Quick DIY bird toys in less than 5 mins

I have quite a few birds and, sometimes, keeping them all entertained can be a chore! So here are three quick, do-it-yourself birds toy ideas that can be made in 5 minutes or less (total!). Feel free to decorate them or change them however you please! There are so many ideas out there. This is just something to get you started and something that can enrich the life of your parrot from a few minutes to a day (or possibly longer, depending on the bird!).

Starting off, let’s make a napkin toy worthy of being shred to pieces. Obviously, we’ll start with a few napkins. Add a few binder clips to this and you have your ingredients. Simple, right?

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Next, we want to fold the napkin in half, and then over once again (depending on the size of your napkin).

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Now you can slip your napkin between the bars of your birdie’s cage, and clip it on. Like so:

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Lastly, step back and admire your work. Your bird should have a great time shredding this thing to tiny pieces. I know that mine certainly do!

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For our second toy, we need some tiny pieces of paper and some treats that they love. I use Nutriberries for mine. A note on the type of paper, though: don’t use anything that has ink on it because this can be unsafe for your feathered friend (newspaper, wrapping paper, etc are all suspect!). Plain printer paper is awesome and can be cut to a desired size, or for bigger birds, use the whole sheet.

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We next take the paper and put the treat in the center.

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Now, just ball it up.

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You can use some organic hemp twine (this is safe for birds, I wouldn’t dare assume many other types of “string” are) to hang it from the cage if you wish, or just set it on the bottom of the cage for them to have fun shredding. This type of toy is great because it simulates foraging, which they would be doing in the wild. Be sure not to leave the toy inside the cage after they’ve pooped on it, though. This can be hazardous and just plane unhygenic.

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A further note: it might be easier if you don’t have the birds out while you’re working on these. This little monster tried to steal the treats I was using right out from under my nose! 😀

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Last but not least, we have the infamous straw toy. Got some beverage straws laying around? Grab ’em. That’s all you need (although you’re free to add more if you wish).

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We’re going to separate one straw from the bunch, then take the bunch and twist them. Use the individual straw to tie the rest of them together. It should look something like this:

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Now we can tie it to the cage.

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Not even two minutes after making this toy, my African Grey decided to get busy destroying it.

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(Sorry for the blurry pic. I couldn’t get the camera to focus!)

There you have it! Three simple toys that can be made in under 5 minutes or less. Enjoy! ❤

DIY biosphere AKA ecosphere

I fell in love with the idea of enclosed ecosystems when I went on vacation and saw one in a gift shop. The idea is that this miniature system will be able to feed itself with very little intervention from the outside. The plant and marimo ball will take the CO2 and waste from the inhabitants and filter it while producing oxygen. The inhabitants will eat the waste matter and algae from the plant while providing nutrients for the plant in the form of their waste.

A word of warning: aquariums and aquatic life are not my strong suit. I would never subject fish, shrimp, or even snails to intentional cruelty so I have everything set up in my larger aquarium to accommodate these new little guys, just in case things go south.

Now, the items you’ll need are as follows:

  1. Container (I chose to use a large mason jar [the regular sized ones are much too small for a shrimp so go with the largest that you can]) – $8
  2. Gravel of any kind – $3
  3. Plant (I would recommend elodea because of it’s ease, but my petstore didn’t carry it! So I chose water wisteria instead) – $7
  4. Marimo ball (if you have access to pond or lake algae, scoop up a cup full of algae and water and use that instead) – $7
  5. A snail or two (I chose the Mystery Snail) – $4
  6. One ghost shrimp (they’re very territorial so you should limit yourself to only one) – $0.39

Total cost: approximately $29.39

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So, with your items (and inhabitants) all laid out, you can start pouring the gravel into the jar. Use as much or as little as you like.

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Once you’ve covered the bottom of the jar sufficiently, add in your plant and anchor it with more gravel.

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Add your new little snail(s), marimo ball, and ghost shrimp! I used half petstore water and half distilled water. If you have access to a pond or lake, add in your algae water. Don’t worry about any cloudiness as it will eventually settle.

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You can see my placement here but arrange yours however you want.

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And that’s it! I’m going to leave the top off for a few days to make it easier to check on Shrimpy. Ghost shrimp, unfortunately, are very easily stressed on the ride home from the petstore so if he doesn’t make it, that is probably the reason why.

