One of our favorite all natural materials for parrot perches here at parrotJOY is cholla wood. Cholla is a great material for perches for several reasons. First, it is porous and thus provides air circulation and aids in reducing pressure sores. Second, it provides natural variation in diameter, which allows for better weight distribution and varied muscle use. Third, cholla perches provide a grippy, yet non-abrasive surface for your parrot’s feet.
While many of our natural toy components are sourced from India and overseas, cholla wood is native to North America. Cholla cactus is native to the Southwestern United States and Northern Mexico and often thrives in regions that are too cold for other cacti varieties. It forms a shrubby or even tree-like shape and produces yellow fruits.
Cholla belongs to the Cactaceae family and the genus Cylindropuntia, which includes about 35 species of cylindroid-jointed cacti. The genus Cylindropuntia was recently recognized as a separate genus from Opuntia because of their cylindrical stems as opposed to the flattened stems. Cylindropuntia grow in stands referred to as Cholla Garden and their barbed spines are prolific and easily attach to skin and clothing.
The cacti are used as food for desert livestock, but the most common use of the plant is for making crafts or perches. The best species for making perches are Jumping Cholla (C. fulgida), Teddy Bear Cholla (C. bigelovii), and Cane Cholla (C. imbricata).
The Jumping Cholla gets its name by the ease with which its stems detach when brushed. They form large complex forests and reach heights of 4 meters. Teddy Bear Cholla derives its name from its soft appearance because of the thick concentration of spines. It usually reaches heights of 1.5 meters. Cane cholla derives its name from its use as a cane or walking stick. This cacti can grow up to 4 meters with a trunk diameter of 25 centimeters!
At parrotJOY we also use Staghorn cholla (C. versicolor) as a component in Chollatta Love due to its interesting coloration and smaller size. Staghorn cholla is named for its wide range of flower colors. It produces 18 cm stems that grow in a twisting formation in Southern Arizona.
Our Cholla comes from trusted suppliers in the American Southwest who utilize best practice to be sure that our cholla pieces are safe for your bird. The naturally dead pieces that have fallen are collected and the fleshy portion of the cacti is removed, leaving behind the skeleton of the plant. Then it is power washed in 220 degree water and left in the sun to dry for several days.
From there, the pieces are shipped over to our parrotJOY workshop and we assemble perches utilizing dowel rods and stainless steel washers, screws, and wingnuts. Although the behind the scenes work may not be at the front of your mind, know that our cholla perches and toys were designed with your bird’s health and fitness in mind.