23 Safe Materials To Use For DIY Bird Toys

Published by Joseph Calabrese on

Making DIY toys for your birds is an inexpensive way of keeping them entertained, but knowing what materials are safe can be a bit confusing. Material safety is even more confusing when trying to make toys from regular household items and materials.

Today, I’m here to clear up some of that confusion.

This article will list & discuss 23 safe materials you can use to make homemade parrot toys.  

By the end, you’ll know EXACTLY what you can use and hopefully have a few DIY toy ideas as well 😉

Let’s get into it!

Affiliate links are present throughout this article, which means I earn a small commission for qualified purchases made through those links. It helps keeps the lights on💡

Safe Materials For DIY Bird Toys

1. Bird-Safe Wood

Safe materials for diy bird toys

Natural wood is a great material for making parrot toys.

Parrots naturally chew on wood in the wild, so it’s no wonder that many toys on the market have wooden parts. As long as you collect wood from a non-toxic tree and clean it properly, there are endless DIY toy ideas you can make using natural wood branches.

Shredding wood is also good for keeping your parrot’s beak nice and trim.

See the full list of safe and non-toxic woods.

2. Cardboard

DIY bird toys safe materials
A store bought cardboard box foraging toy

Cardboard is safe for birds and can be used on a whole range of homemade toys.

I like to create homemade foraging boxes using empty cardboard cereal or seed boxes and fill them up with foraging materials and treats. A lot of cardboard sheets also have gaps in the middle where you can fit some tiny seeds, which is another great foraging toy idea.

You can be super creative when using cardboard for bird toys.

3. Paper

Safe materials for homemade bird toys

Paper is a great inexpensive material that can be found in most households.

Just like cardboard, there are endless possibilities when making bird toys from paper. I mostly use paper as a material inside DIY foraging boxes, but it can be used to encourage shredding if multiple pieces of paper were used.

You could also weave paper through the cage bars for your bird to play with, which is very easy.

Or you can bundle it up in a ball, poke a few holes, and add some treats.

7 Easy-To-Make Paper Toys For Cockatiels

4. 100% Natural Rope – Sisal, Hemp, Jute, Cotton, Coir, & Manila

safe materials for DIY parrot toys

Natural rope should really only be used to hang DIY toys in the cage.

It certainly shouldn’t be used to encourage shredding as your birds could digest the rope, which can lead to fatal crop impactions. However, birds often don’t pay attention to what attaches the toy to the cage, just the toy itself.

Rope is best used to hang toys, not as a toy itself.

Sisal rope, hemp, cotton, jute, coir, and manila are all bird-safe ropes.

5. Stainless Steel

bird-safe materials for DIY toys
Image source: Pixabay

Many bird owners know that stainless steel is a bird-safe metal.

Whenever you want to add a metal part to a DIY bird toy, you should always use stainless steel as it’s safe. There are other bird-safe metals, but stainless steel is the sturdiest and easiest to clean in my opinion.

Even for food and water dishes, I’ll always recommend stainless steel over plastic.

6. Iron

Safe materials for homemade parrot toys
Image source: Pixabay

Iron is another bird-safe metal, but it’s not as sturdy as stainless steel.

You likely won’t use iron over SS when it comes to making parrot toys, but it can be used for other projects, such as a DIY cage. The biggest problem with iron is that it can rust when exposed to water, so you’ll have trouble keeping the homemade toy clean.

Nonetheless, iron is a safe metal that you can use for your bird’s stuff.

View the full list of safe and toxic metals for birds…

7. Seagrass

Is seagrass safe for diy bird toys?
Image source: Pixabay

Seagrass is a popular natural material used on many market parrot toys.

Go ahead and search “seagrass bird toys” on Amazon and you’ll find plenty of seagrass mats, seagrass foraging walls, and some seagrass bird hammocks. You probably won’t just find seagrass around the house, but it’s a very cheap material that you can do a lot with.

It’s a great bird-safe material to chew on and forage through to find treats!

8. Palm Leaves

Safe materials for diy bird toys
Close up of a toy made from palm leaves

Palm leaves are used on many Planet Pleasures items, which is a great bird toy brand.

Again, you probably won’t find palm leaves lying around the house, but they can be purchased and you can add them to your homemade bird toys. When tightly woven together, palm leaves can make very durable shredding toys.

