As much as parrots enjoy attention, one of the many joys of owning a pet parrot also comes in the form of play sessions. When you're sitting around the house with nothing else to do, you can take your parrot of their cage for some fun and rewarding bonding time.
Play sessions will promote healthy physical and mental development, while introducing your parrot to new sights and sounds. This will also strengthen the bond you have with your pet parrot and will give you chances to teach him a trick of two using homemade treats.
However, there are some critical "do's" and "don'ts" that owners should know of and follow when playing with a pet parrot.
Don't: Let Your Parrot Nip or Bite
Even if it doesn't physically hurt, a pet parrot should never be allowed to bite their owner. Allowing your parrot to nip, peck or otherwise bite your fingers sends the wrong message, and it could one day lead to a more aggressive bite that does serious damage.
Although they only mean to nip or bite playfully, it is still a gesture that you shouldn’t tolerate even during playtime. If your pet parrot begins biting, pull away and issue a stern "NO!" to let them know this behavior is unacceptable and won't be tolerated.
Repeat this whenever the action occurs again until your pet parrot eventually learns not to nip or bite.
Don't: Force Your Parrot To Play
If your parrot darts towards the back of its cage when you open the door, don't force them to play. This is usually a sign that they want to be left alone, and forcing a parrot to play can trigger anger and aggression.
Some days your pet parrot might just want to stay in the cage and enjoy the day from there but also look for signs, especially health issues, that might appear otherwise.
Give your parrot some time and space and you'll eventually find them eager and ready to leave their cage to have play time.
Don't: Let Your Parrot Play Outside (Unless It's Restrained)
It only takes a split second for a parrot to fly off into the unknown and as parrot owners that is the ultimate nightmare (let’s always hope that never happens).
If you're going to take your parrot outside, make sure they are constrained to a harness and leash (yes, they make harnesses for parrots) that’s comfortable enough for them to move around with but at the same time secure enough that they can’t get out from.
A harness and leash combination will keep your parrot confined to your side, preventing them from flying away.
For more information on how to safely take your parrot outdoors, check out our previous blog post.
Do: Keep Play Sessions Short
Keep play sessions with your parrot short and sweet. Parrots are creatures of habit and generally prefer the security and comfort offered by their cage. As much as you want to enjoy a full day of play time bonding with your pet parrot, it is also best to know when to give them rest and put them back in their cage.
So, what's the ideal length of time for a play time session? A solid 20-30 minutes typically works well, as this allows your parrot to enjoy some recreational time outside of its cage, but it's not long enough for them to become "homesick."
For parrots, having stayed in their cages for almost all the time, they grow secured and attached to it. This is why it’s best to keep the play sessions short and fun as there is always another day to enjoy and introduce new tricks.
Do: Use "Parrot-Safe" Toys
Another important precaution that owners should take when playing with their parrots is to use safe, parrot-friendly toys. In other words, make sure any toys given to your parrot are safe and free of potential hazards or toxins that may cause injury/illness.
Treated wood, for instance, often contains harsh chemicals that can lead to toxicosis in parrots.
Play time sessions should always remain fun and interactive so it’s best to know which parrot-safe toys are to be used to avoid unwanted health issues.
Playing with your pet parrot proves fun for both of you as it is an exciting way of bonding and getting to know your parrot more. Plus, happier birds result in less parrot screaming.
How often do you usually play with your parrot and what other do’s and don’ts do you establish? Let us know in the comments below!