DIY Parrot Foraging Toys: Step-By-Step Tutorial

If you’re a friend to a parrot, you know that parrot foraging toys are a must! Keeping your feathered friend entertained and mentally stimulated is vital to their health and happiness.

Parrots are a handful, and they need constant attention or stimulation. Whether you are working from home and need quiet or just want to add variety, these boxes will help!

So providing them with these fun foraging boxes can help curb other unwanted behaviors like screaming and chewing on things they shouldn’t.

One way to do that is by providing them with new foraging toys every few days. These toys must challenge them to use their natural instincts to find food and treats hidden inside. If you struggle with a loud parrot that screams, foraging toys can help reduce the screaming.

DIY Parrot Foraging Toys

But store-bought toys can be expensive and may not meet your bird’s unique preferences. That’s where DIY foraging toys come in! These foraging boxes will change you and your parrot’s life for the better!

With some creativity and basic materials, you can create fun, engaging toys that your parrot will love. This article will explore our favorite, easy, practical DIY foraging toy idea to keep your parrot entertained and happy.

What You’ll Need to Make DIY Parrot Foraging Toys

Empty Boxes

Empty Boxes for DIY Parrot Foraging Toys

You can use any empty cereal, food, or other boxes. The key is to save up all empty boxes until you have at least 6. Having at least 5 allows you to make foraging toys that will last 2 weeks. Creating these in bulk will save you time down the road.

Zip Ties

zip ties for homemade parrot foraging toys

You can buy these online or at any hardware store. You can also keep reusing the ones from old boxes. Usually, you can get 1-4 uses out of each zip tie. Every time you reuse it, you’ll shorten the length.

Be sure to curl the zip tie (see our video above for help with this step). Curling it will allow you to feed it through the cage bars easier.

Paper bags

Paper bags for foraging toys for parrots

Save all of the paper bags that you come across. If you get food delivered from your local restaurant, it will usually come in a paper bag. You can also save paper grocery bags or the brown paper that comes in Amazon deliveries as a cushion.

All of these will make excellent options for stuffing the boxes. You can add the handles from paper grocery bags and wooden toys too. Whatever you think is safe for your bird to shred, you can add it to the foraging box.

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Unsalted Nuts

unsalted nuts for homemade foraging toys for parrots

We add a wide variety of nuts to each foraging box. Each box will have 2-4 nuts. I love buying mine in bulk from Oh Nuts! and various other online sellers. If you have an African grey’ check out our African grey parrot food list for ideas on what you can and cannot add to the foraging boxes.

These are the almonds we buy for our foraging boxes.

Here are the walnuts we buy a few times per year. The pistachios and hazelnuts we usually get from Trader Joe’s.

How to Make Your Homemade Parrot Foraging Toys

Making DIY foraging toys for parrots is easy by following the steps below.

Line Up Your Boxes

Place your variety of unsalted nuts in a bowl for easy access. Take the empty boxes and line them up inside a bin. Lining them up will make the process easier.

In the past, I just used to try to place the boxes on a chair, but they kept falling over. So if you put them in a plastic bin or larger box container, you can assemble these foraging toys quickly.

Fill the Bottom of Your Boxes With Crumpled Paper

Fill the bottom of the boxes with crumpled papers

Begin ripping off pieces of the paper bags, crumpling them into a ball, and placing them in each box. Add 3-4 crumpled pieces of paper in each box before putting the nut-filled paper in.

Add One Nut To the Center of a Crumpled Piece of Paper

Rip off a piece of paper as you did for the above step. Add a nut to the center, then wrinkle the paper up, hiding the nut inside the package.

Add These Crumpled Papers With Nuts to Each Box

Begin putting these nut-filled papers into the boxes. However, you don’t want to overload your parrot with too many nuts in one day. Therefore, only add 1-4 nuts per box. Then you’ll switch between paper with no nuts and pieces with nuts.

Now Add More Plain Crumpled Paper Without Nuts

Homemade parrot foraging toys

The more crumpled paper you add, the more your bird will have to forage through to get to the nuts. If I have a lot of extra paper, I pack it into the box. My bird loves taking each piece of paper out and checking if there is a nut inside.

Poke 2 Holes on the Side of the Box

Take a scissor and make two holes about an inch apart on any side of the box.

Curl Your Zip Tie

Curling the zip tie will make threading through the box and, in turn, the bars easier.

Lace the Zip Tie Through the 2 Holes 

Lace the Zip tie through the 2 holes

This step for making a homemade parrot toy is self-explanatory. Lace the zip tie through the 2 holes.

Secure the Box on the Side of the Cage Using the Zip Ties

Take the homemade foraging toy and secure it to the side of the cage with the zip ties.

Pro Tip: if your bird lunges at your hand when you put it in the cage, give them a nut on the opposite side while you put the box in. The nut will keep them busy and give you time to secure the box.

Benefits of DIY Parrot Foraging Toys

Encourages Natural Behaviors

Parrots are natural foragers, and providing them with foraging toys encourages them to use their instincts. Foraging not only keeps them entertained but also provides mental stimulation and exercise.

Saves Money

Store-bought foraging toys can be expensive, but making your DIY foraging toys is a cost-effective way to provide your parrot with stimulating toys.


When you make your foraging toys, you can customize them to your parrot’s preferences and needs. Customizing your parrot foraging toys means you can create the perfect size, shape, and difficulty level for your bird.

Environmentally Friendly

DIY foraging toys are often made from recycled materials, which helps give a second life to something that was destined for the trash.

Bonding Experience

Making foraging toys for your parrot can be a fun and rewarding bonding experience. It allows you to spend quality time with your bird while providing them with toys it’ll love.

Tips on How to Get Your Bird to Engage With the New Toy

We all know that some parrots are weary of new toys and things in and around their cage. Our African Grey, Coco, looks forward to a fresh homemade toy a few times per week. As soon as we put it in her cage, she begins foraging for treats. Here are a few tips to get your bird used to these foraging boxes.

Introduce the Toy Slowly

When introducing the new toy to your bird, place it near their cage or on a nearby perch. The slow introduction allows your bird to become familiar with the toy before they start playing with it.

Use Treats

Place treats right on the top of the box within the visible site. A high-value treat like a nut or seed will encourage your bird to investigate the DIY foraging box. Plus, this will also help your bird associate the toy with positive experiences and rewards.

Rotate Toys

Parrots and African grey parrots can become bored with toys if left out for too long. To keep your bird interested, rotate the toys every few days so that they always have something new to play with.

Play with Your Bird

Parrots are social animals and enjoy playing with their owners. Take time daily to play with your bird and keep the new foraging box nearby. What’s more, it will strengthen your bond and encourage your bird to play with the toy.

Observe Your Bird

Pay attention to your bird’s behavior and preferences. If they seem disinterested in a particular toy, try a different one or modify the existing toy to make it more appealing to your bird.

Final Thoughts on DIY Parrot Foraging Toys

In conclusion, making your DIY parrot foraging toys is a fun and rewarding way to keep your feathered friend entertained and mentally stimulated. With some creativity and basic materials, you can create toys tailored to your bird’s preferences and needs. Not only will your parrot love the new toys, but you’ll also save money by making them yourself.

So why not give it a try? With the step-by-step instructions and tips in this article, you’ll be on your way to creating fun and engaging foraging toys that your parrot will love.

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