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If you've ever shopped for bird toys, you're well aware that you can shell out a pretty penny for something that your parrot may rip to shreds in a matter of minutes. But did you know that there are probably things lying around your house that would make fabulous bird toys? Here are a few things you might like to try.

Plain Old Paper. Paper items are great hits with birds. They can shred, tear and mutilate it to their heart's content. Offer clean coffee filters, the little cards that come in magazines (not the perfumed ones!), junk mail, newspaper, paper plates, unscented toilet paper rolls or the rolls from paper towels, you name it. If they can shred it, it's cool with them!

And here's a paper item that's not only fun, but what's inside is good for them, too. Small single serving size boxes of raisins make great toys. Tear the end open a bit, then hand over the entire box. This is more than a toy, it's a snack, too!

Plastic Soda Bottle Lids. Something that delights parrots to no end are the large plastic screw-off caps that come on two and three liter soda bottles. Birds will spend lots of time carefully removing every scrap of liner from the caps and dropping it in teeny bits onto the floor of their cage. For added fun, try giving them a bit of peanut butter in the cap. Now it's a fun snack holder! If you want to try this idea, make sure the caps have no metal on them that might injure your bird, and that the bottle caps are clean.

Doggy Chew Toys. Rawhide chews make wonderful bird toys! These take some work to shred, but give a parrot enough time and he can make mincemeat out of it. A word of caution about these items: Birds like to dunk things into their water. If you see that they've soaked their chew toy, you will probably want to remove it before it can become a soggy, possibly germy mess.

All Tied up in Knots: Tie old clean tee shirts or socks into knots and let the birds have a go! Almost any pet bird will enjoy gnawing on, preening, or swinging and climbing on these easy to make toys. Be careful not to leave too much fabric loose, though. You don't want your bird to get tangled up in it!

Birds, large or small, need lots of play time. By using some of these ideas, you can provide them with lots of fun things to play with, and save yourself some money at the same time.