Behavioral enrichment came into vogue in zoos in the last 10 years or so, and is now a “buzzword” throughout the industry. Of course, good zookeepers and pet owners have long known that captive animal health (and, as concerns bored, screaming parrots, captor sanity!) is aided by the provision of opportunities to explore, forage and otherwise behave in a somewhat normal fashion.
An Early Zoo Experiment
I recall being involved with an early attempt at spicing up the lives of galagos (small primates) at the Bronx Zoo, which resulted in the invention (not by myself, my mechanical skills are horrendous!) of an air-powered cricket dispenser. Cricket were propelled into different parts of the exhibit at varying intervals, keeping the waiting galagos very alert and ready to leap on a meal at all times. Zoo visitors were no longer confronted with motionless balls of fur, and the galagos became noticeably more active and vigorous.
Stimulating Interest in Foraging
Of course, parrots benefit greatly from interacting with people and other birds, but foraging behavior also rates very high as an enrichment activity. Locating and gathering meals takes up a great deal of all birds’ lives, and is infinitely more absorbing than picking food from a dish.
Fetch It Pets Polly Wanna Piñatas are supplied either empty (to be stuffed with food at home) or filled with a variety of nutritious parrot treats. Parrots of all types enjoy shredding them (and would even if the piñatas were empty!) and working at getting to the dried fruits secreted within. The stimulation your bird experiences will be evident by the vigor it puts into dismantling this unique product.
The piñatas are especially useful for parrots kept in smaller cages, as hiding treats in such situations is usually more challenging for the parrot owner than is finding the treats for the parrot!
A New Zealand Journal of Ecology article discussing the complexities of foraging behavior in parakeets is posted at:
Just to let you know that I have used the Pinatas and they are a big hit with peach faced lovebirds. I like the idea that the birds are working for something instead of just banging a toy around (but they like that also!), what other toys or accessories work on the same general principles, also my larger parrots need something that would take a little more demolition time, thank you.
Frank Indiviglio here.
Thanks very much for the feedback, great to hear.
I agree…having birds work for treats is a fine idea. In most cases the promise of a reward keeps them motivated long after they might otherwise have become bored. We carry a number of toys that are based on this principle…each requires birds to use a different technique in extracting its reward, so by rotating among several you can keep your pets well-stimulated. Please take a look at the following by clicking on the toy’s name – as regards your larger birds, the first two are particularly sturdy:
Tough Treat Toys
Acrylic Foraging Toy With Spinning Wheel – this one is very unique, should provide a challenge for your birds and laughs for you!
Jungle Joy Bird Toy
Snack n’ Play Interactive Toy
Acrylic Triangle Treat Holder
If you have a chance, please let me know how your various birds react to them. Thanks.
Best regards, Frank Indiviglio.