Coming up with a good rotation of enriching foraging ideas for parrots poses a little bit more of a challenge than finding amusing activities to keep our feline friends and canine companions out of mischief. But rest assured, it can be done!
Parrots are highly intelligent creatures who love nothing more than solving a good puzzle and foraging is extremely important for their mental and physical health and wellbeing.
Just like we humans, parrots can become depressed when they don’t have enough to keep them occupied and because the vast majority of their time in the wild would be spent hunting for food, an idle parrot can exhibit less than desirable behaviors.
Thankfully, foraging is the perfect solution that not only taps into their natural instincts but provides their brains and bodies with plenty of stimulation. The below foraging ideas for parrots are a great way to banish boredom and ensure your feathered friend is getting all the enrichment they need to thrive.
1. Make a DIY foraging box
This is an amazing way to take a ton of everyday items that you have around the house and repurpose them into a fun foraging activity for your pet parrot and to do that, you’ll firstly need to do a little foraging of your own - through your recycling box!
Pull out any empty toilet rolls, egg cartons, paper cups etc and then grab a container of your choice - we find cereal or shoe boxes work great here. Start by popping in some shredded paper and then position the toilet rolls, pieces of egg carton and whatever else you’re using.
Once that’s done, choose several food items, such as nuts, fruit and vegetables, and strategically place them throughout the box, making sure to hide them within the paper and various objects that you’re using.
Depending on the size of the box you’ve chosen, you can either hang it up in their cage or place it in a space in your home that your parrot is allowed access to. You can then sit back and watch as your feathered friend works to free their food!
2. Create a food foraging trail
One way to keep your parrot endlessly entertained is to create a different food foraging trail each day so they never quite know where their meals are going to be. You can do this in several different ways:
- Spread their food across several different bowls and place these around their cage
- Use lettuce leaves to hide food under
- Take a vegetable, like broccoli, and push pellets, nuts and seeds into it so that they have to work to free them
- Hang up brussel sprouts that are still attached to the stalk and smear with almond butter
- Cut fruit into fun shapes and scatter across the floor of the cage
Mixing up your birds daily routine will make mealtimes more exciting and will keep them constantly on their toes. Just ensure you monitor your parrot and check to see that they are actually finding their food. If they’re giving up, try making the foraging trail a little easier.
3. Put those backyard citrus trees to good use
If you have a lemon, orange, grapefruit or lime tree growing in your garden, why not cut off some branches and turn them into a foraging activity for your feathered friend? As long as you haven’t treated your plants with any chemicals, these forms of citrus are all safe for your parrot.
You can either stick the branches with the leaves attached on the floor of their cage, or to make things more exciting, weave them into the bars so that they have to work to free them.
Your parrot will love ripping off all the leaves to nibble on and chewing on the branches is great for their teeth. Just make sure you remove any thorns or sharp pieces before you let your parrot have them.
4. Make a wreath
The idea here is to create something that your bird has to work to deconstruct. Thinner and more pliable branches, such as willow, are great for forming the structure of a wreath as they can be easily woven together, but leather, paper, and cotton can all work well too.
Once you’ve created your wreath, you can hang it up inside your parrot’s cage as it is or use it to hang food or toys from to provide an extra challenge.
Or, for an even tastier option why not try out one of these delicious birdseed wreath recipes? Just make sure to avoid using peanuts, which contain Aflatoxin, a liver toxin that is dangerous for parrots.
5. Invest in some foraging toys
Many of the best toys for parrots have been created especially to tap into a parrot’s natural love of foraging, so if you don’t have the time to make your own, there are a ton of affordable options on the market that will work beautifully.
Toys are a particularly great option if your parrot is alone for most of the day as they provide your feathered friend with lots of fun options that they can engage with independently.
You’ll find a range of foraging toys on the market, including wheels that your parrot needs to spin to release treats, skewers that can be hung from the sides of their cage, plus foraging puzzles and pinatas.
We recommend you place the toys strategically and move them around regularly to keep your parrot’s living quarters feeling fresh and exciting.
6. Hang up a pine cone or two
One of the most fun foraging activities around, the structure of a pine cone is ideal for keeping your parrot mentally and physically stimulated. Disinfect them at 200 degrees Farenheit in the oven and once cool, smear with almond butter and then place on the ground of their cage or hang from the ceiling - you can even adhere a few extra seeds or pellets to the surface for an extra treat.
7. Turn their cage into a mini-library
Now, please rest assured that we are not suggesting you pop your prized first edition copies of your favorite books into your parrot’s cage for them to have a field day with, but if you have any old phone books still lying around or just a book or two that you no longer have any use for, then trust us, giving them to your feathered friend will earn you major brownie points!
Parrots love to shred things and books are a brilliant outlet for this. Depending on the size and weight of the book you’re using, you can either hang it up in their cage or place it on the floor - either way, they’ll have a ball pulling out all the pages and throwing them about their cage. Just bear in mind, this one is a little messy, so you’ll have a bit of a cleanup on your hands afterwards but we have a feeling their joy will make it all worth it.
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Kathryn is a freelance writer who has been a member of the PetsRadar family since it launched in 2020. Highly experienced in her field, she's driven by a desire to provide pet parents with accurate, timely, and informative content that enables them to provide their fur friends with everything they need to thrive. Kathryn works closely with vets and trainers to ensure all articles offer the most up-to-date information across a range of pet-related fields, from insights into health and behavior issues to tips on products and training. When she’s not busy crafting the perfect sentence for her features, buying guides and news pieces, she can be found hanging out with her family (which includes one super sassy cat), drinking copious amounts of Jasmine tea and reading all the books.