reminder: All articles and posts on my website are written by me and from my own perspective (Sophie The Pigeon) and often I'm typing it aimed at other birds 😉

Pigeon & Bird Articles – Dangerous Toys

Even simple (bird) toys or items used by us birds as toys can be dangerous in one way or another. The most common problems with our toys becoming or being dangerous to us birds are:

  • That they can be toxic to us (can be due to paints, glue, heavy metals etc)
  • That we can get stuck in them (entanglement)
  • That we can break our claws or damage our beaks with the toys
  • That we can accidentally strangle ourselves due to/with a toy
  • That we can ingest a toy or parts of it

Keep in mind that my articles are mainly written and aimed at pet pigeons, but lots of it also applies to for example budgies and larger birds like parrots. However this also means that some examples mentioned on this page are more prone to occur with larger birds like for example parrots, and they might be less likely to happen with us pigeons. However, me and my pet humans would yet again like to recommend not to take any risks. As ‘heard’ many times before on my website: Better safe than sorry.

Fabrics and toys/items made of fabrics

There are plenty of toys and ‘bird items’ which are made of fabrics or ‘fuzzy parts’, these toys can pose a serious risk of strangulation if the bird ‘using it’ is ‘kinda destructive’. He or she could for example chew holes through the material and get caught in it. There are unfortunately plenty of stories where birds got stuck in toys or other bird items (like a ‘Happy hut’) and seriously injured themselves, or even worse: it resulted in death of the poor bird. It is VERY IMPORTANT that you humans check our toys which are made of fabrics (or ‘rope like materials’) on strangulation risks, damages and for other potential dangers regularly. The toy or item should also immediately be removed if fabric (or fluffy) parts are being ingested by us birds!

Personal example of ‘higher risk toy’
I personally (Sophie The Pigeon) for example have a very fluffy pen which I absolutely love to play with together with my humans, but because there is a serious risk that I might actually ‘pull out’ some of the fluffy parts/hairs, I’m only allowed to play with this ‘fluffy pen’ when my pet humans are playing with me. I’m not allowed to play with this pen by myself, nor will I have access to it without direct (and full attention) supervision of my pet humans.

Ropes, Strings & Threads

There is quite some ‘controversy’ when it comes to ‘bird ropes’ and if they are safe or not. One thing is for sure though: You will find them in nearly every pet store! The problem with many of these ropes is that they will often unravel when they are starting to wear down, one of the risks when this happens is that we birds get entangled in them or that we might (accidentally) ingest parts of the rope which can cause obstructions for example.

Our advice for pet pigeons regarding ropes
If you would either ask me or my pet humans, then we would recommend not using ropes as toys for us pigeons at all, just to eliminate the risk. Ropes are generally not really interesting toys for us pigeons anyways (except for possible nesting material, but that’s a whole different subject to cover).

If you do insist on using rope(s) or strings as toys for us pigeons
If you really do want to use ropes as toys for us pigeons, then it is highly recommended to keep the ropes as short as possible. Rule of thumb here is: Keep the ropes as short as possible, the thinner the rope, the shorter it should be. Do however keep in mind if you are using really thin pieces of rope (which are TOO short) that there yet again is a risk of us pigeons ingesting it!

Do additional research on the rope(s) and material
Also make sure that you humans do (a lot of) additional research on ropes and the materials used when giving us birds ropes to play with. For example make sure that the ropes haven’t been treated with chemicals and that they aren’t colored with toxic paints for example. I however would yet again like to repeat myself, and say that I’m strongly against using ropes for us pigeons as toys. There are plenty of alternatives as toys which are much safer for us pigeons.

Bird Bells

LOTS of pet stores will sell those ‘cute bells’, however many of those bell toys are unsafe for us birds (lots of birds actually, not just pigeons!), due to a couple common problems with these bells:

  • Our beaks can get stuck or get damaged in poorly constructed bells (often the clapper part)
  • With stronger beaks (like from parrots) or with poorly constructed and cheap quality bells it is possible that the clapper will separate from the bell and gets ingested for example.
  • Our toes can get stuck in (smaller) bells or parts of the bells (like rings or holes)
  • Less common but it is a (slight) risk: With low/poor quality (imported) bells, it is possible that they have been made out of (or use) toxic materials like zinc or lead for example. This problem is more prone to happen with (metal) toys imported from China.

