Without enough exercise and mental stimulation, your parrot can develop a variety of health and behavioral issues, including obesity, excessive vocalization and feather plucking. Providing Polly with a playpen can help keep her occupied during the day while you're away and even when you're at home. Build a custom playpen for your parrot using nontoxic materials and a variety of toys to entertain her.
Building Materials and Sizing
Generally, your bird's playpen should be at least twice as long, wide and tall as her full wingspan. When building it, use nontoxic, untreated wood to create the perches and base. Materials like manzanita and ribbon wood stand up to heavy chewing from large parrots and aren't considered toxic to birds, according to AvianWeb.com. A basic playpen has a simple T-stand perch for Polly, while more complicated ones have multiple perches connected with each other. You can also mount natural tree branches to the base of your playpen in place of perches. Prior to using tree branches to make your playpen, scrub them down with 3-percent hydrogen peroxide and bake them in your oven at 250 degrees Fahrenheit for one hour to kill pests residing in the wood.
Birds in Motion
Make Polly's playpen mobile by creating a metal stand on wheels for it using stainless steel or aluminum. You can also purchase a ready-made cage stand on casters to house your playpen without having to create one from scratch. Parrots are social animals who need to be around you and your family, recommends the Phoenix Landing Foundation website. A mobile playpen can move right along with you, wherever you happen to be spending time, while allowing your bird time outside of her cage to interact with you. For smaller birds, if the playpen is small, you can simply carry it by the wooden base to a new location, placing it on a table for stability.
Toys, Food and Activities
Attach various toys to the perches of your parrot's playpen for her to play with. Make the toys detachable with hooks so you can easily rotate them daily to keep her interest, recommends BirdChannel.com. Secure sisal ropes between the playpen's branches for your bird to climb on. Mount aluminum food dishes among the branches to give her food and water to enjoy while in her playpen. Another option is to provide your parrot with puzzle toys filled with seed so that she can forage for the food instead. A shallow dish of water placed in the base of the playpen also gives Polly a way to bathe herself if she wants to.
Swings, Rings and Bells
Securely hang a swing to one of the branches or perches of your playpen for Polly to entertain herself with. You can also hang some large intertwined stainless steel or aluminum rings from the perches to allow her to climb or swing from them. Only use rings large enough for her to climb through. Attach bells to the rings or the swing so it makes an interesting noise when she uses them. Choose bells with clappers that are too large for her to swallow. Encourage Polly to use these items to exercise by rewarding her with tasty, yet healthy treats like veggies and fruits when she tries them out.
- AvianWeb.com: FUN Bird Playgrounds
- Guide to a Well-Behaved Parrot; Mattie Sue Athan
- BirdChannel.com: Get Your Amazon Parrot To Exercise
- Phoenix Landing Foundation: Parrot Care
- Vetstreet: Parrots: 8 Things to Know Before You Get One
- Best Friends Veterinary Center: Shriek, Yell and Whistle...Why Parrots Scream
- AvianWeb.com: Wood/Trees/Bushes Considered Safe for Birds
- BirdTricks.com: Safe Metals for Parrots
- Purdue University College of Veterinary Medicine: General Husbandry of Caged Birds
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Based in Las Vegas, Susan Paretts has been writing since 1998. She writes about many subjects including pets, finances, crafts, food, home improvement, shopping and going green. Her articles, short stories and reviews have appeared on City National Bank's website and on The Noseprint. Paretts holds a Master of Professional Writing from the University of Southern California.