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One final note: it may take some time for your system to be able to sustain itself. If you want to, you could drop in some very small pieces of fish flakes for your Shrimpy to eat. They’re not very big and you certainly don’t want to overfeed, so make sure the amount is TINY (maybe the size of a pinhead?).

Good luck!

Edit: I’ll update this as time progresses and let you know how long my biosphere lasts and how well or badly it’s doing. I’ll also adjust the above instructions if I find better methods of preserving the biosphere.

Day 1: I found Shrimpy dead (the morning after putting together the biosphere) but Snelly the snail is still doing fine. Went and got another shrimp from the petstore and added him. Ghost shrimp are notoriously difficult to keep alive immediately after purchase (they’re commonly sold as feeders so they’re not exactly a shining example of optimum care at petstores). We’ll see how Shrimpy II does.

Seven months later: Well, Shrimpy II was looking a little sick, so I put him into my larger aquarium hoping that would revive the little guy but I had no luck. He died. 😦 The very next day, Snelly died too. I had a suspicion that maybe it was because of the petstore care (?) so I went to a different petstore and got another snail. That all happened about a week after I set up my biosphere. It’s been six and a half months now and Snelly II is doing so beautifully! She(He?) has grown so much. I did notice that she was having a little trouble keeping up with the amount of algae, so I put another snail into the biosphere with her. It’s been a month since Rocket was added and the algae is slooowly being reduced.

Something that I didn’t expect to happen was that my plants came unrooted! They’re now floating at the top of the container but since they seem to be doing okay, I’ve decided to just leave them. I’m not very good with the plants, but there are still plenty of green parts so I assume the plant is alive and well. Seems like it could be doing better, though, so maybe I’ll try to figure out what it needs.

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DIY feather necklace

I love jewelry (and so do my birds!). When I posted a picture of one of my feather necklaces on Instagram, a friend suggested that I make a tutorial for it. So here we go! 🙂

These are the supplies that you’ll need:

  1. Needle nose pliers
  2. Necklace chain
  3. Pendant of some sort (optional)
  4. Necklace clasp and clasp ring
  5. Cord end caps
  6. Feather(s)!

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Step one is the cut the feather stem to an appropriate length. Basically, you ask yourself the question: “how long do I want my feather?” I chose to cut just above the fuzz of my African gray’s.

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Voila!

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Next, we need to get our cord end cap and line it up with our feather stem.

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Squish it around the feather stem nice and tight. You don’t want the feather to fall out! Take note of which side of the feather you want to be the “front” and make sure the flaps of the cap are in the “back” of the feather.

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Voila!

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Now we need to stretch our pendant ring. It’s as simple as it sounds.

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Add feather(s) and pendant and close the ring back up. Repeat the process for the chain clasp and chain ring…

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Add your pendant and feather! Sorry for the horrible quality of this pic. I should have taken a pic on anything BUT a black sweater. My excuse is that it was cold and that’s the warmest sweater in the whole world. 😛

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DIY rat hammock

Pet hammocks for squirrels, rats, sugar gliders, and the like can be expensive! I’ve seen some great ones that are worth the investment but sometimes, in a pinch, you just have to make do. Especially when, like me, you have little rodents that loooooove to chew EVERYTHING to pieces!

This is why we can’t have nice things, guys.

Anyway, you’ll need nothing more than a rag or bath towel and binder clips for this project. Yay!

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Is that a leaf on my floor? How did that even get there?

But I digress. Clip a corner of your rag to the cage using the binder clip. Then… do that three more times.

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You can hang the hammock however you like. I have little wooden branches for my boys to climb on, so I chose to wrap one corner of the rag around that branch.

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I recommend testing the hammock out before you let your ratties crawl into it. Put some weight on it just to make sure it holds, then you can unleash the furballs. Haha.

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Rama approves! In fact, it’s actually his favorite place to be. As an aside: you can use white rags and throw them into the wash with some bleach when they’re dirty. Brand new! Except for the chewed parts…

Simple shower perch

My birds love taking showers with me, but I never wanted to invest in one of those official shower perches because, come on, $20 for a couple of pieces of pipe? No way. So I would put a wet rag over the towel rack and my little ones would balance on that.

