Can Cockatiels Play with Toilet Paper Rolls?

You may have seen videos where birds tear paper and cardboard and go to wondering if you could let your cockatiel play with a toilet paper roll. We’ve done some research and put it all below. We also touch on toys and things to look out for, but first, an answer to your question, can cockatiels play with toilet paper rolls?

Paper is a safe alternative to store-bought toys, but the glue that turns each piece of cardboard into a roll can prove to be unsafe for your cockatiel. Adhesives are made up of toxins that a bird shouldn’t ingest. 

Zinc is another ingredient in the glue used on toilet paper rolls, which can make your bird sick or kill her. Toxicity is a real threat to pets and, since cockatiels are so small, they are at a greater risk. The amount of zinc they ingest will have a direct correlation to how sick your pet will get. Zinc(Zn) is metal and number thirty on the Period Table of Elements. 

Many things in your home have zinc in them. Some examples are things made of metal like board game pieces, zippers, toys, and jewelry. Skin creams, shampoos, deodorants, vitamins, and some over-the-counter medication has zinc in them too. While there should be some zinc in their diet, too much can prove to be hazardous. 

The size of your pet is the deciding factor when considering how poisonous zinc can be, which is why birds the size of cockatiel are at a higher risk. 

Toilet rolls are not safe for Cockatiels? The glue is likely toxic to your pet. The paper on the roll is treated with chemicals as well. There is no guarantee that this type of paper is safe for consumption. 

For the same reasons mentioned above, giving your cockatiel toilet rolls or tissues is risky. While we warned you about the risk of ingesting zinc in our earlier passage, we haven’t mentioned paper impaction yet. 

What is paper impaction? Impaction is a situation that happens when their intestines can become blocked with what they ingested, and in this case, that would be paper.  While it rarely happens, it’s a risk I wouldn’t be willing to take with my cockatiel because there are so many more options when it comes to entertainment and toys. The ultimate choice is always yours in the end. We can only provide you with the information. 

What type of paper is safe for birds?

Paper free of bleach, toxins, dye, and other chemical treatments are somewhat safe for birds to shred. Paper impaction is a threat if your cockatiel ingests some, which is rare. Be observant when you give your bird any paper toy and double-check the materials. 

Baby cockatiels are more likely to ingest paper because they don’t know any better and will probably swallow everything that goes into their beaks. While paper impactions aren’t a common occurrence, if it were to happen, it would require surgery to save your bird, which can also be a risk. 

On top of the risk you are putting your bird into by letting him play with paper, surgery for pets can be costly. While it may be tempting to throw that toilet paper roll into their cage because you can’t afford a new toy, the result may have you paying more in the long run. It’s rare, but there is a possibility. 

Are tissues safe for cockatiels? 

Tissues like Kleenex are tempting to a bird, but they are still not 100% safe for your cockatiel to use as a toy. Makers create tissues and other products like it with humans in mind and likely contain materials that can harm your pet. 

Paper impaction, if ingested, is as equal a threat with tissues as it is with toilet rolls. When manufacturers create products for our consumption, they don’t do so with the thought that you might let your pet play with those items. 

Designers make tissues primarily from wood pulp, which is natural, but materials like softeners, lotions, perfumes, or other components can prove harmful to your pet. 

Tissues can stand up against anything, but we can bet that your bird will tear that paper up within minutes of it being in his cage. When he does that, even if you almost sure that your buddy hasn’t ingested any of the paper, you are still risking that slight chance that he might, which could cause a paper impaction in his intestine. 

What do cockatiels like to play with?

Cockatiels like to play with toys containing moving parts, wood for chewing, and ones with ladders to climb—birds like chewing toys, toys that make noise, mirrors, and toys that require foraging. 

You can make toys for your cockatiel or purchase playthings made by reputable manufacturers. When choosing toys is best to know what materials are involved so you can avoid possible danger. As you shop, keep in mind the type of things that make your bird happy. 

Is she a fan of looking at herself in the mirror? Get one made of natural materials free from paints and other toxins that might cause her to have health issues. 

Are dyed toys at the pet store safe for the cockatiel to chew?

Toys with painted surfaces are not safe for your bird. Dyed surfaces are not worth the risk since you aren’t 100% sure that dye is toxic-free. Colored toys are worth checking to make sure the materials used are not harmful if ingested. Naturally colored toys are the best option for your cockatiel. 

When it comes to toys, you can make safe options and not-so-safe choices. We put together a list of safe toys and the ones you should avoid. 

When searching for toys for your cockatiel, we suggest you stick with these safe toys.  

  • Natural fiber ropes. Cotton and hemp are good options
  • Chains made with stainless steel with welded links, free of zinc and lead
  • Vegetable-tanned leather toys
  • Rings made of safe materials that aren’t too small for your bird to get caught
  • Bells that have loose clappers (your bird could swallow and choke)
  • Cuttlebones
  • Coco-husks

Toys that are unsafe for cockatiels include the following.

  • Wood; cedar, red cherry, plywood, oak, or treated with chemicals. 
  • Nylon ropes
  • Chains coated in zinc or lead
  • Chains that have openings that can catch your cockatiel
  • Acrylic toys that can break easily
  • Chemical-tanned leather 
  • Improperly sized rings
  • Bells with clappers that are loose

Our pets are family, and it’s up to us to keep them out of danger every chance we get. Choosing suitable toys is imperative to the health of your bird. 

Is cardboard safe for cockatiels?

Just like using paper proposes an issue to birds, giving them cardboard can present the same risks. The manufacturer likely treats the cardboard with chemicals or dyes. Paper impaction is a risk with cardboard too. 

We’ve discussed the risk of giving our bird things made for humans as toys, but it’s well worth mentioning again. Papers, cardboard, and the like are a world of fun for birds because they can dive in and tear it up to their heart’s content. 

Your little buddy doesn’t know that if she swallows part of that paper or cardboard, your cockatiel is at risk of toxicity and possible internal impaction. The chances that impaction will happen are low, but the overall risk will be pretty costly if impaction does occur, and not only to your pocketbook. It could cost your bird her life. 

Rick Matthews

Hello, I am Rick Matthews, I have helped raise 100's of pets in my life living with my Father who while we did not live on a farm, raised all sorts of animals to sell them to families. We had so many different pets we all quickly became experts intending to them and helping them stay healthy. Back then we did not have the internet to look up thing on how to take care of their kids. As my kids got older, they wanted pets and of course, I did not want to have as many as we did when I was a child, but wanted to share my experiences. Many of these articles are written to help educate families on what to expect when looking to get a new pet for their children.

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