Our advice in regards to bells and pigeons: Just don’t use them, there are plenty of other safe alternatives. If you do insist on using them with us pigeons, only do so while actively supervising us.

If you humans do use bells for us birds, then at least make sure that the bell is properly sized for your bird(s).

Leather and fake leather (Toys and other items)

Be careful with leather toys around us birds, many leather products have been tanned using chemicals which are lethal to us birds. This can already pose a serious hazard when we birds chew on or bite into the leather. Untreated or vegetable-tanned/dyed leather is often considered to be safe for us birds. This does not only concerns toys specifically intended for us birds, but it could for example also pose a risk when we pigeons are ‘chewing on’ or playing with the straps of your precious leather handbag 😉 There might/will also be risks involved when it comes to fake leather (purses and such) where it is often very easy to chip-off parts of the top layer (which then might be ingested and often is also painted with some toxic chemicals). Therefor it is also recommend to not let us pigeons chew on shoes or other stuff which might contain these materials.

Painted, glued and toys involving (other) chemicals

Make sure that you don’t use any toys which use paints, chemicals (like chemically tanned/dyed leather), or toys which have been ‘glued together’. These could all pose a serious health hazard to us birds

Foam, gel-like, soft-plastic and feathered etc cat toys

We strongly advice against using cat toys for us pigeons which are made of (soft) foam, gel-like materials or other soft plastics which could easily be ‘destroyed’ by us pigeons. Some of these toys might seem to be ‘cute’ for us pigeons, but they can be quite dangerous if we accidentally would swallow parts of it while playing. Same goes for cat toys which have (fake) feathers on them, we could for example easily mistaken them for real feathers and start to preen them, causing us to ingest parts of them or potentially toxic chemicals. Yes, you should be able to consider these toys as ‘safe for pets’ considering they are made for cats, but we (yet again) recommend you not to take any risks. Also keep in mind that we birds are much more sensitive to intestinal blockages than cats for example.

Baby/Human Children toys

Most toys made for (human) babies are quite safe to use for us pigeons, just make sure that we can’t get stuck in them, that we can’t bite off parts (like foam, soft rubbers or even hard plastic bits), that they aren’t old (vintage) toys which contain toxic paints/chips and that they don’t contain PVC.

Chains and metal toys

Metal chains, hooks, connectors, spring fasteners and more of the alike are all materials/objects which could pose a serious risk to us birds. Metal chains can for example already pose (at least) three risks:

  • We could get our claws or beaks stuck in them causing injury
  • The metal could be toxic to us if it has been soldered (solder often contains lead) or if it for example is galvanized by hot-dipping in zinc
  • If it is a ‘open links’ chain (meaning the links are not welded), they could for example potentially bend and expose sharp edges which can injure us.

Chain toys in general
Then there is also the problem with chains in general (be it from plastic, metal, wood or anything else) where we could get stuck in them with our heads if the links are too big, but if the links are too small our feet or beaks could get stuck in them.

Personally me and my pet humans both think that chains are an unnecessary risk if they are a (reachable) part of our toys. If it is just a short chain/link (for example on a ‘perch swing’ directly mounted to the ceiling (or ceiling of the cage)) it should most of the time not pose a threat (to us pigeons).

Metal toys in general
Like mentioned quite often on my website: Metal toys can be very dangerous to us birds. Especially if these toys (or items) contain toxic metals like: soldered parts (lead), hot-dipped galvanized parts (zinc-coated) or rusted iron. It could even be that (parts of) toys are made out of a toxic metal like lead. The most common encounter for bird toys using lead are (cheap Chinese) bird bells. If a metal part (like the bell clapper for example) bends very easily and ‘feels like a smooth motion when bending’, it is most likely made out of lead.