Not to mention that palm leaves are 100% natural!

9. Vegetable Tanned Leather

safe materials for bird toys
Image source: Pixabay

Vegetable-tanned leather is the only bird-safe leather.

Most other forms of leather use chemical-based coatings that are toxic to birds. However, vegetable-tanned leather, as the name suggests, is tanned using vegetable oils, which makes it natural and bird-safe.

The soft leathery texture makes it a great material for parrots to chew on!

10. Traditional Shoelaces

safe materials for diy parrot toys

Just like natural rope, shoelaces can be used to hang DIY bird toys on the cage.

If you have an older pair of shoes and the shoelaces are still in good condition, you can wash them and use them to hang toys. Make sure the shoelaces are traditional and made from natural materials as many modern-day laces can be toxic.

Traditional shoelaces are often made from hemp and cotton, which are bird-safe.

If you’re unsure of what materials were used, find out the shoe’s model number and ask the manufacturers.

If you’re still uncertain, it’s best not to use random shoelaces.

11. Bamboo Cutlery

bamboo cutlery for parrots

My cockatiel absolutely loves shredding bamboo cutlery!

I can buy a packet of 80 bamboo knives or spoons from the local shops and use them in a whole range of different toys. You can drill a hole through the top and attach the cutlery to the cage using a quick link connector, or you could use them as fillers inside a foraging box.

Smaller birds will spend a bit of effort trying to shred them, but bamboo cutlery is a piece of cake for larger parrots.

12. Plastic Chains

plastic chain links for birds
Image source: Freeimages.com

Plastic chains are available in a whole range of colours that will intrigue your bird.

Not only can they help clip other toys to the cage, but they can also be installed by themselves, which makes for a colourful cage decoration. Your birds won’t be able to shred it or forage through it, but its structure may promote your birds to climb.

Purchase a pack of bird-safe plastic chains…

13. Acrylic

Acrylic is a tough plastic material that is 100% safe for DIY bird toys!

The tough material can’t be chipped by your parrot’s beak, making it a popular choice among various brands for creating puzzle toys. If toy manufacturers don’t intend for a parrot to destroy one part of a toy, they’ll often use acrylic.

Although there are creative limitations with this material, it’s good to know that it’s bird-safe.

14. Rigid PVC Pipe

Just like acrylic, PVC pipe is a very tough, but safe material to use for your birds.

In truth, you probably won’t use this material on homemade bird toys. Instead, it’s a lot more useful for creating DIY perches, play gyms, and shower perches, among other items. However, PVC pipes are a bit slippery for parrots on their own, which is where the next material steps in…

15. Vet Wrap | Cohesive Bandage

safe materials for DIY bird toys

Wrapping a PVC pip in vet wrap (cohesive bandage) can give it more grip for your birds.

The unique feature of vet wrap is that it only sticks to itself and not hair, feathers, or your bird’s feet. Although it has a somewhat smooth surface, it also has traction. However, you should ensure that it does not encourage your bird to chew it as there are no sources that claim it’s safe for chewing.

It’s safe as a walking surface, but I would remove it when your birds begin to destroy it.

Check out high-quality Vet Wrap on Amazon…

16. Sola Wood

Sola wood has been used to make art for many years, and they’re safe for homemade bird toys!

You can buy pieces of sola wood from timber stores or online and they’re pretty cheap.

They’re great for shredding, so they can be used as a stand-alone toy, instead of being added to other DIY toys.

Purchase a 6 Pack Of Sola Balls On Amazon…

17. Safe Plants & Herbs

Image source: Pixabay

Although bird-safe plants and herbs can be eaten, they also make great foraging material.

Grab multiple bunches of plants you know are bird-safe, clean them, clip them to the side of the cage, and then start hiding tasty treats throughout. If you don’t want them clipped to the cage, you can also put them on a flat surface to promote ground foraging, a parrot’s natural behaviour.

Make sure you only use safe plants from this list as others could be toxic!

18. Uncooked Pasta

safe materials for diy parrot homemade toys
Image source: Pixabay

Ever thought about using uncooked pasta in your bird toys?

