Budgies need various toys for fun and enrichment. So, owners sometimes give their budgies string, as budgies enjoy tugging, chewing, and playing with string.
However, you should avoid giving pieces of string or string toys to budgies.
Budgies chew at and eat string, leading to choking and gastrointestinal blockages. Some get entangled in loose string and injure themselves, and birds can get strangled if the string gets caught around the neck.
Rope and rope toys can be safe if you choose a resilient, tightly-woven natural fiber. It shouldn’t fray or break down into smaller strings under insistent chewing.
Can Budgies Play with String?
Budgies can play with string, but it’s not entirely safe. String, such as yarn and twine, pose the greatest risk. However, it’s also dangerous to offer sewing thread or ribbons.
Unfortunately, a budgie may:
- Choke on the material and suffocate
- Ingest it and experience a blockage
- Get entangled in the string and injure itself as it struggles
- Get the string around its neck and be strangled
At the very least, these situations could become a medical emergency for your budgie.
Do Budgies Like String?
Many budgies like playing with string or chewing on it
String serves as enrichment, giving a budgie something to tear apart, sharpen its beak, and toss around its cage. Even if your budgie likes it, there are safer things a budgie can play with and chew.
Having a thicker rope in a budgie’s cage may not be detrimental if it doesn’t chew or destroy the rope. However, wear and tear on the rope will lead to loose, fraying fibers.
Can Budgies Use Rope Toys and Perches?
Rope toys and perches can be dangerous if made from the wrong material or fray. Additionally, long and thin strands of dangling rope are unsafe, so they can become entangled.
So, why are ropes sold as toys for budgies? Whether or not the rope is safe depends on the fibers.
Rope Made from Natural Fibers
Budgies should only be given rope toys or perches composed of natural materials, such as:
- Sisal (agave)
Check the toys and perches each day for signs of fraying. If this happens, do the following:
- Clip off any fraying portions.
- If you use rope as a toy, only short pieces should be used so they can’t strangle the budgie.
- Keep the budgie’s nails trimmed to prevent the rope from fraying as much.
- If there is a lot of wear and tear on the rope, replace it with a new piece.
If your budgie chews on rope, replace it with wooden perches and toys.
Rope Made from Synthetic Fibers
Ropes made from synthetic materials, such as nylon, are unsafe for budgies.
The fibers are too strong, and your budgie’s beak isn’t strong enough to bite through the fibers. They’ll come off in long strands that can lead to entanglement or strangulation.
If a budgie becomes entangled in rope made from synthetic fibers, it may get cut by the strong fibers. Likewise, its circulation could get cut off if the fibers wrap around a limb, leading to limb loss.
Ingesting string with natural fibers can still lead to intestinal blockage. However, the chances are much higher with synthetic fibers. The budgie will be unable to digest it, which can let the string bunch up and refuse to pass.
Dangers of Giving Budgies String or Fabric
If a budgie chews on string, cotton, or fabric, the fibers can lead to severe issues, such as:
Entanglement or Strangulation
If your budgie chews on the string, rope, or fabric, it’ll fray and unravel into smaller, thinner strands.
These thin strands pose a serious risk of entanglement, as they can wrap around the feet or neck, resulting in injuries or death by strangulation.
A budgie’s toes/claws can get stuck in the threads of the rope, especially if its nails are long or sharp.
String has small fibers that can cause gastrointestinal blockages if ingested.
These fibers can accumulate in the stomach, intestines, or crop. The crop is a small pouch situated at the base of the esophagus, where food can be stored before being sent to the stomach.
If a budgie displays symptoms of a gastrointestinal blockage, contact your vet. The only way to remove the blockage is through surgery.
Symptoms of a blockage include:
- Severe stomach pain (reduced appetite)
- Vomiting (throwing up)
- Swelling of the stomach
- Gassiness, but unable to pass gas
- Constipation (not passing stools)
Can Budgies Eat String?
Budgies shouldn’t be allowed to eat string, as they struggle to digest natural fibers and definitely can’t digest synthetic fibers. If they ingest any, they’ll accumulate and cause gastrointestinal blockages.
If you give your budgie string or rope, it should be tightly woven and taut, ensuring the fibers can’t be picked at and eaten.
Ropes made of cellulose are safer than other materials since budgies can digest cellulose.
Why Do Budgies Chew String?
Budgies have a natural instinct to chew, munching on nuts, seeds, grass, and fruits when foraging.
They also need to chew to keep their beaks in good condition. This is why, in captivity, budgies need to be provided with safe chewing toys. Unfortunately, string isn’t safe for a budgie to chew on.
Some healthy and safe materials that budgies can chew include the following:
- Natural branches: These should be from bird-safe trees, such as balsa, pine, or fir.
- Paper towel rolls: Cut off any glue before giving them to a budgie.
- Pine cones or corn husks: These are safe when dry.
- Cardboard: The best kinds are found in egg cartons.
- Food items: Must be safe for budgies to eat.
Safe Materials for Budgies
Budgies need toys and perches in their cages to keep them entertained and healthy.
According to Companion Animal, providing enrichment will improve budgies’ quality of life. However, budgies are sensitive to many materials, so you need to be careful what you provide.
The safest toys for budgies are hard plastics, untreated wood, paper, and branches. Certain types of rope can be used for perches, but they shouldn’t be used as toys. After all, your budgie will chew them, which can cause the fibers to accumulate in the digestive tract.
If you must provide a rope toy, ensure that it’s composed of food-grade paper. Budgies can eat paper safely, and the lack of threads means there’s little chance of entanglement.