Stainless steel is the safe(r) choice
When it comes to bird toys made of metal, stainless steel is definitely the safe(r) choice. However it is often (much) more expensive, and the same rules in regards to making sure it isn’t sharp and we can’t get stuck in them still apply of course.

Nylon stitching or thread

Toys with nylon stitching or containing nylon threads (also recognized as ‘fishing line’) should basically be avoided at all cost for any bird species. It is often VERY easy for us birds to get entangled in nylon thread, while it is nearly impossible to get out of it due to the strength of nylon.


(Toy) rings should have a size which ensures that it would be impossible for us birds to get our heads stuck in them. It is also highly advised that you humans do not give us birds toys with multiple rings looped together (like a chain), because this could present an entanglement risk and thus potentially cause a risk of us birds hanging ourselves in our toy 🙁


Lots of fasteners like (split) key rings, snap hooks (carbine hooks) and other spring loaded clips could pose a serious risk of us birds getting our claws or tongues stuck in them, it is highly recommended not to use them.

Dowel (evenly round / uniformly shaped) Perches

Dowel perches (also commonly recognized as ’round bar perches’) aren’t really a thing you humans should give to us pigeons as (primary) perches. We pigeons actually prefer perches which are flat which we can stand on (this is much more natural to us pigeons). If you do want to provide us pigeons with additional (round) perches, it’s recommend that you use (safe) natural wood perches. Dowel (evenly round) perches pose a serious risk of causing bumblefoot or even arthritis in the long haul.

Best perches for pigeons
The best perches for us pigeons are just ‘flat perches’, these can for example be ‘islands’ or (safe) wooden ‘disks’ mounted on the side of our cages.

Beware with V-shaped (pigeon) perches
You’ll often encounter ‘V-Shaped Pigeon Perches’ which are mainly intended for larger lofts so that the pigeon doesn’t poop on the pigeon(s) bellow him/her. These V Shaped perches are fine, IF they have a decently sized ‘flat surface size’ at the top of the ‘v-shape’. We have seen quite a few which only had a centimeter (or less) as ‘perch area’, and even a few that had a ’round bar’ as ‘perch area’ at the top. These last options are just a no-go because they do not provide enough (or a proper) area to stand on for us pigeons.

If you humans however only keep one or two pigeons as pet(s), then you most likely would not (and should not) use V Shaped (pigeon) perches, but just provide a normal (larger) flat perch to your pigeon(s).

Dowel Perches and other birds
Even if you humans have other birds like parrots, parakeets/budgies etc it is important that you do not only use dowel perches but also provide them with (safe) natural wood perches which have ‘uneven shapes’ to keep their feet healthier.

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“Better Grip” Sandpaper Perches

There is some controversy in regards to using sandpaper (like) perches (which are also round perches but with a sandpaper structure on them), where some people actually do like to use them, and even claim their bird (often parrots) like to use them to ‘condition their beaks’.

But we personally strongly advise against using them (for any bird species)! And there are plenty of veterinarians, animal hospitals and others which agree with us. They can easily cause irritations, sores and abrasions which can also get (very) infected due to bacteria actually ‘piling up’ in the ‘sandpaper structure’ of the perch.

The claims like ‘they keep the nails of your bird nice’ or ‘they provide much better grip for your bird’ are (to us) just a nice “sales pitch for a crappy product”. Have you ever seen a pigeon/bird go to an hardware store to buy sandpaper because it’s tree didn’t have sandpaper on it? Me neither 😉


Lots (if not all) pet stores sell ‘bird mirrors’ because “they are fun for the bird to chat to” or because “it will give them the feeling of having a companion“. Well both these statements are actually false (in most cases with most bird species). In lots of cases and species (including parrots, parakeets/budgies and pigeons etc) it can actually cause stress, psychological damage, behavioral and territorial issues.

