Foraging Boxes


Pepper enjoying a filled foraging box, made from a paper clip box

Difficulty for humans to make: easy

Difficulty for birds to use: medium

Here is my most simple, cheap, and easy idea – foraging boxes. The idea is a cardboard box, hanging in the cage, stuffed with shredded paper and dry food and treats, ready to be ripped open by your birds. It is also well loved by my parrots. Foraging boxes can be foot toys or hanging toys – I usually use them as hanging toys. My birds get a few foraging boxes almost every day.

There are only a few supplies you’ll need to make these toys. I got all the supplies at the dollar store, except sometimes the first, and most important – the boxes. You need small boxes, and you can either buy these or save them from things you buy. The ideal box is about the size of a deck of cards, but you can go larger or smaller, depending on your parrot’s preferences, availability of boxes, and your desire to make a variety of foraging boxes. My mother, who works in an office, saved loads of boxes that once contained paperclips and staples – these were perfect. I have used little bridal favor gift boxes from the dollar store, and the boxes my coffee filters and toothpaste came in.

Other supplies you need are: whatuneed4boxes

STEP ONE: Punch hole in boxholepunc

STEP TWO :Add shredded paper. You can buy this from the dollar store, or use old mail out of your own paper shredder!

STEP THREE: Add treats of your choice – pellets, nuts, popcorn, dried fruit – whatever healthy treats your bird likes!addtreats

Inside the box will look something like this (this is a different box, obviously)


STEP FOUR: Thread ribbon through hole (for hanging) close box sides,and tape up ends of box

tapeandthreadboxSTEP FIVE: Hang in cage! And let parrots enjoy! (or, you can omit the hole punch and hanging, and give as a foot toy. I recommend doing it as a hanging toy first while your bird learns.) If your parrot does not know what to do with a foraging toy, you might need to rip it open, exposing the treats, before hanging it the first few times. After a while, your bird will get the message that when new box appears in the cage, it means there is food inside! Here is Pepper enjoying her foraging box as soon as I put it in the cage:


Here are few other types of boxes that I have used for this idea.  Both of these are small gift boxes from the dollar store, in the wedding/party favor section. These boxes are about 3 inches by 3 inches. :



These boxes are great for birds who already like to chew stuff or parrots who are already accomplished foragers.  If you are just starting with your bird, you can cut a big hole in the box so he can see what is inside the first few times.

To make them easier (as I do for my parrot, Ollie, because he gets frustrated easily) -cut a small piece off the corners of the box so that your bird will have something to ‘start’ his ripping and shredding. Like so:


To make them more difficult (as I do for my parrot, Pepper, who uses brute force to open tings): Try putting a box inside a box. Anything that will fit, will work. That way the bird has 2 layers to chew through before getting to the food.  Here is what they look like ‘used’ after a bird has chewed them up and gotten the treat (I believe this is the work of my female eclectus, Pepper):


And another (Ollie’s work)


So, start saving those boxes! Types of boxes I’ve used are boxes that used to contain: toothpaste, coffee filters, staples, paperclips, medication samples (only if they are in a bottle inside a box – take the bottle out and use the box only), razor blade boxes, etc.  Or, your dollar store might sell 20 tiny gift boxes for a dollar, and they work well.  Here are other types of boxes I’ve used, to get you thinking (sardine box and razor blade box):

Oh! And this one – from a makeup pen:


And some more examples (one is a party gift bag, another is a gift box)


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