It didn’t long for me to realize that it wasn’t really comfortable them, though. They’d have to watch how they stepped and if the rag ever fell, they would go tumbling down along with it (all of my birds can fly so this isn’t as dramatic as it sounds).

So, I bought some of that medical wrap tape (it comes in different colors!) and wrapped it around my towel rack:

It looked pretty good. It held together very well. Luckily, my birds won’t pick at it when they’re in the shower but if they ever did, it’s totally safe for them. And it cushions their creepy little feet, too!

Five wet little birdies. ❤

DIY reptile lighting fixture

I am not an electrician!

A friend of mine showed me how to wire up these types of lighting fixtures. It works for me but please try this at your own risk. Be very careful when you’re working with any type of electrical current and use excess caution when moving or jostling any fixture as it may cause a fire hazard.

Now, with that unpleasant disclaimer out of the way, let’s begin:

These are the items you will need to make your own reptile lamp fixture. Buy a porcelain lampholder. Emphasis on the porcelain. Plastic may melt if you attach any heat bulb. Metal will get hot and might burn your reptile if he can reach the fixture. Even if you won’t be using it for heat, it doesn’t hurt and this kind of fixture only costs a couple of dollars.

Next, you’ll need a basic cable. Choose any kind of extension cable that has two visible and separate wires on it. You see that groove in the middle of the cable? That’s what you’re looking for.

Lastly: scissors! You could be fancy and use wire cutters or wire strippers but this worked well for me. I’m all about keeping my projects simple! 🙂

Edit: electrical tape is optional but highly recommended!

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So, you ready? If you’ve done anything like this before (and you’re like me), this can be nerve-wracking. But I promise, I’ll walk you through it. Cut the wire. You’ll want to make this as long as you need it. Obviously, the plug is the end that we’re saving. On my extension cord, I just picked a place. This cord cost me about $5.00 and it’s 15 feet long.

Take a deep breath, and cut. It’ll be okay. 😛

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Now we need to cut into that groove between the two wires. There’s no formula for this. Just cut a little and pull. If you need more later, cut some more. No big deal.

Next we need to strip the wire. Cut carefully into the plastic cover. Just enough to cut through the cover but not into the wire itself. When you’ve scissored through the cover, pull it off! Easy!

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Starting to feel all savvy, yet? I like to twist that mess of little wires so they all hold together better. Just twirl it with your fingers. Next, we lay the wires under those screws on our lampholder. Now, remember when I said that I’m not an electrician? Well, that information still hasn’t changed. I don’t know which cable should go where to be technically correct but as long as you only use this fixture with a basic outlet and with basic reptile UVA/UVB or heating bulbs, it shouldn’t matter. Lay down the cable where you will. Either screw, just make sure that each screw has a wire.

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Tighten those babies down! You don’t want that wire coming loose! And you don’t want stray wires poking out, either. If these things come undone, it could become a fire hazard.

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Now, I’m one of those people that likes to be safe rather than sorry. So we’re going to tape this thing up for extra safety. I like to tape over one screw/wire separately, and then do the other, and then lay some extra tape over it all. The objective is simple: if one wire comes out from under the screw, you do not want it to be able to touch the other one. So just tape, tape, and tape. Electrical tape is cheaper than a fire, right?

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Now, all taped up? Good. We’re gonna be super safe. So take this weird little contraption into your bathroom. Building standards require that bathroom outlets have what is called a Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter for safety reasons. If anything goes wrong, this should interrupt the circuit and prevent any kind of fire or damage. So if you plug it in and turn on the lamp and the light comes on, you’re good. If it pops or otherwise doesn’t work, then something obviously went wrong and you’ll need to check your wiring.

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For this reason, you may want to test it with a regular or cheap light bulb so nothing happens to your heat or UVB bulb.

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In my case, it worked!

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So, I’m going to attach my heating bulb and voila! We have heat!

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DIY bird sweater

Some of you may have experience dealing with a bird who plucks. It can be a very difficult habit to break, especially if the habit has been occurring for years. So I’d like to introduce my little guy, Demon:

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He came to me in a really bad way. His last owner fed him seeds and got him drunk on more than one occasion. She thought it was funny to watch him stumble around. We suspect that he was also abused because of his reactions to men, but that’s a story for another day.

