What is the difference between a forager and a puzzle toy?

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Hello Everybody. As we head into April (Yikes! already?) and wade through an avalanche of chocolate bunny wrappers we thought it might be fun to address another question we get asked a lot:
What is the difference between Foraging toys and Puzzle toys?
You will often find the terms used interchangeably (yes - that is a word) in discussion but there is actually a clear line between the two and they serve very different purposes.
Foraging toys
  • Are used to kick start instinctual food gathering behaviours.
  • Are normally food based and allow your pet to hunt and forage for food rather than just eat it from a bowl.
  • Are often quirky and colourful to engage your pets curiosity.
  • Are usually destructible - but not always.
  • Often have multiple textures to give your pet something more interesting to touch and feel in their environment.
There is no question that foragers bring the zany fun to the party and they are great for all pets - from the smallest mouse to the largest parrot. No animal in the wild gets their food hand delivered in a bowl every day - they all have to work for it. Foragers allow for that same level of activity to happen in an enclosed environment.
Puzzle toys
Puzzles on the other hand are a much more diabolical (in a good way) invention. Puzzle toys exist to engage the brain.
  • They are usually mechanical.
  • Most are not destructible and although they can cost a bit - they will usually last the lifetime of your pet.
  • They are high value treat based
  • They offer a variety of levels of difficulty
  • They are specifically designed for individual puzzle solving skillsets (Turners or Pullers)
  • For social animals like parrots, primates and sugar gliders they offer the unique opportunity for them to engage in social learning and collaborative puzzle solving.
  • They also encourage a level of self determination in terms of allowing them to select the high value treat they want and secure it for themselves. This is really important for highly intelligent animals and they are often not given this opportunity in captivity.
So Foragers are about Instrinct and Puzzles are about the brain - simple.
Both Foragers and Puzzles shake things up in the environment and puzzles really help to break habitual harmful behaviours created by environmental stress like over preening/self mutilation/gnawing and cage pacing.
Over the years we have been really lucky to interact with many different species and the difference puzzle toys make in the life of a super smart pet can not be under estimated.
Pet Fairy prides itself in specialising in Puzzle toys and Foragers. We have one to suit every pet under the sun. If you are not sure where to start - feel free to ask for assistance when you make your selection. To give you a clue though - the first thing that you need to find out is whether your pet is a turner or a puller. Parrots can be either.
Turners are the guys who:
  • unscrew cage clips
  • work the key off a keyring
  • carefully undo a knot
Pullers are the guys who:
  • work keys off keypads
  • pick buttons off remotes
  • destroy knots
  • pull open latches
Once you know what sort of puzzle solver you have you can start looking for toys.
Turners would start with toys like Rings of Fortune or Turn and Learn Logs.
Pullers would start with Push and Pull or draw toys and Parrot Treasure would work for both types of problem solver.
The crazy thing is that you always underestimate how smart your pet is. They will always surprise you with what puzzles they can solve and how fast they can solve them. Research has shown again and again that the more enrichment (puzzles and foragers) you offer your pet the more they want to learn. So - why not start hanging up some crazy foragers and mind bending puzzles for your pet today. Fair warning though - get ready to record some truly mind bending video footage as your pet goes far above what you expect.
Why not check out our video about this on our Facebook page?

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