can be purchased at most arts/crafts stores, typically comes in 10 ½ by 13 ½ or 11 by 14 sheets for under a dollar, yielding around 130 waffle squares, less than a penny per square.
Finger Traps– 3 per toy, can be purchased at many party/novelty stores, or buy online for larger quantities at better prices.
Loofah disk- 1 per toy, new loofah sponges can be sterilized by running them through the dishwasher, using just water or Oxyclean in place of dishwasher soap. Using a serrated bread knife (or electric carving knife, or ban saw) cut sponge into slices approximately 1” thick. With a screwdriver, needle nose pliers, barbecue skewer, or even a pencil, poke a hole through the center of the slice to thread poly rope. (If you can’t find loofah sponges you could substitute a square of construction paper or card stock)
Rubber Duckie-1 per toy, cut a small hole in the head and bottom of the duck for threading poly rope. (My girls just love rubber duckies so I put them on many of their toys)
Shredded paper- such as gift basket paper, or paper Easter grass. You could make you own shredded paper with a paper shredder.
Step 1. Place Hemp strings in groups of 5, fold in half. Tie one length of poly rope around the center of each group of hemp string. Tie Hemp string around the middle of the half sized straws.
Step 2. Threads beads and waffle square onto each of the hemp string tails, one string at a time; following this pattern, straw bead, waffle square, pony bead, waffle square, repeat until close to end of string but leaving enough room to tie a knot, then finish with and additional pony bead, tying a knot around the last bead. Repeat for all string tails.
Thread peat pot onto poly rope, tucking any tail into the pot.
Tie a simple knot in the poly rope just below the top of the peat pot, thread on one pony bead; this will act as a stopper for the Loofah slice. Lightly fill peat pot with shredded paper. Thread the Loofah slice, followed by a pony bead.
Using your tweezers or needle nose pliers, poke through the centers of all three finger traps, leaving them on the tweezers, grab the end of the poly rope and pull it through the finger traps. Spread out the finger traps in the form of flower petals.
Poke your tweezers or needle nose pliers through the holes in the duckie, from head to bottom, grab the end of the poly rope and pull through.
The toy is now complete. You can store extras, or give them to friends or rescue groups at this point.
When you are ready to give the toy to your parrot you can add foraging treats of your choice, nuts, dried veggies, pellets, nutraberries, etc.. These treats can be put inside the peat pot, wedged into the openings in the loofah slice, and pushed into the finger traps.
if your bird is new to foraging or shy about new toys, let her watch you putting her favorite treats into the toy.
You can hang the toy in a number of ways, the poly rope can be tied directly to the cage bars or playstand, or you can tie the rope to a quick link of your choice and hang it that way.
As with ANY new toy, watch your parrot and how she interacts with this toy before leaving her alone with it, especially if some of these materials are new to her. You want to be sure that she is only chewing and shredding the plastic parts, and not ingesting them (this is rare, but some parrots will swallow plastic and this can be dangerous).
If your bird shows any fear of the new toy, remove it from the cage, try hanging it on the outside of the cage for a while until she is more comfortable with it. If having the toy on the outside of the cage is still too scary, place it somewhere within sight but far enough away that the bird is comfortable, and gradually move it closer as she gets used to it.
I hope you have enjoyed making this toy and your birds enjoy playing with it.
PLEASE let me know if there is something I have not explained clearly enough, or if you have any questions or problems with its construction.
And do feel free to share photos of your birds with this toy!
This is so cute; what a terrific foraging toy idea, thanks Laura!
what a great looking toy!!! good job on it!