Uncooked pasta is quite tough, but it’s also not too tough so your parrot can’t shred it. You could use it as temporary material in a foraging box or you could weave some natural rope through multiple pieces of pasta and hang it on the cage.

Mix it up with different pasta shapes to make it more interesting for your bird.

And it’s perfectly fine for your feathered friends to eat a little bit of it too!

Note: Although pasta is bird-safe, they should not make a full meal out of it. Remove dried pasta if your bird starts eating more of that than their regular diet.

19. Bamboo Finger Traps

Colourful bamboo finger traps are used on a whole range of bird toys on the market.

You can find them on various online stores or in certain arts and crafts stores. Generally, it’s pretty cheap for a pack. Since it’s just a long tube, you can easily fill it up with paper, sprinkle some seeds within, and then hang it on the cage for an epic foraging toy!

Poke a hole near the top of the finger trap and use a quick link connector to attach it to the cage.

Finger traps also make good filler materials for foraging boxes.

20. Your Bird’s Own Feathers

Do you collect your bird’s flight feathers?

If so, not only are you a weirdo like me, but you also have some readily available items to use for your homemade bird toys. Whenever I offer feathers as playthings, my cockatiel spends a fair bit of time preening them.

Use them as foraging box fillers or poke them through your other toys to make them more interesting!

21. Popsicle Sticks

Safe materials for diy bird toys
Image source: Pixabay

Another relatively cheap material that can be found in many stores are popsicle sticks.

Popsicle sticks are great for shredding. I bought a popsicle stick toy from Amazon recently and my cockatiel chewed through that thing within just 3 days! He made a bit of a mess, but he definitely enjoyed them.

There are endless DIY bird toys you can make using wooden popsicle sticks.

22. Egg Cartons

Image source: Pixabay

Not only are occasional eggs good for your birds, but you can use the empty carton for DIY toys!

As long as you clean the carton, you can use it as a foraging box, shredding toy, and whatever else you can think of. Most egg cartons these days are made primarily from paper and cardboard, which are 100% safe materials for birds.

23. Paper Cups

Paper cups that are intended for human use are safe for birds.

There are plenty of paper cup toy designs that involve your parrot getting its head to the bottom of the cup to collect treats. Perhaps you could fill the cup with paper, poke some small holes near the base, and then watch your bird find seeds at the bottom.

It’s also pretty easy to poke a hole through the cup and connect it to the cage using quick links.

Not to mention that paper cups are super cheap!

Ensuring Your Homemade Toys Are Safe

Toys can still be rendered unsafe, despite being made from bird-safe materials.

Toys that get damaged, frayed, or develop sharp edges can hurt your bird if you don’t observe the condition of the toy often. For example, sisal rope can fray, which can lead to a fatal crop impact if your bird digests the loose fibres, despite sisal being a safe material.

Make sure your bird doesn’t actively chew rope materials.

If they do, or you notice the rope beginning to fray, it’s best to remove it.

Another great example is something that happens with my cockatiel.

I used to make a lot of homemade toys using paper until my cockatiel started to see white paper as food. He used to be perfectly fine shredding and then spitting out paper, but then I noticed he wasn’t spitting it out anymore.

He’s no longer allowed to have paper toys for this reason.

Be on the lookout for these behaviours to ensure your bird doesn’t eat something they shouldn’t.

And also check the toys daily to ensure there are no loose parts, loops, or sharp edges that could hurt your parrot.

Unsafe Materials For Homemade Bird Toys

When making DIY bird toys from household and storebought items, knowing what materials are unsafe will prevent any unfortunate accidents.

Here’s a list of a few unsafe items you MUST avoid using for homemade bird toys:

  • Toxic or unsanitary wood
  • Toilet paper rolls
  • Mirrors
  • Happy huts
  • Toxic metals (brass, zinc, copper, lead, galvanised metals)
  • Most paints
  • Most glues
  • Nylon rope
  • Leather (except vegetable-tanned leather)
  • Metal bells
  • Whatever materials, safe or unsafe, that your bird likes to eat should not be offered as a toy

DIY Bird Toy Ideas (Pinterest Board)

Before ending this article, I’d like to leave you with a Pinterest board full of my personal saves that can hopefully give you a few ideas for DIY bird toys.

Check out the Pinterest board below:

Thank you for reading 🙂



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