Playing by themselves

A cockatoo like to play with other cockatoos or people, but can also enjoy itself on its own by playing on its own. You cannot give your cockatoo attention 24/7 so it is very good that he can also enjoy himself when he is alone. There are all kinds of toys you can give to your cockatoo with which he can play by himself. You need to introduce toys to your cockatoo when he is young, because when he is older he may not readily understand what the toys are all about.

The fun of toys

Cockatoos do not play like people or children do. The fun in playing with a toy lays for cockatoos mostly in the fact that the toy can be broken. Destroying the toy is whats it all about. A chain with some wooden pieces and a bell on it, is great fun to completely disassemble. The wood needs to be broken and all shackles of the chain need to be removed. It may be hard to understand, but this is what a cockatoo likes to do to his toys. Toys that are so durable that they cannot be destroyed or changed are not as much fun for your cockatoo.
Toys that are also fun and generally are not destroyed are swings and foraging toys. Foraging toys are toys that can be filled with food. When your cockatoo throws it or rolls it around it will release a little bit of food.

Umbrella cockatoo playing with a stick
Cockatoo with bead toy


Good toys

You can buy thousands of different toys for cockatoos and parrots. There are toys of metal, wood, plastic, cotton or minerals in all different colors and sizes. Not every toy is appropriate for cockatoos, especially because cockatoos are usually pretty large and will destroy the toys for smaller birds in seconds. Even the toys that are sold as specific cockatoo toys can be inappropriate because of possibly dangerous parts or weak spots in the design. Instead of buying toys, you can also make your own. To read more about that, check out our page about DIY toy making here. Things that do not look like toys to people, can be great toys for cockatoos. For example branches with fresh leaves, a cardboard box or old paper.

Metal toys Toys made of metal are usually hangers, mirrors, bells and chains. They usually won’t stay intact for longer than 20 minutes, but they are great fun for your cockatoo. You can usually re-assemble destroyed metal toys and use them again. Thicker metal chains cannot be broken by your cockatoo but can be great toys for your bird, for example it will weave the chain through the mesh of its cage.

Wooden toys Toys of wood usually consist of pieces of wood that are joined together with metal hooks or cotton rope. Your cockatoo can bite into the wood and can try to remove the pieces.

Plastic toys. Many toys for cockatoos have plastic parts in it. Usually these plastic parts are not really suitable for cockatoos. It can be destroyed pretty easily, leaving tiny bits everywhere. Very tough plastic can break and get sharp points or edges. Check the safety of the plastic toy before you give it to your bird.

Example of a toy for cockatoos

Rope / cotton toys. A toy made of cotton or hemp is fun for a cockatoo to destroy. Your bird will probably bite pieces out of the rope and chew it into little balls. This can be a great solitary play toy. Be careful with how you hang the rope into the cage of your cockatoo. It can get really dirty from droppings and it could become dangerous if your bird can get stuck in the rope. Some cockatoos accidentally have hanged themselves on large rope or fabric toys. All non-synthetic ropes are suitable as toys.

Dangerous toys

Be careful, not all toys are safe! Toys can endanger your pet cockatoo in many ways: by suffocating him, by hanging him, by chocking him, by poisoning him, by wounding him and by getting stuck around the feet, wings or beak of your cockatoo. Always inspect toys for possible safety problems. Especially toys that have the possibility that they will cause to hanging (hanging from the neck resulting in suffocation or neck trauma) is a real danger, therefore never provide your cockatoo with a piece of fabric that can be folded or that can create a loop.

Changing your cockatoos toys

Toys will stay interesting for a longer time if you switch the toys that your cockatoo has access to. If you buy 6 toys, you could provide your cockatoo with two of them at a time. After a few days you can remove them and give him two new toys. After it has played with all the toys you can supply him with the first two toys again, they will be more interesting to your cockatoo when he does not see them every day.

Supervised playing with a rope and clip – umbrella cockatoo