A bird can for example think it is talking to another bird and thus get a false perception of reality. There are several things which could happen to a bird when he or she has a mirror in his or her cage, including but not limited to:

  • The bird can become totally obsessed with the mirror and keep talking/replying to it (“getting into a loop”).
  • The bird can become very aggressive towards the mirror, thinking it has to defend it’s own cage (territory) against another bird. This can/will (obviously) often also result in issues with interaction between you humans and your bird(s).
  • The bird can become very defensive about it’s mirror, thinking it has to defend it’s buddy/mate, and thus again resulting in aggression towards his or her caretaker(s).
  • The bird can start to feel unsafe in it’s own cage due to thinking the ‘other bird’ (which is actually the mirror) could pose a threat to him or her. While the cage of the bird should actually be his or her ‘safe haven’/happy place.
  • For certain birds (like budgies) it will often also make it (much) harder to tame them or to learn them to talk.

And there are many more issues and behavioral problems which can arise when using mirrors in bird cages. Yes there are (some) birds which do not develop any (behavioral) issues with mirrors, and birds which do actually “just see it as an occasional toy”, but we personally are against using mirrors with (any) birds.

To put it out very harshly and bluntly: If you think that you humans should give your bird a mirror because it would otherwise feel lonely, then you should (definitely) give it more attention, or get an actually (bird) buddy for your bird. Mirrors are not a substitute for real companionship (either from another bird or a human)

Side note: Many websites actually note that it is no longer a problem to place a mirror (or even multiple mirrors) when there is more than one bird in a cage. This could be true (we are not sure), but personally we recommend not using them at all.

Glass Toys

Obviously I’m not talking about something like a (strong) glass drinking bowl here, but about actual glass toys. It should be a ‘no-brainer’, but glass “toys” should never be used for any bird (species). It is way too much of a risk that it breaks and that we birds get injured by it, either by ingestion or cutting ourselves on it.

Nest Like Toys / Happy Huts / Nest Boxes

The ‘happy huts’ have already been mentioned before in this article because of their ‘choking hazards’, but that is not the only problem these products can produce. Many ‘nest like products’ can cause exactly what their name implies: Nesting behavior. If you humans actually have a pigeon couple which is naturally ‘trying to nest’ on their own, then it’s obviously just perfectly fine if you provide them with ‘nesting materials’ (given you also provide them with the additional care needed when they are in ‘breeding season’).

If you however only have a single pigeon (or other bird), either male or female, it is not recommended to provide your bird with ‘nesting materials’ or something like a ‘happy hut’ in most cases. Because this could for a lot of birds actually cause hormonal issues, cause them to lay eggs, or it can cause (severe) territorial behavior issues due to the bird ‘trying to defend it’s nest’.

Obviously this isn’t the case for all birds (pigeons or otherwise), and sometimes you do need (or want) nesting materials (or a nesting box) for your bird(s) and it’s situation. However, in general it is not recommended to provide your bird(s) with ‘nesting solutions’, especially if you only have one (pet) bird.

3D Printed Toys & Items

This topic can be found on both my Dangerous toys list and on my safe/recommended toys list. Simply because 3D Printed Toys can be safe for us birds. This however does not mean that they are all safe per definition of ‘3D Printed Toys‘. It is very important to keep certain aspects of 3D printed toys and objects in mind for us birds:

  • For what type of bird is it?
  • What material is the 3D printed plastic?
  • Is it being printed in the same room/on the same floor as us birds?
  • Are there (chemical) adhesives used for ‘better adhesion to the heat bed’?
  • What is the actual printing quality (layer height, accuracy and layer adhesion) of the printer which has printed the item?
  • Does the filament contain possible toxic (color) additives?
  • Is the 3D printed toy/item used in a hygienic way for us birds?

And there are still quite a few other things to take into consideration, but these are the most important ones which I will discuss bellow.

For what type of bird is it?
For birds like me (pigeons), 3D printed toys and items will be no problem most of the time (if all other safety aspects are taken into consideration), but for some other birds like parrots, parakeets or other ‘more destructive birds’ it might actually not be suitable to use 3D printed toys or items.

If the bird in question is for example capable of biting/chewing chunks off from the 3D printed object, then he or she might ingest plastic due to it. And this is never good for us birds (not when it’s ‘naturally (degradable) plastics’ either). So if you are a human whom wants to 3D print something for your bird, then please do make sure that your bird is not capable of biting off pieces of the 3D printed object.

