Assemble Your Materials
Being especially intelligent animals, it is important for birds to receive adequate mental stimulation in order to keep from becoming bored, depressed, and destructive. The easiest way to fulfill this need is to supply your pet with plenty of bird-safe toys.Because birds need their toys to be changed out frequently, and because many times their toys end up shredded, broken, or otherwise torn apart, it can help to have a few extras on hand. One creative way to provide your bird with fun toys is to make them yourself at home.Cardboard toys are clean, non-toxic, disposable, and fun, all of which make them wonderful for both birds and owners. To make some simple toys for your bird, you will need to gather the necessary materials:
- One or two cardboard paper towel tubes
- Food Coloring
- A clean new paintbrush (any size)
- Four small containers for dye
- Two cups cold water
Once your supplies are gathered together, spread newspaper out over your work space to protect any surfaces from the food dye.
Prepare the Dye
Once your work space is clear and covered with newspaper, you should begin to prepare the dye that you will use to color the cardboard.Start by adding 1/2 cup of water to each of the four containers. Then, in each one, place 30 – 45 drops of food coloring, so that the dye is very dark.Since cardboard is brown rather than white, the dye must be very dark so that it will show up once the tube is dry.
Paint the Colors on the Tube
After the colors are mixed, use a paintbrush to paint the dye onto the cardboard tube.Make sure to use a new, clean paintbrush. Brushes that have been used before can harbor remnants of potentially toxic paints, which could make your bird sick if he ingests them.Use a basting motion to transfer the dye to the tube, and be sure to completely saturate the cardboard with color to get a bright result once it is dry.Don’t worry if the colors mix or run together. This can create a neat tie-dyed effect that many birds enjoy!
Stand Tube Upright to Dry
When you are done coloring the tubes, place them upright in a safe place to dry overnight.Make sure that the tubes are completely dry before attempting to cut them. The wet tubes are very flimsy and fragile and could fall apart if not allowed to dry thoroughly.If you can’t wait to surprise your bird, it is possible to speed up the drying process by using a hairdryer on a low setting. Make sure to work over the newspaper when doing this, as the force from the dryer sometimes sends droplets of dye flying!
Cut the Tube
After the tube is dry, use scissors to cut spirals, rings, and other shapes out of the cardboard.Don’t be afraid to get creative with this project. There are endless modifications you can make to these toys with items that are laying around the house. For example, if you have some twine on hand, try stringing together a few cardboard rings to make a chain. If you have a few large buttons, attach them to a ring of cardboard to make an interesting plaything for your bird.When cutting the shapes, rings and spirals out of the tube, make sure to discard the parts of the tube that have rings of glue on them, so your bird does not end up eating it! Although most of the glue washes off in the painting process, the amount that remains could be toxic if ingested. Please remember to cut these parts of the tube out and not offer them to your bird.
Present Your Bird With the Toys
When you have cut the tubes into shapes that you like, give the toys to your bird. Some birds may be apprehensive of the new objects at first — if this happens, simply place the toys near his cage until he is sure that they pose no threat.
If you have cut the tubes into spirals and rings, a fun thing to do with them is to thread them around the bars of your bird’s cage. Your pet will have a ball trying to figure out how to get them off, and once he does, he will have a fun colorful prize that he can shred up and play with.
Remember that these toys are meant to be short-term, disposable entertainment for your bird. Never leave them in your bird’s cage for more than 24 hours. There is a chance that bacteria could grow on the cardboard, which could lead to health problems for your pet. Keep playtime safe by removing these toys after a day’s worth of fun.
There are no right or wrong ways to go about completing this project, as long as you and your bird enjoy yourselves. Be creative, and try different techniques. You may be surprised to find that your bird prefers your homemade creations to store bought toys. Have fun!