5 DIY Enrichment Ideas for African Greys

Parrot toys can cost a lot of money. Discover 5 DIY enrichment ideas for African Greys that are easy on your wallet.

Apr 2, 2024By Jennifer Maude
enrichment ideas for african greys

You know the saying happy wife, happy life? Well, the same goes for your pet African Grey. Happy bird, happy life!

African Grey parrots are exceptionally smart parrots with cognitive abilities on par with a three-year-old child, so enrichment is essential. But when it comes to parrot toys, African Greys destroy them quickly.

The most cost-effective way of providing your parrot with what they need is to get creative with DIY enrichment ideas. If you’re stuck for ideas, I have five awesome DIY enrichment activities to inspire you today.

1. Create An Egg Carton Treat Box

African Grey Close Up
Photo by Charles Patrick Ewing, Flickr

Egg cartons are a handy household item to make foraging toys for your African Grey. The idea is to place treats inside the egg carton for your parrot to discover. I like to use paper cups to hide treats inside, adding an extra layer of surprise and difficulty.

Put the treats inside the cups and scrunch them up. Next, place the cups inside the egg carton. Use masking tape to seal the egg carton shut. You can add extra levels of difficulty by placing the whole thing inside a paper bag or another cardboard box.

Hang the toy inside your pet bird's cage. Stainless steel skewers for birds are ideal. Simply skewer the egg carton with the skewer and hang it inside the cage.

Safety Note: Never use styrofoam for parrot toys. Be vigilant! Styrofoam is used to make various products, from egg cartons to paper cups. If a parrot ingests styrofoam, it can be fatal.

2. Turn Your Trash into Parrot Toys

Cereal Boxes
Photo by Ms.akr, Flickr

Parrots, like all pet birds, love to shred paper and cardboard! This is fantastic news as it means your household trash is easily transformed into fun toys to keep your bird occupied.

Let your imagination run riot! Take smaller boxes, paper rolls, or cups to hide treats inside. Place the hidden bird treats inside a larger box or boxes! Add as many layers as you desire. Then hang inside your bird's cage for your parrot to dig into and get busy with!

3. Parrot Turns Book Worm

Photo by Raul Pacheco-Vega, Flickr

While African Grey parrots are not your typical book lovers, you can certainly keep your pet bird entertained with old books or even phone books.

Your pet will love to get stuck in shredding the pages. Phone books are great if you can get your hands on them. Or check out charity shops for old paperbacks you can use.

You could go the extra mile and hide treats inside for your parrot to find. Using old books is a low-effort way to keep your bird occupied, as it requires little time to set up. You can hang the book inside the cage or simply place it on a flat perch.

4. Homemade Jungle Gym Joy

African Grey DIY Jungle Gym
Photo by Jo, Flickr

Constructing a homemade jungle gym creates a stimulating environment for your African Grey and is super fun to build.

Let your creative juices take the lead with this one. For a low-cost version, use cardboard boxes, foraged branches, or old PVC piping. Create the structure you want to build. This can be as elaborate or simple as you want.

Once built, you can use natural fiber rope to adorn your jungle gym with toys for your bird to play with. If you are short on time, an old laundry rack can be easily transformed into a jungle gym. All you need to do is hang toys for your parrot to play with on there.

Safety note: Parrots love to chew wood. Supplying them with a natural wood to chomp on is a fantastic idea. However, some wood is toxic to parrots. Make sure you are aware of what type of wood you are collecting and check to see if it's safe for parrots.

You can find a list of safe and toxic wood here. Please note this is not an exhaustive list.

5. Transform Plastic Bottle Lids

Milk Bottle Lids
Photo by Mo Brand, Flickr

Plastic bottle lids can be easily repurposed into a fun foraging toy. As plastic lids used for food products are regulated by the FDA, they are considered non-toxic and chemically safe.

Make a hole in the center of the bottle lids and thread them through a natural fiber cord such as a leather cord. Place the lids upside down so that you can place small treats inside. Add pieces of cardboard in between the plastic lids to make it more challenging for your bird to access the treats.

Then hang it up for your parrot to enjoy!

Thinking of Getting an African Grey?

African Grey Parrot
Photo by Beyond DC, Flickr

Having an African Grey parrot can be an incredibly rewarding experience. However, as a long-lived bird, it's a lifetime commitment and should not be taken on lightly. Many parrot rescues are overrun with parrots who have been surrendered. As intelligent and social creatures you must be able to devote the appropriate time and attention to them.

If you’re thinking of getting an African Grey, you must do extensive research. I recommend spending a significant amount of time with an African Grey before committing to make sure it is the right choice for you. It is a smart idea to visit local parrot rescues in your area to seek their advice. Check out this article to find out more about whether parrots make good pets.

Final Word on African Greys and Parrot Toys

African Grey With Wooden Toy
African Grey solving a DIY puzzle

Making toys is lots of fun and will save you money. But there are a few things to bear in mind.

When creating new toys always supervise your parrots when first introducing them. Also, keep a close eye on the toys as they are being used to monitor for any potential hazards such as cracked plastic which could cause injuries.

No toy is completely safe; however, generally, parrots will not ingest non-edible material like plastic or cardboard. Let's face it: they know a bit of plastic doesn’t make a good meal! However, some birds may be more predisposed to eating foreign material so take extra care if this is the case.

Jennifer Maude
By Jennifer Maude

Jennifer Maude owns a goofy five-year-old lab mastiff mix named Parnia. She is an animal lover and has previously owned birds, fish, and various small furry animals. For fun, she walks her dog and enjoys the occasional glass of wine.