What material is the 3D printed plastic?
Me and my pet humans only use and recommend PLA when it comes to making toys for me. PLA is a ‘biodegradable’ type of plastic which is basically not toxic to us birds. HOWEVER, depending on what type of additives are used for the filament (the spool of plastic which goes into the 3D printer) it can still be toxic! Certain color additives or other additives like ‘PLA Copper’, ‘PLA Metallic’, ‘PLA Glow In The Dark’ or more stuff like that can (and will most likely) still be toxic to us birds. You humans can unfortunately never be 100% certain that the PLA which you are using it 100% safe to us birds. Our recommendation is to use an FDA approved/food grade approved filament. This is basically the “best” guarantee you can have when it comes to non-toxic PLA.

IMPORTANT NOTE: Me and my pet humans do still recommend NOT to use ANY 3D printed toys or objects for birds which can or will bite pieces off the 3D printed objects! Because even when the plastic itself might not be toxic, it is still harmful if the bird ingests plastics (of ANY kind).

Is it being printed in the same room/on the same floor as us birds?
Very simple and short put: 3D printing should not be done within the same room as us birds (no matter the material/3D filament you are using)! Our lungs are very susceptible to small airborne particles (which are also emitted when melting the plastics while printing with it). Even printing on the same floor (on the other side of your home) can be dangerous for us birds.

Therefor it is HIGHLY recommended to not print on the same floor as us birds, and when possible to even print in the garage for example. We do understand that this isn’t always possible for every living situation, but do try to keep us birds as far away as possible from 3D printers when they are printing.

NOTE: NEVER EVER use toxic adhesive spray’s for your heat bed with birds in the same home. These can (and will) often smell VERY obnoxious, and are often already a serious health hazard for humans. This health hazard is even bigger for us birds, it can and will often be lethal to us birds! I will not mention/list any brands here in particular, but I guess that most ‘3D printing folks’ exactly know which brand(s) we’re talking about here.

Are there (chemical) adhesives used for ‘better adhesion to the heat bed’?
And to follow up on the previous section: NEVER use adhesives (or a heat bed which has been ‘contaminated’ with adhesive spray’s etc) when printing toys or items for us birds. These chemicals will get into the plastic and thus also make it toxic to us birds.

A (rather harsh) note from my pet humans:
If you are serious about your 3D printer, then you should just calibrate your 3D printer well enough so that it doesn’t need adhesive spray for filaments like PLA. If you are not willing to do so, or you are not skilled enough (yet) to calibrate it that well, then you should in my personal opinion not even consider printing toys for birds (or any other animal for that matter).

What is the printing quality?
This is also an important aspect of the 3D printed object(s) you humans are planning to use for your bird(s). The object(s) should have fine layers and perfect layer adhesion to ensure that it doesn’t fall apart or that the bird can accidentally ingest lose ‘strings’ or layers of the 3D printed object. The 3D printed object should not have sharp edges (from supports or brims for example) either.

Does the filament contain possible toxic (color) additives?
This has already been discusses above, but will mention it again: Make sure that the filament is ‘food grade safe’ to ensure ‘maximum safety’ in regards to toxicity. This is however still not a guarantee that it is 100% safe (as in non toxic) for us birds, and it still isn’t safe if we are for example able to ingest pieces of it, but this also goes for ‘regular plastic bird toys’ you can buy in a store.

Is the 3D printed toy/item used in a hygienic way for us birds?
Make sure that the 3D printed toy or object is cleaned very thoroughly every now and then, because 3D printed objects consist out of layers (the print layers). In between these layers (even if you can’t see them that well with the naked eye) it is a ‘breeding place’ for bacteria and other ‘harmful stuff’ like mold.

We would even recommend to just replace/re-print them every now and then (replacement interval determined by how much ‘contamination/bacterial exposure’ the toy/object gets).

We do not recommend 3D printing food or drinking bowls! Simply because this would be a very high risk in regards to contamination and bacteria.