Today, I’m going to show you how to make a little sweater for your plucker or even just for aesthetic. They look soooo terribly cute after all. ❤

So, we’re going to start with a sock that you no longer want but you think will look great on your little birdy (this is a regular woman’s sock but for smaller birds you might try baby socks and for larger birds maybe try some leggings). I know these colors aren’t especially flattering on a boy bird, but he looooves bright, vibrant things. So I chose pink for Demon. Cut enough of the sock that it will reach from your bird’s neck to his feet. It doesn’t have to be exact. Trust me, he’ll shred it in short order.

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Here were have my cut segment. Just long enough to stop above Demon’s little chicken legs.

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Now we’re going to cut two holes into either side of the sock. I like to do this along the fold so I know it’s even on both sides but, again, don’t worry about getting it perfect.

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Two holes done! Sorry my hands look so gross. I have lots of animal cuts on them. :/

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Now for the hard part: getting it on your bird. You don’t want to scare him, so I would advise going slowly. Try holding a treat and get him to poke his head through. This may take several efforts. You really don’t want to ruin any trust that you’ve built with your bird, so I must absolutely advise patience during this part. Give him treat after treat after treat. Make this a positive and rewarding experience for him so he doesn’t dread it the next time.

Once he’s poked his head through, try stretching the sweater over his wings. I’m lucky because Demon actually helps me out in this regard. I stretch the sweater over his wing and he pokes it right on through. For someone who doesn’t have that kind of luck, very gently take the wing and try to coax the bird to move it. Don’t force the wing. Don’t grab the wing. Your bird won’t like that and you will likely get a nasty bite.

Just be patient. If you can only get his head in, that’s okay! Try again tomorrow or the next day. Eventually, your bird will look forward to it. Once you get it all the way on, make a big deal. I like to exclaim to Demon how pretty and handsome he looks. Now he’ll screech at me as soon he gets his sweater on: “PRETTY BIRD!” And I’ll give him a treat. It’s a game to him. And it does cut an awfully dashing figure, don’t you think? ;P

Do note that the sweater will need to be replaced often. The bird will likely pluck at it and it’ll get dirty. I like to just cut Demon’s off – CAREFULLY! I wouldn’t recommend trying to remove it without cutting because you can hurt their wings.

Another thing to note: watch out for dangling threads! This can be incredibly dangerous for your bird if it gets tangle around a toe or other extremity. He may resort to biting that appendage off if he can’t get away from the string. Just cut off loose threads or take the sweater off completely. It’s not worth risking your bird’s health.

DIY tegu cage

First of all, let me apologize for the potato quality of these images and the sincere lack of planning behind them. I built this cage almost a year ago and I took the pics to show off to my friends, not for the sake of making an online guide. However, it’s a project that I feel may provide some benefit to anybody with a tegu that needs a bigger home. So, let’s begin:

With the help of my friend, we started building the frame. The cage is supposed to measure 6′ by 3′ by 2′ but since we got the wood cut at Home Depot, there were a few minor inconsistencies. So we laid out the frame alongside the panel board walls to ensure that it would all fit together correctly.

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Frame was held together by screws, metal, and wood glue for good measure. This was my first real “woodworking” project so I was feeling really proud at this point. Hahaha. Believe it or not, the frame was the hardest part (because I didn’t know how best to use a drill >_>).

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Frame built and top, bottom, side panels are all added! The panels are laminated to make them waterproof. You can get an 8′ x 4′ sheet at Lowe’s or Home Depot for about $8. It’s waterproof AND lightweight – perfect!

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I had to build a bedframe tall enough to slide the tegu cage under it. Hoo boy, that was a daunting task. Super simple in the end, but getting onto my bed for that first test sleep was nerve-wracking. Anyway, the mattress support is what you see laying over the cage.

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Tegu and Batman Converse for scale. My little dude isn’t fully grown yet.

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Painted two wooden boards and attached them (they will keep the dirt inside the cage even when the doors are open). Painted the window/door frames. Caulked every seam in the cage.

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Attached the plexiglass window. Broke the plexiglass on the right so I taped over it because I didn’t want to cut more. Painted the inside of the enclosure.

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Added dirt! (This was an initial setup. My tegu has MUCH more dirt now and every tegu should have enough to burrow in. A burrowing tegu is a happy tegu!).

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The dinosaur checking it out!

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Mandatory tegu tax because he’s so cute!

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